Richard Youngs: “It's so rare I get near a piano, what a joy…”
The musician, multi-instrumentalist and performer on “Youngsness” and recording a piano album without any preconceptions.Richard Youngs is a British musician with a prolific and diverse output, including many collaborations. Based in Glasgow since the early 1990s, he plays many instruments, including the shakuhachi, accordion, theremin, dulcimer and a home-made synthesizer. His new album Arrow is a follow up to Red Alphabet in the Snow, released on Preserved Sound in 2014.
Describe your musical background?
I discovered music through thumping the family piano, aged five, and in the intervening decades have attempted to harness the same experimental, naïve, playful power through recording and live performances.
What defines your sound?
"Youngsness." I'm restless, always moving on, and aside from it always being me making my music (of course), there is no common focus.
What characterises the sound of Arrow?
This is a piano album – the sound of Hebden Bridge on a Saturday afternoon, embellished with wisps of Glasgow.
Why is this album different to your previous work?
It's so rare I get near a piano, what a joy...
What were you trying to achieve?
I sat down at the piano and just played, no preconceptions, nothing worked out. I wasn't trying to achieve anything other than to enjoy playing the piano, while Hayden (label owner) recorded me. Although there are overdubs, it’s all about that piano in Hebden Bridge.
What significance does the album title have?
After the piano session, Hayden and I met up with John Clyde-Evans and went to the pub for some beer and darts … arrows. I feel the album is more singular, less plural. So … Arrow.
Apart from the piano, there was also a drum kit in the room … I'm a poor drummer – and I know several excellent drummers who could have done a much “better” job, but it isn't about accomplishment, it's about that afternoon in Hebden Bridge. There was also an organ in the room, so there are touches of that. I then took these back to Glasgow and knocked it into shape – a few overdubs, nothing drastic.
How do you generally record?
At home, as far as possible. I've been home recording since I was a teenager. There are studios I have used and enjoyed – Green Door in Glasgow and Chem 19 out in Blantyre – but at home seems perfect for quieter solo material, which is most of what I do, really.
Is there anything else about the album that you'd like to mention?
Arrow is my second record for Preserved Sound. The first was a guitar record – Red Alphabet in the Snow. Again, built up from solo improvisations. And, both times, Hayden made such a nice recording.
Stream, download and buy Arrow.