A con­stant home­com­ing

Mu­sic has car­ried Ciaran Lav­ery all over the world but it’s in re­turn­ing home that he truly finds him­self

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - BUSHMILLS -

Un­til re­cently, Ciaran Lav­ery’s song­writ­ing process was quite a struc­tured af­fair, which re­quired him to be “in a cer­tain room in the house, and in a cer­tain headspace”.

While writ­ing his award-win­ning sec­ond al­bum, Let Bad In, how­ever, in­spi­ra­tion hit in the mid­dle of the night and the Co Antrim singer couldn’t wait un­til morn­ing to note the lyrics down. “I just got up out of bed, sat at the kitchen ta­ble and wrote some lines, be­cause for some rea­son I woke with al­most like an epiphany, think­ing, ‘Th­ese are too im­por­tant to for­get’,” he re­calls.

From Lav­ery’s 2013 de­but Not Nearly Dark and the sim­ple beauty of its stand­out track Shame, to Let Bad In with its thread of lost child­hood in­no­cence, the 30-year-old’s mu­sic man­ages to be both deeply per­sonal to him, and res­o­nant for his fans.

“One of the big­gest gifts of mu­sic is when you can lis­ten to a song that’s 100 years old and you can feel that song is writ­ten about you,” he notes.

“I wanted to make sure other peo­ple could feel a con­nec­tion to my songs and mem­o­ries.”

With two al­bums to his name and more on the way, and hav­ing racked up mil­lions of plays on Spotify, Lav­ery has also learned to trust his in­stincts when he feels a song is ready for pub­lic con­sump­tion. “I’ve al­most got used to lis­ten­ing to my gut, to say ei­ther I need to take a step back and look at this an­other time, or just leave it – it’s prob­a­bly done,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to be­come one of those peo­ple that ob­sesses and con­stantly ed­its their work, and then sud­denly you find you’ve stripped ev­ery­thing away.”

Still, the re­ac­tion of oth­ers still takes the singer-song­writer by sur­prise. Whether it’s peo­ple weep­ing dur­ing one of his more emo­tional num­bers (“It’s the strangest thing be­cause you want to kind of stop and say, ‘Are you ok?’”) to the fans in Ger­many who sing along to ev­ery word when he per­forms there.

“The first time it hap­pened on stage I thought there was an echo in the room,” he con­fesses. “It’s nice to have that, es­pe­cially in places where it’s not home. Sud­denly you get this re­al­i­sa­tion that mu­sic does reach more peo­ple than I an­tic­i­pated or would ever really fathom.”

Lav­ery cred­its his par­ents with in­still­ing a strong work ethic in him. As a child grow­ing up in the small vil­lage of Agha­gal­lon, he would ac­com­pany his fa­ther on his rounds as a milk­man. Later in his youth, he grafted ev­ery­where from build­ing sites to a peanut fac­tory. “All the high-pro­file jobs that you would ex­pect,” he jokes.

Go­ing from a 9-to-5 job to be­com­ing a full-time mu­si­cian was daunt­ing at first. “That sense of se­cu­rity was sud­denly stripped away, but then you re­place that with the in­de­pen­dence of look­ing af­ter your­self and be­com­ing your own boss,” says Lav­ery, who is just back from a UK tour sup­port­ing Lon­don mu­si­cian Luke Si­tal-Singh.

“There’s a strange sense of al­ways hav­ing to move all the time that I’ve de­vel­oped over the last year and a half or so, where I’ve got so used to mov­ing. For me, be­ing busy equates to sur­viv­ing really, so hav­ing that feel­ing of be­ing stag­nant or stand­ing in one place has now be­come the fear.”

He ap­pre­ci­ates how lucky he is to be do­ing what he loves and which he de­scribes as “ba­si­cally my dream job”.

“I have pride in my work and I wouldn’t change it for the world. You just have to en­joy it and cre­ate as much as you can.”

Re­cently, Lav­ery voiced the Bush­mills Toast, launched by Bush­mills Ir­ish Whiskey on St Pa­trick’s Day and which was in­spired by the an­cient rit­ual of honour­ing some­one with a drink. He is also one of the few peo­ple to have played one of the lim­ited edi­tion Bush­mills x Low­den gui­tars (pic­tured) made by ac­claimed gui­tar maker Ge­orge Low­den.

“In this day and age things are mov­ing so quickly,” he says. “For me the toast was a re­minder that things that are old or have been around for cen­turies can still succeed to­day.”

He adds: “As Ir­ish peo­ple we are quite emo­tional and ev­ery­thing is al­ways on the sur­face. The char­ac­ter and the char­ac­ter­is­tics we have as peo­ple is some­thing that will never get lost in amongst all the new de­vel­op­ments and tech­nol­ogy.”

Lav­ery still loves get­ting home to Agha­gal­lon, where the big­gest wel­come comes from his cocker spaniel, Hugo. “He’s about as needy as I am, so we balance out well to­gether.”

He adds: “No mat­ter what hap­pens with my mu­sic or wher­ever I am while away, I’m still Ciaran who was seven or eight years old kick­ing a foot­ball. No one talks to me about mu­sic; they just talk to me about home.”

The char­ac­ter and the char­ac­ter­is­tics we have as peo­ple is some­thing that will never get lost in amongst all the new de­vel­op­ments and tech­nol­ogy

Ciaran Lav­ery: ‘The Bush­mills toast was a re­minder that things that have been around for cen­turies can still succeed to­day’

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