Cian Ducrot has always sought to express himself. To him, making music is as natural as breathing, as instinctive as bird song. In fact, that’s what brings him to his latest project, teaming up with Redbreast Irish Whiskey to raise awareness of our avian companions.
His current success is a long way from his roots as an aspiring music, couch-surfing his way from London to Los Angeles, the Cork-born artist knew that his journey would take him somewhere… even if he wasn’t exactly sure where.
Eventually, that point of connection became apparent. Cian’s live clips on TikTok regularly clocked up audiences in their millions, while songs like ‘All For You’ became palpable breakout moment. Dulcet of voice and mature in his outlook, the Irish artist seemed to touch parts of your heart you weren’t exactly sure existed.
Debut album ‘Victory’ emerged earlier this year, and shot straight to No. 1 on the UK charts. Informed by – and dedicated to – his mother, the material touched on some tender, and enormously personal aspects of his life. Constructed in Paris alongside producer Tristan Salvati, the two conjured something truly special.
But that’s not all. Since then, Cian’s life has been pushed into fast-forward, a hectic but heart-swelling series of shows across North America and Europe. Returning to London, he’s set to catch his breath for a unique performance, powered by Redbreast Irish Whiskey.
Robin Redbreast Day returns on November 16th, with Cian Ducrot joining fans for a very special early morning set at a Central London location. Highlighting the loss of native birdsong, he wants to encourage us to find new balance, and re-immerse ourselves in our surroundings.
Clash caught up with Cian Ducrot to find out more.
How has your year been? It looks as though it’s been non-stop since your album!
It’s been amazing! I love touring so much, so it’s been absolutely amazing. We just finished in America. We’re travelling across mainland Europe, then we’ve got UK and Ireland. We’re touring all the way up to Christmas.
How was America?
Brilliant. Crazy to go to America, play all these random places, and have all these fans come to your shows who love the music. It’s so different out there, it’s a really interesting place to see.
Playing live is all about personal connection, isn’t it? Is that important to you?
Absolutely, I love it. It’s so special to have that. For me, it’s one of the most important parts, that sense of human connection. Seeing people at my shows is just so special.
Robin Redbreast Day is on November 16th, and you have something special coming up. How did this come about?
I’ve wanted to work with Redbreast for a while now. We have a lot of common interests – love of music, love for nature, and a shared passion for making the world a better place through what we do. The loss of so many species of birds – and bird song – is a really sad thing. I grew up in a rural area of Cork in Ireland, so I heard so many different types of bird song growing up. We had bird feeders in our garden, I’d imitate them walking to school. Every morning you’d wake up, open your curtains, and it makes you feel better. To hear that is disappearing, and there’s such a huge decline in bird life… that’s devastating. It’s primarily down to us, as humans – deforestation, agricultural expansion, and so on. I want to raise awareness of that.
Redbreast is an Irish company, and the fact that they’re trying to do something so positive is something I can totally align with. I’ve always wanted my music to help make the world a better place. Together we can hopefully raise awareness. With this project, we’re trying to create a cool, immersive performance experience right in the centre of London. We’ll have this hopefully emotional, thought-provoking performance. It’s taking place at the time of bird song, in a city where we should really hear bird song… but we’re not. My fanbase has all age groups in it, and I think that’s important, as we can all help to make a change.
It’s a really beautiful idea. The pandemic seemed to bring this into focus, didn’t it – the lack of traffic made people appreciate bird song all the more… this aspect of music in their background lives.
As humans, we sometimes forget we’re a part of nature. As the species with the greatest sense of consciousness, that gives us a sense of responsibility. Sometimes our responsibility is to intervene, and to help the world around us. We have that role, we can make a difference. Even if it’s through something as crazy as music! Myself, I can maybe use it to raise awareness.
It’s a great cause, and a special event – perhaps the earliest show you’ve ever done?
Yeah! And it’s very hard to sing in the morning… so who knows, maybe I’ll stay up all night.
Do you think what you do live and what you do in the studio are different, or does it all flow together?
It’s very different skills, for sure, but they are linked. Recording in the studio, you’re almost imagining there are people alongside you. I feel like I sing better in front of people, or when I’m in a performance situation, so I sometimes try to bring that energy into a space. It’s similar, and you try to link them. With performing, you’re trying to sing as well as you did on the record, while also running around, connecting with people… doing a million different things!
How do you get a ‘live’ feeling in the studio?
Sometimes there are people there, but most of the time it’s about getting into the zone, and embracing the meaning of the song. Sometimes it can come easy, and I don’t have to think too much, but sometimes you have to push yourself into a certain space.
It’s been an incredible year for you, as ‘Victory’ has conquered all before it – you must be incredibly proud.
Absolutely. It’s so amazing to have an album out, and the reception it’s had has been so special. To see the reaction from fans… that’s been really special. The connection between people and the songs has continued to grow. It feels great.
Recorded in Paris, a city close to your heart – does the atmosphere of the city seep into the album?
I always felt a connection to Paris. I love that city, it’s always felt like a second home. It’s where my mum comes from, my name is from there. It has emotional ties to me and my family. This album is obviously inspired by and dedicated to my mum. I stumbled into making the album there, and I fell in love with that process. I met the producer of the album there. I’ve never been a fan of the way the music business works, it often feels stale, and not encouraging of people being themselves. The atmosphere really felt conducive for me saying what I wanted. There’s something about Paris, the French language, the lifestyle… I felt like I was making something different, and I was doing it in a way that felt quite unique.
The album feels very organic, and very true to you.
Oh, definitely. When I had written a couple of songs before the album truly came to life, I realised that what I had left to do was create the sonic of the album… and the songs that were more meaningful, and more deeper into my feelings. I knew I had the singles, the means of connecting to people, but I wanted something else. I knew exactly what I wanted that to be, and how I could get there. So, in a way, it came together quite easily.
Was it quite free-flowing in the studio, then?
Well, myself and Tristan both speak French. We communicate together quite easily. But while Tristan is a great producer, he isn’t a songwriter – so he never gets in my way. He’s great at adding to the songs, but he let me be myself. When you do sessions, sometimes people try to write the songs for you! And I don’t want that. What I do want, is a great creative bounce-board who can help me get to what I want. Tristan would know what I was capable of, and encourage me to go deeper. He’s got so much experience in collaborating – he’s worked with some of the biggest French artists in the past 10 years. I think the fact that he’s not native English speaking means he lets me tell my story. I’m left to do what I want, while having this amazing musical companion to help me along the way. It’s a special collaboration in that way.
Cian Ducrot joined with Redbreast Irish Whiskey for a unique wake-up call performance in Central London on November 16th, Robin Redbreast Day.
Visit redbreastwhiskey.com to find out more about Redbreast, its partnership with BirdLife International, and how you can help create a positive future for all birds.