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DOUGLAS DARE

Douglas Dare

Caroline / If Only

    "If I knew I were alive, I could do so much better. If I knew what I had, then I could use it more wisely. If only I’d known before then I’d be in a better place already. If only."

    London-based singer-songwriter Douglas Dare releases new EP, following on from his debut album Whelm. Named after album track Caroline and new track If I Knew I Were Alive, it also features remixes by fellow label mate Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles and Houndstooth’s own electronic producer Ross Tones aka Throwing Snow.

    Caroline has always been a precious track for Douglas, one of the first tracks he recorded and a story in which he imagines his grandfather is writing to a loved one during the war. As the only song on his debut album that is stripped down to just his voice and piano playing, and it being a favourite amongst fans at his concerts, it was a natural choice as a first single.

    The new track If I Knew I Were Alive Douglas wrote by creating beats, looping them and recording parts live. Dancing around to the beats in his room, he started singing melodies and coming up with ideas that he wouldn’t usually have, sitting at the piano. The idea that we can do a lot more if only we appreciated our own ability and opportunity encouraged Douglas to not take the track to anyone else to re-record it, but to work with what he had created himself.

    “The recording has this demo quality, which I really enjoy. I love how revealing a demo can be. It seems to expose the fundamental ideas the songwriter had and the basic quality of the recording is very revealing. One of my favourite records is PJ Harvey’s ‘4 Track Demos’, where the songs are so stripped back that you can appreciate the finest details.” – Douglas Dare

    Ryan Lee West, who crafted the Rival Consoles remix of album track Swim explains, “the track existed in a minimal state for a while, and I kept thinking something was missing. There's always something missing! And then out of casual chance, I was sorting through my portable recorder files, and I came across a recording of an installation that I did, which included four motors hitting glockenspiel or xylophone notes at random. I chopped it up in a few seconds and it worked perfectly. It adds texture and movement to the remix. But what's important about these sounds is that they are not in time. I think this remix creates sense of space, subtlety and physicality.”

    "The original is so well put together, and the vocal so unique that it was a hard one to approach. I set out to reflect the beauty of the vocal in the intro, so that I could build it into something darker later on. This also mirrors the meaning of the vocal. The last sections are meant to evoke feelings of being washed away by a torrent” – Ross Tones about his Throwing Snow remix of Nile.

    Douglas Dare

    Milkteeth

      English songsmith Douglas Dare returns with his third and most stripped back studio album to date, Milkteeth, released on 21 February 2020 with Erased Tapes. Produced by Mike Lindsay — founding member of Tunng and one half of LUMP with Laura Marling — in his studio in Margate in just twelve days, Milkteeth sees Douglas become confident and comfortable enough with his own identity to reflect on both the joys and pains of youth. In doing so, he has established himself as a serious 21st century singer-songwriter with an enduring lyrical poise and elegant minimalist sound.

      Douglas Dare grew up on a farm as the youngest member of a large extended family, where he was often found in his own private world, dancing in his mother’s pink ballet dress. “Only now do I feel free to express my inner child again, and am giving myself permission to play dress up,” says Dare of Milkteeth’s cover shot, in which he wears soft makeup and is draped with layers of white linen, acting the part of a Greek muse. “I never felt like I fit in. I was different, odd. I wanted to dance and sing and dress up and on a small farm in rural Dorset that really stuck out.”

      Where previously he has been known as a piano player, for Milkteeth Dare picked up a new instrument, the autoharp, and as soon as he sat down with it, songs poured out – he wrote the album’s first single Silly Games, in under an hour. “Instinctual feelings about childhood and innocence were the catalyst,” he explains. “Then with the autoharp, it all just clicked – I could see the album laid out ahead of me.”

      Milkteeth opens with I Am Free, which loops piano and lyrics in an intimate dance, comparing the seemingly inexorable freedom of childhood to flying. The Playground is a song Dare says he’s wanted to write for years, about a yearning for childhood innocence and simplicity. While Red Arrows tells a story of vulnerability, of craving parental comfort, The Joy In Sarah’s Eyes is a Jeff Buckley-esque ballad for a new generation. In Heavenly Bodies there is an unhurried darkness that nods to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting, and is also the first time Dare has played the guitar on record. The melodies on Milkteeth are deliberately simple; Dare wanted it to feel familiar right from the first listen. In between these songs sit instrumental pieces – The Piano Room, The Stairwell, The Window – named for the spots they were recorded in, moments for stillness and reflection.

