Following a recent UK tour with Editors, a string of US dates supporting Peter, Bjorn and John, and a U.S. tour supporting Aurora, Talos (Cork, Ireland-based Eoin French) will return to North America for a brief run in April/May in support of his latest LP, Far Out Dust. Far Out Dust, released by BMG in February, is a stunning blend of organic and electronic music with a gorgeous sense of discovery and wonder. It was written and recorded all over the globe, including New York City, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, Cork, and Reykjavik.
Where Talos’ acclaimed debut, Wild Alee, was a solitary affair about isolation and escape, Far Out Dust finds Talos embarking on new journeys, drawing strength and comfort from lived experience and deep human connection. The result is both his most ambitious songwriting and most sophisticated studio work, a collection that radiates with creative confidence even as it wrestles with the pain of doubt and regret.
French and his longtime production partner Ross Dowling (James Vincent McMorrow, Bell X1) shouldered much of the instrumental load on the album, in addition to working with producers like Doug Schadt (Maggie Rogers, Wet), Valgeir Sigurðsson (Sigur Ros, Feist) and Damian Taylor (Bjork, Arcade Fire), who also contributed a number of mixes. They then handed over the mastering duties to Emily Lazar (Coldplay, Angel Olsen).
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with French to discuss the album, his creative processes, and finding a style all his own.
When did you first realize that you had an aptitude for songwriting and composition? Are you self-taught or were you classically trained in music?
Self taught. I had some lessons early on but for the most part self taught. I don’t know was it ever really a ‘lightbulb moment’ type of thing. I’ve just always loved making music and writing and spent a long time doing it. Eventually I just found a style of making that felt like ‘my own thing.’
Was there a single moment when you had to determine whether to go off and like, be a banker or something, or pursue music instead?
In a weird way I was kind of lucky in that the state the economy in Ireland was in when I left college kind of determined that for me. I studied architecture and graduated to a recession so had the unique opportunity to explore a passion uninterrupted by a 9-to-5.
What have you been most proud of in your career to date?
I think the fact that I kept doing it is something I’m proud of. There were so many moments that it made way more sense to stop, but I didn’t. So here we are. I think I’m most proud of the song ‘Dawn, The Front’ on my new album. I had the opportunity to sample a song called ‘The Front’ by Conor Walsh. Conor was a friend of mine who passed away suddenly and this was kind of collaboration that we never got the chance to do.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block or are you relatively prolific?
Yup every time I write… I think I’ve just got better at working through it.
Did each of the locations where you wrote and recorded this music have a particularly unique influence on what you were composing at the time?
Yes. I think where I am when I’m making something has the biggest effect on what I do. It effects the ‘colour’ of it for the most part. Somewhere like Reykjavik has a very distinct textural influence, that might be down to the landscape but also the influence of the people I luckily get to work with.
You had a number of collaborators and producers across Far Out Dust. What did each of them contribute that helped you realize your vision for the album?
It’s hard to say in particular who brought what. The increase in collaborators definitely taught me a lot more and I’ve added a lot more tools to how I write. We were very lucky to get Ian Chang (Son Lux) to put drums over some of the songs. He is one of my favourite musicians on the planet and as a drummer, stylistically he is totally unique. This was such an integral part to how some of the songs moved.
What is the benefit to releasing music in the LP format over rolling out singles as you complete them?
I think it shows a body of work. It says something. It captures a particular moment in time and condenses it down into something intense. For me, I will always make albums.
The press and commercial response to each of your records has been largely glowing. Is that validating or does that cause anxiety as you determine what next?
It’s encouraging. The main pressure comes from myself though. It’s always great when what you make is well received, but I think you need to try and not hang off of this stuff either. Every time I begin something new, I try and make something new and something that is better than the last piece of work. That’s all we can do really, and there’s enough pressure in that type of undertaking!
What were the highlights of your run with Peter Bjorn and John last year?
Playing Chicago and LA were both brilliant shows! Chicago because as a kid I lived there for a short time and LA because a lot of the record was written there and it was great to play some of those songs back there…
April 30 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
May 01 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage
May 02 – Brooklyn, NY — Baby’s All Right
May 04 – Toronto, ON @ The Drake
May 06 – San Francisco, CA @ Popscene at Rickshaw Stop*
May 08 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Moroccan Lounge
*Co-headline with Bayonne