Australian singer-songwriter, Gyan Evans, is an effervescent conversationalist and a person who likes to laugh a lot. She is surfing a new wave of popularity in the wake of the release of her crowd-funded new album, This Girl’s In Love, which is a collection of lovingly crafted cover versions of songs that obviously mean a great deal to her.
Speaking from her home in Byron Bay, with the native birdlife twittering away in the background, she seems very happy with her life and career at this point in time and was very keen to talk about her new album, as well as meandering over a diverse range of other topics of interest too.
The Upside News: Thanks for making time to chat to us. Your recent album This Girl’s In Love is a collection of, what seems to me to be, quite reverential, meditative cover versions. The songs range over eras from the 1920’s to the present day. I sense there is a story behind the eclectic choices on the album. Could we, perhaps, walk through some of the selections you have made and get you to explain why you chose them?
TUN: Let’s start with the Cole Porter’s ‘What’ll I Do’, it seems like the odd one out to me because it is, by far, the oldest. I always associate it myself with the film The Great Gatsby. Do you have a personal connection to the song?
G: Well, I always loved that song opening the seventies film version with Robert Redford, and I love [Nelson] Riddle’s orchestration. I think the guy is just a genius as an orchestrator.
And the strange thing is, when Baz Luhrmann was planning to remake Gatsby – as I have had quite a few songs involved in films, and I was aware that he was making Gatsby – I thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do a version of that song.’ So we did.
But we never pitched it because we heard, through his music supervisor, that he was going to go completely modern. So we knew that it was not going to strike a chord, so [the song] just went onto the shelf.
Then, when this album started rolling down the hill, I pulled it out and I thought it was just too good a song not to go on this collection. It is a little bit of the odd man out, I guess…
TUN: It’s a great version.
G: It still flows with the orchestrated works on the album, you know, like the ‘Alfies’.
There were quite a few others [that ended up] on the edit room floor too (laughs).
TUN: Talking about Alfie, and Moon River from Breakfast At Tiffanys, and A Man And A Woman, and even your last album title, Superfragilistically…
G: Yeah, they are all a bit filmic aren’t they?
TUN: Are you a bit of a sixties cinephile?
G: Well, Johnny Guitar was my first discovery [for this album], during a bit of a sideline on YouTube. I was watching something else and that popped up. And that led me to the film Johnny Guitar, which led me to this whole thing with Peggy Lee not just being a singer but also being a fantastic composer. That was news to me. I felt a little ignorant in that area, so it led me to a whole new discovery of some of her other works with Victor Young, the orchestrator, as well.
You know (laughs), I had to sort of narrow the field down because I was getting a little bit over zealous in that genre, and I can’t even name it…someone named it for me one day when I was doing that at a live gig and he said, ‘You really like the…something something genre…and I can’t remember how he phrased it, but it is actually some particular genre. I really wish I could stumble upon that guy again because I love that sort of music. It’s quite legato, isn’t it? Very dreamy and filmic…
TUN: So are you a sixties film buff? Is watching old films one of your indulgences?
G: Yes and no (laughs). I wish I had more time on my hands to watch the things I want to watch. But I guess, you know, a film like Alfie, it really related to me. I sort of did Alfie for my mum. My mum died when I was quite young and Alfie was one of her favourites, so I kind of did that as a tribute to my mum – and also, it’s a bit of a mountain that song. It’s a mountain to sing, and it’s one of the most incredibly constructed songs to deconstruct and to then take on and sing yourself. I felt like I had to do push-ups before I could climb that Mount Everest!
TUN: It’s interesting that you talk about your mum. I wasn’t going to ask initially, but I actually had the feeling that a lot of these songs might have been from that time, from your childhood, and had those associations for you. A lot of those songs, for me, listening to them, brought me back to sitting in my room whilst my mum and dad used to host their little soirees when all their friends were around playing those sorts of songs…
G: (Laughs) Yeah. There’s a couple that I purposely didn’t put on there because they were a little bit too…you know… like, Ne Me Quitte Pas and The Waters Of March, and that sort of [Antonio Carlos] Jobim side of things.
