Cian Ducrot

24 July 2023

Photography Hannah Cosgrove
Fashion Sophia Katyea
Interview Maja Bebber
Grooming by Chad Maxwell using bareMinerals and BaByliss PRO.
Production Nathan Henry

Fashion Assistant Ella Pintilie

We meet Cian Ducrot on a balmy spring afternoon on the first day of June when the sun is at its brightest and London’s crystal sky finally lets go of the rainfall. Summer waits with a warm patience on the horizon. Our conversation feels like the first day of summer - enchanting, like when glowworms whirl like fire dancers in the evening. When speaking with Cian, his glowy Irish charm and passion becomes clear. And after listening to his upcoming debut album, Victory, it is obvious that he is a master of his craft and the conversation with him is one I will always remember. I can still recall watching him busking a few years ago in London corners and now his tour buzzes with bustling sold-out crowds shining their lights, like the ones he used to dream of as his mum’s twinkling piano lulled him to sleep. As we talk, Cian blossoms with his words as he opens up about his craft, the importance of vulnerability, his wildest dreams and so much more.

Cian went through great lengths to get to where he is now and I greatly admire him for his strength and his resilience. There's a light in his eyes that never really fades out. Our words fly back and forth between each other and we get lost in everything that was, everything that is and everything that will be. We eagerly await the future, a dose of dazzling magic just around the corner. For him, the magic is already happening in infinite ways. Cian has been chasing his dreams for as long as he can remember. He is now living them fully, and he guards them, with every single beat of his heart. When we dive deeper into his realm, Cian sits back relaxed and at ease as his lips share his story in a way that makes you crave more. His voice is calm like a soft breeze on a summer evening and his sense of knowing who he is shines through his gentle words and his whole presence.

As he tells about what inspired his album, I can't help but be overwhelmed by a great sense of shadowy sadness that is ultimately lit by a burst of inspiration - to simply keep going, no matter what. His music inspires you to chase everything that your heart desires. Cian moves in his own way, wearing a black sweater with a red logo and a khaki cap. He tells me that he just moved into a new flat in London. Cian is one of those people, who never forgets where he comes from and there is something about his being and his persona that puts me at ease.

After speaking to Cian, I leave with a lingering feeling of sadness and a heart that has been softened by his words. I am thinking about the magic and madness of the human existence that is - as it always has been - infinitely shaped by music. I can’t help but think of words from Lang Leav’s Sea of Strangers: “There are days when the melancholy settles on you like a sudden change in the weather. The kind of sadness that is intangible. Like the presence of an ache where you can’t pinpoint exactly where it hurts, you just know it does.” His words still linger long after we finish our conversation, like the warmth of the burning sun on your skin after a long, heavy summer day. In a good way, of course, a day that sticks.

Victory will be out on August 4, 2023.

If you could describe how you are feeling today with a song, what would it be?
Hm…give me a second for that one. Let me look at my playlist of songs quickly and see if there’s something in here that would be perfectly suitable to my feelings today. I think, funny enough, it's the first song in my playlist right now. A song called "Keep It Light" by Jack Harlow is one of the first ones in my playlist right now and probably would be a good one to describe how I’m feeling today.

Are there certain lyrics that you can relate to?
There’s a lot of Jack Harlow stuff that I relate to, I think especially the lyrics about dealing with changes in your life, especially with success or fame or anything like that and how it can affect you and those around you. People can make assumptions of you and I think today has definitely been sort of a day where, you know, it's funny because you asked me how I was doing - I actually haven't had the greatest day, but it's fine. I think when you're sort of becoming more known, people will make assumptions about you when all that you're trying to do is just get by without hurting anyone or just trying to have a good time and be nice. I think a lot of the time people can misjudge you and start feeling like they need to give you their opinion about what they think of you. That song by Jack Harlow is very relatable because it’s very much about just being uncomfortable in any of these situations that you end up being in when people are either singing your praises or judging you when all you want is to just be left alone and just treated normally, you know? So funnily enough, I relate to that a lot today.

Thank you for sharing that. You have come a long way since you started making music. What is a moment that you would love to go back to and experience again?
A moment that was always really special was my first time performing at Electric Picnic in Ireland. It was the first time where I gathered a large crowd of people who knew my songs and were singing it back to me. I think I'll always remember that and remember how special that feeling was. So that's probably something that I'd definitely love to go back to many times, but also just the simpler times, just busking on the streets. There was something nice about that time as well and there was less pressure.