      Marking his arrival in 2014 with the release of his acclaimed debut Whelm and establishing his musical dexterity on the much darker follow up Aforger in 2016, Dare’s star keeps growing. In 2017 he was asked to contribute a re-interpretation of Dance Me to the End of Love to the Leonard Cohen exhibition A Crack in Everything at the Contemporary Art Museum of Montréal, currently showing at The Jewish Museum in New York before opening at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in September 2020. He was invited by Robert Smith to perform at his Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre in 2018, followed by the David Lynch-curated Manchester International Festival alongside Anna Calvi in 2019.

      Dare’s music speaks of his own experiences of universal themes like love, loss, and childhood. Perhaps most importantly, his music gives a voice and a sanctuary to anyone who’s ever felt unusual or out of place. Whether he’s singing of the pain of those in the Magdalene Laundries as on Whelm, describing coming out to his parents on Aforger, or processing his own childhood isolation on Milkteeth, Dare has a graceful honesty and an abiding clarity of vision in his simple and distinctive sound.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Dinked Edition LP Info: Limited to 300 copies.
      Alternative cover art.
      Numbered.
      Coloured Vinyl.

      Indies Exclusive LP Info: Ltd 500 indies only clear vinyl.

      Following his acclaimed debut "Whelm", London-based singer-songwriter and pianist Douglas Dare returns to Erased Tapes with his sophomore album "Aforger". In a digital age where memories are mimicked by pixels and identity is as malleable as static, Douglas Dare’s new album "Aforger" questions the boundaries between reality and fiction. Inspired by recent events and revelations encountered in his life these songs depict Dare at his most vulnerable, whilst simultaneously reflecting our own obsession with reality and technology back at us. Aforger was produced by long-time collaborator Fabian Prynn, mixed by Paul Gregory of Lanterns On The Lake and mastered at the iconic Abbey Road Studios. In the following conversation Douglas strips back the personal journeys and realisations which preceded its recording.

      In a conversation with Douglas Dare on July 11th 2016:
      The album title plays with the idea of a forger – someone creating imitations or copies, and reimagines them as the creator of something that’s no longer real. Prior to writing the record, I came out to my father and came out of a long relationship, both were hugely challenging for me and questioned my idea of identity and reality. These thoughts leaked out into the record and formed the core of Aforger. I was determined not to write a break-up album or repeat what I’d done before..

      I grew up on quite an isolated farm in Dorset, surrounded by fields and not much besides. My mother taught piano from home and we didn’t have a computer, or the internet or mobile phones. In fact, my family still chooses not to use these things. It’s worlds apart from my life now in London where technology seems to dominate everything I do.

      After finding out my boyfriend had been leading this double-life, I became obsessed with the question of what is real and George Orwell’s 1984 felt appropriate for me to re-read. Orwell explains this idea of reality control and Doublethink, and it struck a chord with me. The idea that truth can be steered or changed, and we might be able to believe two contradictory things at once. In my case, ignorance was my protection from the truth and ignorance really is bliss, until you’re no longer ignorant.

      Binary talks about the idea that technology is allowing us to live on after we’re gone. A relative of mine whose parent passed away kept a picture of them on their phone as a background image. A friend saw this and asked ‘how can you have that there to constantly remind you of your loss?’ They replied, ‘no I have to, it shows me that they’re still here’. This resonated with me and I thought ‘okay, this is just an image to me but to them it’s more than a reminder or a reassurance, it’s a reality’. At the same time, I was finding myself haunted by the digital reminder of my ex-partner and wishing they would disappear. I had to realise that it’s all just pixels on a screen.

      I think New York can be thought of as this fabricated, magical place. I was there with my boyfriend after touring the U.S., but when I came back to London I discovered all these lies and began questioning everything. I even questioned whether New York actually happened or not. New York is a song that’s literally describing that very real feeling of not knowing who or what to believe any more – scary and magical at the same time.

      Lyrically I wanted to be as honest as possible. The album deals with so much dishonesty, so I felt the lyrics had to be the counterbalance. I was inspired by Björk’s album Vulnicura and how everything is almost awkward in its honesty. Like my first album, Aforger started as poetry, but I consciously tried to be less poetic. For instance, Oh Father is an example of complete unambiguity. It’s certainly the most personal song I’ve put out there, and the realisation that people may hear it makes me feel very vulnerable. That’s the most real feeling of all for me right now.


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