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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Interview with David Gray

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David Gray plays Bluesfest

Bluesfest | 18–22 April

David Gray has been working full tilt on his new album Gold in a Brass Age, the first album of new material in four years. ‘With this album I’ve done a big social media push and it’s been great to see the tickets just flying out, basically.

The UK tour is sold out and we haven’t even released the record yet, so that’s a wonderful feeling… and I think standing on that platform, a place of strength, and then taking new music out to the crowds, it feels very different from when things are more of a struggle and you’re feeling like the compromise is somehow built into the show and you’ve got to represent the past perhaps more than the present. But I don’t feel like that this time. I feel very renewed and I can’t wait for this new chapter. It’s gonna be great.’

The album releases in March so Bluesfest punters will be some of the first people in the world to hear it live. It’s full of imagery, less narrative. It’s definitely a shift from his last album Mutineers.

‘If I were a painter you’d say my work’s becoming more abstract, less figurative. I’m looking to just hang images together and let the story tell itself. The sound of the music begins to tell the story before the voice has even entered. It’s almost like, how little can you get away with. But yes. I’m tired of trying to find a tale so I’m allowing a kind of collage process, a sort of montage,  to propose a narrative that people can pick up on themselves. I mean, the thing is, even when you avoid sort of straight autobiography and avoid a sort of narrative, let’s call it figurative painting, a sort of depiction process that seems to have some kind of relevance to your own emotional life, even when you avoid those things, when you pull back from the record after 18 months of making it, it still sounds like a document of everything you’ve been through. Because the editorial choices you make and the images that leap out that you have to put in there are somehow connected to exactly how you feel. So you reveal yourself anyway.’

In The Tight Ship Gray sings ‘to dance like no-one sees’. It’s a call to let go.

‘That song’s ended up a really good one. It took us a lot of work. That particular line was the sort of resolving moment of the song. I had so many different alternatives and until I found that line… it sounds so simple but it took me a good year or two to manage to come up with it… that song was hanging in limbo, waiting for me to find what was the singer’s unselfconscious thing, this image. It’s an aspirational song with a slight twinkle in it, so I’m living in the moment. I guess that’s what that song proposes. And then the end section of it drops into this mysterious mantric repeat section. You actually go through the mirror and you end up in the place where you just don’t care.’

You’ll get a chance to dance like no one sees at Bluesfest! 18–22 April – go to bluesfest.com.au for program and tix!

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