Interview: Who is Arran Fagan?

Arran Fagan

Concert Crap: Introduce yourself to our audience. How did you get started in music?

Arran Fagan: My name is Arran Fagan. I am a folk singer-songwriter, originally from Medford, Oregon. I grew up going to a lot of shows with my parents who are music junkies. I grew up listening to a lot of folk and Celtic music (Joni Mitchell, John Denver, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, etc…) My parents put me in piano lessons early on as a kid. I hated the piano and so I then added saxophone. According to my mother, my saxophone playing sounded like a dying moose. To my mother’s relief, I finally found the guitar. I got started in music by going to a bunch of local post-hardcore, folk, and pop, bands around Medford while in high school. All the kids playing were my age and after going to enough shows I finally found the courage to ask them to let me open for them. A kid named Grayson Phelps let me open an album release show of his. I played two super bad songs but loved playing in front of an audience, it was extremely different from playing alone in my bedroom. Grayson is a good friend of mine still and creates a lot of beautiful music. I formed a band in high school called Back In The States, we played a lot of sappy love songs and released a record right after graduating high school. In 2014 I moved to Portland, Oregon for college. In 2015, I released the album Sad Old Songs. I then formed a band under my own name with my good friends Jonathan Wiley on upright bass and Jack Pfeffer on the viola. I released my new album Weight of Time on January 20th.

CC: How would you describe your sound? (One of the descriptions on your FB page describes your music as prog-folk, which is a new term to me.)

AF: My sound is folk singer-songwriter mixed with some bluegrass influence. The band and I are definitely not reinventing the wheel in any way and are trying to just make the best songs we can. We honestly put prog-folk on the Facebook page to look a little more interesting. We definitely stick to the singer-songwriter, lyric-driven dynamic, but are also trying to find a way to incorporate all of our backgrounds to create a sound that enhances the lyrics.

CC: Who were 3 key musical influences you had growing up? What was special about them to you?

AF: The first would be John Prine; he is such an incredible songwriter and seems to always be having a great time singing songs. His positivity and lyrics had a heavy effect on me while growing up. His songs can make you laugh and cry, all within the same verse. He truly taught me that by not taking yourself too seriously and making music for the sake of making music is the right way to do things.

The second would be Jackson Browne, who creates such beautiful scenes with just a few phrases. I also like that he uses a lot of lyrics in his songs which makes me feel a little bit better about how I pack paragraphs into songs sometimes. Jackson Browne’s music taught me how to use music to try and understand the world around me.

The third would be Jeffrey Martin. I found Jeffrey’s music right before leaving for college and fell in love with how brutally honest it was. I found out he was a high school teacher, which was something I was thinking of going to school for. I sent him a letter asking him a ton of questions about being a musician and a teacher. He responded and we began a friendship. Jeffrey has been an incredibly wise and grounding mentor to me over the past years. His music is incredible and the guy is wise and humble and has truly been such a positive presence in my life. My music is better because of him.

CC: What are 3 non-musical influences that made their way into your music?

AF:  – Nature – When I am out in nature I am able to spend time with my mind and figure things out. Music has a big influence on my creativity. Going on a hike, camping, backpacking, are great for my music. It sounds extremely cheesy but nature is a type of “soul cleansing” for me and allows me to erase all the stuff stopping me from writing.

– East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book is incredible and also has seemed to infiltrate my mind and find its way into songs.

  • Friendships – A lot of my songs are about people in my life. I don’t like the idea of going around only looking for songs. I try to be an active observer and participant and eventually something that I have picked up will begin to simmer inside me and will eventually come out in a song.

CC: What song should people listen to first on the album? Which song should they listen to last?

AF: They should listen to “Running in Circles” first because it is fun and digestible and the only happy song on the album. Gotta start with happy. The last song they should listen to is “Beautiful Disaster” because it is the song that I am most proud of lyrically.

CC: What is something in your music listeners won’t catch the first time they listen to the album?

AF: People may not catch the sick synth that strings itself throughout the record. Tyler Fortier –who produced the record – added super quiet synth on a few songs which adds an ethereal element to the album and I think truly makes some of the songs be the best that they could be.

 CC: Why should people check out the album?

AF: You know, that is a hard question. I am still trying to figure that out myself. I would hope that people should check out this record because I have put a lot of work into it. Literally blood, sweat, and tears.

 CC: What decade of music do you think was the best?

AF: I think the 60’s. I wouldn’t want to live in the 60’s but I would love to be surrounded by all of that music. I also think that right now, this decade has had some absolutely stellar albums come out.

CC: Last song you listened to?

AF: “Blue World” by Anna Tivel which is absolutely beautiful

CC: Star Wars or Star Trek?

AF: Star Trek

CC: What was your favorite album of 2017?

AF: I have 3 favorite records of 2017: Leif Vollebekk Twin Solitude, Jeffrey Martin One Go Around, SZA Ctrl

CC: Anything else you’d like to add?

AF: We made the record in two days 10 hour days at a studio in Portland. We cut the record 90% live, with some slight overdubbing on a few songs.

Post by Karen Shalev

Have you checked out Arran Fagan? Comment below.

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