Music interviews

Interview with folk rock poet William Crighton.

Within a short time William Crighton has established himself as one of Australia’s finest new singer-songwriters. Interestingly, he is often described as a troubadour, a poet who writes verse to music, a skill he continually adapts and fine-tunes in our ever-changing world. He finds joy in writing songs about his own experiences and relationships generally in the settings around him. In a nutshell, his music is raw and honest. 

Crighton once cited music by artists such as Neil Young, Slim Dusty, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash as an important part of his listening experiences. That said it doesn’t come as a surprise that his 2016 self-titled debut album had a country feel about it. Coming off the success of his acclaimed debut, Crighton toured extensively across Australia, performed in Canada and at esteemed music festivals like Bluesfest. In doing so, Crighton established himself a reputation as an intense live performer. More recently, Crighton returned to playing more shows, where he debuted new songs of his forthcoming new album Empire, which will be released on May 4.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the first singles of this new album Fire In The Empire and Happiness and I am thrilled to say they are a treat. Interestingly, his country leanings have somewhat taken a back seat this time round to a more folk rock style, but still with all the hallmarks of his poetic study of the human spirit. Of course, we wont be sure if the rest of the album follows suit until its release, but I’m sure fans wont be disappointed on the strength of these new singles.

I had the pleasure of recently catching up with William on the eve of what will be a big year ahead for him. Here is some of what we talked about.

I would love to get a sense of your songwriting process William and what inspires you?It’s fair to say there is a good dose of Australiana or songs from the bush in your music?

The songs come about differently depending on the song, some of the songs come from trying to work out what that term “Australiania” is and means.

Your debut album was received quite favourably little over two years ago now. What are your hopes for your new album Empire? Do you feel its themes will resonate with most listeners?

My hope is that it will resonate with people. Some of the themes may make people feel uncomfortable initially, I felt very conflicted and uncomfortable at times during the writing process of this album but I came out the other end feeling pretty good and that’s reflected in the songs too.

As personal as your songs are to you, some of your observations about the people you meet and relate to, even write about, whether real or fictional (I’m thinking of Priest in particular from your self titled debut album), is littered throughout your music. Can we expect more of the same from your forthcoming release Empire?

We’re all here together and it’s impossible to not impact on each other. Of course other people’s stories and experiences play a big part in the inspiration of the songs.

Fire In The Empire is quite a sombre song maybe even almost a jarring song to open the new album with.Why did you decide to begin the album with this song over the others? Does it set the tone for what’s to come?

Some of it is horrific but that’s not what the song is about, that’s part of the story. The song is about the fire of spirit that burns within, never to be extinguished.

Happiness on the other hand is anthemic. What can you tell me about how this song came about? I absolutely love its driving melody.

Thank you. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. This one came about pretty quickly, it was early in the morning, the glorious sun was emerging over the horizon, I was sitting alone in Magpies backyard and a group of ants sang it for me, they told me to take the writers share because APRA don’t pay ants.

You have established a reputation in a relatively short time as an engaging live performer. I can only imagine the feeling of standing in front of a captivated audience and seeing their faces and reactions to the stories you tell them through song. What do you hope your fans take away from seeing you play live?

That we had a shared experience and that you enjoyed it as much as me.

I recently interviewed Terra Lightfoot who you toured with in 2017. She shares a strong sense of love for storytelling a lot like you.What are some of things you learnt while on tour in Canada with her?

We had a ball and she’s an incredible performer. I learned a lot. Canadian audiences were wonderful. I learned Terra’s strong too, she literally picked me up into the air before a gig in Edmonton and I’m not small.

You’re heading on the road in July to promote Empire. Hoping you end up in Melbourne at some stage? Furthermore, do you have any plans on touring North America again?

Yes. We’ll be in Melbourne 21st July at Howler!
Heading back to North America in September too. Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

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William Crighton’s latest release Empire will be available in all good record stores and digitally on May 4. You can connect with William via his website and Facebook page. Listen to him on Spotify. Watch him on You Tube.

Photo credits: The header image of William Crighton is courtesy of PR group Revolutions per minute. I am not the uploader of You Tube clips embedded here.

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