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Tracyanne and Danny on Their Self-Titled Debut Album

How to Make Friends

Oct 15, 2018 Photography by Anna Isola Crolla Tracyanne & Danny
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Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, and Danny Coughlan, who records as Crybaby, were set up on a blind date of sorts, by a manager and publisher who thought the two musicians’ guitar pop might make for a fruitful collaboration. After receiving a song from Coughlan via a cassette in the mail, Campbell agreed to work with Coughlan and the pair sketched out a few songs, including what would become their eponymous debut album’s lead track, “Home and Dry.” But when Camera Obscura was put on hold after keyboardist Carey Lander passed away in 2015, Campbell decided to refocus on the collaboration, which she saw as a way to get out of the band bubble she had been in for the last two decades.

“You know what’s happened over the past four years?” she says. “I had a baby and Carey died. Those two things are probably the biggest things I’ve ever experienced. The best thing and the worst thing in the period of four years. It was a lot to process. And also to a certain extent, mourning the band. The thing that we had. And then realizing that nobody’s waiting for anything. I have to do it myself.”

To account of the distance (Campbell is based in Glasgow, while Coughlan lives six hours drive to the south in Bristol) when compiling material for their debut album, the duo supplemented in-person writing sessions with ideas traded via phone calls and emails. It’s a method that Coughlan says helped create their sound, a spacious combination of guitars and voice, filled out for “Can’t Be Love Unless it Hurts” with a string-section assist, and on up-tempo layering on Lander tribute “Alabama” (“I wanted to take her with me a bit,” says Campbell of the track. “I want to hold her near.”) However, when it came to vocals, neither wanted to create duets in the traditional sense. Instead they drew inspiration from the way Yo La Tengo uses male and female voices to complement, not overshadow each other.

“What’s great about this album is that I get to sing with Tracyanne,” says Coughlan. “I love her voice. And she gets to sing with me and she loves my voice. You’ve got the best of both worlds. Making an album with you on it, but you also get to listen to someone you admire as well.”

What started out as a conversation over a few beers at a pub took six years to come to fruition. During the writing and recording of Tracyanne & Danny, both Coughlan and Campbell say they grew together as friends. Their families have vacationed together. And even though they were interviewed separately, both musicians enthusiastically confirm that they would love the opportunity to work together again.

“I think the surprise is how much we’ve enjoyed it,” says Coughlan. “It’s gotten bigger than the songs. The album is like a document of our relationship. It’s a document to our time together and the things that we’ve experienced in the last six years…. It’s great having someone on stage with you, actually. To share the burden. It’s quite lonely doing your own thing. It’s just you and everyone is looking at you, ‘yeah it’s me.’ But to have two people, you can sit back. It’s fantastic to play my guitar, sit back, and just enjoy the party.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Issue 64 (August/September/October 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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Major Street
October 16th 2018

I really love how they sound. Amazing!