Our very own Alex Herron talked to Conn Thorton about their debut album and what it means to them to make music.
When did you begin making music?
I started playing when I was around 6 years old and probably started writing original stuff when I was about 15. I moved into more singer-songwriter stuff when I was around 18 but it took me a few years to really hone it down and make my songs actually worth listening to – the earliest songs I wrote were absolutely dreadful so it’s really nice seeing that I’ve come a long way from that.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations and what are some of your favourite albums?
I find inspiration from a lot of different artists, but if I had to narrow it down I’d say David Bowie, Sufjan Stevens, Fiona Apple, Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, Mitski and Weyes Blood are among my biggest influences. My favourite album is Funeral by Arcade Fire – it was a massive personal turning point in my life and I think that some of the songs on that record are some of the best ever written. Other favourite albums include Actor by St. Vincent, Bury Me at Makeout Creek by Mitski, Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood, Twin Fantasy by Car Seat Headrest and Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple. All of these albums are absolutely fearless in their own unique way and I found them deeply resonant in different ways.
Did you produce and write these songs all on your own?
All the songs from the ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ EP were mixed and mastered by my really good friend Lewis Murray, who did a degree in Audio Production alongside me doing my degree in straight Music. We canned that EP in one three-hour session one afternoon in the main performance hall in the music building at Queen’s University Belfast. ‘Wednesday Night Bar Scene’ has a co-writer credit with another friend, Emma Buckley, who is an absolutely excellent poet. At the time of writing the song I had no idea who she was and I happened to see one of her short poems by chance on Instagram, so that inspiration got a writing credit. All other songs were written by me alone and every other song on ‘Destroyer’ was produced, mixed and mastered by me. I had no idea how to mix or master before making the album, so I had to teach myself how to do all of that.
Your debut EP, ‘Abraham’s Daughter’, was met with lots of praise online when it released last year, what were your thoughts at the time it released and will any songs from the EP be on your new album?
‘Abraham’s Daughter’ was literally just a college project. I did it just to get a good mark for my degree (thankfully the lecturers loved it and gave me high marks) and if I didn’t have the following I had on Twitter at the time I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I would be now. Granted, I still have a really small fanbase but I’m very thankful for every small step I’m making because I’m carving my own path to having a successful and memorable output. My thoughts on the EP at the time were kind of mixed – I was surprised that my songwriting ability had come so far in the space of a year but I knew I could go even further. ‘Destroyer’ shows that growth in a relatively short space of time and it includes probably two of my favourite tracks from the EP, ‘Down by Writer’s Square’ and ‘Wednesday Night Bar Scene’. Both of these tracks feel like they fit the vibe of ‘Destroyer’ perfectly so they just slotted in really easily.
When does the album release and do you have any considerations for physical copies in the future?
‘Destroyer’ releases on Friday February 5th on all streaming platforms. If I could release physical copies I absolutely would – I would really love to hold my own work pressed onto a vinyl record. I’m hoping something comes along like a record deal or something so they can acquire the rights to my previously recorded stuff and press it physically.
Which is the song from the new album that you think people will like the most?
Obviously I have a lot of love for every single track on ‘Destroyer’, but I really love ‘The Russian Doll and the Jack of Hearts’ and ‘Isaiah’. Both are deeply personal songs with strong LGBTQ+ themes. ‘Russian Doll’ is just a really gorgeously arranged track I’m really proud of writing but I genuinely believe ‘Isaiah’ is the best song I’ve ever written and I won’t top that for a good while. Lyrically, sonically and melodically it’s exactly what I’ve always wanted to make and it’s something I’m deeply proud of. I can’t wait to see the reaction to that track in particular.
Words by Alex Herron.