Daughn Gibson :: The AD Interview

Last year, Daughn Gibson (née Josh Martin) debuted All Hell, a mysterious record by a deep-voiced, monikered singer that unfolds in an arresting whirl of loops and twang. The songs on All Hell are moody and disorienting in that the music is culled from a handful of disparate styles and sounds. Propulsive electronica and country & western flourishes are the most obvious sonic guideposts but also hint at musical contradiction: new/old, city/country, experimental/traditional, computer generated/acoustically plucked.

Similarly, consider Gibson's voice–a deep, booming thing which sounds swaggeringly confident and delicately exposed at the same time.

Gibson's follow-up recently came out on Sub-Pop and it's called Me Moan. An excellent record, Me Moan builds on Gibson's haunting mystique both musically and thematically. Grotesque stories from seedy bars and suffocating small towns are set to dark, throbbing beats, illuminated as if by a honky-tonk's neon rainbow, glowing on a dark night. The singer's camp describes the music as "country-noir," but noir-ish of what? Sure, Gibson's music is noir, but a noir that is as nebulous as it is evocative. A song like "Pisgee Nest," based on the story of a state-trooper's daughter pimped out to a small, Pennsylvanian mountain town, suggests the grisly, sensationalized realism of a Dateline scandal special. The most widely circulated of Gibson's biographical details would seem to authenticate his connection to the grittiness on display in his music. He came from a small town in Pennsylvania coal country, found music through playing punk and hardcore, and drove trucks across the country, the working-class manifestation of Americana road fantasies.

Me Moan's guttural title is quite potent–"moan" being an uncontrollable, visceral outburst–considering how Gibson's maverick style sounds so rich and unafraid. AD had the pleasure of chatting with Gibson over the phone about the altered states, the mysterious, the alien, and Me Moan.

Aquarium Drunkard: What was it like the second time around? What was different?

Daughn Gibson: It was a lot harder. It was a lot of fun, it was very cathartic, and when I turned it in in February I was completely exhausted.

AD: Did you do it all by yourself or did you have people helping you or working with you in some way?

Daughn Gibson: I'd say a good two-thirds of it I laid the groundwork for at home. And then I brought it to a studio in Chicago with my friend Benjamin Balcom and we kind of just parsed through and subtracted stuff, added stuff, and made it come alive a little more.

AD: In most interviews and features on you, the word "country" comes up. I get that Nashville isn't calling you up to play at the Opry, but do you feel like you have something to do with country music as a genre, at least figuratively-speaking?

Daughn Gibson: I think moreso than any other genre or any other personality of music, I think I definitely do. And only because I can relate to the stories more than what's typical of rock or hip hop. When I'm writing, it's not completely natural for me to write country music, and mostly because I came up listening to punk and hardcore and stuff and playing in slower metal bands. But it definitely, when I'm finished with a song, it feels so good to have gone through the process of it and add a backdrop to lyrics. I guess that's the challenge for me in every song.

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