Ahead of a hometown show in Whelan’s, Dublin singer-songwriter A.S. Fanning may be coming to the end of a six-date mini-tour that started in London, then to Poland for the Opole Songwriters Festival, before landing on familiar ground for four Irish shows. Yet, it is just the beginning of a busy period that will see the release of his debut album, “Second Life”. Just before the Dublin show that coincides with the release, he has time for a quick chat about Berlin, where he currently resides, plus what to expect from his forthcoming release.
Artists are usually relieved to get their work out in the open, putting together months of work and packaging it to the finished article. For A.S. Fanning it’s no different, he tells me that it’s “really nice” to get it out and coming home to Ireland for its launch is “really special” to him.
Getting into music was always a likely story too, his dad was a part-time jazz musician who played the clarinet mostly with a bit of guitar, piano and alto saxophone thrown in. Further evidence that his childhood and house was full of music. The first time he properly got into performing and playing with someone else was at the age of 10; “I just started doing it for fun when I was a kid. Myself and Dan Fitzpatrick, who grew up on the same street, started learning guitar around the same time when we were ten or eleven, so we roped a couple of other mates in to form a band and we played our first gig when we were 12, playing mostly Chuck Berry and early Beatles covers. I started writing songs a bit more seriously when I was about 16 and then we formed Porn Trauma, [before] gigging around Dublin a lot playing original stuff.”
Since then, various stints in bands like Porn Trauma have progressed further into his own solo release that started when relocating to Berlin six years ago. On and off between his hometown and the German capital, Fanning has found the process uncomparable to ways he might have recorded before: “The recording process was quite disparate. I started off doing some home demos which then kind of evolved into the tracks that are on the album. There are about 3 songs on the record that wasn’t really working that way so we went into a studio called Golden Retriever and recorded 3 tracks live with my band, then I took the sessions home and did some overdubbing etc… But over the course of making the album, I recorded lots of different bits and pieces in different places. It was a good learning process to record that way but I’m looking forward to doing the next record in one place in as short a time period as possible.”
“there’s definitely a sort of romanticisation of the city going on there.”
Those familiar with his first release might recognise ‘Carmelita’ as an ode to Dublin or at least attributing events in it to the city. He tells me that it’s probably “the most Dublin-influenced song” on the record. Yet, there are references in other tracks to his departure and everything that goes with it; “I wrote ‘Carmelita’ when I made the decision to leave Dublin and there’s definitely a sort of romanticisation of the city going on there.”
As for the release of the album itself, it comes out on Berlin-based Proper Octopus Records, which he was involved in setting up. Described as “a pretty small operation”, both Fanning and a few friends who helped out started it as a way to ‘build something for themselves’ which has gone well with the release of Candice Gordon’s album, of which he had producing duties on. His own debut will be its second release in as many months.
From putting out your own release and another artist’s contributes to a busy schedule. Up next will see him return to Berlin to begin work on album number two; “Starting recording album 2 as soon as possible. I’ve been playing quite a few songs live that are going to end up on the next album so I’m really looking forward to getting started on it when I’m back in Berlin.”
A.S. Fanning plays Upstairs at Whelan’s, Dublin on Friday, 13 October 2017.