Saturday, 16 November 2013

in conversation with Ciaran Lavery

The main aim when starting the Tayalarz mix series was to create a cohesive compilation of music that is currently up for grabs and won't cost a penny to source, offering a little guidance as we pull together a playlist to save you the hard work.

Yet, as we have been putting the finishing touches to November's instalment, Volume 2 from last month has still been on heavy rotation and one artist's efforts in particular have stood out and caused persistent earworms.

So we caught up with Ciaran Lavery to discuss cover versions, musical discoveries and to further spotlight a singer/songwriter that we feel fortunate to have found in the process of plucking ripe mp3s from the unfathomably large world wide web.

my approach to this mixtape in particular was to simply search hype machine for particular words or phrases and see where it would take me, i came across yourself after searching for 'killer', influenced by halloween that was right around the corner and finding your version of Psycho Killer, what is the strangest way or place you have stumbled across music that has truly impressed you?

I most usually find my music on amazon, I have been doing that for years. I like that feeling of stumbling across something new to my ears, for a brief period it feels like I'm the only one in the world who knows about them, then when I research further I tend to find I'm the last to know and it takes that magic feeling away. If I had to say the most random though it would maybe have to be finding a Grateful Dead LP inside a Wu Tang Clan CD couldn't make that up

were there any cover versions that didnt make the cut, or that you wanted to make work but couldn't find a way?

I had originally tried to re-work just random covers of all decades but it just so happened to work out that the most appropriate were in and around the same time. I think around that time I had demoed some Lykke Li and New Order but they never made it to studio

i have only discovered you recently, but your debut album was released in march of this year, what has the reaction been to it so far?

The album was such a great thing to make just on a personal level. I have read some really nice things from people I've always respected in the music world who seemed to think it was quite special, and I still randomly get people coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoy listening to it. The other day I heard how someone has listened to the album for a straight week - that's kind of mind-blowing. At the end of the day when I finished recording and the day it was released it's no longer mine anymore, but rather it belongs to whoever bought or downloaded or copied it. At the same time I didn't expect it to be welcomed in with open arms by all types of music lovers, it can be a very personal album. In other words it's never going to be played at a party, unless the idea is to clear the place

presumably the Covers EP is a stopgap between the album and your next full length project or release of original material, what plans are you developing right now and when will we next hear the fruit of your labours?

I think it's pretty typical of songwriters to always be writing and scheming some sort of plans and I'm no different. I have a lot of songs that I've been test driving at gigs over the past while and initial plans to record again are in place so I'm excited about that. I would never want to go in and record the same sounding record so the covers EP was important for me to get away from a sound I could have been pigeonholed with and I intend to do the same when it comes to recording my new material

any plans for a christmas single perhaps? get it right and you could see those Noddy Holder style royalties rolling in each year... 

No, no - I think it's hard to beat Noddy Holder's effort. Christmas singles can be really hit or miss these days, it's not like the 80s when there were so many good songs out every year competing. When you think of those compilation CD's at Christmas time, a hell of a lot of the good stuff is based in that decade. There will never be another Wizard or Slade single, which is sad. At least Christmas jumpers are's a step in the right direction

do you have a favourite cover version? 

That's a tough one because there are so many and probably a lot that I have yet to hear but based on the knowledge of them that I have I would have to say it's a toss up between Bon Iver's version of 'Love More' originally by Sharon Van Etten and Rage Against The Machine's take on 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' by Bruce Springsteen

what was it that drew you to record those songs featured on 'Other People Wrote These'?

It was a project I had wanted to do for a long period, but the chance never really reared its head until maybe a few weeks before I went in to record the tracks. One day I said to myself "ok, it's time to do this for real" and that was that. The whole process was like that really. There was no massive time lapse between any part of the process, the whole thing was started and finished inside three days. I wouldn't have it any other way. The songs weren't particularly personal to me before the process, but I knew that when selecting them I wanted to have the room to almost reshape them, and these songs just seemed to lend themselves to the process best. I also felt it important to break down any boundaries on song selection that may have been there based on my own self written material

Our mixtapes so far have skirted between down tempo beats, trap music, folk, dubstep and a few other genres besides, when was the last time you compiled a mixtape and what was on it?

Ah god, I'm not entirely sure. I used to help compose travel CDs that ranged from the most outrageous, to the cheesy. But I guess a would have been a long time ago. I was actually clearing out in the attic the other day and I found a cassette tape, it got me thinking about mixtapes and how much effort went into making them. Maybe one day I'll make one real soon just to say I did it and feel nostalgic again

and in the spirit of discovering new music, we think that you should perhaps check out Benin City and what they have been doing recently, who would you suggest we take a listen to that is deserving of the exposure right now?

In no particular order check out The Emerald Armada, Joshua Burnside and Ian O'Doherty - each amazing in their own right

a massive thank you to Ciaran Lavery for taking the time to answer our questions

and to stay up to date, be sure to follow Ciaran on Twitter and Facebook

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