Whenever Jobim got put on the record player at home I knew things were good. It always made me feel like things were OK, and Christmas was around the corner. And there was a sort of positivity then – because our house was…(laughs) not exactly a peaceful household. There was a lot of music going on from all corners, and everyone had different tastes!
I wasn’t ever going to do a covers album, and I was persuaded by some fans and a record company executive who thought it would be a good idea. I was also dead against doing crowd-funding. So I crossed both the bridges and realised ‘never say never’ because there was such a positivity in doing both.
You’ve got to really work at making those songs your own. I took a lot of solace in the Bob Dylan covers album, Shadows In The Night on which he did songs that Frank Sinatra did in his heyday.
I just couldn’t take it off – I just couldn’t believe it.
Bob Dylan – his approach, with his band – with a lap steel and using the same studio that Frank did, and I think maybe the same engineer, same microphone techniques…it goes beyond being one of the best covers albums I’ve ever heard.
Anyway, I don’t think I reached those heights at all (laughs)…
I sort of went, “I’m actually really enjoying listening to him doing covers, so it’s OK to sing other peoples’ songs”, and it took quite a while for me to come to a peaceful place with that.
TUN: And then when you have been listening to music all of your life, it must be really hard to narrow it down to 10, or maybe 15, songs?
I notice you have covered a couple of more recent things on the album. I was surprised to see a track from Neil Young’s recent Storytone album on there, ‘Tumbleweed’.
G: Oh, I just heard it when we were making the album and [Neil Young] had just put it out, and to me, it’s the standout track on that album. And I thought this is just one of the most perfect lyrical love songs I’ve heard in a long time. Then, through further exploration I learned that he had just parted company from…
G: Yeah. And that this song is actually to Daryl Hannah, yeah?
TUN: I think so. That blew me away when that news came through. I thought Neil & Pegi were one of those couples set in stone forever…
G: Yeah, an institution – exactly right! It must have been huge. But yeah, it’s such a beautiful love song, a beautiful ode to, I take it, Daryl. That line in there about, ‘You’re a peace sign to me’…yeah, I just love so many of his lines.
TUN: Which version did you prefer the solo one, or did the orchestrated one capture your interest?
G: Yeah, I just love working with orchestra. I have only had the opportunity in America a few times.
But [with this song] I saw Neil in a whole different light. It’s funny isn’t it, when you listen to Harvest it’s quite an orchestrated album but it’s actually only one or two tracks that are orchestrated…
TUN: Have you ever seen the footage that was released on Archives Vol.1? Where on one of the DVDs it actually has him in the studio with the orchestra recording Harvest? He is looking like the full seventies hippy with all of these very staid be-suited musicians…
G: Yes! (laughs)
TUN: And he is absolutely in control of things! It’s a stunning piece of footage.
G: Yes, yes, yes! It’s beautiful to watch it happening, isn’t it? There’s some really rare footage of Frank Sinatra, and I think it’s Nelson Riddle conducting…and there’s, I want to say a…‘herd’ of violins, and a…‘parliament’ of horns! And he can hear one of the strings, and he goes back to his sheet music and says, ‘I think there should be an F sharp you should be playing there, mate!’ And I’m like ‘My God! That guy’s acute knowledge of the music!’
And this is a side of things we rarely see. But thanks to YouTube we’re getting all these gems.
‘No thanks’, and ‘thanks’ – if you know what I mean – no payment to the artist! But ‘thanks’ for uncovering all these treasures…
But, yeah I love Neil Young. His heart and his voice just never changes.
And that’s [the same] during the Tom Waits track too, I sort of love that side of Tom, more so than his more ‘boneyard’ side…
TUN: And I am the same.
