We Chat to Cian Ducrot Ahead of His Gig at Rock City in November

Photos: Holly Whittaker
Interview: Gemma Cockrell
Monday 16 October 2023
reading time: min, words

Since his debut album Victory went to number one back in August, Cian Ducrot has reached new heights, upgrading from the smaller Rescue Rooms venue that he visited back in March to the bigger Rock City on 15 November. We catch up with him ahead of the show, to talk about his classical roots, TikTok, and a rainy Splendour Festival...

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Hey Cian! Am I right in thinking you’re in North Carolina right now?
Yeah, I'm in North Carolina on a very beautiful sunny day.

Well, it's very rainy here in the UK. So, you're not missing anything!
I do miss home a little bit. But I'm happy that it's nice and sunny here. I'm looking out the window. And it's like, I don't know where I am. You know, America is so weird. I don't know if you've ever travelled America. But you’re like, where is this? What's going on? It's just the most random place.

How long have you been out there now? Long enough to get used to the time difference?
Three weeks, but we’re constantly moving as well. So, we started on the East Coast, we started on the West Coast, which is the hardest. Because you're like, straight into like the eight- or nine-hour time difference. And then once we had adapted to that, you just started moving back across to the East Coast. So, like losing or gaining like an hour again, every day.

That sounds absolutely chaotic. Apart from the time zones, how's the tour going?
Yeah, it's great. It's really, really cool. Going across America to all these places, and then there's people who just know your music and are coming out to your show and the fans are so excited. So, it's just special for me. It’s not my first time out here but like the first time properly. I think last time, we may have played a couple of shows, like seven or eight, or something like that. But now we're doing like, I don't know, it's maybe like 22 shows on this on this run alone. So, it's been really, really cool. It's tiring, and it's tough across America, because it's so big. But you get out there every night. And you see the crowd and the people who care so much. And you just connect so much, because it's just these real humans that are there like singing your songs. And I'm like, this is so weird, these people go to work, or go to school in an American school or job.


Have you noticed a change in your live show since you released the album?
The big fans who are, especially younger fans, probably listen to music a bit more in that way. So, I'll notice people who know every song and every word. I'm not one of those fans, really to be honest. When I'm a huge fan of someone like I will know all their songs but I won't necessarily know all the lyrics or even be confident enough that I know all the lyrics to just be like front row singing them all and not making any mistakes. But then I see these fans and I'm like, the album hasn't been out that long and I see them just singing like every single word and I'm like, how do you learn all these words? Like what are you doing with your spare time? It's crazy. I think the only album in the world that I know that well is probably like Ed Sheeran, his first album, but that’s been out for so long.

I know you said you’re missing home a bit, so I’m going to bring you back to a rainy day in Nottingham – Splendour Festival this summer. I was there, I was soaking wet, I think everyone was… how was the day for you?
I think I got a little bit wet. When I went more on the front of the stage. Like the very front of the stage. It was like I could feel the rain and stuff. But I don't mind that when I'm performing. It's actually kind of enjoyable. But I was just looking at everyone standing in the field with umbrellas and ponchos. And I was like, Oh, my God, that's horrendous. Like, why? Why is anyone doing this? I wouldn't do that – I would have gone straight home. So, I just felt bad. But it was also really cool. Because it was this kind of nice energy that like people were there and people were braving the rain. Just feeling like they've been done dirty, you know, came expecting the sun and their shorts and it was literally just winter.

Hopefully it was less rainy when you were here earlier in the year for your Rescue Rooms show in March?
Yeah, thankfully! Nottingham is always a fun one. The crowds are always super like up for it. I think when you go anywhere, especially not the main big cities, you have such great energy from your crowds. It just feels a little bit more unique to be there, I guess or something, you know?

You’re coming to Rock City this time around; how does it feel to be upgrading to the bigger venue? And which songs are you most excited to play?
Can't wait to be honest. I've heard great things – even sounds iconic in the name, Rock City. You know, I think it's just like every year, I'm always so excited to sort of play the next venues and play the bigger venues. And I think there's a certain size, which is really, really exciting. I think it's kind of at that perfect size, the rooms are big enough to have a big awesome show, and just have a really fun time but they also still have enough intimacy that you can still have a real connection with the audience on sort of like a more personal level. I always tried to have that at every show.

