ALL PHOTOS: Brian Nicholson
Scott Michael Cavagan
I have enjoyed speaking with Scott Michael Cavagan…
as he tells me about his upcoming album, 21st Century Love. I have been asking about its themes and why he decided to raise funds through a Kickstarter campaign. Cavagan chats about music in the North East of England and the albums/artists that inspire him – he reveals how music came into his life as a youngster.
Cavagan looks ahead to gigs and tells me what he hopes to achieve in 2018; if there are new artists we need to check out; if he gets time to chill outside of his busy music life – he ends the interview by selecting an awesome song.
Hi, Scott. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello. It’s been a great week, thank you. The sun has been shining, so no complaints...
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes. My name is Scott Cavagan. I am a singer/songwriter from the North East of England and I’ve been in various bands over the years, but I am releasing my debut solo album later this year. My music is a mixture of everything that has influenced me: everything from '80s Pop/Rock to Manic Street Preachers.
Your album, 21st Century Love, is available for pre-order. Can you describe the themes and ideas that inspired the songs?
It’s a collection of songs that I am really proud of; in many ways, it’s a diary of events that have happened over the last few years. There are a number of songs about fame - people’s obsession with it and how people define it. There are a few songs about heartache and loss but it’s an uplifting album no matter what the subject matter was. It was important to me to make a positive album and I think I achieved that.
I believe it was funded through Kickstarter. How does it feel knowing so many people got behind it and wanted to see it happen?
Yeah. I actually had finished recording the album but it took a long time; I worked with people like Baz Warne, John Waugh; Fiona Brice and Jeff Dunn which meant working around the touring schedules of The Stranglers, The 1975; Placebo and Venom Inc. To avoid further delay in putting the record out, I thought the quickest way would be to do a Kickstarter campaign to help mix it. The reaction has been absolutely brilliant I have to say. I was a little dubious about launching it via Kickstarter because you just never know how these things work, but I am really pleased I did.
The best thing about it is I’ve had a lot of nice messages of support and people say they are really looking forward to its release. It’s nice to know there is actually a demand for my music.
Do you have a favourite song from the album that seems to define it?
To be honest, it changes from day to day. I’m fond of all of the songs in different ways. At the moment, I’m really enjoying a song called Hurts, which is the first song on the album, and it’s really up-tempo. It starts off almost like E.D.M. but turns into a brass-led '80s Pop song.
How do you think you have progressed since the 2015 E.P., Neon Lights? Can you see changes coming into your music?
I would love to think my songwriting has progressed and is always progressing. The songs on that E.P. are actually on the album with a number of changes. Writing those songs gave me the confidence to start this solo project some time ago, so I felt it was important to include them on the album and that they deserved a proper release.
When did music come into your life? Do you remember the artists you grew up around?
Well. My mam and dad used to play music all the time was I was younger. I fell in love with The Beatles because my mam would play them a lot; my dad used to play things like The Stranglers and Fleetwood Mac. All of those bands have so many amazing songs - it would have been impossible not to have been influenced by them in some way.
County Durham is where you were raised. Is there an active and growing music scene there, would you say?
There have always been brilliant bands from up here and there are some bands making a lot of noise within the industry at the moment. Whether there is a growing ‘scene’ or not, I’m not really sure. I certainly don’t feel part of a scene if there is one. I’m just enjoying making music.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
I kept my diary free this year to focus on finishing the album but I do have a gig supporting Detroit Social Club in September which should be a great night. My first-ever live gig was supporting David Burn’s (D.S.C. singer) first band and it’ll be pretty much twenty years ago to the day - so I see that night as a bit of a celebration. I’d like to think I’ll play a lot more shows later in the year.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I always wanted to release an album with my previous bands but it never happened for one reason or another, so releasing 21st Century Love will be my proudest musical moment for sure. In terms of the rest of the year, I don’t know. There is still so much I want to achieve musically: in my head, I am still that seventeen-year-old lad who longs to support his favourite band.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Ah...there have been loads. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible musicians and play some great shows. Obviously, the solo stuff I’ve done is that extra bit special to me. I think seeing Phillip Schofield sat on a sofa with Holly Willoughby introducing a song of mine on This Morning was one of strangest, yet joyous, moments of my life.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
The Beatles – Help!
Just because it reminds me of being young and discovering music. It’s full of great songs; really fantastic melodies and harmonies.
Manic Street Preachers – Gold Against the Soul
This isn’t even my favourite Manic’s album, but this album is important to me because it really turned me onto the band. A fantastic album. Not held in as high regard compared to the rest of their albums but a very good Rock album.
Manic Street Preachers – Lifeblood
This is just a beautiful album. Again, it’s not an album that gets talked about much but it’s glorious. Beautiful vocals from James; brilliant melodies and soundscapes.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I’m not sure I am in any position to give anyone else advice, but I would say just try not to take everything too seriously and enjoy it.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There is a band called Sick Joy who are from the North East but based in Brighton. They have been around for some time in various forms but they really should huge. Also, I know you have spoken to her before, but RIDER is making some beautiful music at the moment. I can’t wait to hear more from her.
IN THIS PHOTO: RIDER
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do. Music is something I do as and when I can, but I love nothing more than spending time with my baby son and my wife.
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).
Future Islands – A Song for Our Grandfathers
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