There’s a bit of a Tom Waits renaissance going on at the moment. I mean, we have the Cabaret Festival and Cabaret Fringe Festival on here at the moment, and it seems every show you go to seems to have a Tom Waits song somewhere in there. So is there a groundswell of people rediscovering Tom at the moment?
G: I think maybe there is.
I just love his tender side. My partner worked for him for a little bit when I was living in America, doing live sound, and got to see the behind-the-scenes Tom and how he is and how he works with his wife. You know, she’s very instrumental in getting him back on track. And he sort of resonates because he’s such an actor. Most of his show is an act, really, but he does have this incredible way of penning great stories.
I do tend to love that tender side of Tom. The other side can be just too much of an act and that shuts me out a bit, you know?
TUN: Yes, I feel exactly the same. Some of his more tender songs can just reduce you to tears can’t they? I still can’t listen to a song like, say, ‘Kentucky Avenue’ without tearing up! There are some amazing things that he has written.
Now, Kate Bush? Some of your earliest album reviews compared you to Kate. Is that one of the reasons why you chose ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’? Or has she always been an inspiration to you?
G: When this album was instigated…well, I did endure a bit of arm-twisting from a particular record company person who was saying, you have got to make sure that eight tracks are ‘known’.
Of course, if I could have had it my way at the time, I would have gone down an avenue where everyone would have been scratching their heads going, ‘Is that a cover song?’ You know, that would have been my way to introduce people to more obscure artists.
So I guess I was being sort of directed, to a point, until I dropped that person off…(laughs)…but a lot of songs were pretty well in the bag by that stage.
But Kate…I have an amazing love for her.
I’ve never really loved her records, until her later period, because I’ve never been a real big fan of the [earlier] production. I’m being a bit harsh, but I love where she’s gone now, using Steve Gadd on drums, and more organic instrumentation rather than the really highly synthesized world that she lived in before.
But that song only came into light when I was investigating her – because I tend to do research when I do things like this – and I found that she wrote it at thirteen! And as I wrote the words out to sing, I just couldn’t get my head around what a mature, incredibly intelligent being Kate Bush was – and still is – at thirteen to write that about a love. It just blew me out.
When I was doing that song, I heard that she had just sold out, like maybe, forty shows in ten minutes or something, after not being seen live for thirty years. And her son was instrumental in getting her back out there, and I just so wished that I had the bucks to get on that plane flight and be there!
Yeah, I guess I’m tipping my hat to someone I really, really love and truly, truly admire, who is a really uncompromising female in an industry that is highly male dominated and always has done her own thing, pushing the envelope. That is what I love about her.
TUN: Yes, and yet when you talk about her doing it her own way, I thought that would have been a good way to describe you, and your career, too.
You’ve only made six albums in, what, twenty seven years? And you have never really come across as someone who felt comfortable working within the business side of the music world. You have always forged your own path. I mean, the styles on your albums are quite diverse.
G: Yep…yes, that is true (laughs)…yep…that’s right!
TUN: So, that brings me to the last cover that I want to talk about on your album, and that’s a cover of your own song, ‘Wait’.
At a time back in the late eighties, when it made the Top 20 and contributed to you winning an ARIA Award, you looked like you were about to embark on a big career in the pop world. Would it be fair to say that you resisted that path, or did other circumstances take over?
G: I guess I made a few strange moves because I don’t do things just because I should, and I didn’t resonate with some people who may have taken me to greater heights, because I felt, always…uncompromising (laughs).
I didn’t want the big, fat cigar-smoking guy who was gonna be a thug and blaze a trail for me because I wanted to sleep at night, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do.
Some people thought I was an idiot, but I still found myself in America, with Desmond Child, scratching my head and wondering how the hell did this happen?
TUN: And how did that happen?
G: Well, you know – our song. Our song landed on his desk and it then took months for him to be able to find out who Gyan was.
