This week, Daughn Gibson released the hard-hitting, unapologetically twangy and uncannily experimental LP Me Moan on Sub Pop Records. The Carlisle, Pa. songwriter – whose roots lie in the prog-metal scene of the aughties – went into the studio with the intention of making the antithesis of a laptop record. He wanted it to pop, he wanted it to come out charging – and he wanted it to be something that would make for a compelling live show. In all those cases, it’s a winner, and chatting with Gibson, it’s quickly evident much thought and sincere appreciation of a wide spectrum of music goes into his work. You can also tell how the 32-year-old Gibson’s approach was shaped by the decade-plus he’s clocked in as a performing musician.
The Key: With solo artists, a lot of times it’s one person doing a little bit of everything. Is that how you’ve operated thus far?
Daughn Gibson: Last year, my first record All Hell came out and I quickly had to figure out how to do something live. I was living in Carlisle, and I was having a hard time finding players, so I had to pretty much do it solo. I built everything in a laptop…I built it like a hip hop record would be built. I figured, well I’m not rapping, I’m just singing over this, so I’ll try it that way and maybe have one person helping me out with piano or guitar. I grew up playing in bands and turning up to 11 and wanting to hear volume…so doing this, I was like ‘Something’s weird. This is not happening for me.’
TK: I feel like as an audience member, sometimes you can see people play to a track on a laptop and put on a good show. But sometimes you wind up with the syndrome of somebody just standing there and staring at the computer. How do you feel in instances like that, as somebody who goes to see music?
DG: I love to dance as much as the next guy, and if there’s a good DJ, my head is firmly in the front-of-house speaker and I’m watching him and thumping along. However, I suppose if someone is making their stuff on the laptop and singing on top of it, I do want to see a little more engagement with what they’re doing, if it’s on the fly or improvised. So, that’s a totally fresh and new idea for me as a performer – to try and figure out how to do that. It’s been a year, so now I can do those things I’ve learned with a band and it now feels great. It feels like it used to, except now there’s bizarre samples and laptop shit going on in the background.
TK: Me Moan definitely feels a lot bigger, a lot bolder as a record. Do you think that was a result of that progression you just described?
DG: Absolutely. When I started writing the record, I set out that I want to do this live, I want it to be loud, and I want it to feel like I’m behind chicken wire. So with just about every song I kept in mind that this is going to get played live, and certainly there were piles of songs that were very easygoing electronic songs…which didn’t make the cut for me. Continue reading →