A native of Aghagallon in County Antrim, Ciaran Lavery has been mapping the diverse trajectory of the human heart since his debut album, Not Nearly Dark, in 2013. Lavery sings from the inside out in a voice that augments the candor of his words over predominantly acoustic templates channeling the sonic spirit of America. Think Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and, however incongruous the assimilation of influences, hip hop. Small wonder that Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody has used superlatives such as “stunning” and “magical” to describe him.
Andy Howells recently interviewed the man who teeth in his teens on the local music scene as front man of seven-piece alt-folk outfit Captain Kennedy.
What lead you to becoming a musician?
I have been involved in music for the past decade or so of my life, I guess at this point I wouldn’t know what else to do. I started out wanting to play the electric guitar and form my very own punk rock band as a teen, but I quickly realised the instrument wasn’t for me as much as I tried. So with some help from my brother in law I started picking up the acoustic guitar. Songs followed suit after about a year of painstaking practice
Who or what has inspired you most on your musical journey?
There’s been so many people both directly and indirectly that have shaped the musical landscape around me. I am personally indebted to my brother in law Stephen who brainwashed me from a young age, feeding my brain with Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, CCR and Woody Guthrie. A few years ago a good friend of mine Paul Wilkinson was influential in the steps I took as a solo performer and helped to mould the lo fi sound I love so much. My family obviously are a massive influence and support network. Indirectly I have to thank Jason Molina & also the world of hip hop for having such an influence on an impressionable 13 year old me; for that I am grateful
Can you give us some background about your most recent album?
I have just recently finished recording a new album and it’s quite different from anything I’ve done before. The whole thing is very nostalgic for me personally and I’ve included a few things will hopefully help a listener along the same path. There are elements of both light and dark which I’m drawn to with all my music, but also room to boogie; I can’t deny anyone that chance
You’re touring shortly are you looking forward to that?
I really am excited. I’m visiting a lot of new places and am looking forward to meeting new friends along the way. It’s always a bit of a mystery what to expect from shows in new towns or cities so I’ve taught myself not to expect anything and just see what happens. Either way, it’ll be a blast
What can people expect from your forthcoming Cardiff gig?
Really sad songs, lots of stories and horrible bad jokes. I like to think my shows break down the barrier that can appear between the performer and audience – it’s gonna be a lot of fun
What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
Lots of stuff. In no specific order; Paul Buchanan, Kendrick Lamar, Anais Mitchell, Gillian Welch & some Cold War Kids
- Ciaran Lavery plays The Louisiana, Bristol on October 23 and Dempsey’s, Cardiff on October 24. For more details about Ciaran and his music visit ciaranlaverymusic.com
- A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on October 16, 2015