There was no telephone number, and he thought Gyan was a band. He didn’t know if I was black or white, or where I lived, and it took his team some time to track me down as I was living in London at the time.
So you know, (laughs) there I was again, rubbing up against that big pop machine in America.
[Desmond Child] took me on my merit. You know, he is a songwriter in his own right, and he saw me as his own little Laura Nyro, I think.
So I made a record with him for, around, three years…and thousands of dollars later…
It was sort of a dream run, but we were both, very much, at loggerheads as well because I was more Left, and he was far more…
It was incredible really. I wouldn’t take it back. It was just an extraordinary time working with the calibre of the team I was with. An incredible education…(laughs)
But I am really glad I don’t live in America though. It was harrowing. A very strange place to live, Miami. I parked myself with Desmond in Miami. It was a very odd place after London.
I was in London for four years.
So it was great, you know, that I got to record in Abbey Road. I cut the record in Woodstock, at Bearsville [Studios]. I lived in Abbey Road – in the studio – for two months in the conductor’s suite. I got to work with my engineer friend, Peter Cobbin, who used to be an Australian who has done all of the Beatles remixes and everything.
I mean, I got this incredible dream. It was (laughing) an incredible dream! It was amazing! But I did have to relinquish a lot of creative control, and that was tough because it wasn’t exactly the way I would have played it. Des was into big production, whereas I would have been more bold – and stark. I was looking for more stark production whereas Des was into lots of over production. We locked horns a lot.
Which brings me back to your question, which was about ‘Wait’….(laughs)
Well, my publisher thought it would be good timing to put ‘Wait’ back out there again because I do such a different version now, and I am such a different person. I removed the obscure middle eight that I never felt comfortable with…
TUN: You never wrote that part though, did you?
G: I didn’t write that part, no.
TUN: That was [member of Aussie band, 1927] Gary Frost, wasn’t it?
G: Yep. So I kind of pulled it back to where I live now…and yeah, I guess I will lose a few friends (laughs) who like that kind of eighties bombastic thing! It has sort of returned to its source. I wrote it about [the film version of John Fowles’ novel] The French Lieutenant’s Woman and it has now returned to its beginning, in a way.
TUN: I didn’t realise it had been inspired by that text. That is really interesting.
G: Yeah. I came out of seeing the film and Meryl Streep was just – me! And she was on the end of that pier and I was like – ‘that’s me!’
So I came home and wrote that song, and I never thought it would be anything remotely commercial. I didn’t think that anyone could sing along to such a strange chorus, but I guess it’s got that sort of anthemic thing.
TUN: And that’s the magic of a good song isn’t it? Sometimes it’s the unexpected thing that grabs the public’s imagination.
G: It is isn’t it? Yeah. And there’s not enough romance in the world is there?
TUN: I agree with that too. We’re really on the same wavelength!
Just returning for a moment to that diversion you made earlier, where you talked about your time working with Desmond Child, and then tracking through the rest of your career – you have had an amazing run linking up with well-known musicians. Here in Australia you have worked with Geoff Stapleton from Gangagajang, and we just mentioned Gary Frost, Tim Gaze, James Cruickshank from The Cruel Sea, Paul Kelly…do all these people seek you out, like Desmond Child did? Or is it just serendipitous circumstances that brings you together with all these people?
G: Oh, you know how it’s a small world and getting smaller, if you ask me, in the way the Government is not protecting the arts. Musicians are such endangered species (laughs) we sort of seek each other out going, ‘Oh, you look like somebody I can talk to’.
James was probably one of my favourite collaborators. I had just moved to Byron from America, and he had just moved here as well, so he knew my brother and so it was that kind of weird thing. That’s how we met.
Tim Gaze? Well, I’ve had a long stint with Tim. The two of us travelled the country working together and we still collaborate together because he only lives two hours up the road. We’re an odd mix, and we’ve had a very long friendship. We can always get in a studio and pull something out of the ether, the two of us. I love working with Tim.
