Flush Magazine Interview – 31st July 2012
TEARS OF JOY
An interview by Hannah Duncan
I am a great believer in many things, 60 denier tights, crunchy peanut butter being superior to smooth, the feeling of warm sand between your toes and above all music. Music that instantly touches your soul, lets you stamp your own personal sentiments and experiences onto it, elicits a heartfelt sigh and feels timeless…
When i first heard Danny Coughlan, aka, Crybaby, all these things flooded me. You need only listen to his album once to hear the influences, but whether the inspirations are ghosts of musicians past or the pain of people present he has truly captured something raw and heartfelt. I caught up with him in Bristol to chat music halls, language and his debut album.
Hannah Duncan: I’ve been reading articles about your album, there’s a lot of talk that the album is a love letter to the musicians that have inspired you. Listening to the album it feels a lot more personal than that?
Danny Coughlan: Yeah, it is a love letter to certain people. You’ve found me out there; think that was a bit of a cover story I was using. There have been certain situations in the past, the other relationships of people I know, that are in there. It doesn’t jut deal with lost love. The last song on the album, What Am I Supposed To Do Without You Now? is about my Uncle who was diagnosed with dementia fairly young. Him and my aunt, I see there’s still a couple there, they love each other to bits but we see him slipping away ans it’s about how to deal with that. it’s personal.
HD: How do they feel that this song has been written about them?
CD: I don’t think she’s listened to it. It’s difficult because when you write something as personal as that you don’t want to presume how they are feeling. wheat they are going through. When I visit I see him slowly decline. As a songwriter it’s your job to tell a story and not necessarily your own. It’s there it’s in the family and dementia is something a lot of people have to cope with. On this album I was trying to convey relationships are at the centre of everything, a common experience. I thought this relationship, between my aunt and uncle, was as valid as anything else. It’s just that dementia isn’t really discussed.
HD: Going back to those musical influences you’re from a musical family?
DC Yes, fairly musical. I discovered it goes all the way back to music hall Bermondsey recently. My Nan died last year. She was a massive TV fan so it ws a rare occasion she spoke, when her programme had finished and she’d turn around and say “what do you want?” She just piped up one day and said “well, you do know your aunty was in an accordion ukulele troop in a music hall in Bermondsey?” One day I’ll try and find out more about that. I’ve got my uncles Banjo, he used to play on the trams in South London, he used to dress up and entertain the people travelling. You wouldn’t get that now on the trains. There’s definitely something musical there for us, my Dad sang in an a Capella group as well.
HD: The old musicians that you echo in this record, how did those influences come to you?
DC: Through my Dad really, his record collection, Beach Boys and a lot of soul as well. He was a mod back in the sixties, still has his Lambretta in the garage. Never goes out on it though, too expensive if he crashes it and he doesn’t like wearing helmets either. A lot of 7″ records, motown and then listening to the radio in the early 80’s. The sounds come out of that I suppose.
HD: Do you feel compared to what else is happening in music now that you’re out of your time?
DC: I do. I’m up on what’s going on, I listen to the radio, go to gigs but I don’t know really. I do feel like I’m coming from a different place, I’m not sure anything else really sounds like what I’ve done. There seems to be a massive glut of very bad clever clever, spikey kind of motionless bands out there. Lack of emotional connection in that music perhaps compared to what I grew up listening to.
HD: There’s poetry to your lyrics. Were you inspired by any authors, writers as well?
DC: I’m terrible, I never read. I couldn’t tell you ten books I’ve read but I remember the essence of things, listening to a record and understanding it. I read the dictionary and thesaurus, I love words. I’d love to tell you I’ve read tons of books; I get embarrassed when people ask me what I’ve read. Talking to people, listening to good records, understanding the language people use, that’s where I get the love of language from. I think language is being lost, when my son comes home from school and says OMG immediately I tell him “do not say that, you’re not to say that”. There are some great pop songs in the 60’s and 70’s that had that shorthand language, but there was a cleverness to it. Now pop is just very music sexualised in a very graphic way, especially for women, but that’s a whole other conversation.
HD: Do you think that’s what you hark back to on the album then, a more innocent day?
DC: I guess so. I’m harking back to a day I have no experience of if I am so I have no idea where that comes from. I think respect and manners have been lost along the way as well. I always tell me kids always be polite, you can be giving someone criticism or disagreeing with them, but deliver it politely. I wanted the album to have space, let people use their imagination.
HD: What’s next for Crybaby?
DC: The latest single from the album is When The Lights Go Out, but I’ll be releasing We’re Supposed To Be In Love as an EP next with a couple of covers on the B-side, Billie Holiday will be one of them. New material is already nearly done so hoping to get something else out by the end of the year.
(writers note: A few days later I was sat on the train listening to the album, the moment I heard What Am I Supposed To Do Without You Now?, knowing the story behind the track, I shed a few tears. I defy you not to be moved the same way).
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