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Three Horizons - Interview with Clive Parnell (Part 1)

Clive Parnell is a friend and former colleague of mine, his latest album Three Horizons is out on Monday 10th August. We had a chat about his work.

1. What provoked me to write this album? -
Good question - ah where do I start?  I started working on another batch of songs that followed the last album, songs that were more from the church for the church (worship) but in the middle writing these songs I started writing what I would called singer/songwriter songs. Songs about the whole of life. You can't force these songs. When they come they come. But I think there was a moment that sparked it.

I am creative person so even going for a walk involves me interpreting the world around me.

I noticed a lot of swallows gathering on some rooftops and saw this happening for a few days in a row. I had read a newspaper article that said this happens before they fly off together to South Africa. It is crazy to think these tiny birds fly all the way from the UK to South Africa but not only that they rest there and come back again - therefore the idea of migration and journey came to me. Migration has a purpose the animal kingdom migrates with a purpose but in the midst of that there is adventure, rest and hope. I guess this sparked a host of journeys considering the whole aspect of being home, away from home then returning home.

I also did a masters in theology, and in particular hermeneutics. In many ways you could narrow these down to "Three Horizons" What's behind a text? What is the text (genre)? and what does the text mean (application)? - within this there is study from people like Vanhoozer looking at the performative work of the word.

Words have a transformative affect so when a couple say the simple words "I do" when getting married these work on different horizons. I am also exploring this in a creative melodic way - wow there is a lot of jargon there and it doesn't sound very rock and roll

2. Who or what has particularly influenced the creative process this time? 
In September/October 2014 I went to about 6 gigs which is unusual for me as I am normally performing. It was really refreshing to hear different artists. It inspired me to try and write songs that connect with everyone. Songwriting is a craft and I have not arrived by any means. It has been great to write some of the songs on this album with David Lyon who also plays keys in the band.

There is a real discipline to writing at times, and we worked on this together for over a year. Meeting up once a month in a studio in the middle of Glasgow. Sometimes we would come with half a song, or a small idea or no ideas, but we would write, chat, eat, write a bit more.

It was not always straight forward as what is inside your head does not always transpose or you get different ideas, and they don't sit together. I love how there is healthy tension in working with others as it reminds us that if we want to develop we have to be willing to listen, learn and improve and that is very humbling at times. in addition to above - Graeme Duffin and Sandy Jones have a wealth of experience, they bring lots of creative ideas to the table and are able to develop the songs.

I tend to go into the studio with the songs with a structure and a vibe in mind - this album has a indie/folk/soul vibe

3. How has this made a difference to your life? 
There can be a real insecurity in being an artist - on your worst day you think: who on earth cares about this music? Why do I really need to bother? On the best days you hear how a song has really impacted somebody's life. To be honest - with all the different plates I juggle I wondered if I should really make another album at the start of the year. It involves so much work behind the scenes too.

Objectively there are thousands of bands out there - does the world need another album? would be a passing question in my mind - But then the songs started coming, walking the dog, sitting on a train,and driving in the car. I started to see afresh that the songs are not just about making a CD but it is part of who I am.

I write and make music because that is who I am. It is who I have been made to be. If it was only my dog who heard my music I would still write as that is part of my gifting. So I guess this process has shown me that it is important to use your gifts and that art is important. It is a language, it does make a difference and it may not be the language everybody gets, but I do believe it impacts our hearts in a way few other things do.

To be continued on Monday.


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