Silence speaks volumes with Majical Cloudz, and yet the duo’s stark, delicate sound grows with ‘Are You Alone?’ - an impactful second effort brimming with eerie quiet and messages of hope.
“What’s the point of a sad song?” Devon Welsh asks on the record’s title track. Now 26, Welsh’s minimal style hasn’t changed, but of course, he’s still evolving. “I’m probably accepting myself as a person less than I did when I was younger,” he tells DIY, but regardless, the words throughout ‘Are You Alone?’ read as uplifting advice from a wise old friend.
“If you’re lonely, you don’t have to be alone,” he sings, as cleansing synths (courtesy of collaborator Matthew Otto) wash over his deep voice. “No one has to be that way. No one has to be afraid of being loved.”
‘Are You Alone?’ is as sentimental, powerful, and moving as anything Welsh has created, and the record still leaves many questions unanswered. Below, Welsh elaborates (sort of) on his process, his inspiration, and why his music will always maintain a timeless feel.
Last year you toured with Lorde, which had you playing massive venues across North America. How did your intimate, confrontational performance style translate to that setting? Did people “get it?”
I think if there is something to get, the audiences got it. They were enthusiastic, definitely excited to see Lorde but also happy to see us as the opener. I don’t think there is anything in particular I think people should “get” about the music. I am making it and performing it with certain ideas and goals in mind, but I can’t really expect anyone to get anything out of it. Whatever a person gets out of Majical Cloudz is up to them.
Your lyrics are extremely personal, but they also tend to offer some sort of message. Are your lyrics always based solely on your own experiences? Do you intend them to be messages for yourself, or for others?
I wanted to make songs that were easy to connect with and create positivity for someone. I also wanted to make songs that had a lot of layers for me personally. The song 'If You’re Lonely' is sort of a love song, but it’s also a spiritual song. I wanted all the songs on ‘Are You Alone?’ to be both as much as possible.
"I wouldn’t say that humour is something I expect people to find in the music."
— Devon Welsh
You’ve admitted to giving up alcohol. How has that changed your lifestyle and your creative process?
I used to use alcohol for all kinds of things and it really changed my lifestyle and probably parts of my personality as well. Anyone that has given up alcohol knows that when it’s gone they realise how much of their personality had to do with the drug itself. So it involved a lot of changes. ‘Are You Alone?’ was all written after I gave it up.
‘Silver Car Crash’ opens with the line: “I never show it but I am always laughing.” How does humour play in part in your music, which tends to verge on heavy subject matter?
I’m not sure. To me it definitely does, but I wouldn’t say that humour is something I expect people to find in the music. I love seeing the world through a humorous lens, and that doesn’t really mesh with the music I feel drawn to make. One day it might, who knows.
I at least want there to be a lighter feeling to ‘Are You Alone?’. I wanted to make music that feels spiritually nurturing. That’s at least what I was trying to do. Whether I succeed at that when I try is something I don’t really have control over, I just have to make the effort.
‘Are You Alone?’ feels especially timeless. How much does pop culture (music, social media, etc) influence what you do? Do you pay attention to the Internet, or do you intentionally stay away from all that?
I’m sucked into the vortex whether I like it or not. I read the internet. I used to value it way more than I should have, and I’m trying to pry my sense of self away from it because I think it’s fundamentally unhealthy.
I don’t really take anything on the internet as an influence on what I make. I’m more influenced by older music, and by whatever gear I have access to when I’m writing.
Over the last little while my perception of the world of music, of myself in it, of the internet, of culture, etc has become very absurd. I’m not really sure what to make of any of it. I think I’ve been guilty of taking myself too seriously, and of being naive.
Music is pure, on its own in a vacuum. Everything else around it is questionable. I love music and will never stop making it, because it brings me joy. But the culture around it (and the way it exists in relation to the internet) has started to make me feel less happy lately, and I’m sort of just negotiating that and trying to figure out my life.
Majical Cloudz's new album 'Are You Alone?' is out 16th October Matador.