Geoff was just one of those meetings with a friend in Sydney, way back.
And some musicians you sort of meet under the umbrella of the producer as well.
And Paul Kelly, I was put together with him in a collaborative way after my first record. We wrote a song together under his Hills hoist in Sunshine, in Melbourne (laughs), I’ll never forget that!
And Paul was travelling through when that song on the Leunig album was crying out for him to join in so…
TUN: That was a beautiful way to finish that record…
G: Yeah? Cool! Yeah, me and James wrote that song but it sort of leant more toward – favoured more – Paul’s voice. Paul and James were old friends as well, so it is a small world that musicians live in here.
TUN: When that album Billy The Rabbit came out – and it was such a brilliant pairing, Michael Leunig’s words and your voice and your tunes – you won the Best Cabaret Show at the Sydney festival in 2007. Its success does beg the question as you are both still writing and creating – will there be a follow up at any stage in the future?
G: You know, I couldn’t stop that tap. And because we did a show about two years ago at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and I am not very good at repeating myself because I always feel I have to step up to the plate with new material, I kept the tap going. And the new material that we got to perform that has not necessarily been released, it has got far more depth. So now there’s sort of half an album in the wings. It just needs time and Michael to come, you know, for us to be in the same orbit, to whisk that up.
It was beautiful to perform them live and they’re far more ‘meaty’ – there’s a lot more meet on their bones – and they’re probably a little more cutting as well.
So yeah, working title Duck – it’s sitting there and it’s half done! I don’t think that chapter is completely over.
I could have swung straight into another one, which didn’t feel right. Otherwise, I would have been, kind of, Michael’s muse forever, I think. That would have been so easy! (laughs) I just find it so easy working with his words. I don’t know what it is. It’s like I hear the tune sitting on the page, like its got notes beside it or something. I dunno, its just a bit peculiar, maybe there’s some kind of weird ESP…
TUN: Well, he has got a wonderful rhythm in his words when he is on song – and that is pretty often.
And you’re a poet yourself – you always have been with your songwriting, of course – but now a published poet. How has the reception to your 2012 collection ‘Bear In Mind’ been?
G: It was great! We got to do the Byron Writers Festival, and I got taken over to the Makassar Writers Festival – a place I’d never heard of…
TUN: Where is it?
G: Yes exactly! It’s an island of millions of people, just above Bali. Muslim. It was the most extraordinary experience being part of their writers’ festival because unlike Australia and most others, like America, the average age of the writers’ festival participant was around their early 20’s and women, and there was hardly a book in sight I might add.
Everything was on smart phones, so you would see people walking around reading things – but they were reading from their phone. It just didn’t have that…I don’t know, the demographic here is so different to who participates in a writers’ festival there. It was just like women risking their lives, literally, by getting up on stage and performing poetry that was so politically dangerous, both against their religion or their sexual persuasion, or whatever, and I was going like, ‘Wow, this is really cutting edge here!’ You just don’t quite get that here, although we may do more so though the way things are going.
Yeah, so it was just a personal little book. I have always written haikus ever since I was a kid. It was just one of those things where I felt that instead of just having it in the drawer, I’ll put it together and put it out there. They were just things that, literally, couldn’t make it to full form to sing, so they had remained these little seed pods. So then I just collated them in a book.
To be honest, it is such a niche market, poetry. It’s the anaemic people in the back of the bookstore who stand beside that bookshelf – and, you know, you don’t…sell anything to them! (laughs) It’s more of a gifting…
Poetry is such an odd form for most people. I’ve just always had it as a best friend, poetry. But [the book] didn’t go like a firecracker or anything (laughs) so it’s just my little contribution. A little offering.
TUN: Your first band was called Haiku wasn’t it? So you have been very consistent to the form.
