Rory Lavelle is an artist who boasts everyone from Bill Withers to Nick Drake as his influences. The diversity in the sounds that have shaped him as a music listener have also helped him to craft one of this year's most interesting DIY releases. With an air of Sufjan Stevens meeting Ned Roberts, his music is artsy indie folk with real heart at its core. We caught up with Rory to find out more.
MG: Hi Rory, for those not currently in the know, can you tell us a little about yourself...
RL: I’m a Belfast based singer-songwriter and I’ve been writing and performing music for over 15 years. I’m known locally for having fronted Northern Irish rock act Indigo Fury and my debut solo record has just come out.
MG: We love your new single 'All These Horrors'. What inspired it?
RL: Around the time of the post 9/11 Iraq war, I shared a house in Belfast with 3 other guys one of whom was obsessed with the 24/7 news coverage. I was working a long continental shift in a horrible plastics factory and would arrive home to my friend's passionate updates on what the troops had been up to. I conveyed my fears to him regularly and joked that they’d find me surrounded by a wall stomping my grounds with a double-barrelled shot-gun. Nobody gets in, nobody gets out. As we all know, things haven’t improved much since then so the images and the lyrical content built up over the years and fell out when the right riff fell into my lap.
MG: The video is brilliant. How important are visuals to your project?
RL: My priority is the music but I totally appreciate the power of video and it's a lot easier to keep peoples attention through visuals. With regard to the video for 'All These Horrors', I was a fan of a number of videos for songs by local musicians and then found out it was the same guy producing them: Rich Davis. I love that old traditional animation that you rarely see these days. I had a brief chat with him, suggested the walls/war theme and let him get on with it. I loved seeing the final version and its thematically it really suited the track.
MG: We hear that an album is just around the corner. Is 'All These Horrors' a good example of what to expect?
RL: Absolutely! The album reflects where we are right now with the state of government, the daily media exposure of corruption, greed and violence and the general numbness and apathy in society. Lyrically, the songs delve into my darkest thoughts and the fears and insecurities we all experience, with stories of human fragility, tipping points and the pressures of modern living. Of course there’s the odd ray of sunshine to set the balance, in fact, the instrumentation is contradictory to the dark subject matter with lush strings, piano and harmonies taking centre stage. Much like life itself, the darkness is only there when you seek it out.
MG: The album is called Waves. How did the title come about?
RL: The title refers to a few things, mainly me staring at WAV files (approximately 350 in total!) while editing the album, WAV being the audio format commonly used in music production. The other connection would be the tone of the album flitting between dark and euphoric, peaks and troughs like a wave.
MG: Is there a song off the record you are most excited for people to hear?
RL: I'm really proud of the arrangement on 'When the Crazies Come out' - lyrically it was an editorial exercise, I wanted four short stories about ordinary people cracking under extreme circumstances. The music is pretty tense and has a nice bizarre mixture of John Carpenter, Bill Withers and Massive Attack.
MG: The record is a DIY project. Do you enjoy being in control of all aspects of a recording?
RL: I've been in a few bands prior to going solo and I’ve always been very in control of the material and how it’s presented. There are pros and cons to the band and solo processes. A very talented drummer called Chris McEvoy worked with me for about two months on the feel and arrangements of the tracks. We recorded the drums, violins and cellos in approximately three days and then I was left to throw everything else down. I knew what I wanted and I’ve had good and bad experiences with producers - this way I got the recordings how I wanted them. There’s probably a little too much garage hiss at times but on the whole I’m really happy with the end result.
MG: You've built your name on the Belfast indie scene. How helpful has the intimacy of the Belfast scene been to you?
RL: The scene is lot more diverse than ever. When I started out it was Indie, Rock or Electronic or, indeed, a combination of sorts. Everybody and their dog seems to be able to play now and there are a lot more platforms for all sorts of genres which is perfect for me as the album is very eclectic, I think people are open to a lot more genres now.
MG: If you had to define your current ambitions, what would they be?
RL: I'm always trying to improve my playing, singing, writing and arranging, and this project has taught me so many lessons in all of these areas. I really want to continue with the performing and recording side of things.
MG: Lastly, if you could achieve one thing with Waves, what would it be?
RL: Hopefully this release will help me gather a few more fans and open some doors locally. I just want people to hear it, it's an honest album and I'm really proud of the end result.