Singer-songwriter and imposing baritone William Crighton is a fiery folk balladeer who combines traditional music with unexpected experimentation. He has released two albums with his second solo album, Empire, acclaimed for its visceral mix of wired folk, evocative lyrical themes and rock’n’roll sparks. He mounted his first national tour of Australia in 2017, establishing himself as a “must see” live act, gathering a strong following, and captivating his audiences. Having just finished his most successful tour to date which included sell-out shows and festivals throughout Australia, the UK, and Scandinavia, William Crighton is embarking on a regional tour of Australia – Trigger of Truth – with Gawurra Gaykamangu, a Yolngu song man and performing artist hailing from Milingimbi (Yurrwi), North East Arnhem Land.
THE STREET TALKED TO WILLIAM BEFORE THE CANBERRA PERFORMANCE OF THE TRIGGER OF TRUTH TOUR WITH GAWURRA IN OCTOBER.
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC.
Very similar to a human relationship.
YOU LIVED AND WORKED IN CHINA AND NASHVILLE, RECORDED YOUR FIRST ALBUM WHEN LIVING IN BURRINJUCK NEAR CANBERRA, AND ARE NOW LIVING IN THE HUNTER VALLEY. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR MUSIC JOURNEY.
My first memory of music is mum putting me to bed and singing ‘Where have all the flowers gone’ .
I listened to mainly country music, hits and memories radio, church hymns and Cold Chisel from that point until I was about 14 and introduced to the blues by a local musician who took me to open his monthly show at a taxidermy shop in Adelong. He’d play songs by Howlin’ Wolf, Rufus Thomas, Bill Brunzy and more of a genre I knew nothing about.
Some years later and after a lot of different and colourful experiences and travels
I was in the bush near where we were living at the time. Something happened – for the first time I was able to be really be objective about who I was and where I come from. I heard things and expressed things differently after that and that’s when I recorded my first album.
WHAT WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND YOUR SECOND AND HIGHLY PRAISED ALBUM, EMPIRE, PRODUCED BY MATT SHERROD?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COLLABORATION AND WORKING WITH OTHER SONGWRITERS AND PERFORMERS?
I enjoy collaborating with people who inspire me.
HOW DID YOU MEET GAWURRA? WHAT INSPIRED THE 2018 REGIONAL TOUR TO SHARE YOUR DIFFERENT STORIES AND MUSIC?
We met a show on the south coast, hit it off and thought it would be great to tour together.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH GAWURRA, CREATIVELY AND TECHNICALLY?
Our interactions have always been pretty natural and free flowing. I don’t really think about ‘how’ it just tends to work out. He’s a great artist and I just enjoy being around him when he’s putting it out there. There is a real significance to his music.
HOW HAVE YOU SELECTED THE SONGS AND MUSIC FOR YOUR SHOWS?
We want the audience to come on a journey with us.
WHO AND WHAT HAVE BEEN INFLUENCES ON YOUR MUSIC?
The people I meet, places I go, things I hear and the experiences along the way.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE?
Strong in some ways and weak in others.
WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU?
Musically, a lot of touring here in Australia and then going to take some time off to begin work on my next album. We’re starting to do a lot more work overseas as well.
WHAT IS INSPIRING YOU MUSICALLY AT THE MOMENT?
I’m working on some music with inmates from a local prison, that’s inspiring. The music is real and there’s no veneer.