THE intriguing Findlay Brown was once labelled…
Yorkshire’s answer to Paul Simon. I was keen to ask him about Simon and whether his music is a big draw. Brown is an itinerant musician who moved to New York – and is now based in Copenhagen. I ask about his background and what inspired his upcoming album, Not Everything Beautiful Is Good.
Brown talks about his influences and what it was like appearing on David Letterman’s chat-show; which albums are most important to him; if there are any tour dates coming up – what his favourite memory from music is.
Hi, Findlay. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm good, thank you. It's been a little hectic. My son just turned four and he managed to have three different birthday parties somehow!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm a singer-songwriter. Originally from England: recently moved to Copenhagen from New York. I'm about to release my fourth solo record. My music is very much influenced by classic songwriters from the ‘60s and ‘70s like Paul Simon and Harry Nilsson; soundtracks and Folk artists like Jackson C. Frank and Fairport Convention.
I would say it’s melodic and intimate - and sometimes cinematic.
Tell me about the track, Home. That was released before Christmas. What is the origin of that song?
Home is a little love song about my family. A simple day with my wife and son with nothing to do; nowhere to be: just enjoying those special moments together.
Will there be any more singles in the coming weeks?
Yeah. A song called When the Lights Go Out is released on 2nd March.
Not Everything Beautiful Is Good is out on 18th May. Can you reveal any of the themes and ideas that inspired the song?
Love, death; transcendence, the battle between good and evil - and traveling through black holes.
The title suggests feelings of deceit and false smiles. Is that a reaction to the modern world and nefarious politics – or something more personal?
The line from the song - that the title is taken from - goes not "everything beautiful is good but everything good is beautiful" - and it's about a society that's entrapped by nihilism, celebrating greed and selfishness and other ugly characteristics where good things lose their meaning and value. It's about true beauty being destroyed, torn down or twisted in some way; whether it be in the arts or in our culture in general.
It's a lot to do with what Orwell wrote about and what concerned him.
You have already gained huge kudos and appeared on David Letterman. How important is it having those experiences under your belt?
It's a great experience to do those kind of things. Doing Letterman was especially exciting - knowing The Beatles had performed on that same stage in the ’60s.
I hear tones of Paul Simon in your work. Is he someone you grew up on? Which artists made an early impression on you?
I didn't grow up listening to Paul Simon but have become a huge fan in recent years. Music wasn't a big part of my life until my late-teens, when I discovered L.S.D. and the music from the ‘60s (that was influenced by psychedelic culture).
Bands like Traffic, Family; Arthur Lee and Love.
You are from Yorkshire – based in Copenhagen now. What was the reason for that move? How do the two musical worlds differ?
I moved away from Yorkshire when I was eighteen to Bristol where it was very much about Club music and Trip-Hop; then to London where Rock 'n' Roll music was having a bit of a comeback and there was some great Electronic music being made too! We recently moved to Copenhagen from New York to be closer to family - especially my son.
I was lucky to have some great musician friends to collaborate with in New York: there were some great Folk artists that I hung out with and put on events with. I worked on a record label called DPC with Tobias Wilner from the Danish band, Blue Foundation - and was introduced to a lot of the music community based here in Copenhagen through him.
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
What's Going On by Marvin Gaye
It is one of my favourite all-time records that I never tire of. It never stops feeling relevant - and his voice is otherworldly.
Scott 4 by Scott Walker
It is total perfection for me: the songwriting, string arrangements and the overall production. It has so much drama. Scott Walker is a totally original artist and I love pretty much everything I've heard that he's made - but I can't fault this album in any way…
Finally…any of The Beatles’ albums!
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I'll be announcing some dates soon...
What do you all hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
The Letterman show, as I said before, is a highlight and there have been some other great shows too. I performed at a War Child concert at Brixton Academy alongside the Pet Shop Boys, Lily Allen; Brendan Benson, Keane and others. I came out on crutches because I had a broken leg from being run over by a taxi couple of weeks before.
That was pretty memorable!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Don't compare yourself to anybody else and don't give up.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Don't You Know by Jan Hammer Group
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