Big City Cough
ANOTHER day; another excellent Candian artist…
to get my teeth into! I have been learning more about Big City Cough and his new track, Before This There was Everything. He discusses the album, Born at Night, and the standout track from that album; how his parents helped bring a touch of the personal to a particular number – and whether there are upcoming tour dates before the end of the year.
I learn more about Big City Cough’s music tastes and the artists he was raised on; why his week has been a particularly busy one – and a few new artists for everyone to investigate.
Hi, Big City Cough. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m doing well, thanks.
This week has already been pretty bananas, but I’m sitting outside in twenty-degree-centigrade weather in Toronto in mid-October - so I’m pleased as punch.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Sean Beresford; guitar player and lover of all sounds that are weird. I’ve been playing electric as a sideman with many bands for years but recently taught myself finger-style acoustic and some songs appeared in my hands - so Big City Cough was born.
Tell me about the new single, Before This There Was Everything. What is the song about and how did it all come together?
This song was the first one written while I was trying out finger-style acoustic guitar.
It was the seed that started it all. I guess I was going for a sort of meditative vibe that could snap the listener out of all their preoccupations for a bit (this includes myself). I didn’t know it at the time, but that would become the underlying theme for the record.
Born at Night is your debut album. What as the recording process like? How does it feel having the songs out there?
The initial recordings took place by myself in my living room late at night - with a tiny little mobile recording setup and a few decent mics. It was a totally natural process – no clock to watch or anything. Then, I got some of my good friends to play on the songs and they totally killed it. It was a positive experience all around.
Having the songs out there is really gratifying. I’ve been getting feedback from people I haven’t chatted with in ages; so it’s been really special – and a long time coming! It feels like I’ve been making this record forever. Haha.
Is there a song from the album that stands out as especially personal/striking?
I guess Eventually I’ll Dry Up and You’ll Have to Throw Me Away would fit that criteria.
There was a spot in the song that felt empty to me so I was thinking about what instrument to have in there to sweeten it. Then for some reason, I considered spoken word. Spoken word has never been a go-to for me but I thought I’d give it a chance. Since I’ve never considered myself a lyric-writer, I messaged a friend of mine who is an incredible songwriter and asked her if she would mind penning something. She respectfully declined as she was too busy with her own record. Friends were saying “Why don’t you just write the words yourself?”.
So, one night, I had enjoyed a bottle of wine and put pen to paper and wrote the whole thing in about twenty minutes. It involves two elderly lovers chatting to one another about their mortality because the man is on his death-bed. I got my parents to record the speaking parts and they got pretty choked up doing it; so I figured it was good enough to make it on the record.
What are the main themes and stories that inspired the album?
Well, again, it’s an instrumental record…but the main theme is quiet, peaceful night-time reflection, I guess. I recorded most of the bed tracks in the middle of the night by myself. I’m a night-owl and my folks told me recently that I was born at night…so was the record.
Is music a career you felt destined towards when you were younger? Who are your idols, in terms of the artists you grew up listening to?
Yeah. I think music was always gonna be it for me. Somehow I’ve made it work! I grew up listening to Rock ‘n’ Roll, thanks to my dad and older brother. I guess I’ve always had a penchant for the unusual because one of the first bands that really stuck for me was Pink Floyd. Once I started playing music, I got into all sorts of genres. Miles Davis is a favourite.
I guess I gravitate to the boundary-pushers.
Do you have a game-plan for 2018? What are your goals for the coming year?
More shows! I’m doing a November residency at a local club to release the record locally. I’ll be putting together some shows elsewhere starting in January and I already have five or six songs started for the next record.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Every Tuesday in November at the Dakota Tavern here in Toronto, from 6-9 P.M. A different awesome opening act for each one - and a band playing with me.
J anuary dates in parts/elsewhere T.B.A.
Do you have any plans regarding playing the U.K.? Have you ever visited us before?
Haven’t fully hatched the game-plan for 2018 yet...
I have visited the U.K. before. I have roots there so it’s near and dear to my heart - particularly the cask ales.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Wow! Tough one.
Let’s start with the earliest influence: Pink Floyd’s - Dark Side of the Moon
I got into that album as a kid, via my dad. I guess I was probably just listening to whatever was fed to me on the radio at the time; so, this one really expanded the universe of possibility for me from a very young age.
Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
I enjoy just about every phase of Miles’ career but the weird fusion stuff is totally from Mars and I love it. This one evokes that peaceful, night-time listening thing I was talking about before; so let’s go with it.
Jim O’Rourke - Bad Timing
This record was a big influence on what I was going for on Born at Night: traditional acoustic guitar melodies with a generous serving of weird. Sublime.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Follow your heart…always.
Don’t be swayed into doing anything that doesn’t follow your vision of your art. Don’t give up. This has all been said before, and it sounds corny, but it all comes back to this every time.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?
Visiting family and keeping warm.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
How about Highway Anxiety by William Tyler
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