Interview: David Thomas Broughton – 'the record is about discomfort and trying to reconcile conflicting elements of the human condition'
Yorkshireman on his new album, Crippling Lack, and recording in North Korea
North Korea is not known for its indie folk scene. The state is in charge of all cultural production and music, while cinema and television are enlisted by the government for the purposes of propaganda and broadcasting party doctrine. Although a 7” single manufactured north of the 38th Parallel may interest vinyl anoraks in search of a rare addition to their collections, the country is something of a desert for touring artists. But none of that deterred post-folk Yorkshireman David Thomas Broughton from recording tracks during a stint living in Pyongyang.
'I was surprised to find myself unmotivated by much of the experience,' Broughton says. Forced to record using just a Mac, a mic an iPad in the flat of pianist Minjung Kwon-Brunoni, he said the trip did not prove especially inspiring. 'The state-sanctioned music, which is all that is allowed, is a mash of militaristic marching anthems, like Soviet propagandist opera or weird regime-praising pop songs which draw on all of 20th century music without understanding any of it. So it all sounded like ABBA to me. We occasionally attended or rather were coerced into attending concerts at the music university where they produce masses of state-condoned music for sale, so the recording facilities must exist. But alas, I was not able to gain access.'
Broughton’s new album, Crippling Lack, is a logistic indulgence – split into three volumes and released by three labels in France, the UK and the US – which pulled in artists from across the world, including Aidan Moffat and Beth Orton. 'Of course making it feel natural is a difficulty, but this record is not about feeling natural,’ says Broughton of its nomadic production. ‘The record is about discomfort and trying to reconcile conflicting elements of the human condition to eventually come to terms with the awkwardness of life.'
Crippling Lack Volume 1 is out now on Song, by Toad Records; Volume 2 is released on Mon 2 May with Volume 3 out on Mon 6 Jun