Last seen supporting Elbow at their Olympia concerts in February, Scottish songwriter C Duncan is back in Ireland this week to showcase the synths and heartstring-pulling of his gorgeous second album, The Midnight Sun. Harry Guerin finds out more about the man who made one of the best records of 2016. 

The Midnight Sun is named after an episode of The Twilight Zone.
I always wanted to create some sort of sound or feeling from The Twilight Zone in my music. My introduction to it was at DisneyWorld in Florida. There's that ride there called Tower of Terror, which is Twilight Zone-based. I was just completely obsessed with the aesthetic of the whole thing - that mysterious 'nothing really tying together'. The first ever gig I did I used samples of The Twilight Zone in between songs and
I thought it'd be really fun to do that with an album - not use the samples, but this weird, broody feeling. 

One of the best albums of 2016

I wasn't sure how people would react to this album.
The first one is much 'janglier' by comparison and this one is icier. But all the reviews I read are kind of 'Listen to it five times and then you'll start liking it', which is a big compliment for me. That's the kind of record I listen to. This album is making it to funny places you wouldn't expect - Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires. 

I was about 13 when I started writing and recording.
I was writing a lot of heavy metal stuff because I was really into death metal for a while. I still quite like death metal and doom metal. It wasn't until I came across Björk and Radiohead properly that I decided, 'I'm going to go in this direction'. 

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The first 'big album' for me was Vespertine by Björk. 
I bought it way too young! I was about 12. I bought Debut [too]. Debut is lots of fun and I enjoyed that. I used to go to jazz dancing classes and one of the songs we used to dance to was It's Oh So Quiet. I don't dance anymore! It wasn't until I was about 14 that I went back and started to understand Vespertine a bit more and it's just been with me ever since. That kind of made me want to make my own music - that and Radiohead's Hail to the Thief. Those were the albums that pushed me to start writing my own stuff. 

Weirdly, John Carpenter wasn't an influence - Karen Carpenter was.
That whole John Carpenter thing I completely missed. I like his music now and, obviously, his films. But the Carpenters and Burt Bacharach... It was really solid, beautiful songwriting. My parents played the Carpenters a lot when I was a kid. We used to have it on vinyl and my brother and I would always request it. I started buying all of the Carpenters when I got older and started listening to them as albums. Brilliant.

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I'm a compulsive writer.
It's not like this will be the last album for the next five years. I've started the next record - I started it straight after The Midnight Sun. That's why I never feel I have to get everything in the world I have to say into my music because this one record is very much of its time in my life. And now I've moved on to something else - the next record will be very different.

I'm not a trained performer - that was never my desire.
I never really thought about playing live and it's only in the last year or so I've started feeling comfortable and thinking, 'Actually, this does work!'. Once you get over the fact that it's not going to sound exactly like the record, it's actually even more fun live.  

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C Duncan plays Cyprus Avenue, Cork on May 4; Dolan's in Limerick on May 5 and Whelan's in Dublin on May 6. The Midnight Sun is out now on FatCat Records.