Six Of The Best: William Cawley | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Durham-based musician and producer William Cawley releases his brand new EP, Domestic Bliss. This collection of songs features previous singles One More Before Teatime and Sunday Boyfriend and is filled with pacey rhythms, Vampire Weekend-esque skanky guitars and William’s Elvis Costello-like vocal delivery – all wrapped up with a bit of lo-fi charm.

Here, William discusses his influences with a six of the best…

It’s no secret that my love for the Beach Boys appears quite evidently in my music, therefore, it’s no surprise to say that Pet Sounds is my favourite album. Even after 12 years of listening, it still hits that emotional quota that was achieved in 1966. I would love to achieve a semblance of baroque-pop in my own music. Even from the semi-hopeful opening tune “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, there is still a nang of melancholy that hangs over the lyrical quality. Likewise, with “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder), Brian asks you to “listen” to him, followed by a breakdown of a string section which reminds one of seeing a lover with another. I believe we can all relate to “Caroline No”, knowing a friend who has “cut their hair” and that they’d “never change”. It’s a great question asked by a 23 year old Brian, “Can I ever find in you again, the things that made me love you so much then?” Eerily relatable at 17, never mind at 29. 

There’s a good chance I may not have picked up an electric guitar if not for the Johnny B Goode scene in Back To The Future Part I. I mean, what’s more amazing than some kid who’s grown up with 50’s rock n roll, to then go back in time, and invent it himself! A dream come true. HOW Marty didn’t deafen himself in the opening scene alone I’ll always wonder. I’ll never forget the phone call scene “Chuck, it’s your cousin, Marvin!”. One thing Marty was right about, is that the kids ARE “gonna love it”. 13 year old me certainly did. I had that version of Johnny B Goode on my first iPod and to this day it’s still the epitome of cool. 

I’ve always loved Gangster movies, so when The Sopranos first appeared on Sky Atlantic I immediately jumped at the chance to watch this near-legendary-status show. Fast forward 10 years, I bought the collection on Blu-Ray and rewatched it within a few weeks. What sticks out to me, as someone who’s attended therapy before, is the fact that someone such “as” Tony Soprano, who must contend with decisions such as “whacking” and other “waste disposal management duties” finds himself speaking to a healthcare professional about his mental health. I adore how Tony paints his analogies of violence/murder into boring examples such as “firing” someone or “retiring” them. Mental health aside, characteristics of certain characters such as Pauline Walnuts and Chrissy Moltisanti never fail to make me laugh. If you know “Pine Barrens” then you’ll know what I mean. It has also inspired me to try Gabagool. 

2023 marked the rebirth of my interest in reading, more specifically reading philosophy. One of the first books I read on the subject was Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. What inspires me the most about it is the fact you’re reading these cold, hard, facts of life written by the most powerful person on earth at the time, the Roman Emperor. Mediations wasn’t intended for publication, but more of a journal to avail the mind of a man who commanded so many, but yet never had full command over himself. It’s humbling to know that whenever one has slip-ups or “bad days”, it doesn’t just happen to you, it happened to Roman Emperors too. “Even if you burst with indignation, they will still carry on regardless”. 

Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is one of my favourite pieces of artwork. I’m no scholar on paintings due to my training on aural arts, but to my eye, it’s a beautiful interpretation of the melancholic nature of the night sky (quite also possibly the artist’s own melancholia!) and the quaint European architecture that sits at the bottom really helps to place one in 19th century France. I have a canvas of it myself, it hangs on the wall behind my TV at home. This means whenever I’m watching something, I always have beauty in my vision. 

Autism/Mental Health
As an artist on the Autistic Spectrum (specifically, Aspergers) I believe I have a unique point-of-view on the world at large, which shows itself through my compositions and lyrical themes in songs such as “Sunday Boyfriend” and “One More Before Tea Time”. I’m known to have a specific vision for my art and I won’t budge once I’ve decided. Figures such as Glenn Gould and Ludwig Wittgenstein (who have been presumed to be on the spectrum) are highly influential. Those of us on the Autistic Spectrum tend to also inherit Mental Health issues as “side effects” of trying to be understood, in a world not designed for us. You could argue that my songwriting stems from my attempts at (in the words of Epictetus) “persisting & resisting”! Myself, I also experience Depression and OCD. I think it’s very important to talk about mental health openly, as we all know too well the consequences of not reaching out. My main ambition as an artist is to show who I really am, in the (slight) words of Cromwell, Autism n’ all.


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