Singer-songwriter Cian Ducrot told David Hennessy about his music that deals with domestic abuse, being let down by friends he thought would be there no matter what and growing up as the ‘French lads’ in Ireland but the ‘Irish boys’ in France.
London-based Cork singer- songwriter Cian Ducrot released his debut EP Make Believe late last year and is one of Amazon Music’s Artists To Watch in 2022.
The Irish/ French musician has been generating a buzz and critical acclaim, among those championing him have been Jack Saunders and Mollie King on BBC Radio 1 while the Daily Star describes him as ‘on the brink of great things.’
His EP is autobiographical and, in part, about domestic abuse. Cian was born in Douglas in Cork City before his mother left their father and moved with her sons to Passage West. He originally came to London on a music scholarship and has now lived here for more than four years.
He dedicates his song, Hello Gorgeous, to “the amazing women in (my) life…and every single woman and girl out there who has suffered or is still suffering.”
Cian told The Irish World: “That’s probably one of the most important, most powerful songs on the EP and something that I think I’ve only scratched the surface on in terms of that subject and topic.
“It all triggered from seeing how my girlfriend was affected by her previous relationship.
“I had never been that close to it except for with my mum, but it’s a completely different experience when you’re a kid.
“It made me see all the parallels that it had had with my mum and my dad and be able to look back at that and sort of look at my mum now and think like, ‘Wow, that must have been so tough’… what led my mum to leave my dad.
“For her it was just all about making sure her kids were okay, that we were sheltered, and had the love we needed.
“We were so lucky to have such amazing friends and family.
“It was obviously a really awful time and I think the more I look back and I think about my mum, I think, ‘Wow, I don’t know how she did it’. Women are like superheroes sometimes.
“As you get older, you understand it so much more, what it really means and how much more serious it is.
“No matter how serious you think it is you realise, as you get older that it’s so much more serious than you thought it was because you realise not only that it happened to your mum, but that it happens to women everywhere in the world.
“Women are subjected to abuse whether it’s on the street, whether it’s in the workplace, relationships.
“It’s just everywhere all the time, and we just keep seeing it over and over and over again.
“Not only do we see it on a domestic level but we’re seeing the worst level of this kind of stuff especially recently, even stuff in the news that is so heart breaking.
“No matter what girl I speak to, it doesn’t matter. They’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve definitely been harassed sexually’.
“I don’t think a girl exists out there that hasn’t experienced some sort of harassment and a lot of people have experienced it in relationships to a worse extent as well.
“I’ve always wanted to use my music to help people in situations that I think they need to be heard, because that’s what music did for me when I was a kid.
“I listened to music, and it just helped me escape.
“It helped me get through so many things and feel my emotions and become more connected to my emotions and understand myself. That’s what I want people to get from my music.
“I’ve had people tell me that they’ve left their abusive relationship because of that song, that’s really powerful.
“It’s just crazy to think that you can write a song that can do something like that for people, really help them.
“It’s not like a pity story. It’s like a story of, ‘Hey, you can get out and you can have this amazing life’.
“It becomes a song that’s much more than a song for my mum. Funnily enough, my mum doesn’t even see it as a song for her.
“When I told her about it and I asked her whether she was willing for me to make the video, she was so happy. Everyone in my team was like, ‘You really need to speak to your mum, you need to ask her, you need to make sure she’s okay, this is a big deal’.
“I was like, ‘My mum is not going to care. If my mum has any opportunity to help any women that are in this position right now, she would say yes in a heartbeat’.
“The only thing I had to ask my mum was whether she was happy using footage of us from our childhood and she was so happy that this moment in my life had come.
“She was just like, ‘I always knew that you were going to do something special and you would do something more than just make music. You’ve always wanted to help people’.”
Was it hard to write about such things? “No. We’ve spoken about it our whole lives really. We’ve had to do so much therapy and counselling and all that kind of stuff. It’s something that we never bottled up, it was always expressed and spoken about.
“There are moments obviously that are difficult, or moments where it’s much more emotional, and so on, we might get into discussing it and go further into it and deeper into it. There might be stories that I don’t know that my mum will share with me or things I don’t remember or things that will suddenly crop up into my mind, and we’ll talk about them.
“You have got to be able to talk about it, and to be able to reach in there and make something beautiful out of it, that’s the magic of music as well. You can just take the pain and make something beautiful, which is crazy.”
After focusing on music in school, Cian won a full scholarship to study classical flute at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Following a trip to Los Angeles, he decided he wanted to be a pop musician, not a classical flautist.
Another song on the EP, Crocodiles, as in ‘crocodile tears’ arose from a difficult time in London when Cian found himself with nowhere to live.
“It was just the story of being let down by friends essentially, my best friends whom I thought would have my back when I really needed them, and I just got left to the dogs. It was really tough, and it got worse and worse as I was on my own, one of the hardest times in my early adult life that I kind of went through feeling very alone, feeling very let down, stabbed in the back by those who you would think will have your back.
“It’s a tough one to perform but I also love it because people relate to it so much, because everybody’s had bad friends. Everybody’s had a friend that screwed them over or let them down where you just kind of see their true colours.
“It became one of my friends coming to me and being like, ‘Hey man, the guys really want you to move out. You can’t really stay here anymore, you’re not paying rent.
“I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll find somewhere else. I’ll find another friend who actually is there for me.
“It eventually led to me having nowhere to live, it was really tough.
“I know what I would do for a friend and that’s not what they did for me.”
Cian performed his music in Ireland last year at The Academy 2 in Dublin.
“It was so weird to go home, do a show and it not even be in the city that you’re from. You just assume nobody’s gonna show up (but) it was an amazing turnout.
“Everyone there was wearing masks, it was so weird, but somehow kind of beautiful, much more intimate than I expected it to be.
“My brother was in Dublin at the time as well for a few days and my mum was with him. So, they got to come along as well. I wouldn’t say the ideal time for a family reunion is around a performance, or anything like that, because it’s always a hectic time.
“As a performer, you just need to be in your zone and focusing and just not really thinking about everything else. I like to be given my own space, so I feel like a bad son and a bad brother when I’m like, ‘Okay, see you in like four hours’.”
Your mother is a professional flautist, your brother is a classical violinist, so they get that?
“Yeah, they’re the first ones to understand it. It was my mum that reminded me, ‘You know you can go do your thing, you don’t need to hang around with us or whatever, we don’t want to bother you’. It’s the same whenever my brother’s performing. We all understand it because it’s our lives.
“We grew up with music everywhere. My mum was playing piano late into the night; I remember not only because we loved it and it was her passion and but there was also a time where my mom had to work extremely hard because she was on her own as a single mother raising two boys.
“She just had no choice but to take every possible opportunity and work as much as she could to raise us in the way that she wanted to give us all the opportunities that we could have. She obviously did an amazing job.
“It was just constantly music, you couldn’t open our front door without somebody playing a violin, drums, guitar, whatever, something was going on. It was quite amazing to have been raised in that, just a normal thing to be raised in the way that music would be your job. It was never really like a question.”
Do you feel more Irish or French? “Well, it’s a strange one because when I was in Ireland, me and my brother were always very much the French guys, the French lads. We grew up with a French mother, so we were very not Irish.
“We had no relationship with any of our family in Ireland. I don’t have any Irish family that I see or that I talk to. My whole family was French. I do have an amazing stepdad who is Irish.
“His family kind of became the closest thing I have to an Irish family in a way.
“But I feel both very much. You don’t really feel one more than the other. I’m Irish – but I’m also French.”
The EP Make Believe is out now.
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