He tells us how he’s a workaholic when it comes to making music, and his habit of cooking while listening to Radiohead’s latest LP.
LTW had a chat.
D: So how are things generally?
BD: Good, I’ve just moved house and got some room to set up a wee studio, so I’m eager to get all my stuff set up and try to get some demos done of new material.
There is little information about you on the internet except for your Bandcamp page. Tell us a little more about your background in music.
BD: I was in a band years ago in Glasgow with my brother and a mate. I went to Stow college in Glasgow and got a HND in music and audio technology about 10 years ago. I run a wee business at the moment repairing musical instruments. I’m based in Dunblane now but grew up in Prestwick.
I was in the same class at college as Andy from the Twilight Sad, we both went on to Uni to do the same thing, I dropped out, but think he stayed on to finish the course just as Fatcat signed them. It’s funny, everyone at college and Uni were in bands or doing something, Andy had his band but didn’t go on about it much. We swapped music and he gave me his band’s first demo, with the artwork all done. It looked good and when I heard it I was blown away.I’ve been following them ever since, it’s pretty cool to see a friend go on and do well.
Your work sounds quite raw and real, story-telling stuff as if reading from a diary. It sounds like a mixture of John Fahey and Ballboy. Big fans of both?
BD: Never heard of them, ha! But will check them out, but thanks anyway.
Who then would you say you are influenced by?
BD: I listen to a lot of different music so hard to say exactly. It probably seeps from everywhere, like what I’m listening to right now and what I’ve absorbed over the years. The landscape around me, my past, books I’ve read, people and all the trouble in the world inspires me”Â¦and the pleasure of just making something up, dreaming and a general hunger to make music.
As far as artists are concerned and the way I play guitar Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Bill Fay, Nick Drake, Neil Young, Beck, all those guys. I learnt to fingerstyle playing along to their records. Discovering alternative tunings from the likes of Thurston Moore and Nick Drake opened up a world of possibilities. I’m always writing and can’t keep up with myself half the time, if I discover an interesting guitar tuning I’ll write a few songs or instrumentals. I’ve got hundreds of songs on tapes and CDs of stuff I’ve never finished, boxes full of notepads of lyrics and sketches of songs and ideas
Frightened Rabbit, the Twilight Sad, Mogwai, Arab Strap and their solo stuff, the Fence Collective, James Yorkston. They are all from Scotland, there is a lot of good stuff going on here and these bands also gave me confidence to do it myself and to sing in my own vernacular. I’ve seen all of these guys live several times over, it’s a thrilling scene to be around. Around 2006 I became friendly with a band on Myspace called Bibles of Twang (a great name and a good band). They were the ones who got me into Bill Fay. One of Bill Fay’s had the title “From the Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock”Â, and this inspired my own song Grandfather Clock, which I played in the style of the harp, which in turn was a result of my listening to Joanna Newsom.
Do you play many gigs? If so it just you on stage or are you accompanied by other musicians?
BD: I used to play in an indie band in the ’90s and that was good fun but would bore me now. I’ve done a few gigs around Scotland, just me and my guitar. I’m not into playing to small audiences that’s made of friends and family as it’s not very satisfying or challenging, so I avoid that kind of thing. I prefer an audience of strangers that I have to win over because it makes you raise your game.
I go to local folk clubs and play to hone my stagecraft if you will. It’s good sitting in a circle and taking your turn, listening to stories and discovering songs you wouldn’t otherwise hear. I try out new stuff this way. There is a good mix at these folk clubs and people like to have a laugh and a drink. It can be quite competitive too, they’re all lovers of music so I will come away with ideas and things to work on.
Is your heart-on-sleeve lyric writing style something that comes naturally?
BD: I guess so. I do write a lot but not in a contrived way. Because I’m always playing and listening to music stuff just comes out. It’s usually the music first then the lyrics”Â¦my songs are rarely about one subject”Â¦I see them as a thousand thoughts compressed into songs. Although now I think about it (“”Ëthe bloody excellent”Â- D) Sea of Timber started with the guitar part and I had that opening line, which is a gift because that song just wrote itself after that, just taking that one image from the opening line and taking it a walk through my mind.
I grew up on the west coast of Scotland, right by the sea and that’s in my blood. I haven’t lived there for years but in a way that song is about trying to get back there”Â¦to the place of my childhood”Â¦climbing trees and all that”Â¦there is a theme there I guess in a lot of my songs.
And finally, what are you listening to at the minute, any favourite current records?
BD: I’m always listening to Sonic Youth, Can or Neu in the car. Animal Collective and Twilight Sad in the house.I’ve got into the habit of cooking to the King of Limbs . I was never a Radiohead fan but the last two records have really connected with me. I’m looking forward to Frightened Rabbit’s new EP”Â¦Midnight Organ Fight is one of my all time favourite albums. Also the new Grizzly Bear and Toy records.