There’s something very special about albums that feel very transparent, open, and honest. C Duncan’s new album, Health, is very much that, exactly. But this album comes from the man who says it didn’t just come naturally, all of a sudden. He mentioned that he “would write fairly abstract lyrics and use them as a bit of a mask to hide behind.” That changed with Health.
The record is a twelve-track marathon which feels theatrical. That wasn’t an intention though, but Health feels like a story. It tells the story of C Duncan and his struggles with mental health, anxiety, and even his sexuality, as he’s openly gay.
Thankfully, I had a chance to ask C Duncan some questions about the new album and his experience creating it. It’s the first album he’s released while working with a different producer rather than himself, and different engineers/writers.
Check out our interview below.
Substream: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when working with other producers and engineers for the first time?
C Duncan: I have, until now, always worked alone on my music which has allowed me to have complete control over what I’m creating. The biggest obstacle has definitely been to let others take control over certain aspects of the process. I found it quite daunting at first as I didn’t know what the outcome would be, but I’m so pleased I did it. Health sounds bigger and better than anything I could have created alone and that’s all thanks to allowing others to bring their own expertise to the table. It also allowed me to bounce ideas off of others, which was so important, to create an album that I’m very satisfied with and excited about!
You mention that writing this album was very cathartic. Which songs would you say are the most important to you?
They are all important to me, but the ones that were especially cathartic and therapeutic to write were “Reverie,” “He Came from the Sun” and “Wrong Side of the Door.” Each of them really helped me through certain situations and it was important for me to express my emotions through these songs. Although I’ve chosen 3 of the more sombre songs on the album, writing the more upbeat tracks like “Talk Talk Talk” and “Holiday Home” did the same thing as it was a way for me to celebrate the happier things in life.
Parts of Health feel like a broadway play. Was there any theatrical aspect you imagined while writing?
I wouldn’t have said I thought about it in a theatrical way, although I really like that you get that from it, however when I start writing a song I spend a lot of time thinking about the journey it will take the listener on. I often use specific places and atmospheres as a starting point, and then let the musical themes and lyrics take you through the landscape. Music is a very visual thing for me which I suppose can sometimes be quite theatrical – especially in tracks like “He Came from the Sun” and “Health” that have a strong narrative from start to finish.
What inspired Health? Did you learn anything significant while recording the album?
There were a lot of different things that inspired Health, but mostly personal experiences like love, breakups, new relationships, anxiety, miscommunication and healing. The biggest lesson from making this album was learning how to use songwriting as a way of working through feelings and situations and reflecting on them. A lot of the songs on the record come out of rationalizing my thoughts and making sense of them, and this cathartic process was the most significant thing I learned to do whilst making this album.
A lot of what has been released so far from “Impossible” and from the album preview has been very open, honest, and transparent. Is that something that comes natural to you?
Not at all! Or certainly not until I recorded this album. In the past I would write fairly abstract lyrics and use them as a bit of a mask to hide behind, but I didn’t want to do that with the new record. A lot has happened in my life since recording the last album and I wanted to express my emotions much more clearly in Health. Although I am quite an expressive person, it has taken until now to build up the courage to be so open in my music, but it’s something I’m very pleased has happened. The more honest I am – the more people will (hopefully) relate to the songs.
And is it easier to keep your thoughts out in the open that way?
I’ve definitely found that it is. I was very anxious about sharing the album with others at first as there is so much of me in it, but I’ve come to realize just how important it is to share your experiences with others.
What do you hope listeners take away from Health?
My biggest goal is that listeners can relate to the songs. The songs are about love, sexuality, anxiety, mental health and joy and I hope that others can connect with some of the experiences that I’ve had.
Health is due out this Friday, March 29th via FatCat Records.