G: (Laughs) Yeess! Oh my god, you’ve done your research on me! (laughing) Oh that’s terrible! That’s because I had my friend – who was a keyboard player – and she was Japanese so we got in the same band…(still laughing) That’s funny…not many people know that.
TUN: I was trying to find other bands you had been associated with but I could only come up with The Dearly Beloveds and Haiku so…
G: That’s right. I’d like to start a surf band with Tim Gaze and my brother on drums. That would really make me smile. And I would just be that sort of wailing woman that does all that wailing shit when they take a really good wave…
TUN: Well look, I’d buy that one…
G: I just think it would be so fun. You know, Tim is such an amazing surf guitarist. When he gets on the electric and just wails – and stick a bit of footage in front of him…
We did a bit of an ad for Grain Surfboards and I guess that’s where I got the chutzpah to do it, and it’s always been at the back of my head and I thought, aww I’d just like to travel around with a surf movie. You know, kind of along the lines of Morning Of The Earth but sort of ‘now’. More the soul surfers, none of that hotdogging shit. Yeah, I’d like to just be an instrument…and I think I could put my head to writing a few of those kind of hippy songs (laughs) that come pretty naturally! So yeah, I’ve always thought a surf band would be sort of fun.
TUN: And if you went out on the road with Tim, of course, you’ve got the credibility of him having actually played on the original Morning Of The Earth. Didn’t he play on the movie soundtrack back in the day?
G: He did! And my brother being a surfer meant that I was raised on Tim before I met him. So it was sort of an uncanny thing to start working with Tim, and then when I ended up in that Morning Of The Earth show – I got pounced on by Brian Cadd at a party and he said ‘Do you want to do this Morning Of The Earth thing [2012 tour with Cadd & Gaze reprising songs from the original 1972 surf movie]? I said only if I could sing Delightful Rain, or I’m Alive – and I ended up singing that one! And it was so prophetic. That record, as a child, to me was …
I remember going to make my first record and I took that record, Morning Of The Earth, with me to play to Charles Fisher who was the producer, and I said, ‘Listen to this – it’s so organic!’
And he laughed at me and said, ‘Listen to how out of time they are! They’re all out of time…’
‘Yeah, but they’re in time with themselves…’ (laughs) It was just that this clicktrack thing had taken over already in the eighties and I was like ‘Oh no, no…the heart doesn’t beat like that.’
TUN: It is disappointing to think that Charles Fisher would say something like that because he’s such a great iconic Australian producer…
G: Oh, but you know he’d moved away from that and into Linn drums and everything…he was such a pop producer. He used to tell me about the early days when he would hold the two-inch [recording tape] up to the light and it was so thin from overdubs and also from edits – so many edit points before the computers came in – so I guess drum machines just sort of saved him all that headache of having to get people to play better (laughs).
TUN: That’s sad isn’t it? There were so many great Australian songs that came out through the eighties and nineties that are so hard to listen to now because of the fact they have that sort of computerised feel to them…and the organic feel had gone.
G: That’s right.
TUN: It’s good to see people re-recording some of those songs and bringing them back to their original glory.
G: Yeah, yeah – if they get the chance. It Is good isn’t it? I’m not a big fan of click tracks, but then I realise – oh my god, I think my heartbeat, naturally, is very slow. I don’t think people move as slow. And peoples’ heartbeats generate a sort of a pulse to move to what they resonate with. And I’m thinking ‘God, I’m so legato.’
I should say it’s quite a reflective covers album, so I’m thinking to myself – ‘You’ve got to remember to spice it up live or otherwise you’re going to put everybody to sleep!’
I mean, I love Nick Drake, and I love John Martyn, and I’ve grown up with those records. You know you don’t just suddenly go into some sort of rock spasm just because you think you’ll win the audience. You’ve got to stay true to yourself.
TUN: So true. And it is really interesting hear you talk about the natural beats in music. There is an article about you archived on the internet, where you talk about song writing and how, quite often, you are just out walking and it’s the rhythm of your footsteps that gives you the songs, and music, in your head. So you’ve been consistent with that approach too.
