A Chat With: Tim Darcy
Last week, we chatted with the Montreal based singer-songwriter Tim Darcy, who has just released his debut solo album in February. After previously releasing two albums with his band Ought, Tim is currently on tour in support of his new album, called Saturday Night. Tim took some time to chat with us prior to his show in Richmond, Virginia. Before the tour stops at The Empty Bottle on March 23rd, get to know Tim Darcy as we chat about his departure towards solo music, his nomadic lifestyle, his favorite poets, SXSW, and more!
ANCHR Magazine: Your debut solo album just got released last month. First of all, congrats! Second, how has the response and reception been?
Tim Darcy: It’s been great. I’m really stoked about it. It’s really amazing to me still...some of these songs I’ve been carrying with me for quite a while. The record’s pretty different from Ought. All the way up to the friends I made it with, to [Jagjaguwar] wanting to put it out, and then now hearing from people who really like the record has been really special and awesome.
AM: So what are some of the main differences between working now on your solo music and being in your band Ought?
TD: In the band we do everything collaboratively. Pretty much all the songs come out of long jams that we do together. Writing solo is utterly different, and it’s just me composing alone. There’s a lot more freedom in that to sort of follow a really intimate moment. Also freedom to play directly to my influences. I had a really great opportunity making this record, working really closely with two friends who produced the record. To experiment and sort of follow each moment as far down the rabbit hole as we wanted to go. So those were some of the differences.
AM: You just mentioned that you had the freedom now to follow your influences, so who would you consider your influences?
TD: The year leading up to making this record, the most immediate stuff, I was listening to pretty exclusively folk and ambient music. So that was kind of interesting. I was listening to lots of ambient music in the van, and that was an interesting moment to feel those come out on the two instrumental pieces on the record, which isn’t something I had prior to this. I’d been writing solo music for a long time, pretty much since I got my first guitar. I never had done ambient stuff. [My] influences really pull from a lot of different areas. I love...when I was first starting out, I was into really kind of big names in folk stuff, like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell...As time goes on I love other artists who are very lyrical, but kind of more adventurous with their sonic pallet.
AM: Nice, so then talking a little more about the tour that you’re on with the record, have there been any highlights, like favorite shows that you’ve played or maybe something that you got to see while you’re in a city for the first time?
TD: Totally, last night was actually amazing. That was one of my favorite shows in DC. This great venue, Black Cat. It was really just a great show. I’m out with this three piece, two good friends, and great musicians.. Charlotte, who plays on the record, is drumming, and then a friend Rachel is playing bass and viola. So she’s doing like the guitar stuff on the record on viola. It works really awesome live. Part of what’s been awesome is we had a few weeks in Toronto to kind of put the show together, but even when we first had those release shows...We had shows in New York and Toronto then we flew to Europe for a week, all those shows were great. Now we’re doing this run down to South By [SXSW] and back, and everything’s really leveling out and clicking...great musical chemistry. It’s partly because of that and partly because the crowd was awesome [last night], it was really dope. A highlight? Right now I’m loving the fact that I’m in a t-shirt. The first show of this tour was in Montreal and it was like -3 Fahrenheit and we were just freezing our faces off. Then 5 days later and I’m in a t-shirt.
AM: So you just mentioned SXSW, you’re going down there then?
TD: Yeah, so that’s the midway point [of this tour]. We’re actually doing these whole three weeks with this artist Molly Burch. She’s based in Austin so that’s pretty cool.
AM: Are there any other bands showcasing that you’re hoping to see out there?
TD: Yeah, we’re playing like 5 shows so I don’t know how much time there’ll be, but there’s a couple of other friends who are playing. I toured with a band LVL UP. I haven’t seen them since their new record came out, and I really like that record. Our friends Priests are gonna be down there. I gotta look at the sched and see who’s playing. Do you have any hot tips?
AM: There’s so many people...I just interview Alex Lahey last week, she’s really good. She’s from Australia, singer-songwriter...really cool lyrics, relatable lyrics. There’s a couple bands from Chicago playing...Post Animal is really good, NE-HI...Rag’N’Bone Man, he’s from Brighton, England. This is his first time over in the states. Sorry for that tangent of SXSW artists!
