The Kaje talks ‘homelessness’ to Delaney Davidson

New Zealand’s Delaney Davidson has been experiencing success on the road for so long that he has given up his permanent abode. Now a travelling musician, Davidson and his Ghost Orchestra have won over everywhere from the States to Australia via an extended in Europe. The Kaje talks to Davidson about where hopes to hang his hat next…

Your musical success has led to your current homelessness – do you ever miss having a proper base?

Well I guess most people’s definition of ‘success’ is not ‘homelessness’, and to tell you the truth I feel at home in most places, but the concept of having a base or a HQ is really good for work. I see other musicians with this base and I have to say I am a little envious. but for now I am laying the foundations of the work I want to do, so I see the travelling and “homelessness” as an asset.

Having been on the road so long, you must have met some interesting people and performed in some interesting venues. Can you pick out any highlights or lowlights…

The potential of what is possible as one person travelling is always a thrill. There are places you would never get to see as a group.

Back Canals of Midnight Venice, BBQ with the River Police of Moscow, lost in the rain on the Bridges of South West Holland, the Lighthouses Sweeping the Night. Old Tango Saloons in Desolated Dresden,

Is there anywhere in the world you haven’t performed that you still wish to go?

I would love to tour Japan and China, somewhere with a real cultural difference. I have heard great things about Japan, and China. The more places I go the more I am amazed how similar people are. Sounds stupid to say it, but they are all people in the end.. First and foremost… Same interests.. Food, love, culture.. the Game of Survival… People ask the same questions everywhere you go.. You don’t even need to understand the language to know what they are asking. I don’t mean to sound world-weary or condescending. This is kinda great, the core of humanity….

As we speak you are in Switzerland – what makes your sound so universal?

I never thought of it as Universal, but I guess it is based on Folk Music, a mix of European and then a healthy wallop of American folk influence aswell, which, when played by an outsider, has a strange sort of removed familiarity. I get a lot of folks in the USA really relate to it because of its Rootsy ingredients, but I also get the song writing interests of Europeans.

What prompted the birth of Delaney Davidson and The Ghost Orchestra?

The Death of the Dead Brothers was the catalyst, and then spending an afternoon toying with a loop machine, I saw the possibilities for solo performance were a lot bigger than I had ever dreamed of. It was like being slapped in the face by a clone… The infancy of the Ghost Orchestra was kinda sweet, and then the addition of the microphone was a real coming of age. I am proud of their progress, and always discovering new things about them. Right now they are enjoying the concept of trance.

There is a clear fascination with the other worldly – at what age did this begin?

I think before I was born. It always feels so familiar, I love the concept of nostalgia, and the grass is greener syndrome, I think that they are related. People need stories to keep going.. A goal, some love, a meal.. a promise… This Otherworldly is like a symbol of these things.. or an engine of its own. I have noticed I think of a place in a totally different way if I am not there. The thought of Victoria St, in Abbotsford would fill me with a longing, or the rise of a hill in Camberwell, then I would get to Melbourne and these place would become everyday. If things are inaccesable then they are desireable. This in a nutshell is the concept of Otherworld.

What inspired you to move into writing haunting tales as opposed to standard life observations?

I don’t see them as haunting tales really, just stripped of detail, or recognisable placement. This lends them a Symbolic feeling, (A trick from the Bible, you don’t say “A Cup” you say “The Cup”. When you take them away from the personal then they become “Everyman”. If you get people to relate to your songs and you do so by supplying a few suggestions, hopefully they will supply the rest of the details themselves, in a language only they will recognise, and they will relate it to themselves much better than you could ever hope to. I always though I wrote pretty standard life observations, just dressed them up a little…

If you were to describe your music to a stranger in a bar, what would you say?

I sometimes say Western Folk Noir.. but it sounds pretty pretentious in the wrong context. The darkness of it is important to convey, the Folk side is pretty important but it’s not folk pure either.. I often have a problem with being too loud for the Folkers and too quiet for the Rockers.  The “Folk” title is pretty misleading too, I think of Guns and Roses as LA folks music, and Lou Reed as New York Folks Music. There are definite elements of Blues, There are definite Elements of Country, Huge European folk influences, Staggering References to American music.. there are often noise elements too, soundtrack elements to help tell the story.. but the three word summary ala MySpace is sadly redundant.

Comparisons on the internet range from Leonard Cohen through to Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Who in your eyes are you closest aligned to?

I used to listen to these guys a lot. Probably Tom Waits the most, he opened so many doors for sound. Put on a Nick Cave record and he makes a world you can go into for an Adventure, put on a Leonard Cohen record and He comes into your life and puts His arms round you, but Tom Waits changed the boundaries of Sound and Recording. In terms of Sound I would probably fall into his camp although I never could sing that way.

Who has inspired you both musically and creatively?

I think I am an easily influenced type of person. I feel sometimes like a sponge. I have been inspired by situations, people, songs, musicians, gals..

Names of Musicians? Randy Newman, David Bowie, Howlin’ Wolf.
Names of Bands? De Kift, the Birthday Party, the Stones, the Beatles.. All very conventional.. I think there are two different types of influence to have.. the faraway like Gaudi or Van Gogh or someone far removed who is inspirational for what they achieved, like a reference you can keep coming back to. And then there is the close influence of contemporaries, inspiring you with everyday accomplishments or their latest record, a show they did.. A song they wrote.. these would be my contemporaries, Reverend Beatman, Pussy Warmers, Possessed by Paul James, Movie Star Junkies..

Your live show promises to be entertaining, especially with the presence of the one man ghost orchestra, what can people expect?

They can expect the Ghost Orchestra to perform, new Songs, vinyl for sale, a swearing competition, a dancing competition, prizes..

They can expect it to be someones birthday…

Over the years you have ranged from being band member to solo artist and back again. Where do you stand currently and what can we expect in the future?

More solo stuff and more band stuff, I just toured Italy as a three-piece with the Mojomatics, aswell as recording in Munich with G.Rag & Los Hermanos Patchekos, so I am starting to venture out of the exclusively solo region, and playing with different bands. In New Zealand I will be re mounting the Rough Diamond Ghost Orchestra for the release of the Stink Magnetic Werewolf Compilation. In the USA me and the Reverend Beatman toured our two solo acts as one-act this last July.. So I guess expect more of these things!!

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