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07.07.2023

Local Mix 031 —
Delaney Davidson

Folk

Blues

Country

Pop

Alternative

Well known for his hypnotic and original One man and his Ghost Orchestra show, enigmatic multi-instrumentalist Delaney Davidson both defines and commands his own unique realm in the shadowy musical world some call ‘Country-Noir’ or ‘Gothic Americana’.

We caught up with Delaney ahead of his collaborative musical performance Ka Noho, Ka Mate which will take place as part of the Matariki celebrations at Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre (3–20 Hōngongoi July 2023).  

Tell us a little about how you approached making this mix — what was your jumping off point?

Thinking about the setlist for the up and coming Matariki show at Great Hall Arts Centre and the songs and vibe we will be looking at inhabiting and summoning and performing.  

Talk us through the flow of the mix, what is the ideal listening environment?

I guess the songs create their own environment. It’s not a sit down and stare out the window mix, or a dance mix. Just a collection of songs that have a certain atmosphere and theme. Hopefully they bring you into this space. Reflective yet motivated. We wanted to create a show that has heartbreak and loss yet finds a way out of this. Some kind of not solution but forwards possibilities.

Describe the kind of music you usually gravitate towards, do you listen to the same kind of music that you make or are those things separate for you?

I often put on John Lee Hooker Burnin' and let it run from there. I found this steers into the heart of some classic old blues cuts that I love without the cheese blues that I really don’t like.  

What are the touchstones that you refer back to that you think that inform your sound? (Could be an artist, an era, a place etc)

For some reason I always talk about the Everly brothers. I think it’s a vocal mix thing. Not so much focused on a main vocal idea, more ensemble vocal singing. Balanced. I love it. Two voices become one.

What are the touchstones that you refer back to that you think inform your aesthetic?

I guess I like to see evidence of another time when I look around, the presence of the past, confirming the idea that we aren’t running headlong into the abyss, and that objects and styles and things can stick around and still be relevant, and we don’t need to always buy a new one. True style is timeless, so I always look for these timeless things. I like the idea of fixing things. I like making one thing last. I like that the thing shows you a way to operate that brings its own personality into play, like an old guitar that has songs already in it, or a hat that has some history. A piece of paper that isn’t fresh and clean, a print with print marks in it.

Are there broader ideas of design that are influencing you at the moment? (i.e. books you've read, architecture, a really good mug, iconic period of time, fashion hero)

I’m very permeable in that way so most things influence me. I see it all as a floating ephemeral ectoplasmic ocean that we can try to escape but its more a joke than a reality that anyone could escape it. The creative forces that roll around are much stronger than we are, and we are just pawns in the game of things becoming manifest. Our best chance to stem the flow of creative onslaught is to stay busy with shutting it out or suppressing it with countless hours of TV or escapist pastimes. It will always get us in the end. The more we resist the stronger the call.

Who would you invite to Friday beers... (living or passed, famous or non-famous)

My dad.

What's your go to performance look or formula for a look?

I always go for a suit and tie. I like the idea that it is a conservative look and what you are presenting is not conservative. Like things have gone wrong. Or another way to look at it is that the appearance is deceiving and what you think is conformist is actually being subverted. There is a long history of the suit as uniform of the servant. The way to eliminate the personality, severance of the head and the body with the tie, faceless everyman at your service. But the way I see it is the more you think you can trust something (or at least not question it) the closer it can get to you, and then before you know it it’s too late. The salesman is a devil worshipping tongue talker, or the store clerk is a preacher. There is a surprisingly large amount of variation with this very formulaic costume as well.  

What is your favourite item of clothing you've ever owned, or an item that you have a strong memory of?

I used to have a tie. It was black silk with chinese flowers on it. I told people that my grandfather got married in it and so did my Father, also that I had been married in it. It wasn’t true but the idea that a piece of clothing was part of my story was really nice. I lost the tie but the story has stuck in my head.

Have you got anything coming up that we can help boost/ anything else we should know?

I got this event at the Great hall I’m putting together. A collaborative musical performance presented with the kaupapa of Matariki in mind.

Loss. Grief. Despair. Anger. Momentum. Looking for a way. Setting course for the coming times. Summary. Letting go. Holding on. Preparation. Love. Magic. Evil. Grounding. Prediction. Loneliness. Whānau.
 
Kommi Tamiti-Elliffe (Kāi Tahu, Te-Ati-Awa) university lecturer, reo teacher and hip hopper; Heather Webb (Tangata Tiriti) interstellar physics veteran of theatre and orchestra; Mark Perkins (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui) breathtaking singer songwriter and producer; Taipua Adams (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) stalwart of the underground scene of Pōneke; and Delaney Davidson (Tangata Tiriti) slippery eel of musical background and magic.

Join Us.


Ka Tū, Ka Ora
Ka Noho, Ka Mate


Links:

 

Delaney's INF DEF selections:

Follow Delaney on Instagram at @delaney_davidson

Rad stuff only.