INTERVIEW: NZ's Delaney Davidson back in London   20 Aug 2018

Charlotte Everett

Following his sold out show in May at London's Servant Jazz Quarters, Delaney Davidson will be back next month - teaming up with Blair Jollands for a double bill of alternative Americana. He's also just finished touring Europe with Marlon Williams, and released a brand new album, Shining Day. In the midst of so much going on, he caught up with NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett for a chat...


Kia Ora Delaney! You've just toured Europe with Marlon Williams – how did that come about?

Me and Marlon did a lot of work together a few years ago, released three albums and toured pretty solidly in New Zealand for two years. I was going to be in Europe around the same time as him, and co-wrote a few of the songs on Make Way For Love, so it seemed a natural fit to join him. We did 15 shows. 


You’ve described yourself as “part man, part wheel”. How would you describe your music style, and what can people expect from one of your shows?

My music style is difficult to define, but I often say Ghost Blues. It has a heavy noir and soundtrack influence, and draws a lot from some of the Blues Masters as well. Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters are some of the better known names I cover. I always see myself as draggin' old songs into the future, and new songs into the past. I write a lot of my own material and also do interpretations of some classics.


Tell us a bit about the beginning... how did you get into music?

I have always picked up instruments and messed around with them. It was like a language that I could feel. I see it now a lot more like a discipline. Improvisation, response, harmony and rhythm. When I was young, I met a man who told me I was a lucky one, and that I had a path of music ahead of me.  He said it wouldn’t be easy, but it would always be there. I don’t know anymore what is easy and what is hard. Sometimes I am completely happy with the life I have, and sometimes I envy other people.


You tour a lot! Can you tell us a bit about that lifestyle; does anywhere really feel like home?

In a way everywhere feels like home, I enjoy the travel and movement. I also like the feeling of not being at home. New places I have never seen, or been to. The middle of the Belgian countryside and farms. Out in Amsterdam's streets on a bike. Small highways in Hungary. Driving back roads through the States. It often feels like I have been there before sometime. And this familiarity really interests me both in music and image.


You have a new album out – please tell us a little about that?

Shining Day is the ninth solo album from me. I had it half begun and needed some help, so I asked Neil Finn if he could listen through the ideas I had, and he gave me some great feedback and invited me to mix it in Roundhead Studios. I asked SJD also to guest on a couple of songs, and we ended up writing the title track together. It felt like I reached out for advice with this album more than any other, and I think it hangs together really well for this reason.  I approached Glass Records Redux in the UK and they agreed to put it out. This was also a step for me as I have mainly released on my own label for the last few releases.


We're looking forward to having you back in London next month! How did the last sell-out London show go, and did that take you by surprise?

Last London show in the Servants Jazz Quarters was killer. People all crammed in, and it was such a groovy crowd. It really felt good to play in London again. It was amazing to sell out the show, and it is such a sweet venue, was a really great night. They had to kick us out at the end!


How has this next show come about, and what can fans expect?

As the Servant Jazz Quarters show sold out, we decided to get another show up and running as a chance to catch the folks that missed out last time, before I head back to New Zealand. So the Sebright Arms was our venue of choice, and Blair and I paired up to do the date together. Blair has a new album coming out, and I am still cruising on the fumes of Shining Day, so will be fun and a great night for sure.

I have been coming to play London for a long time, ever since I came with The Dead Brothers back round 2004, and have a great memory over the years of shows with Urban Voodoo Machine, Holly Go-Lightly and some incredible small clubs that aren’t here anymore - Black Gardenia, and Bardens Boudoir. I played with the Flaming Stars at Dirty Water, with Alabama Three in Brixton -, so my London fan base is pretty mixed up, as you can imagine! 


Tell us what you think of London generally? What do you get up to in your down-time here?

London is amazing. It scares me when I think about the size and complication of it, but when I am here I actually like the bustle and history of it. Amazing things have happened in London, both in recent cultural and political history, and somehow music has always been a part of that. It’s an epicentre for music and meeting. I like to wander around looking at people when I get a break in between working. My grandmother grew up here too, so I always think of her.


What have you been up to since the last show here in May?

Since Servant Jazz Quarters, I went to France, Spain, Bavaria, Hungary, Serbia and Romania. I had about 7 shows down in the East there, and also met with radical photographer Miron Zownir to work on my next film show, Ship of Dreams. We went to some small villages in Romania and shot some guerilla style weirdo noir cinema. I then drove back up to Belgium for Muddy Roots Europe and some film shows in Holland. Never was so worried for my life as on these roads down there through the East, was a relief to get back to the Austrian Highway.


What's next for Delaney?

Well, next for me is to finish the shoots I have planned in Europe. I also have four shows in September: London at Sebright Arms on the 13th, and three Swiss shows before I head home to get things ready for the Shining Day release tour in New Zealand, and the unveiling of Ship of Dreams at the Hawkes Bay Arts Fest. It’s been a big year!


BLAIR JOLLANDS and DELANEY DAVIDSON play London's Sebright Arms: 7.30pm on 13/09/2018

Tickets £10 + b/f from Music GlueTicketweb or See Tickets

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