TD: No, I’m stoked to have some names to look up!
AM:So are there any other cities that you’re looking forward to on the rest of the tour?
TD: I’m so stoked to go to Savannah, Georgia. I’ve never been. I really feel like I’m gonna really dig it. I’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s an amazing place. I just watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s really good, it’s got Kevin Spacey and John Cusack. It’s based on the book, which is based on a true story. The movie is awesome and it just seems like a kind of freaky, southern, cool, mysterious little place. I’m excited to check it out.
AM: Nice, I haven’t been either so that sounds awesome, and I’ll check that movie out too. So while we’re talking about traveling and all that...you were born in Arizona, and you’ve lived in Colorado and New Hampshire. Now you’re based in Montreal, so do you think moving around a lot has kind of influenced your songwriting?
TD: Yeah, I think so. I was actually talking about this with the band last night. We’ve all...3 out of the 4 of us are American so we were talking about having moved around a lot. It’s funny, like also the internet is such a kind of stir-stick. Those things are still really significant, but I feel like I, and so many people, consume so much media and so much art. But in an amazing way, like even you just recommended me an artist who’s from Brighton, who now I’m gonna see in Texas. So the world feels very mobile in a way that I think is really awesome. As far as the southwest influence, my mom really brought a lot of that with us to New Hampshire. That filtered into my consciousness much more strongly, in a really significant way.
AM: What made you settle in Montreal then?
TD: I went to school there, and that’s where I met the guys in Ought. The band got signed, so we stayed there. It is a really great city...it’s cold, but it’s an awesome city and rent is cheap. So that’s been the zone.
AM: I haven’t been, but it’s towards the top of my list. Do you have any recommendations of things to do and good spots for music?
TD: Definitely go in the summer. It’s amazing in the summer. Casa De Popolo is my favorite small venue. There’s always really great stuff happening there. As far as bars and stuff, go to Little Italy and Jean Talon Market. You can get like the best fruit and vegetables and a bottle of wine and go sit in the park. That’s kind of an essential Montreal experience. You can get like a baguette and cheese and it’s legal to drink in most of the parks. It’s so beautiful...go to Park De La Fontaine. You gotta try poutine if you haven’t.
AM: You’re like a Montreal expert now! So talking more about your songwriting, you’ve been writing poetry since the third grade. Do you have any certain poets or favorite poems that got you into writing?
TD: Totally, I love poetry. It’s such a long standing art for me. I kind of still enjoy it in a really organic way. There’s never been a period in my life where I’ve really like put it down. I definitely would recommend...I really love poetry that sort of has almost like a cosmic depth to it. Where it feels like it’s reflecting on something large, like through little moments. I was describing this in an interview a couple weeks ago and they said that kind of sounds like your whole vibe, and I said I guess you’re right, I’m really into that. So there’s this Polish poet, Wisława Szymborska, check her out. She won the Pulitzer Prize. There’s this poet Charles Simic, who’s Yugoslavian. I really love his stuff. I think a poet who has consistently almost made me come to tears is Emily Dickinson. I think she has a kind of like, the way she writes can be a little dense, but once you get into the flow...you know how when you’re reading a novel, and the first couple of pages, you’re not totally in the flow of the way the person writes. Then you get a chapter in, and you get it down? I think with her poetry, once you get down with it, there’s almost a surrealism about life and the human spirit and stuff.
AM: Very cool. I think the fact that you’re so into poetry makes you a better songwriter. It’s cool how poetry can be so wide ranging as far as the different styles. So last question, any other bands you’re really into at the moment? Anyone you’ve been rocking out to on tour?
TD: We just bumped that band Bitchin’ Bajas from Chicago. That is the best driving music. It’s so good. We’ve been listening to the Molly Burch record, that’s really good. Just such beautiful songs. I guess the most recent thing is the Luke Temple album, the new one. The first couple songs I was like yeah this is cool, then sort of half way through it got super heavy and like, adventurous and deep in fear in a couple of those tracks.