A Series of Dark Caves is David Ferguson, progenitor of a line of thoughtful, sad indie as compiled on the real-life album Streetlights, which you can have for free if you like, and two EPs, which you can only get for free. It’s not hard to figure out what these songs are about – like many before him, David sings of girls, melancholy, and the melancholy girls can sometimes either purposely or accidentally engender in young men. He has recently put together a live band, so you might find him in the corporeal world soon enough if you’re looking. He’s also a friend of mine, just so you’re aware up front, but I’m fairly certain the music stands up for itself.
A Series of Dark Caves – Couches/Beds
Q 0.5 How are you?
Tired from work, but very happy otherwise.
Q1 Nowadays, when everybody has a decent computer and gear is more available, it’s much easier for anyone to make music and have it heard quickly – does the bedroom music explosion devalue music at all by making it so easy to do?
Nah. You’ll know a good song when you hear it. The only thing that would change is you having to wade through a lot more music. The only trouble, then, is making sure that when people do listen to your music, they listen to the good stuff. Otherwise you’ll be lost in a sea of bedroom music explosion debris. Not good.
Q2 Is downloading a good thing? Does the fact that it’s possible to get so much music so easily and for free make it more disposable at all?
It’s a good thing. For me, the listener, at least. I think it’s great that I can get near-immediate access to almost any album that I can type out on a keyboard, but that said, it’s one of the most indecent things you could do to a musician you actually like. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve gone out and bought something after liking the download. It’s probably because I know it’s too easy to get away with. Every now and again though I’ll get pangs of guilt and go and do the decent thing… But honestly, the ratio is severely skewed towards the downloads.
As for making music more disposable, I’d be inclined to say that it depends on how much you download and actually listen to… But that’s very hard to define for everybody. What is listening to music? Have you “listened” to a song when you’ve heard it once? Or maybe when you know what the guitar riff goes like? Or what all the lyrics are? Different people will say different things. I find it’s so much easier to define for the music you actually go out and buy in a record store and take home with you.
Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?
After a quick mental check of my music, I’d say there’s not. Maybe I say some words like only a guy from the suburbs of Dublin could…? Eh, that’s certainly not intentional, but I have changed lyrics a couple of times because on first draft they seemed too… Americanised? That’s the only way I can describe it. Eventually though, I end up with something that sits a lot better with me and doesn’t make me cringe when I sing it.
Q4 Do you find it difficult to self-edit, or to take a step back from your music and look at it objectively?
I constantly nit-pick at anything I do. Sometimes it really helps, other times it forces me into an anrgy mood and I get nothing done. I’m surprised I’ve let people listen to some songs I have, let alone play them with other people in a band. I just want everything to sound as good as it does in my head. That’s a great place to aim for, but unfortunately, I let it get to me all too easily
Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?
It’d be very easy to be convinced that there is. I’m generally not in Dublin City a lot for gigs and the like, so I couldn’t say for sure. That said, when I have been out I recognised some familiar faces – but that’s more of a testament to how small a city Dublin is. I’m not part of a scene at all at all.
Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.
It’s got to be girls. I’d be lying if I said anything else.
Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.
For a song called “Couches/Beds”, I played into a loop pedal on an electric guitar. I did another layer over the first loop and messed up playing what I had been practicing. The mistake sounded a lot better than what I had intended to play and so I kept it. After that I started singing along – well, humming mostly – until I found lines that started to fit and kept those. Eventually after listening to the same loop for about fourty minutes I gave up and forgot about the song until I came across it two weeks later. From there, I reformed the lyrics I already had and the rest just fitted into place as I needed them. When I was recording the song I made up the drumbeat and other stuff as I needed it.
Q8 Has music criticism ever influenced your music, or at least made you think about it differently? I mean proper reviews, but also blogs or even just hearing someone you don’t know talk about you.
I haven’t had any proper reviews or blog posts about me. I know a negative review would bother me, I couldn’t just ignore stuff like that. I’d get over it eventually, taking on board whatever good I could squeeze out of it. I’m just glad that anyone who has said something about my stuff so far has said something nice. They didn’t have to, it would have been far easier to say nothing, so that makes the stuff I’ve done sit better with me. In turn, that helps me relax more about what I will write.
Q9 Have you ever felt guilty for trying to get other people to take an interest in your music, if you aren’t making the effort with new music yourself?
I’ll never make the first move… So I’ll only say something if they ask. And if they ask I always ramble, then feel guilty and embarassed.
Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?
Honestly, as a listener, I’m like a scavenger that feeds off the scraps of what those around me are listening to. I tend to pick and choose what I like from what my friends are listening to as well as what I come across. But I wouldn’t call myself a traditionalist with regard to listening to music. Mainly because my head hurts from thinking about it too much.
I’m sure my music is a bit traditional in a sense. I tend to write about the same topics quite a lot. Just like most of the songs on the radio. I’ve tried rewriting songs about different topics just to see if I could do something different but I’ve never once been happy with it. So for the moment, I’ll stick with what I know.
Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?
I found some of my parents’ old vinyl there a while ago and came across some excellent Simon and Garfunkel who I’d always written off without properly listening to. There was some UB40 in there too as well as a Sam Cooke compilation. I haven’t heard anything from Grizzly Bear‘s Veckatimest. Which I’m disgusted at myself for. I live in a bubble when it comes to listening to music.