Exposure: Duke Special
Duke Special, 28, a Belfast based maestro with a special talent for making magical haunting music. His third album, I Never Thought This Day Would Come, was released at the end of last year with 2009 shaping up to be another exciting one for the Duke - having just completed a UK tour and with much more to come. A creative and unique individual - or to put it simply - 'he’s the ‘the fucked up ringmaster of a broken down circus, the lead dancer in a forgotten ballroom of ghosts, the loudest singer in a midnight choir and the first on his knees in an old time revival tent.’
You've received some excellent reviews on the new album, and you're feeling optimistic about the year, one month in - how is it going so far?
Every day feels like an adventure with nothing certain - few regular hours and a roller coaster instead of a car. Such is life. I have already toured for a couple of weeks in the UK and presented 2 shows around the theme of an anti-hero detective called Charles Silhouettte. I like my job.
You're soon to play at the reopening of The Ulster Hall in Belfast, a very special event. What does it mean to you?
The idea for the night is that a cast of artists and bands from Northern Ireland each interpret a song they first heard at the Ulster Hall. The venue is one of my favourite places to play and has just been done up so I'm looking forward to seeing it and playing there again. I know most of the other artists who are playing so I think it's going to be quite an event!
Can you reveal which band and song you'll be covering on that night?
I am pretty sure it will be something by the Waterboys but I haven't decided what yet.
You've expressed a desire to explore the bonds between music and theatre - how did that come about?
It's been a really gradual thing. As an artist I am always trying to stretch myself, find new, unexplored or certainly lesser explored ground. The interfaces between musical genres, between different artistic disciplines are often where the interesting stuff happens. I also love 3 chords and the truth.
How will you further this exploration this year?
I am looking at a couple of stage productions, one about a silent movie star who disappeared under suspicious circumstances and a project which will be a collaboration between music, film and theatre based on the life of Huckleberry Finn. I am also open to suggestions!
You gave one of the sounds of 2008, Welsh songstress Duffy, a step up with her first live shows. Is there anyone else who has been gigging with you who we should look out for?
I love both guesting on other peoples' shows and inviting other artists to guest on mine. Some people to look out for this year whom I have worked with recently include: The Lowly Knights - a 12 strong band of voices, instruments and a bunch of great songs. Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards - Dan and co. did the recent UK tour with me. Thomas Truax - Thomas is poised to release an album of songs taken from David Lynch films. Fight Like Apes - May Kay from the Apes recently guested with me on a couple of shows and sang on "I never thought this day would come"
And finally, a twist on your album title - what day do you think won't come in 2009, but hope does?
My 28th birthday.
Duke Special plays Oran Mor, Glasgow, 2 May.