Thursday, 9 May 2013

We're Only Here For The Banter - Dear Lara

It's a bit of a singer songwriter cliché these days really.  Broken relationship, head to a log cabin/secluded island/hut in the middle of nowhere/delete as appropriate, write some songs.  Yet when it produces music as heartfelt and stripped back as 'Plans', the EP which was born of Dear Lara's recent recordings, then it can be cliched all it wants!

Hello, how are you?

Hi, I’m a little sleepy because I’m just in from work but well thanks.  Hope you’re good.

Indeed I am!  It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

My solo music came about sort of by accident.  I had found myself in some sort of post university crisis, just been laid off from my job, realised that I had to finish my band because I was the only one who cared anymore, and try get over a breakup which ended for the same reason.  This cheery sequence of events made me decide to pack up and go travelling for a few months, just pretending I was a Glasgow uni student finding themselves on their ‘gap year’ around Asia until the money ran out.  One of the first things I did after arriving was buy a little kids classical guitar at a market.  Between reflecting on what I had left back home and my new beach bum lifestyle, I started writing these songs which had a different feel to anything I’d done before.  I get inspired to write songs by listening to great music by other artists, but it’s the things that happen to me, the places I visit and my relationships / experiences with people which influence my music completely.  Really, my songs are just simple, hopefully, relaxing acoustic songs to fall asleep or something to.  You really can’t really dance to them unfortunately.  Sway at most.

What's your song writing process like?

New songs will generally be like a snapshot of whatever I’m going through at that particular time.  I’ll be inspired to write a song by odd things like a view from the top of a mountain, the feeling I get when I’m travelling somewhere alone for the first time, or a scene in a movie which cripples you with nostalgia.  Just anything that makes me feel something.  I’ll normally scribble down a lyric on my hand or a bit of paper and then hopefully it will snowball from there.  I’ll end up with a pile of messy notes with awful handwriting which I’ll decipher into something that reads like a sort of poem.  A singing melody and guitar always seems to work themselves out after that, but the focus is definitely on the lyrics to begin with.  I think it’s important I try and keep things natural.  I never sit down and decide to write a song.  I want it to be from a real moment of inspiration or genuine feeling.

Your recent EP 'Plans' was recorded in a loch side cabin. What was the experience like?

Just brilliant, I had such a good time.  I still can’t really believe it all worked out and went to plan.  I always had the sound I wanted in my head and initially tried recording a demo at a little studio but it just never seemed right to me.  It just seemed to lack the intimacy or character I was looking for.  Home recordings got me closer to the sound I wanted, but it got frustrating when I’d have to keep scrapping takes because of a freight truck going by or a flatmate cooking a pie in the microwave.  I heard how one of my favourite artists, Fionn Regan, went to this log cabin and recorded his newest album by himself with one microphone and that started a little pipe dream in my head.  After a few chats with my friends, Jodie Laird and Steven Forrest, we found a cheap offer and headed up to Loch Awe with a guitar, microphone, and a bunch of fairy lights to see what happened.  The whole experience was a giant learning curve with a lot of trial and error as none of us really knew what we were doing.  The place was incredibly beautiful and it was amazing being able to take a walk through the woods to the loch under moonlight before sitting down and recording a song.  It was just a great, relaxed and comfortable vibe with no pressure and I think that came through in the recordings.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Some old, pretty guitar and someone unworthy playing it.  I have a bad habit filling my set time with silly stories about the songs but apart from that I’ll try my best to play them with feeling and keep it organic by mixing up the setlist depending on how the audience is reacting.  I throw in the odd unexpected cover once in a blue moon too.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

I think just finishing the EP.  It’s a collection of all my first songs which always felt like they belonged together.

What have you got planned for 2013?

I just hope to get the chance to play some good gigs to more people, hopefully some outside of Glasgow too.  I have enough new songs to record another little EP… but we’ll see what happens.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

A brilliant singer-songwriter and friend of mine is Michael Timmons who creates beautifully ambient music which is incredible live.  You can’t really believe the wall of sound is coming from one guy.  One of my all time favourite bands who I still can’t believe got dropped by their label were the Irish band The Thrills.  They were the closest thing to a modern Beach Boys for me and the honesty and melodies in Conor Deasy’s lyrics definitely had a huge impact on a 15 year old me hearing their first album.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

I went to a seaside disco last night.  Pulled a muscle.

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  1. what a sweetheart!

  2. heard him last night, was absolutely mesmerising.