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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.

    English songsmith Douglas Dare returns with his third and most stripped back studio album to date, "Milkteeth". 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.'

    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.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Tender ballads of loss and hope, brittle instrumentation and Dare's rich syrupy vocals combine into an atmospherically rich but instrumentally minimalistic suite of heartfelt ballads and hypnotic, swimming bliss.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. I Am Free
    2. Red Arrows
    3. Heavenly Bodies
    4. The Piano Room
    5. Silly Games
    6. The Joy In Sarah’s Eyes
    7. The Stairwell
    8. Whereever You Are
    9. The Window
    10. The Playground
    11. Run

    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.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Doublethink
    2. Greenhouse
    3. Oh Father
    4. New York
    5. The Edge
    6. Binary
    7. Stranger
    8. Venus
    9. Thinking Of Him
    10. Rex

    Douglas Dare

    Whelm

      London-based singer-songwriter Douglas Dare releases his debut album Whelm on Erased Tapes. With the piano at the core, Dare vocalises his short prose and poems to a backdrop of drums, electronics and brass…

      It was in November last year that the duo Douglas Dare and producer/percussionist Fabian Prynn decided to record an album, and by January they were listening to it. Finding themselves out of the home-studio for the first time, the pair recorded much of the album in Flood’s studio Assault & Battery in West London. Other touches were recorded back in Fabian’s home. With the comfort of familiar songs from his live set, such as Clockwork, Caroline and London’s Rose, the session was equally driven by the excitement of creating brand new tracks like Nile, Swim and Unrest in a new environment.

      The recordings began with finding the perfect piano – a grand piano, battered and bruised, but with a beautiful sound. Flood’s studio provided a treasure trove of gear, including Dare’s favourite new instrument, the Mini Moog, which inspired bass parts on tracks like Unrest. Prynn engineered, produced and mixed the record, and with just the two of them involved from start to finish, their vision for the album remained clear and unclouded.

      Lyrically, Whelm is often written from other people’s perspectives, with a few of the songs stemming from historical events. London’s Rose for example came from a poem Douglas wrote about the use of underground stations as bomb shelters during WWII; whilst Whitewash addresses the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, and Clockwork was inspired by the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient analogue computer found in the ocean. Despite the weight to some of these subjects, Dare has always enjoyed the use of plain language that is simple and very human. Most of his songs begin with words, as it’s the stories that inspire the music.

      Douglas Dare

      Seven Hours

        London-based singer-songwriter Douglas Dare releases debut EP Seven Hours as the newest artist on Erased Tapes.

        The EP was recorded in various spaces, including drummer/producer Fabian Prynn’s home-studio in South London. The four tracks are the first recordings the musicians have made together and with all songs written by Dare and all tracks engineered, mixed and produced by Prynn, it is a true collaboration.

        With the songs beginning as poems and short prose, Dare later improvises melodies and piano parts. This process was continued by Prynn with all the percussive rhythms coming from improvising to the original pieces. The performances were captured using a cassette recorder, keeping recording fresh as full takes had to be committed to at the recording stage. This process led to unexpected parts and ideas that now are integral to the sound and feel of the EP.

        IN HIS OWN WORDS:
        ‘‘I'm incredibly proud of this EP. I feel the songs have been captured in just the right way and I hope that, if only for 15 minutes, listeners will be able to escape; if they do, then I have done my job. It's a real thrill to be working with Erased Tapes, a label whose artists have inspired me from the beginning and whose ethos I share wholeheartedly. This is an exciting time to join the family and I'm truly privileged to be a part of it.’ – Douglas Dare

        ABOUT THE ARTIST:
        Douglas Dare is a London-based singer-songwriter, originally from the coastal town of Bridport, South West England. The son of a piano teacher, Douglas began composing instrumental music from a young age but it was not until studying popular music at University in Liverpool in 2008 that he began songwriting. Douglas’ rich and haunting vocals are combined with lyrics crafted from his own poems and short prose, a writing style that gives his intimate songs wisdom far beyond his 23 years. After supporting Ólafur Arnalds on his recent 16-date European tour, Douglas is performing at a few selected festivals and will embark on a UK tour in support of his debut release on Erased Tapes.


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