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INTERVIEW: Daniel Patrick Quinn
Luke Turner , April 26th, 2016 15:53

Nine varieties of home-brewed wine and internal psychic explorations shape new and forthcoming LPs

A new missive comes from Daniel Patrick Quinn's house next to the runway of Stornoway Airport in the form of a new mini-solo album called I, Sun. Funded earlier this year by his first successful kickstarter, it's a further development of his distinctive psychedelic-everything-folk, written and recorded using whatever was to hand, including a grass skirt purchased for a quid from eBay. The Skirt, says Quinn, is part talisman to the new record "The grass skirt is a symbol that has been floating around my subconscious for many years now," he explains. "I think I'm pining for the sultry Javanese environment in which I could quite comfortably wear nothing but a grass skirt and maybe a nice batik shirt. I would then outstretch my arm to the nearest papaya tree, pull one down, eat it, and go back to bed." You can listen to the hazy sounds of 'Put On The Grass Skirt' above, and the full album on Bandcamp here.

"As usual, I try not to over-plan things," Quinn says of I, Sun. "Your subconscious is working away all the time anyway, so it's often pointless to consciously plan. Your subconscious will have other, usually better, ideas. So it's a case of getting on with writing down good lines when half-drunk and less self-critical, improvising musical themes that seem enjoyable or intriguing. Then shape it up the following day. I leave the assessment of it until later. I have to suppress elements that say to myself 'this is terrible, you are never going to get it done on time' which I think is something most people deal with during creative projects."

This is an unselfconsciously lo-fi record, made that way out of necessity rather than poise. Quinn explains that he has barely any functional instruments, "so I bought some old scuffed wine glasses in a charity shop in Stornoway as the new ones break really easily which is obviously no good for recording. And I found some recorders in a bag in the loft that I had forgotten about. Over the years you learn how to create quite rich sounds with the most basic of ingredients."

What of the record's themes? "Shony or Seonaidh is a pre-Christian Hebridean God of the Sea that would be given cups of ale in return for bumper crops of seaweed to use as soil fertiliser," Quinn explains. "Sounds like fun to me, much more so than the religious attitudes that currently prevail on these islands. The breaking down of barriers between imagined worlds, hard realities, humour and the natural world have long been themes in Quinn's work, and that continues here. The isolation of living alone in the Outer Hebrides shaped features in 'I Followed My Imagination', a look inside the mind and finding "peculiar and amusing items there". 'Tarbert Palms' meanwhile, "is imagining Tarbert, Harris under different climatic conditions in which the Scottish Cicada exists and flourishes." 'What More Do You Know About Space And Time?' "is indebted to Balinese gamelan and lyrically is a simple thank-you note to Indonesia for showing me there was life, and very vibrant life at that, outside of the Western world." Quinn demands that 'Look And Find', about "the dismissal of rules and regulations" ought to be "played at every council offices in the country on a Friday afternoon in preparation for the weekend". The album's close makes for a circularity running through the record of the whole: "'Life Vines'is about seeking the destruction of one's ego and moving towards the melting into the landscape mentioned in 'Put On The Grass Skirt', whether it be plant matter or the sun itself. So from 'I have looked at the sun' with the I and the Sun as separate entitles or subject and object to 'I, Sun' where there is no distinction. Perhaps also a secondary meaning at the end with I, son and I'm going to son, i.e one is an offspring and one is going to father children too. Not that I am, as far as I know."

Spring has arrived in the Herbrides, and Quinn is creating again. "There are about nine different wines in the cupboard and I gave peppermint and lime a quick try last week. It's amazing what you can make with herbal teabags and it makes the whole process much easier than the normal mashing up of ingredients. But none of them are ready at present so I'm making do with Kumala Eternal (on special offer at Tesco) and Guinness."

It's not just wine on the go, either. You can support Dan's next album Treasure Lies In Expressed here. "The new Kickstarter project is focussed on spoken word, with atmospheric music accompaniment and interludes," Quinn explains. "It will be more like a radio play than an album you can bop to. A likely touchstone for this will be David Thomas' excellent Mirror Man rogue opera which currently stands fairly alone, to my knowledge. I'll be spending May drinking heavily and writing down interesting ideas to semi-improvise and June recording and mixing it in time for a July release. Much more will become clear when I've actually finished the bastard.

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