Musician Ciaran Lavery: ‘I’d go nuts if I only listened to other singer-songwriters’

Ciaran Lavery. Picture: Kathrin Baumbach

Ciaran Lavery. Picture: Kathrin Baumbach - Credit: Kathrin Baumbach www.kathrinbaum

Ciaran Lavery is an up-and-coming Irish singer-songwriter whose music has an Americana and hip-hop twist. He speaks to Imogen Blake about his second album, Let Bad In, ahead of a show in King’s Cross on May 27.

Your second full-length album, Let Bad In, has a different sound to your debut and your EP...

I’m constantly trying to do new things rather than sticking to one area. I would be uncomfortable if the audience had to hear the same thing year on year. I wanted to branch out on some tracks and then with some songs to really strip it back to just the voice and the guitar, or my voice and a piano because in a lot of shows, it’s just me playing solo.

What were your inspirations for this record?

When I was writing songs for the album, I found a home video, converted to DVD, from a family trip to Blackpool when I was about seven. I can’t really remember the trip but when I watched the DVD, I looked unbelievably excited.

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It’s that thing of being younger and everything being amazing, when you see something for the first time. There was a lot of that on the album, it had a running theme where a lot of the songs are looking back at being a certain age, when you don’t understand what the consequences are of what’s happening at that time.

How does a boy from a small town in County Antrim end up making music with hip hop influences?

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When I was 13, everyone still listened to the radio in a huge way, and at that time, Eminem had just brought out his Slim Shady LP which was massive for us as teenagers, not only saying stuff that we could say but doing it for us, there was something so fresh and new about it.

As a teenager, I was easily influenced and I soaked it all up like a sponge. I’m still nostalgic about certain sounds; I think a lot of people are, because it reminds them of being a teenager. If I just listened to singer songwriters all the time, I would drive myself nuts and I’m pretty sure my music would be quite one-dimensional.

It’s been said you’re a singer-songwriter who is far away from the stereotype of that genre… do you have trouble with the label?

I can’t argue with it because if I show up on stage with an acoustic guitar and say I’m not a singer-songwriter, I’m just being silly. I do like to branch out at times, but I am comfortable with the fact I’m going to be called a singer-songwriter, to fight it would be too hard. But it is nice to have influences from different sounds and bring those in.

You still live in the village where you grew up, Aghagallon. Why have you never moved?

People think you have to move to Hollywood to make it, but that idea doesn’t really exist anymore. You can now exist anywhere in the world, in any corner, as long as it has a wifi connection. I grew up here and it’s great, they don’t treat me any differently, and they won’t do no matter how far my career goes.

Ciaran Lavery performs at St Pancras Old Church in St Pancras on May 27. His album Let Bad In is released on the same day.

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