Deputy Entertainment Editor, Lauren McCarthy, chats with the man behind the hypnotic sound of Talos; Eoin French.
Talos; a Grecian myth, a man made from bronze sent to protect Europa on the island of Crete. Talos by another definition is also used to describe Cork born musician Eoin French who, with his ethereal sound and down to earth attitude, is a sure indicator of a promising future for Irish music. His alternative sound works well with his unusual stage name. French explains to me the origins of such a name, saying; “My grandfather was really into Greek mythology; he had a library of books in his house. I went down and came across this book and Talos popped up. It just kind of stuck with me. I really liked his story as well. I had just finished with a band and the story had connotations of isolation and hermit-like qualities to it and the idea of being on your own.”
French certainly seeks the unusual in his music, especially with his debut album Wild Alee, due to be released on April 21st. With striking album artwork and a unique title I ask him – what does it all mean? “An alee is the side of a ship that is sheltered by the wind. I fell in love with the word in a way. I just loved the idea that on the other side of something maybe is tumult and fear and wildness, I suppose. Wild Alee is the idea that one’s haven is challenging. So it is a haven but at the same time it’s in tumult, a haven that will torment you, that still asks questions of you. You’re not really hiding; instead you’re challenged, being tormented by it at the same time. I suppose that related back to how I’d see a life in music. It really hit me.”
Wild Alee is not only an album that promises to be beautiful auditorily, but visually as well. French has had a lot of Icelandic influences and collaborated with Icelandic photographer Benjamin Hardman for the album artwork. French admits to that Hardman’s images seemed almost too beautiful, too perfect, and wanted to work with him for his own artwork in order to imprint his own “smudge”. He admits that while he has enjoyed being involved in a different creative process to music, creating the artwork has almost been the hardest part of producing the whole album.
Icelandic sound has also influenced French. Music producer and composer, Valgeir Sigurðsson, was a major source of inspiration for him in his quest crafting his debut album. He also mentions greats like Bob Dylan, Bowie, Van Morrison, and references some abstract electronic groups that I’ve never even heard of, citing them all as a basis for his album. He tells me that while he enjoys listening to other artists, while he creates his own music he usually listens solely in pursuit of inspiration.”It’s only since we finished that I’ve been able to get back to actually enjoying listening to music. Not that I ever stopped enjoying it, but it’s part of making something else and finding references that people wouldn’t expect and drawing from them in other people’s music. It became more of a search for inspiration as opposed to just listening. I wouldn’t say that I dreamt this album up out of nowhere. I feel like it’s my own thing, but at the same time I definitely listened to it a lot. I try to take from a lot of different places.”
French describes his excitement to play at major Irish festivals this year such as Indiependence and Sea Sessions. He also has gigs lined up in the coming months for his own headline tour around Ireland, both of which he seems equally psyched for. When I ask him if he finds a difference between playing a festival to his own gig, he explains how the comradery between himself and the guys who play in the band for Talos performances provide an exciting element each time.
“I don’t really feel much difference. There’s six people in the band and they contribute a lot to the live show. I feel the live shows are as much theirs as it is mine. I really enjoy playing with a group. I’m not really the soul and centre of attention either then, all eyes aren’t on me. Everybody has their own personality and place onstage, and that really helps. It becomes about performing with my friends.They’re a group of very colourful human beings and the fun of that is always the same.”
He is humble about his success, but is equally as proud of his work, having evidently devoted a lot of time and energy to his debut album. He has spent the bones of three years writing and recording and says that nerves are definitely playing quietly at the back of his mind: “You’re always going to be nervous when you put out something that personal. At the end of the day it’s a naked representation of yourself, you never really willingly want to do that. At the same time though I’m very happy with the end result.”
It’s a much different experience to releasing an EP he elaborates, saying an album is how you really prove yourself as a musician. “It’s a proper legitimate body of work, it’s a very lengthy period of time of my life that’s gone into that. It’s a collection of where I am at the moment as a musician, I suppose.” Artists often rush their work, he adds, saying he believes that you need a substantial amount of time to produce a genuine artistic endeavor such as an album. He laments the fact that many musicians often feel pressured to stay current and release as much music as fast as possible, which is just not the way Talos does things.
I’ve been listening to ‘Odyssey’ from Wild Alee on repeat ever since the interview, feeling like I’m in a constant dreamlike state as a result. I wish Talos all the success that I know will be afforded to him and I’m excited to see what he will bring in the future. So if someone wants to buy me a Sea Sessions ticket to see Talos live, that would be much appreciated. Purely for Motley research, obviously.
Wild Alee is out on April 21st