Dear Time's Waste
“It was a record that for me, was I guess, simultaneously really personal but also very almost conceptual. It was quite an intense part of my life. I became very immersed in what I was doing, I was only reading and looking for things that would inform it, and didn’t spend much time doing anything else. I was very submerged in the whole process.” says Claire Duncan, who is the creative force behind Dear Time’s Waste, talking about her new record Some Kind Of Eden.
Two albums, an EP, and a short film soundtrack into her musical career, Claire Duncan creates music that creeps into your head, and she has a certain amount of the indefinable X factor when it comes to her songwriting. Auckland, New Zealand has been Duncan’s haven since starting Dear Time’s Waste in 2008, and we begin by talking briefly about her hometown, specifically the somewhat ‘before and after’ aspect of it since releasing Some Kind Of Eden. “When I did the Auckland release show, I was so blown away by the support, it was really crazy. Auckland has always been quite hard, not hard, but I don’t really fit in anywhere when it comes to the music communities as such.”
To put Dear Time’s Waste in context, it has previously been a guitar-based band built around Duncan’s songwriting, and vocals, that have an equally warm but haunting feel. The new album has stepped away from that successful band-styled formula, and is now a more solo affair. The feel of the lyrics and vocals remain intact, but the music is far more electronic focused. When asked about the differences in the process of writing, and what has changed between the 2009 Room For Rent EP, the 2010 LP Spells, and the new album, Duncan explains, “Initially I took quite a radically approach in that I was working on these beats and textures before I was even really thinking about the songs, whereas normally I would write a blueprint of a song – melodies, chords and whatever, then would kinda work on an arrangement to follow.
“With this record there were more instances where I would just be playing around, which I guess is the process of experimentation and learning new things, which reverses the process in a way… I was drawing from these particular texts I was interested in, particular ideas that I wanted to convey, images that were much more purposeful, whereas Spells was much more of a record that was just a compilation of a bunch of individual bodies of music put together. Someone described the new album as a novel, whereas Spells was just a collection of short stories.”
As mentioned, Some Kind Of Eden has been a departure away from the music on previous albums. “With Spells there were things that I wanted to hear, that I knew I couldn’t execute, like this particular kinda style of guitar playing that I knew I was not capable of doing. Whereas with this record, even though I had never done any kind of beat making before, as I went on, I found I could manipulate the technology to serve the purpose I wanted. I’m not a purist, but I felt like it was working, it was doing what I wanted it to do, so I just thought I will just keep doing it then.”
We move onto musical influences on the new record, and if there was certain music that helped inspire her during the creative process. “I was listening to a lot of early Cocteau Twins but they are a long running influence. But in particular I was listening to two of their early records, Garlands and Head Over Heels. They were big drivers, sonically but also conceptually, with the dycotomous relationship of there being really harsh, very abrasive sounds, and beautiful, sky reaching sounds.”
Further musical listening influences are then revealed. “There were also two early Cure albums, Faith and Seventeen Seconds, but Faith in particular. Such a monotonous, slow, repetitive album, but then has these highly emotive, melodramatic images and ideas, the vocals are just so pained and emotional, but the music itself is so monotonous precise and cold.” Blonde Redhead and Bjork also get a mention in relation to the influence on beat making with Some Kind Of Eden.
We then cover the Dear Time’s Waste aesthetic, the importance of tying the visual and aural together, a music video referencing Twin Peaks (do a search for Fortune), and the upcoming Australian album release shows in Melbourne and Sydney. This segues into the conversations conclusion, about her new relationship with Spunk Records, now on distribution detail in Australia. Duncan says of the signing. “It was really validating for me in a way, cause I feel like I have made the best record I have ever made, the album I wanted to make, and didn’t make any compromises at all.”
BY SCOTT NICOLSON
DEAR TIME’S WASTE plays The Grace Darling on Tuesday February 5. Some Kind Of Eden is out now on Spunk.