• About A Band: Daughn Gibson

    The idea that you need to be living in a big city to be making evocative music? Let Daughn Gibson refute it for you. The small-town resident—he lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, population 18,927—has evolved into a sonic visionary with a big sound. In the two years since releasing his sophomore record, Daughn’s music has entered new territory. While his last record Me Moan mixed country, gospel, and electronica, Carnation (out via the esteemed indie label Sub Pop) is a little bit country, a little bit new wave, all tied together by his disarmingly deep croon.

    But more than anything, it’s Daughn’s songwriting that stands out. Considering that he cites John Waters, Tim Burton, and Pier Paolo Pasolini as influences, it’s no surprise that Carnation is practically cinematic in scope. The 11-track LP is haunting, intriguing, and strange—something perfect for a summer drive on a foggy night.

    We caught up with Daughn to talk his cinematic inspiration, handling the pressure of writing a song a day, and why he’s sticking to the suburbs.
    Words by Ilana Kaplan

    It’s been some time now since your last record Me Moan. How did the concept for Carnation come about?
    The whole thing kind of came together after I was halfway done writing it! I did about 100 songs and took five I liked and let that steer the direction of the whole record.

    Is that usually how your creative process goes when you’re making music?
    Yeah, usually I’ll do a song a day. I don’t usually listen back to any of them, but then after a period of time I’ll go through them. Whatever strikes me and matches the mood I want, then I stick to those and continue on.

    What inspires you to make a song every day? I’d imagine that’s pretty challenging!
    I certainly don’t wait for inspiration because it’s a very fleeting thing that happens to you. I just put my nose through the grindstone and work on sounds or melodies. Sometimes I change up the time of day—sometimes get up at 6 AM and other times I’ll work until midnight. There’s no structure to it—I just work every day on it.

    Your roots are in country, but with your music it feels like you’ve really ventured out from it.
    I’ve played a lot of different kinds of music in my life. I never try and adhere to one thing—I just like a lot of different things. If a song is going [in a certain direction] then I’ll definitely lean into that more and not really pay attention to genre or what it is. When I first started working on Carnation, it was going Mercyful Fate-Judas Priest in this weird, twisted way. For a couple of months, I just let it go, [and] I was working on these weird power metal songs. Of course after a period of time I thought, that was a lot of fun but this isn’t working out. I don’t stop just because something sounds “not country” or “not crowd rock.” I just go with it.

    How did you come up with Carnation as the title for the record?
    I was just feeling that vibe. I was feeling like there was something blooming on this record. It felt very exquisite. I just liked the name. It kind of tied into some themes like, return to life after death. It made complete sense to me, so that’s why I stuck with that name.

    Your first single from Carnation, “Shatter You Through” sounds as if it came from The Breakfast Club soundtrack, and I’ve read that a lot of film directors inspired your music. Coincidence?

    I try and get a color and a shape to a song. Sometimes it’s just easier for me to work on a song and it’ll bring something to mind. I felt like some of the songs on this record made me feel like I was stuck in the Beetlejuice mansion, and I wanted to go with that. I was also obsessed with Fandor—this indie-streaming channel that has all of these early ‘60s, new wave, French, Italian, and German movies. I got lost in those things. I never watched one and said, “Oh, now I’m gonna go write a song.” They just kind of melt into you and the songwriting process.

    In what ways did directors like Tim Burton melt into your songwriting process?
    I oscillate between really gonzo ideas and really austere ideas, [and] I like that in films a lot. I love John Waters so much. Like I said before, none of the work directly inspires; it’s more like if I’m working on a track, I’ll ask myself, What would John Waters do? If I obey that question and it takes me in a really cool path, then it’s good to explore that way. If you watch a movie, it can give you an aftertaste a day later. I really want to work in that aftertaste world. I’m more interested in this afterglow—this resonating feeling that happens. When I watch strange or bizarre movies, it always takes some time to set in.

    You’re based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which is more remote than a city where there are live shows every night. Have you ever wanted to be based in a larger, music-filled city?
    I lived in Philly on and off for years… I always left. I love Philly, but my speed is a place like Carlisle or a place like where I grew up. I’m just more drawn to those places. I just make friends easier. I’m not really into going to live shows or anything, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything living in a place like this. I’ve certainly thought about it, and it would probably make my life easier. Musically I’d probably have players and different people to bounce ideas off of, but ultimately it’s not that important for me to move. I like where I’m at.

    Did you ever enjoy going to live shows or did you grow out of it?
    I grew up going to hardcore shows in Allentown and Stroudsburg [in Pennsylvania]. That was my life, and I wouldn’t be here without that. But then I did front of house sound in Philly at a couple of different venues, and between that and touring it kind of killed my interest in seeing live bands; not because I think bands are bad, but I go to a show, see a band, and I’m constantly scrutinizing what bands sound like. It’s demystifying and it’s not as enjoyable. I go once in a while, but I’m not anxious to hit up festivals anymore.

    So…will you be touring in support of Carnation?
    I don’t think so—it’s expensive. I had a rule when I was doing this specifically that I wouldn’t dump my life savings into going on tour; instead, I would save money and dump it all into two weeks of tour. You start to see how pointless it is unless you’re someone who’s mega-popular. In this case in particular, I’m by myself in Carlisle, and I don’t really collaborate with anyone so there’s no shared investment.

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