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Zen and the art of motor-psyche maintenance
When Cathy Davey's acclaimed third album The Nameless shot to the number one spot in the Irish mainstream and indie charts last month, it marked not just a triumphant return for an artist who'd been dropped by EMI after her critically lauded and commercially successful Tales Of Silversleeve, but a new dawn for independent Irish acts in general. But behind the writing of that album was enough guilt and grief to start a new religion. Here, in her most in-depth and revealing interview to date, Davey talks about how Zen helped her put mind and body back together after her grandmother's death, why daytime radio doesn't serve the people, organised religion is poisonous and modern medicine means we live too long. Oh, and why Crystal Swing just aren't funny. At all.
Peter Murphy, 30 Jun 2010
"Well, here's an honest reply: the amount of albums you have to sell for a number one is less than it used to be, so that's one reason. Also, I think people with blogs have been very behind me. I really, really like blogs and I like free music and I like giving demos away because I always prefer my demos anyway, and I'd rather people have those. And I think maybe the people who would be behind me understand how important it is to buy an album on that first week from a real shop, just to counteract the spots that are reserved for the X Factor/Glee shite. I'd say it's a combination of those things. Radio play as well. Thank goodness the single ('Little Red') was played a lot. During the week that it was number one I was doing press and in-stores and gigs like a headless chicken, so I don't know what it was. I don't dwell on it because it won't help me make nice music. It seems probably quite ignorant and non-sensible, but I don't live in that side of my brain."
Whatever the factors, the album's success can only augur well for other Irish acts.
"Yeah, and straight the next week, Conor (J O'Brien) was number one (with Villagers). I wonder if it's going to give people a bit of confidence to believe in their own music again. Obviously it's such a boring conversation, but there's a lot of non-music just presuming its position at the top of the charts, and surely in Ireland we're a small country and it's only right that we push out the X Factor and take control."
Here's a thing: how come so many commercial daytime radio stations ignore Irish gig-goers' tastes? Why do they cater to some notional audience comprised of either tweenies or superannuated soft rock oldies fans?
"I think it presumes it's supplying demand, but I believe it's fooling itself. It's being safe when it's not actually being safe, it's just... tiring. I don't want to badmouth anything because I was on the Late Late Show, but I would love to be able to turn on the Late Late Show of a Friday night and actually go, 'I wonder who they have on?' and not go, 'I can't believe they had Crystal Meth,' or whatever their name is..."