C Duncan is always changing.
The Scottish songwriter won overwhelming acclaim with his debut album 'Architect', securing a Mercury nomination in the process.
Dreamy pop music with classical flourishes, his evocative sound manages to somehow channel explicitly modern ideas while having an almost Baroque taste for the ornate.
New album 'Health' represents a number of significant changes in both his life and his writing. elbow's Craig Potter took charge of production, the first time C Duncan has allowed an outsider to handle this, while the songwriting itself is bold, his most open, honest work to date.
Out now, the record is a lush, intriguing, continually fascinating offering, something we'll enjoy visiting over the coming weeks and months.
Clash caught up with C Duncan for a Track By Track guide.
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Talk Talk Talk
It's about miscommunication. It’s about not realising that you’re actually on the same page as someone and how a misperception can drive you apart. However, it’s also about realising this and rebuilding bridges.
Wrong Side Of The Door
This one is about getting over breakups and getting my shit together. I was basically dumped twice in one year and this really knocked my confidence. Not that I would want to be the one to end a relationship, but I had no control over how things ended with each and this confused me for a while. This song is the outcome of having some time alone and finally closing the door and moving on.
‘Impossible’ is about the long distance relationship I had with my partner before we moved in together. He was living and working on the east coast of Scotland and I was still in Glasgow. We spent every weekend together, but it was difficult throughout the week, and at one point he was working night shifts so it was very hard to communicate with each other because our schedules were completely out of sync. I wanted to see him all of the time, but it was impossible to do at that point in time.
He Came From The Sun
It’s about my reaction to coming out as gay. I wrote it around the time of the anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and although it isn’t directly about this, it got me thinking about my own life and how lucky I’ve been.
Chechnya was a stark reminder of how warped and brutal the world can still be. Like most, it wasn’t easy for me to come out as it I had kept it quiet for so long, and when I did, it changed my perception of who I was which took some time to get used to. The character depicted in the song is almost a martyr-like figure who symbolises the ongoing fight for gay rights, and the activists who do so.
‘Holiday Home’ was written for my dad. He was going through a very tough time and I wanted to write something super breezy to cheer him up. The holiday home I’m referring to is my parents holiday home in France, and the repetition of the word ‘magnolia’ refers to the colour, which is perceived as an almost comically inoffensive and neutral colour - and a colour that my dad and I are quite fond of because of this.
The title-track is about the end of a previous relationship. It was a very intense relationship, but I couldn’t hold onto it and we started to drift apart.
This had a huge impact on both our mental health and the only way to remedy this was to go our separate ways. It was an extremely painful breakup as up until then we shared everything, but one that was necessary to get us both back on track.
Somebody Else’s Home
It's about how I met my partner. On our first date he invited me to for dinner at his home. We were living in different cities at the time so he offered me a bed for the night. I arrived on a Friday and left on Monday... It was a strange sensation being in somebody else’s home - especially when it was a first date. I was in a new place, in an unknown town and surrounded by somebody else’s belongings, and yet I felt settled.
This is about doing what you want to do and not letting others discourage or bring you down. It’s about not relying on others to show you the way and essentially just marching to your own tune.
‘Reverie’ is about a period of time when I very low and spent a huge amount of time just lying in bed. My mental health had taken a nose dive and I kept having recurring thoughts and dreams about being consumed by the sea. It felt as though there was someone else in the room holding me to the bed and making me think these things.
Pulses And Rain
For some reason on each album I write, I have a song about writing songs. This one is about just that. I was working away in isolation and when I started this album I didn’t have a anything to grasp hold of - no big conceptual ideas or themes - so I felt like I was totally starting from scratch. As exciting as this is, it’s a daunting prospect when you’re sitting staring at the wall trying to think what the entire album will be about. Of course, once you start actually getting notes down everything begins to make sense and finally everything falls into place.
Stuck Here With You
This one is basically about starting off on high and gradually drifting further and further apart from someone or something until finally you just have to make do with the situation.
Quite simple, it's about being heartbroken. You are hurting a lot and in a way you just give up caring.
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'Health' is out now.
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