Fionn Regan

Fionn Regan
Event on 2017-06-08 21:00:00

People are going to ask, Why did you spend so long making such a short record? concedes Fionn Regan. But it feels like the idea for this record was in my head for a long, long, long, long time. Through all the other records something that Ive been evolving underneath.It is indeed close to five years since Fionn Regan last released an album 2012s The Bunkhouse Vol I: Anchor Black Tattoo was the fourth record since his 2006 award-winning debut The End of History, filled with all the lyrical and melodic mischief, warmth and wonder inherent to Regans work.Following the release of Anchor Black Tattoo, Fionn was awarded the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage by Trinity College, Dublins Philosophical Society. The award had previously been honoured by Jack White, Seamus Heaney and Stephen Fry. It was a warming touch, and to Fionn, completed a full circle. It was time to re-evaluate, taking stock of the past whilst looking positively at the future. If the absence that followed seemed abrupt to his fans it was, for Regan, wholly necessary: the years between were due not to a want of material or lack of inspiration, but a re-evaluation of his creative life as a whole. At a certain point after the last record I was trying to figure out if I wanted to be in a band, so I wrote a lot of band songs, he explains. But for some reason it didnt happen. Around that time I was thinking about doing loads of different things I thought I might be a conceptual artist, I might paint. But the thing is I always get drawn back into songwriting. Somehow its just part of the way. Sometimes you have to step outside the walls of something in order to see it. So I think its necessary sometimes to have a little space and time away. After doing three records in a row it just felt right to have a break somehow.The record that heralds Regans return, The Meetings of the Waters, is perhaps his finest to date. It feels at once unlike any of Regans previous material, and at the same time lies a bedfellow or a bookend to The End of History; while it holds the same irresistible wit and poetic eye that characterised his debut, it has a new sense of musical exploration, wrapping the acoustic bones of his earlier records in a warm, inquisitive form of electronica.For me to make a completely acoustic record now would not be honest, Regan explains. Because theres so many things that Ive listened to and soaked up that it has to find its way in. Its just what you hear, its the bleeding in of everything, its the landscape that were in. Just a voice and a guitar doesnt tell the whole picture for me right now, its everything that Ive taken in sitting around listening to electronic music. The albums title is, he says, an acknowledgement that the record is kind of a meeting of both things that are influential. That meeting is the two things actually arriving. Thats what I was trying to get to, and thats why it took a little bit longer, to work out how to do that and for it to evolve naturally, and for it to feel timeless, and like it comes from the same source.Regan had demoed several tracks at his home studio in rural Ireland, all of which were by his estimation good enough to mix. But the thing was the production, he says. I was trying to get somewhere further with it, better landed, it felt it like a wider screen thing going on, so I went on to make studio recordings.Understanding electronic music and its production was, Regan says, like learning a new language for me. I suppose theres another spirit in electronic music, its like colours, electrical currents, a different feeling, and obviously theres a different structure to it and a different way to approach it. He worked hard to grasp it, he says, while also following his intuition. My approach to all of that is quite unconventional, he explains. I suppose my approach to everything is. I just go on an instinct, not following any sort of form Ive not had any sort of formal training, similarly if Im setting up to record live instruments I dont know where you are supposed to place microphones, I just find the sound I like, so it might seem crazy to someone elsePerhaps it is this unconventional approach, as well as the records largely pastoral beginnings, that allows the electronic and the acoustic elements of these new songs to meet so well particularly on songs such as Book of the Moon, Cormorant Bird and Euphoria. Most of it was written in the countryside, living on the side of a mountain Regan recalls Its one of those places it feels like theres songs there. And the Meeting of the Waters is a real place, its two rivers, very near where I was writing a lot of the songs. So all that stuff feels like the countryside; I suppose the silence of the countryside; and how when youre in the countryside the elements are all there, you dont have streetlights and time is different when you stop to talk to someone you talk to them for two hours, and you talk about very simple things. I think theres a simplicity thats definitely on the record. It feels like theres a lot of reverb in the countryside, theres more space, and more space to think about things. I think its a different currency of reflection.But there are other elements at play here too what Regan calls the sea shanty quality of Up Into the Rafters, for instance, which captures the way that in Ireland you always feel youre in the sea air. And the string-led instrumental moments that spring up throughout the album, prettily, but always with purpose the albums final track, for instance, which acts a kind of farewell: At the end of records I sometimes do things where theres some sort of meditative quality going on Regan explains. I suppose its to say goodnight, thank you very much. Otherwise you hear the front door closing and you realise you didnt say goodbye.Elsewhere, Ai acts like a wardrobe to go through into the albums big city song Babushka -Yai Ya, a track Regan can recall Writing really fast, going from one side of Dublin to the other across the river. I remember leaving a place and tearing a beer mat in half and writing on it, straight away, the whole thing, bang, done.This is in truth how most of these songs arrived – how all songs arrive for Regan: suddenly and unbidden. The thing about songs is that I definitely think that I could sit down every day three or four hours and write, but none of the songs that ever mean anything to me ever happen that way, he says. Most things that happen seem to happen when I dont really go looking for it.Even this record is not entirely something Regan went looking for; it is something that rose up as his eye was elsewhere, that led him in a different direction, picked him up and carried him to a new place. I think with this record I feel like Ive landed where I wanted to be, is how he describes it.I feel like theres a certain kind of peace to the record. He hesitates and tries to think of its themes. Theres a lot of things, the mending of bones, a certain renewal, he says slowly. I think theres a turning over of the ground to this record, he says, theres a peacefulness.Fionn Regan releases his new album The Meetings Of The Waters on 14th April on his new imprint: TSUNENI AI – Through Abbey Records/Sony Red.

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