Freshly picked up by the safe hands of FatCat Records, this music composition graduate is an artist that we're looking forward to hearing more of. Fusing his musical know-how with an aesthetic that is ventilated and easy on the ears, we spoke to C Duncan about his classical background, the art of looping and Glasgow's unique voice.
Having two classical musicians as parents and yourself a classically trained musician, what stopped you from fully pursuing the classical route?
I wouldn’t say that I have stopped pursuing the classical route. I have just diverted away from writing for classical ensembles for now. I approach songwriting in the same way that I approach classical music. My music is very densely harmonised vocally and the arrangements generally have quite a lot going on. Whilst studying composition I was also recording a lot of songs, and since then my interest in classical and popular music have started merging together. I plan to incorporate more of my classical influences into my music - particularly my love of impressionism. Although I am focused on writing songs at the moment, I do still occasionally write for ensembles and theatre.
Talk us through your influences, both musical and general.
I listen to so much music from so many genres, but I am particularly influenced by folk, choral music and impressionism. From old barbershop quartets like the Mills Brothers to Bjork, Cocteau Twins to Thundercat, Michel Legrand to Connan Mockasin, Burt Bacharach to Anna Calvi… Anything that has a good melody and well arranged. Whilst growing up I sang in a lot of choirs (which I loved) and this is definitely apparent in my music. There’s something about lots of voices singing in harmony that really speaks to me (or sings to me!) I particularly like the dreamlike sound world of impressionist composers like Ravel, Delius and Debussy, and this is something I’d like to explore more in my next songs. Other than my musical influences, I am very interested in art. You can conjure feelings and worlds through images, and I guess that’s what I'm trying to do through my music.
With an incredibly layered yet delicate sound, how do you transpose your music in to a live setting?
Good question… When I was writing the album I didn’t think of how it could be replicated live. I love layering vocals and instruments and as a consequence it has been quite tricky to reproduce the tracks in a live setting. To perform the tracks I would need a band of about 20 people, which isn’t very easy to put together, so instead I have have stripped it back to just 2 of us performing for now. Myself and a friend Lluis. We play various instruments and use a lot of live looping, effects and pre recorded parts (which we mess around with on stage) to create the the dense and luscious arrangements of the songs.
When I think of Glasgow music scene I can’t help but think of the various lacklustre indie bands that have faded in to obscurity (Glasvegas, Danananakroyd, The Fratellis), is the musical horizon in Glasgow looking a little brighter in 2014 or do you hope to move elsewhere?
There is a lot of great and unusual music being made in Glasgow at the moment - Babe, Honeyblood, Chvrches etc… There are also a lot of great composers here in Glasgow. The arts scene really has it's own voice. Of course it would be nice to live elsewhere for a bit, but Glasgow will always be home. There is so much going on here musically and artistically.
You have a forthcoming LP due to drop on FatCat Records in Summer 2015? Will the record hold a similar aesthetic to the track ‘For’?
Indeed I do! The songs on the album are all quite different to be honest. However, like ‘For’ (and perhaps even more so than ‘For’) they are all full of layered vocals. Vibe-wise, it’s a pretty chilled out album and each track just kind of does it’s own thing.
Where can we hear the latest news from you?
You can hear all my latest news at:
Any parting words?
I will be gigging soon and releasing more tracks over the next few months so keep an eye out for me!
Words: George Hemmati