Charlie Cunningham – [Interview]

Vor einer Woche spielte der britische Singer-/Songwriter Charlie Cunningham in der Kulturkirche Altona in Hamburg und stellte die ersten Songs seiner neuen EP Heights vor. Wir haben die Gelegenheit genutzt um herauszufinden, wann er endlich ein Album veröffentlicht und wie er sich fühlt, wenn er alleine riesige Bühnen füllen muss.

How do you feel? How is playing in Germany again?

Lovely. Pretty nice. Today is my fifth gig. Yes it’s been good. Nice people, nice venues.

Today we’re in a church. We wondered if you’re playing a lot of them?

Actually this is the first one on this tour, but I’m playing a church in Hamburg – ah no! I’m in Hamburg now – in Cologne. Yes, playing a church there as well. And I really like playing churches!

There’s a lot of reverb and I like natural reverb a lot, because my music is quite atmospheric at times and stuff like that. And this one here got a lot! So I think I have to adept slightly, but I rather have it, then not have it, you know? And what I also like on Churches, when people come to a church they’re very, kind of, interested and their minds are instantly are in a different place, ‘cause it’s seated and it’s quite nice.

It’s just kind of a different world.

Yes it is. Especially to a rock’n’roll club or something like that.

So when you’re playing in clubs you’re using a lot of digital effects like reverb?

Yes, it wouldn’t work as well without. It’s definitely part of the songs. They are all written with using reverb and so I always put a little bit on, everywhere I play, just to give it that little lift.

As you seem to really like the sound of it. Have you ever recorded something in a church?

No, I didn’t record anything in a church. But I want to. It’s something I really wanna do. Just get some nice microphones and get to a nice space. So I definitely will do that, but haven’t done it yet.

Speaking of recording: You will release you’re new Heights EP on the 8th of April and you just released the first single “Heights”. What we recognised first: No guitar?!

No, not on that song. There is on the rest of the EP. You know, I played a lot of piano and just wanted to get a bit of that on there and started using piano. The first two EPs are really guitar based and definitely everything I’m going to do is gonna have guitars being involved, but occasionally it’s nice to break with this. And melodically and rhythmically it’s the same kind of thing, it’s just a different instrument I’m using. But it’s still the same kind of vibe, I think?! Maybe it’s slightly more atmospheric, but it opens things up a little bit. You know, you just don’t want to be restricted with what you do. I think in the beginning I wanted to be restricted. I just wanted to do guitar and voice and lift it slightly. So I think it’s important to keep progressing. But now I’m just blabbering on that. Yes, I answered question. Done. (laughs)

So the song was already written on the piano?

Yes, it was actually written on the piano. You know, I played piano a lot when I was a kid. There was a piano in the house, so I always sat on it and played. I can’t read music or anything, but I have these little bits. And also on the thing after this EP there will be a few piano songs as well.

The thing after the EP? Finally an album? Because now everybody was like: What? An EP again?

What?!(laughs) Yes there is this one more. I always wanted to do three.

This was always the plan?

Yes, just to get this little, kind of, pockets of songs out there. But now I start to record an album. And it’s aiming to be out in the end of the year. November – somewhere round that, hopefully. And it will have a couple of songs from the EP’s on it, but also a lot of new ones. I just think there is no need to rush these things as long as I just keep things going, you know?

You said there will be songs from the EPs on the album. Will you go back to the studio, rearrange them or something like that to fit them in, because your newer songs are more produced then the old ones?

I don’t think that I will remix them. ‘Cause they just are what they are and they exist and the are their own thing. But I will put them in a context in the album, but I wouldn’t rerecord them. I don’t think. I’m not planning to anyway, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m open to whatever works best for the album.Charlie Cunningham Hamburg InterviewSo some other topic: When you’re on tour, you’re playing some big stages where you have to fill a huge area. How do you feel with this?

Nervous! Anxious! It was really scary at the beginning, but you just got to do it. I mean, you feel really exposed. And you feel a bit, like people saying: “Oh, no he’s just a guy with a guitar”. But then it’s just your job to convince them and get people on your side. So just be honest with your music and what you’re doing and people like honesty and stuff like that. Also I’ve got a kind percussive way of playing and that helps to fill space in a big room, you know? That constant, kind of, driving thing really works.

Have you ever considered adding some more people and instruments – a piano and a guitar maybe, like playing with a band?

Yes, definitely! I think about it. You know, we start doing that. On the album I’m just doing the songs and add putting on them what they need. And I’m not thinking how I’m gonna do this. Kinda like older songs will be able to be played on their own. As if it’s just me on the piano or on the guitar. Like that piano on Heights, it’s textured and it’s very atmospheric but essentially it can still be played voice and piano. We’ll be looking to add stuff, probably when I record the album. Maybe there might be a couple of things just lifting up the instruments – not too much though.

So you will not play Heights today? Well, obviously not because there is no paino on the stage.

No, not toady. That will be on the next loaded gig. This time it’s still this guitar and voice.

Are you planning on doing a next tour? 

Well, I don’t have a tour plan, yet, but there are a few festivals lined up. We will first finish this tour and see how it goes and then think about the next one. Probably there will be something around the time of the album release, so perhaps after Christmas or something.

You once told that you’re now living in London, but you are born in a small town. How is that part of your music? Because your music is not traditional English.

The guitar-playing has a bit of Spanish influences in it. Well, quite a lot of Flamenco influences actually, particularly on the first EP. And you know, I did play some Flamenco before, a lot of rock and lot’s of bluesy kind of stuff. So I think my overall thing is a bit of a mix. However, the lyrics and the way I’m delivering and saying stuff is very english, I think.

Talking about the first EP and that it is very Spanish you lived in Spain for a while. Now it’s getting less and less with the Spanish influence. Do you think this is related to your place of living? 

I think the first EP is really like guitar, voice and a few bits and the second one has a similar kind of vibe. For this last one, before I go into the album, I wanted to open things up. Definitely there will be all of that stuff on the album but just spacing everything out. You don’t want to limit yourself or anything. You wanna have consistency, but I’m not consistently doing Spanishy style stuff. Having done those couple of EP’s, it is like „okay, let’s see what we can do for the album“. The EP’s are kind of like little tests and for the album we puzzle them all together.

Chris Umbach

Gründer von reissnadel.com - studierte, neben dieser Sache mit Musik, irgendwas mit Flugzeugen im Norden Deutschlands und geht, ab und an, auf orangefarbener Schwalbe auf Reisen.

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