DARRAGH CULLEN is full of fantastic contradictions. He is experienced — three albums and an EP — yet very young. He is incredibly hard-working, always performing and writing, yet relaxed. Best of all he is undeniably talented (just listen to any of his music) yet is humble and focused.
Getting to speak about his newest project, The New 52’s Let Me Sleep, Cullen explains his decision not to release this music under his own name. “Actually, the album was still recorded in the same way I did the solo material, wherein I played the majority of the instruments. The band has only been brought in later on in the process, while I put together the live show. The reason for the [name] change was purely because this album sounded more like a band than a “singer-songwriter” or solo performer, and I wanted to reflect that.”
Sometimes musicians, used to playing solo, struggle to adapt to a band scenario. No such problems for Cullen, however, explaining:”“From the get go, the four of us have had a strong musical chemistry, and arranging the songs for the live setting has constantly been quick, fun and hugely rewarding. I can’t wait to bring the band in on the next album and see how the chemistry translates to the writing and recording process.”
The thought of someone else being involved in the writing process is surprising; Cullen’s music has always seemed extremely personal. “Song-writing is definitely a hugely personal thing for me. It’s interesting; I’m very private in real life, to a fault sometimes. Yet I have no problem sharing personal songs at all.I think the beauty of music is you can use it to express yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t. It feels like a safe space to let those personal things out.”
“I think the beauty of music is you can use it to express yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t. It feels like a safe space to let those personal things out.”
When asked about his creative headspace during the album’s creation, Cullen explains: “I think the songs tend to come from a darker place, but they’re not necessarily written while I’m sad or down. I remember Ben Folds once said something to the effect of ‘Music is made when you’re far enough away from a bad experience that you have perspective, but close enough to it that the feeling is still raw’, and I feel like that definitely applies to me.”
There are definitely some raw feelings in Let Me Sleep — the album is excellent. It is punchy and expressive in all the right places. The interview concludes with which Irish act is Cullen’s current favorite: “A few favorites would be Villagers, We Cut Corners and Scott Maher.”
Let Me Sleep is available on iTunes and Spotify.