In terms of songs, I think Thank God You Stayed, which is the last song on the album, is one of my favourite ones to perform. It's just so much fun. I love How Do You Know, because it's just such a nice moment with the crowd. It's very wholesome. Obviously, there's the hits. Every song that was a single is enjoyable to play. Maybe Victory as well, the album’s title track.

I wanted to speak about audience connection, because I read that you lent more towards pop rather than classical music due to that audience connection. How have you built and maintained that connection?
I think that's just about forcing a sort of show structure that allows that. I think a lot of artists will just play their sets, and they'll just kind of go straight through and they'll share a few words and stuff. And that's it, really. But I love talking. I love to create time in the show to have a chat. You'll have a time constraint on your show, depending on the rules, the venues and stuff. And I think one big thing is if I have a certain amount of music, I might cut a song to allow myself more time to talk and speak. I don't want it to just be an hour of just music, we need to account for time where I can have a chat, go off script. If it ends up being a long chat, it's a long chat, you know. I think that's important. And then you know, sometimes we'll realise if I'm talking for too long, we’ve got to fly through the next four songs. But I think it's just important to create that time to talk to your fans at the show, have that connection. And I love to do that. I just find it really fun. Sometimes if you play a little acoustic set in the middle, you can have a bit more conversation. I think I find it makes it easier for me, I enjoy breaking the ice.

Speaking of your classical music background, I noticed that you'd recently released a version of the album which includes a choir and strings, which is beautiful. How did that come about?
I got my brother involved in doing some strings for some songs on the original version of the record. We wanted to do some extra special versions of the album as well, and my brother was super keen to do more work together. He’s an amazing violin player and classical musician, so I just kind of trusted it in his hands. Those versions were really, really gorgeous. And then it was the same with the choir, they spent a couple of days in the studio, and they just came together quite quickly. I think it really showed another side to the music and showed it in a different way.


I didn’t realise your brother was musical too, do you come from a very musical background in terms of your family?
I don't have a relationship with my dad but both my parents are professional, classical musicians, so I was just kind of born into that, immediately. It was always super inspiring. My brother just grew up just basically wanting to be our mum, pretty much.

UK Tour Press Shot 2023 03 22 140428

That is quite a contrast to the way your music first blew up, on TikTok, which is a very modern success story. How do you feel about that?
We’re just in a completely different world now. Without social media, without TikTok… I mean, you can have some sort of success, but especially for new artists who didn't have any success before it, now everyone's discovering their music on social media and TikTok and, and their favourite artists, so it's just super important to lean into, figure it out, and evolve with it, and just use it as a tool for exposure. Back in the day, even up until five or ten years ago, all of the artists that were successful would kind of be handpicked or taken in as industry babies. They’d be put out on the radio, and they'd be put on all these shows, and everything was just kind of laid out for them. You just do the music, and then the record labels and the music industry will tell the world to listen to you. But now the music industry doesn't do that. Now, social media does that.

So, for artists like myself, we got to kind of pave our own way, and we got to just make people listen to our music. And then the industry followed. I think it's really cool. And it's really exciting. It obviously comes with a lot of pressure, and there's so many different sides to it, but I think it's a journey, which ebbs and flows and comes and goes. It’s just about figuring it out and having fun with it. And just knowing that it can change your career at any given moment. It can even take old songs and give them a new life. So, you just have to write the music and then do your best and have fun and then see what happens.

Artists will complain about it, but I think you can sort of use it to your advantage. It changed my life and it's changed so many other people's lives. But I made hundreds of thousands of videos before anything was working, and I just tried as hard as I could. If you're going to just do the same thing as everyone else, it may not work. But if you can go out and find your own ideas and find creative ways of showing your music and doing something kind of different, you never know, anything can happen.

You never kind of have to fear that your career could be over or that you could be at one hit wonder. One song could be a massive hit, but then your next song could also be a massive hit. Or you could be like Tom Odell, and suddenly your hit from ten years ago is a hit ten years later, probably even bigger than it was ten years ago. Or you can be like Tate McRae who's had multiple massive hits on there, and then suddenly, she's got another one like a couple of years later and she’s now probably bigger than ever.

You look at Noah Kahan, who had a hit six or seven years ago, then it was a bit stagnant for five years or so. And then he just decides, I'm going to make the music that I love, and starts making this kind of Americana folky beautiful music and years after his first hit, he just explodes, skyrockets. It’s crazy how fast everything can change. You don't know what's ahead for yourself.

Cian Ducrot will perform at Rock City on 15 November 2023. Buy your ticket here


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