I was lost for a time when David Bowie died.
It was strange to feel that sad for someone I didn’t know or had never met. I felt his death more than I did my own grandfather who I watched pass away in a hospital bed a few years back. He turned different colours while the life inched its way out of his chest, his fingertips and eyes. He looked terrified. He was surrounded by family but to me, it gave him no more comfort than had he been alone. He wasn’t lovingly staring into the faces of his children like in some film; he was jerkily glancing around the hospital room in fear of an unknown thing and peace came only when he was emptied and gone. That is to this day, the closest to death I have ever come. Why didn’t I feel as sad for my grandfather? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t totally apathetic but what I felt was more like sympathy or empathy for those present. I didn’t feel the immediate anguish I did on the morning of January 11th upon hearing the news. I didn’t feel the lasting grief of the weeks that passed. I didn’t feel it in my gut. That’s weird isn’t it? This feels silly to admit but I’m aiming for honesty in these essays so here you are. After Bowie died I would periodically start crying in the middle of routine tasks or spend long moments silently staring at nothing. I wasn’t trying to contemplate or reflect, I would just catch myself zoned out staring into space. I was getting nothing done. Trying to create anything seemed almost pointless or even in bad taste for a while. Silly, I know. Though eventually, like everything does, the sadness passed and life resumed though not as per usual for the world was now without one of its most creative sons and it felt like it…and then Prince died. Fuck 2016. When Prince died I was prepared for it. Not the actuality of his shocking death; that I wasn’t prepared for. I was however ready to deal with it. Bowie dying has prepared me to mourn all my heroes and sadly it seems like we’re just getting started.
So, what’s the point of this you may be asking? Well it’s all to do with the new album I’m writing. It has become arguably “too ‘80s” for its own good. I set out to make something with an ‘80s feel but as I’m writing it I’m pushing the feel further and further in and it’s all new to me! Why am I doing that?
Is it because these heroes of mine have passed and in some way I’m subconsciously trying to honour them? Maybe. I’m trying to get as far away from the folk sound that I began with and these new songs are night and day to the first album? I honestly don’t know. I will hopefully start figuring out what the hell I’m doing as I go further down the rabbit hole of sweatbands and shoulder pads but for the moment I leave you with this:
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” David Bowie
I can safely say I have left my floaties back in 2016.
Elephant has just gone and released a sweetheart of a song called ‘Stay With Me’. One of our favourite Irish Artists Elephant typically turns the “folk-ballad” trope inside out to create a direct line to the heavens! A beautiful little tune, Stay With Me showcases his piano skills, bringing us a haunting and mournful ode with some sleek neon groove at the end.
lyric journals, the new one too clean to house real feelings. I began to think I had exhausted whatever knack I had that made writing the first album so painless. In a last ditch effort I decided to treat myself to a new keyboard. Upon its arrival, I put down my hollow and vacant guitar and plugged in my new synth and all of a sudden…a song.
Almost immediately, I had made a proper connection to a simple chord progression. This led to a lyric that spawned an idea. What if a “muse” (or whatever you want to call it) is kept alive by only using it? Ignore it and it weakens and dies. ‘Stay With Me’ is a story about me in the months after the release of HyperGiant. I have destroyed my muse by resting too hard on my laurels. Now I desperately need her again. I expect things to be
just like they were before but she has been fading away whilst I crowingly re-read reviews and interviews about what has already passed. I picture sitting by her death bed asking her not to go…purely selfish in my sincerity.’
Like one of the more dramatic and moving tracks on Bon Iver’s second self-titled album, Elephantreally does bare both vocals and heart on the opening verses of ‘Stay With Me‘. Vocalised effects and electronic sounds form a solid ring around his bread and butter metronome drum beat and guitar. Lyrically he has the metaphorical gift, with the background story, or without it, they will make sense to the listener in their own way. It’s always been evident in Clarke’s songs and music that his experiences resonate deeply through his music, vividly painting themselves on the pages of those notebooks mentioned above. It’s never just a good song though, something always makes Elephant’s tracks great songs, and here it’s the Prince-reminiscent keyboard toward the very end, ‘Woah! Where did that come from? And how come it worked so well?’ I think we all know.
Alternative-folk singer-songwriter Elephant has made his return, unveiling his new single ‘Stay With Me’.
A very interesting sea-change, Elephant enters more definite indie-folk territory with ‘Stay With Me’.
Taking on the production stylings of Bon Iver, the song pops and clicks with rhythm in way that Elephant’s music hasn’t before.
Making this all the more gratifying is just how at ease the songwriter feels within this new sonic milieu. This is the sound of an artist who has been up to this point trying (and for the most part succeeding) to find his voice. ‘Stay With Me’ might be the first time we’ve truly heard who Elephant is, and now we want to hear more.
Thank you to Nialler9 for premiering my new single ‘Stay with me’.
Dundalk singer-songwriter Shane Clark aka Elephant is following up his debut album Hypergiant released last October with a new single ‘Stay With Me’ that has come after a period of songwriting frustration and a subsequent realisation.
Clark says that after the debut came out (“an album that took years to come together”), he felt burnt out and “needed to reassess whether I was still enjoying myself or not.”
“I came to realise that though I don’t dislike gigging by any means I get a lot more satisfaction out of writing and recording. Immediately I decided I was going to make a second album but I had a problem, a big problem. When I picked up my guitar to try and write …nothing happened.”
“For the next two weeks I laboriously wrote and rejected words and riffs that I felt no connection too. I became superstitious. Suspicious of my new guitar, that it had “no songs in it”. I turned to my old lyric journals, the new one too clean to house real feelings. I began to think I had exhausted whatever knack I had that made writing the first album so painless. In a last ditch effort I decided to treat myself to a new keyboard. Upon its arrival, I put down my hollow and vacant guitar and plugged in my new synth and all of a sudden…a song.”
“Almost immediately, I had made a proper connection to a simple chord progression. This led to a lyric that spawned an idea. What if a “muse” (or whatever you want to call it) is kept alive by only using it? Ignore it and it weakens and dies.”
“Stay With Me is a story about me in the months after the release of HyperGiant. I have destroyed my muse by resting too hard on my laurels. Now I desperately need her again. I expect things to be just like they were before but she has been fading away whilst I crowingly re-read reviews and interviews about what has already passed. I picture sitting by her death bed asking her not to go…purely selfish in my sincerity.
I hope you enjoy it.
The concept of the album is coming together. I think I’m writing a break-up record.”
We took some of the new material out for a spin last week to our home town venue, the wonderful Spirit Store.
It was well received and that has really given me a push to get a new song out as soon as possible.
The first single from the sophomore album will be called “Stay With Me”, expected May/June – more details to come.
I have began writing and demoing songs for the followup album to HyperGiant.
You’ve heard the saying; “the difficult second album”? Well it very much started out like that.
I was having enormous difficulty getting anything out. It all sounded the same and I felt I’d already explored it.
I decided I had no more songs on guitar left in me for the moment so I picked up my keyboard and all of a sudden…songs.
They have been coming thick and fast since and I am excited for the first time in quite a while.
Whether they are of any merit or not remains to be seen.
If HyperGiant had a concept or theme it was a coming of age affair.
This new albums concept is pretty clear in my head. I’m ending things with HyperGiant. She and I are donzo.
The new album will sound like a breakup record, and it is one. It is me breaking up with the five year part of my life that was the 1st album.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of it. I’m proud f the work and how it was received.
I am also very much done with it too.
Art concept designed and created by Táine King – taineking.com