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Stephen Duffy - "The color of lilac"

Stephen Duffy, the British songwriter, guitarist and singer of the band "The Lilac Time" in the past obviously did not spare any effort to fall though the meshes of success. He left Duran Duran which he had co-founded in the instant before their break-through and subsequently turned down to write lyrics for an aspiring singer who became later known as "Madonna"...

Stephen Duffy

For many years Duffy kept on fiddling around in this manner—without getting widely known, of course. This should change in the moment, when his long-time acquaintance Robby Williams called him for his album "Intensive Care" to be his songwriter and co-producer.

Last year, Duffy, who took time beside his commitment for Williams to write own stuff returned with The Lilac Time and the new album "Runout Groove". The CD is a veritable Duffy-album, full of folky, heartaching songs with ingenious lyrics and never too close to becoming "kitsch". So Duffy's new color of success might as well be called "lilac"...

Carina Prange talked to Stephen Duffy for Jazzdimensions

Carina: For "Runout Groove", as we can read on your website, you "went into the very rehearsal room we used in 1988…"

Stephen: We we're just rehearsing for the Queen Elizabeth Hall show but we did go back to Hereford to rehearse for the Green Man Festival, so there was a feeling of getting back together. It's all in the Lilac Time film we're finishing at the moment for release next year—it's called "Memory and Desire".

Carina: A feeling of being at home again, a sort of nostalgia—did that have an influence on the music?

Stephen: I just wrote 18 songs and recorded the best ones — I didn't really think about themes — although I do think we lack a culture and a counter culture.

Stephen Duffy And The Lilac Time - "Runout Groove"

Carina: London in general: how would you explain your relation to that town?

Stephen: It's where I live again... — I think it's a hard town to live in especially if you don't have cash. Lot's of over used credit cards and people doing three jobs!

Carina: Stevie Duffy, Stephen AJ Duffy, Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy or 'Professor Calculus' are pseudonyms or different names you were using in the past years. Which was the name you felt most comfortable with and do such names give the opportunity to show different side of one's personality? Are the names related to periods in your life? And why is the band called The Lilac Time?

Stephen: The curse of wikipedia! This stuff keeps on getting regurgitated now... But I did invent new romanticism so I must shoulder the burden. I'm happiest being Stephen Duffy and The Lilac Time and always have been. I called us The Lilac Time after the line from Nick Drake's "The River Man":
"...going to see the river man
going to tell him all I can
about the plane for lilac time".
I'm surprised wikipedia didn't mention that!

Stephen Duffy

Carina: The Lilac Time was founded about 20 years ago. You worked on your solo-career in-between. How does it feel to know that the idea of The Lilac Time exists for so many years?

Stephen: I don't suppose you'd find any 26 year old musician who would think he'd still be playing with the same band 21 years later! But then I suppose everyone thinks they're going to last as long as the Rolling Stones at the same time...

Carina: The co-operation with Claire Worrall for the new album, in which way is it special? Do you complement each other?

Stephen: We have a Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris thing—that's why we sing Everly Brothers covers!!!

Carina: Why did you choose "Until I Kissed You" as the only cover song of the album?

Stephen: Same reason that I just said. It's by the way the first time we've done a cover on an album!

Carina: If you look deep inside yourself: What are your reasons for making music?

Stephen: It's just a natural thing for me to do. I write songs—some people can do maths or make cakes—I write songs. Trouble is now there isn't really a music business to sell them in.

Stephen Duffy

Carina: What kind of guitars do you play currently?

Stephen: Martins. A Tele Custom and an old Guild like Brian Jones—at the moment.

Carina: Do you play different guitars, when you are on tour with Robbie Williams or with "The Lilac Time"?

Stephen: No.

Carina: Is there a dream-guitar that you would like to play someday in the future?

Stephen: More Martins!

Carina: How would you describe in a few words the essence of your sound?

Stephen: English country folk—but The Times said it was "a raga midpoint between George Harrison and the Incredible String Band..." —and I like that idea too!

Stephen Duffy

Carina: You said in an interview that you didn't record albums because you "had the opportunity to", but because you wanted "to express something". Is this "need to express oneself" simply the impulse behind most of the creative work on our planet? Or is there something like "art in itself"?

Stephen: I suppose it is just the need to express oneself—it's like breathing.

Carina: When you, some time in the future, might not feel this urge any longer, would you stop making music?

Stephen: I wouldn't do it if it didn't come to me... I don't think I'd go looking for it—it's quite a painful process. It might be a relief!

Carina: Do you have a sort of philosophy for life?

Stephen: I wouldn't mind a little more peace. A sustained culture and counter culture would be a good idea and I think a little socialism wouldn't go amiss.

Carina Prange

CD: Stephen Duffy And The Lilac Time - "Runout Groove"
(Ministry Of Sound/Edel)

Stephen Duffy im Internet: www.thelilactime.com

Ministry Of Sound im Internet: www.ministryofsound.de

Fotos: Pressefotos

Mehr bei Jazzdimensions:
Stephen Duffy - "I love my friends" - Review (erschienen: 18.4.2006)

© jazzdimensions 2008
erschienen: 27.1.2008
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