G: Yeah, yeah, I think that walking is a great canvas…if you’re walking and you make it home and you’ve still got the song that you were constructing as you walked, then it’s a good one. Because you haven’t had any device to record it, so its purely based on memory and whether you can recall it by the time you get home. But, yeah, walking is a good medium to beat it out. I guess that’s why Mick Jagger runs a lot! (Laughs) I think he has even had a kind of running pen made for him behind the stadium so he can jog a couple of kilometres before he gets to the stage.
TUN: Oh, right…when you said ‘running pen’, I suddenly had this great invention in my mind – you were saying ‘if you can remember the song by the time you get home…’ and I thought it was like a pen that you could actually write with as you were running!
G: Now we’re talking! (Laughs) ‘Forget the mobile phone – I’ve got a running pen! Haven’t you got a running pen?! (Laughs) It’s really lightweight…and it sits behind your ear…’
TUN: I suppose we should get back to talking about the tour that you are bringing to Adelaide, at the Norwood Hotel on July 16th. Is the purpose just to showcase the songs from the new album, perhaps with you bringing some form of a string section with you, or is it going to be more of a career overview featuring just a few songs from the new album?
G: Well it is a tour to back the album, and we’re launching it at the Bellingen Music Festival on the 10th of July. The tour is an offshoot from that. It takes us around the country. But of course, you know, I can’t just pay homage to the new album and not all of my other albums, so I will be plucking from all my albums and also a few songs that aren’t recorded.
We’re sort of a band in a box. I can’t afford to travel with an ensemble this time so there will be a lot of machinery involved, which just gets triggered, and strange effects…
Simon, my partner, he’s kind of like a mad scientist. He sort of plays rhythm controls, and mellotrons, and theremins and things, so it’s got the spook factor covered. And also we can pull out our string section…and they’ll be there in spirit! (Laughs)
TUN: Sounds great. Sounds like it will be really worth going along. When was the last time you played in Adelaide?
G: The last time I did Adelaide…was with the Leunig show, I think, at the Cabaret Festival. 2008, 2009. It’s been a while.
TUN: There has been a couple of albums out since then, so there will be some new things that people will never have heard live before, so they can look forward to those?
G: Yeah, Superfragilistically, we’ll do songs from there. And I’ll do a couple of the Leunig songs, that weren’t recorded, that I really love. And we have a few visual medium mixes in there as well, which I really love. I really love mixing the film with the music. I’ve had an artist friend help us make a video for The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and that has come along really well. So that is good.
And… (laughs) the reason I did THAT song…
TUN: Yeah, that’s the only one we didn’t talk about…
G: My friend and long-time collaborator in London is Calumn MacColl, Ewan MacColl’s son – and Ewan MacColl wrote the song. So I kind of did that in honour of him, because his father used to have a section in the vinyl [record] section in his house labelled ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ where all the people that had done versions of the song would go (laughs). He used to keep them there because he hated them so much! And I just said to Cal, ‘If your dad was alive today would I get to go in ‘The Little Shop Of Horrors’? But I actually got the thumbs up, so I was happy about that.
TUN: That’s a great story. I have read about Kirsty MacColl, and have heard her talking about her dad, but I’d never heard of his ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’…
G: Oh, and Peggy Seeger is still going with great force, you know Cal’s mother. The song was written for Peggy. And she’s still winning awards at eighty years old. Still touring as a force, a folk singer herself.
TUN: Once you‘ve got a passion it must be great for it never to leave. You always hope you can find that sort of passion in life, don’t you?
G: You do! What’s happened to the world, Ken? I’ll have one of those…and one of those…and when you go to select music these days, the body of work is becoming so devalued.
Gyan is appearing at the Norwood Hotel on July 16. Grab your tickets HERE
Interview by Ken Grady