BUILDING THE BIRD with North East songwriter Daniel Clifford

After his debut Birdwatching, Clifford returns with his second album of new wave pop. Building the Bird is released on the night of the debut gig by Amateur Ornithologist scheduled for Gateshead’s Central Bar on 21st October.

‘We’re also playing in Stockton on 26th October at NE Volume Music Bar and we’re hoping to play a Christmas gig in South Shields, so fingers-crossed for that’ said Daniel.

North East songwriter Daniel Clifford with Harbourmaster Studio Producer Martin Trollope.

The new album has eleven new songs recorded in the Harbourmaster Studio, South Shields. Producer Martin Trollope also features on bass, and on viola is Madeleine Smyth.

‘Maddie is a fantastic musician and songwriter in her own right, and plays a big part in Amateur Ornithologist too. The keyboard was recorded onto a cassette tape and then played into the computer, which gave it a semi-out-of-tune and nostalgic sound.

That reminded me of writing little songs when I was a kid and singing them into my nanna’s baking flour-covered tape recorder’.

Do you take time when thinking about the running order ?

‘Getting the track listing right is something I really care about. The best albums have a flow to them and that’s something I wanted to achieve.

It’s ended up with four singles in the first six songs, but I think that’s because you need to grab people more in the first half of an album and in the second half there’s more space to breathe’.

The single releases have received airplay from BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio are Hermit PhaseI Told A LieSunscreen and A Better Person.

‘A Better Person is all about my mam and my nanna, their relationship, my nanna’s death and how similar they were. I wanted to write something a little bit like Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles but I ended up with something much sadder’.

‘Still, the music had something about it that made me want to write about love – but familial love rather than the usual song subject’.

‘Whenever anyone told my nanna that my mam was like her, she’d say “Well… couldn’t be like a better person!” It’s a song for them, although when I first played the music to my mam she preferred some of the others’.

How did the band get together ?

‘Pulling a band together has actually been a lot easier than I expected. I’ve just put adverts up on a site called Join My Band and auditioned people from there. But keeping it together has been harder’.

‘We’re almost Fall-like in terms of our member turnover. I think that’s possibly the case with lots of bands at the start – trying to find the right personalities to work together with the will to keep going’.

‘A lot of the band are neurodivergent so sometimes we’re more direct with how we say things but I like to think we understand each other and get that it’s just the way we’re made. And more often than not we laugh most of the way through band practices’.

What time of day do you find best to write ?

‘I tend to write during the daytimes, fiddling around with ideas on my computer and amassing completed tracks of music, including drums, bass, guitar, keys and other instruments. Then I write the lyrics in batches of four or five because if I do them in isolation they feel too daunting to complete – like they have to be perfect’.

The music videos were created by Daniel and Jenny Rohde, who also worked together on the single and album covers.

‘It’s all related to my nanna and the things we did together. I went to her old street to film and that was the first time I’ve been there since she died so there was a sadness there, but I got to talk to Jenny about my childhood and that was positive’.

What are your hopes for Building the Bird ?

‘I’m hoping that this album connects with an audience and we get to play the songs live for lots of people around the North East and further afield. We’ve got CDs and cassettes printed and made a zine of lyrics, art and behind-the-scenes stuff’.

‘These are all incredibly limited edition so I’m hoping people take a chance on them and enjoy having something hardly anyone else has’.

‘I’d love for people to connect with the words and feel like they can relate to them. And then I’ll get writing the next one’.

Building the Bird is released on Friday 21st October by Harbourmaster Recordings and Regret Everything Records on CD, cassette, zines and download from:

Tickets for The Central Bar, Gateshead to launch the album are available now from:

Alikivi  October 2022