Mad Fox Fridays - Cursed Carnival

For this week's edition of Mad Fox Fridays, we spoke to Cursed Carnival.

Singer-songwriter Cursed Carnival has recently released Change Your Mind, recorded at Mad Fox. We spoke to him about his tracks, his time in the studio and plans for 2022.

Taylor Duffy

Can you tell us a bit about the track?

Changed Your Mind is a song dedicated to the people that have been in and out of my life over the years. It’s a nod to some of my past (and some of my old ways to be honest) that have resulted in pushing people away, and I wrote the lyric “I wanted to change your world but I changed your mind” to try and express that. It’s not a song about a particular person though, or a breakup, but it is positioned that way I guess. It's also an upbeat track because despite parts of the lyrics, it's not meant to be ‘regretful’, but more ‘nostalgic’.

Who were you listening to before/whilst recording it?

This is a tough one. I listen to all kinds of music but I definitely navigate more towards Americana, Indie and Rock.I would have been in a bit of an Americana-ish wave with this one though, listening and influenced by the likes of Jason Isbell, The Brothers Landreth, Counting Crows, and (although not entirely Americana) John Mayer and Sam Fender. I do remember at the time though that I wanted to start to practice and get better at slide guitar so I was watching some Joey Landreth and Ariel Posen youtube videos (some of the modern greats slide in my eyes at least) for some inspiration which got me to the open G tuning on the Guitar, which is the tuning on the track. I still haven’t cracked the slide Guitar thing, but the Guitar tuning and playing around with chord structures and positions just lead me to writing the song. It’s strange how that can happen, I had the lyric (mentioned earlier) for ages, and never clicked it with anything musically until I tried something new on the Guitar, and then the song was written in an afternoon.

How do you approach recording a track as a solo artist?

Being a solo artist I have to be in the band, which is sometimes tricky as I’m a bit of a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’, and so it takes me ages to get all the parts to a place I'm happy with. I'm lucky as I have a studio at home (I say a studio, it’s a spare room I record in). These days I tend to write the music first and then write lyrics over the top of it once I've drafted something that sounds interesting to me, and I rarely write with just an acoustic Guitar anymore (although that’s something I want to pick up again).

It all normally starts with a Guitar riff or chord structure that I'll then build up drum parts, bass, keys etc over the top of it until there’s something that starts to shape up. I usually hear the song in my head complete with the drum performance, bass lines etc really early on, the tricky part for me is getting that out of my head and replicating that on the record! Historically, for my last 2 tracks ‘Black and White’ and ‘Back to Basics’ I produced and recorded all the parts at home (to my neighbors delight I'm sure), then sent the stems off for mixing and mastering (shout out to Sugar House for those!). Changed Your Mind was different, firstly because I knew when I was recording the demo that I wanted a Saxophone on the track (something that I definitely can’t play!). So I reached out to Wil Schade who’s an incredible Sax player (well, multi instrumentalist really) and he recorded a tonne of parts that could be used on the track, and I also knew that I wanted to work with a producer so I took the demo into Mad Fox, and let Tayte loose.

How was your experience in the Studio?

Put simply, it was great! Flying solo can sometimes make you lose your mind a bit, and the fact we shaved just over a minute off from the demo is testament to that. It was great having another set of ears on the demo, especially from someone that’s not emotionally attached to the arrangement and could just say what worked well and what didn’t. I’m also a massive ‘gear head’ (see my pedalboard on instagram for example!) and having the opportunity to use some of the equipment at the studio was incredible.

What’s one goal you want to achieve with the track?

To be honest, I just want it to be heard and hope people like it. I’m useless at marketing, which is something I'm working on, so it's tough to know what to say for a goal that's realistic given where I'm at right now. Do i want Spotify playlist placement? Of course. Do i want bbc introducing? Absolutely. Radio play? Yep! So it's all of the above, but right here and now, I'd be made up with 500-1000 streams and another 50-100 Spotify followers.

What’s next?

At the moment I've just moved house, so everything is a bit manic right now, and my recording set up is still all in boxes. That being said, I should be back up and running in the next few weeks. Before the move I was working on 6 tracks that are all in different stages, so I'd like to finish 3-5 of those and get them released this year (creativity and time permitting!). I’m also in talks with some mates to see if I can get a band pulled together to gig ‘Cursed Carnival’ towards the later part of the year. I’ve also been approached by a couple of other solo artists to do some collabs, which is new territory for me but I’m looking forward to giving that a go and seeing what comes out of it!