It’s another Manchester export on the blog this week, this time it is in the form of singer songwriter and musician Chris Flynn. Creating music described by many as bittersweet, poetic and cinematic, his musically back to basics tracks with storytelling lyrics of urban life have gained him from press, festival/gig bookers and Manchester music goer’s.
With a voice that has that edge of Liam Gallagher but with a whole lot more melody which gives it that distinctive edge. The music on ‘Pandora’ particularly is haunting in its sparseness and simplicity. There is a gentle acoustic guitar which plucks along throughout the entire track giving it an atmosphere of quiet reflection where you can really focus on the track and the lyrics of Flynn.
Last year, saw the best and biggest in Flynn’s music career so far, touring his solo material with Grammy nominee John Fullbright as well as performing to plenty of sell out crowds and gaining places on festival bills such as Kendal Calling, Salford Music Festival and Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. All this has been set alongside writing his solo material for an album which he has been performing alongside guest musicians and working on collaborations with the likes of Julianne Regan.
Taking his influences lyrically from the likes of kitchen sink playwrights and musicians such as Tom Waits and Elvis Costello has resulted in a very honest, if sometimes bleak, look at modern life especially in the cities of the UK. Lead single ‘Pandora’ [featured above] was released on February 1st and has gained very good reviews from many with the likes of Peter Jobson from I Am Kloot describing Flynn as; “One of Manchester’s most promising songwriters”
To find out a little bit more about Chris and his music, I caught up with him to talk lyrics, the Manchester music scene and plans for 2014:
Who are your main influencess?
My main influences come from the people that I meet and from the things that people say in conversation, lots of the lines in the songs are verbatim.
You’ve talked about kitchen sink plays inspiring your lyrical content, are there any plays in particular that have had a big impact?
Jim Cartwright’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ is a particular influence, I’m struck by the relationship between the mother and daughter. The play explores the sense of loss, it’s a fantastic play. There are also the iconic ‘Saturday Night Sunday Morning’, ‘Taste of Honey’, ‘Billy Liar’, ‘Hobson’s Choice, I’m a massive fan of the genre. I’ve recently rediscovered the American realists, Tennesse Williams and Edward Albee. I love the exploration of human relationships, the exposition of conflict and resolution.
Which song that you have written are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to pick out one single song, I’m proud of them all but for very different reasons. I tend to like the one’s that people understand the most. When people connect with the songs I write and the music I make then that is when I feel that I must be doing something right.
Is there any message you’re trying to portray with your lyrics?
My songs often explore the realities and consequences of relationships through current and local sociological perspectives. My songs are not necessarily ‘love songs’ in the teenage ‘pop’ sense, they can be, but they are often about love; they seek to understand the stark realities that lie within the implications of having experienced love. They also seek to explore some of the coping mechanisms that are experienced when love is lost or when love changes significantly.
What do you write first – music or lyrics?
Lately, I’ve been focusing on the lyrics so I suppose you could say that the lyrics are written first. Sometimes I can write about 80% of a song in about 10 minutes and then it takes months to refine it and finish it off. For me, there really is no fixed way. The starting point is always different depending on the idea. Sometimes I start at the beginning and then the plot follows and sometimes I start at the end and work backwards. Sometimes the music and lyrics flow as one. I don’t really mind how it happens as long as it does happen!
The Manchester music scene is thriving at the moment, would you agree? What does it feel like to be a part of it?
I think that the Manchester music scene has always thrived – ever since I can remember. There has always been a continuous supply of great songwriters, bands, poets and musicians. While it is sometimes difficult to trace the similarities in terms of musical style, musicians and writers based in Manchester and the North West have and will always have a unique way of seeing the world, writing lyrics and telling their stories. It’s a cultural thing that runs far deeper than the lack of sunlight and the ever-present clouds and rain. I can’t imagine that this ingrained creativity will ever change. If I am considered to be part of this thriving scene, well – that makes me feel very proud indeed.
What are you plans for 2014?
There’s the Lowry gig in April – I’m really looking forward to that, as well as playing a number of festivals this Summer. Another single, another video and there’s still lots of production work to do on the album. It’s going to be a busy year.
Also, for the Manchester folks among you, Chris will be playing The Lowry on 18th April with special guest Little Sparrow so if you like what you’ve heard above and you can get down to The Lowry make sure you do because it should be a good night.