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Interview: Ciaran Lavery

Ciaran Lavery

Ciaran LaveryQuench’s Mark Sweeney called up the busy man that is Ciaran Lavery last week and this is what spoke about….

Quench Music (QM): Hey! It’s great to speak to you! You’re just off the back of a pretty big tour and you’re starting Switzerland and Germany, before the UK tomorrow.  How is the tour going?

Ciaran Lavery (CL): The last few weeks have been a blur! It’s been touring every weekend, either festivals or gigs every weekend since about May.  This is my first headline tour. I’m doing four shows in Switzerland; they’re mainly small shows, cafes, and similar in Germany and the UK. They’re going to be small and intimate; without the usual barrier between me and the audience. The shows will be stripped back, talking and interacting with the audience. The room fits the music; it’s suited to the sound.  There’s the chance for one or two of really intimate shows; no amps, just me and the guitar. They’re going to be really special.

QM: Your single ‘Shame’ has just passed 11 million streams on Spotify, and your new release ‘Sea Legs’ has been really well received by fans; what’s next?

CL: Well, this will be my first UK headline tour. I want to get good numbers every night, meet new people and spread the word. Then in 2016, I’ll return back in the New Year with a bigger presence. I’m sitting on a new release, which will be out early 2016. It’s a full album so it’ll be lots of promo for the release.

QM: Did you expect to get so much attention?

CL: I didn’t expect it at all. A song doing well is not always down to a song being good; I make the music that feels good to me. There’s so much music coming out, so I’m just focused on releasing new music and keeping as fresh as possible. But I didn’t even notice the Spotify thing; my brother in law told me! I find it best when my music is out. It’s not in my hands and out to the world. After releasing a track, I don’t listen for a while; you can’t help but see imperfections. I enjoy a month later when it’s done, and people have taken it as their own.

At the start, I was worried about the Internet. It’s a great leveler. So many people are putting out music right now. I didn’t know the right things to do, so I just saw what worked and then hit those heavily. You’ve got to invest in your own music, otherwise nobody else will.

QM: Most of your following is online.  How much does radio play affect you?

CL: I had the last Hottest Record on Radio 1 before Zane Lowe left for Apple. It’s not the same without him. Radio 1 is an institution; it has so many listeners at any point, if your music is there then you’re bound to find fans. In the UK, it’s more the main stations that are supporting. I’ve had lots of support from XFM. With the release of the new album coming up, I’m trying to make an impact on UK radio.

Mostly though, people find music online, and it’s worldwide. On Spotify I can see where streams are coming from and there are lots of new listeners outside the UK. I’ve recently had people listen from Jerusalem, South America and central European countries.

QM: Who are your influences and what music inspires you right now?

CL: At the moment, a bit of everything, I go through phases. For example the last three or four weeks I’ve been through a nostalgic phase; listening to songs from when I was 14 or 15; Wu Tang Clan, Liquid Swords. I’ve been listening to a lot of punk rock too. I’ve listened a lot to it, but it’s the only genre that doesn’t influence my music.

I really like the new album from Sufjan Stevens. It’s heavy; handle it with care. Also, Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air. It’s just him and a piano. He has a voice older than his age, him and a piano. It’s amazing.

QM: You’re in Cardiff at the end of October.  What do you make of the Cardiff music scene?

There’s a folk festival I was at which is where I first got a taste of Welsh folk music. It’s called the Alliance Folk Festival. It’s happens in a big hotel – the beds are taken out of the rooms on the top three floors, and each room as a different artist in. There’s so many genres, traditional folk, welsh folk, country. Every room is a gig and it’s so easy to find a new artist or genre you’ve never heard before.

Ciaran Lavery plays Cardiff on October 24th. £6.