The G-Man interview: Diane Cluck Part II

"Singing is my proof...if a lyric is 'wrong' it feels to me like a bump in the road"

I recently caught up with influential folkie Diane Cluck ahead of her visit to Cork later this evening. The first part of our conversation was published in Thursday's Evening Echo but it breaks my heart to edit such wonderful chats so read those other cruelly abandoned orphan words below. For those who missed the first part of the interview read here.

The G-Man: I saw you post about a recent package party ahead of the release of ‘Boneset’. I’ve been involved in a few myself over the years. For readers who’ve never been involved in one before, can you describe exactly what you mean by a package party and what it involves.

Diane Cluck: We sold pre-orders for the new album on our west coast tour since I didn't have copies yet. When I got home there was a bunch of information to organize and luckily my friend Ken (housemate/best friend/sweetheart - It was not an all-night thing) is really good at that. He put everything in a spreadsheet and printed up shipping labels while I got busy with boxes and envelopes and packing tape. Then we took everything to the USPS and spent a couple of hours with a clerk who weighed everything and typed in the overseas shipping forms. Sometimes it's good to turn an endeavor into a party situation.

I’m sure there were plenty of papercuts involved. Having literally spilled blood to complete your new record, does this mean you have an even closer connection with your record than most?

I feel very good about this album, perhaps less close and more like it's an easy breathing part of me. The experience I'm having with these songs has been what it feels like to share them with others, to feel what kind of a conversation the songs open between us.

I did, literally, spill blood on the original copies of black with green leaves, my third album. I'm guessing you didn't know that. I did a run of cd-rs, about 500 of them, and pricked my fingers to make blood designs on all the copies. At some point I wished I'd either designed them differently or wasn't so obsessive about self-imposed details.

Describing the inspiration - or more like the birth - of ‘Sara’, you wrote on your website “but it wasn’t a song that wanted to finish in one go.” How do you know when to push songs and when to simply leave them time to breathe?

If you're going to be singing something over and over again you'd better like it. I generally don't push songs to finish because I don't like the result. Singing is my proof...if a lyric is 'wrong' it feels to me like a bump in the road.

I’ve heard you enjoy cooking. What dish do you break out when you wish to impress visitors. Would you like to share the recipe please?

I like to cook to suit a visitor's taste, but rosewater or rosemary lemonade is nearly always appreciated. Use fresh lemons and raw honey or maple syrup. If I'm making rosemary lemonade I'll put in a few drops of rosemary-infused olive oil.

What are your favourite local shops?

Bellair Farm CSA (organic fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers). The people are so kind, full of information, ready to teach. I also like Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. They know how to make a proper cup of tea and put a lot of care into it.

I watched a really good Irish show to do with the art of craftsmanship recently. Besides music, are you skilled with your hands?

I'm good with hand-sewing. I'm especially good at tying threads over and over, in the same place, to hold a good knot at the beginning of hand-sewing. I started quilting when I was a teenager and put in a lot of practice.

Living Energy Farm, Virginia
Not to go all apocalyptic on you but isn’t it a shame that, if the lights went off tomorrow, so many of us are so unskilled these days due to how for granted we take certain tasks because of modern appliances, tools etc.

There are always things we don't know, always things we can learn if we want to or are pressed to learn. There are so many things machines make possible for us every day, some of which some of us don't want to return to doing by hand. There will always be people going in both directions. A particularly impressive place not far from where I live in Virginia is Living Energy Farm, where they're endeavoring towards total sustainability with no reliance on fossil fuels.

For more on Diane Cluck visit:

- Diane Cluck plays Triskel Arts Centre TDC, Cork on Saturday, 5th April 2014
- Tickets are priced at €6 and available from Plugd Records

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