You said that you would love to go back to the simpler times, but then you also appreciate where you are now. I wanted to talk to you a bit about how change is the only constant that we have in life. And if you would have to think of a constant that kept you steady over the last few years, what would it be? Because you said you deal with a lot of pressure, so what is something that holds you together?
I think in the last few years, my partner Sofia has been the biggest sort of grounding force and has helped me to just feel good I think and she's definitely been this constant that just always reminds me what to focus on. She has helped me to be grateful and to take in everything that's happening and to be happy about it. So that made a huge difference for me, especially because a lot of it happened through the pandemic at the beginning. You know, if you go back three years ago, I only had her and I didn't have my family nearby or anything so I'm just very, very lucky that I had someone like that - someone really constant.

Yeah, that's amazing to hear. I think we all need a person like that. What draws you to the art of making music the most? When you first started to pick up instruments and started to write songs, what was something that made you want to do it?
I just love music so much. My biggest passion is music and I can't escape it. It's what I'm most passionate about and it's definitely what brings out the best in me and brings out the worst in me, but it's something that I just feel so strongly towards. So making music is just a way of expressing that and putting my feelings into words and I just love it - I just love it so much - I'm so passionate about it and all I know how to do is that. It's what makes me feel the best.

And are there any artists that inspired your journey from the beginning that you still look up to?
Yeah, definitely. I think probably Ed Sheeran would be one of the biggest. That being said, because of the fact that I very fortunately got to spend time with him recently and he so kindly asked me to go on tour with him which was a mind blowing life-changing experience. But to be able to be so inspired by someone when you're 12 or 13 years old and then to be in your 20s and still inspired by them and to meet them and see how incredible they are is priceless. Ed is such an inspiration for so many reasons. I think he will continue to be for the rest of his career and his life for me. It's rare that an artist that inspires you at the beginning or in the middle of your life gets to keep inspiring you, but the fact that I got to meet him as a real person [was incredible]. Not only did he inspire me as an artist, but just as a person as well - his kindness and everything about him, he's just such a lovely guy that inspires you in so many ways.

And is there something specific that he said to you that you'll always remember? Maybe some advice or something about you?
He said a lot of really lovely things. I mean I'm gonna remember all of it forever. Everything we spoke about I will remember forever, all the first conversations we had. I think the biggest thing that I'll remember forever is just the time that he gave me and the kindness that he showed towards me and how open and loving he was. And that really was so sweet and meant a lot to me. Someone's time is so precious and valuable. And to see just how much he genuinely cared about me or wanted to just give me his time was just something that I will never forget and I always hope that I can pass that on to somebody else in the future.

He does seem lovely. Let's talk about your debut album Victory coming out in July. I had the chance to listen to it and I listened to every single song. I made notes about every song and I picked out some favourites as well. But first I wanted to ask you which song means the most to you and why? And why did you put the song Victory in the beginning of the album rather than the end?
I don't know if I can choose one song that means the most to me. Because I think I've only put songs on there that really meant a lot to me. There's maybe four or five that might mean a little bit more specifically at times but I think each one of them holds so much meaning for me, whether it's a song for my brother or for my mum or for my stepdad or just a song about my life in general. I obviously have ones that I listen to more often. I’d say if I had to choose it would probably be "Mama".

And then [in terms of] putting Victory at the start - there’s so many reasons why you do a track order. I felt like it was a sort of interesting way to open the album with, first of all, a song that kind of encapsulates a lot of the meaning behind the album. It also kind of gives people a little idea of what the album is going to sound like, but without giving too much away. It tells them that it's not just going to be piano ballads or it's not just going to sound a certain way. It's one of my first songs that I put out with a beat the whole way through and so I think it just felt like the right thing to sort of open up the Victory album with Victory for many reasons.

My favourites are "Everyone Who Falls In Love Has Someone Else They’re Thinking Of" and "Endless Nights" because I can currently relate to those themes. When I listened to the album I was inspired but devastated at the same time. I think it's so brave of you to share everything that you went through. Can you guide me through the process of writing Victory? How was it different compared to creating your previous work and previous music?
The process of Victory was nice because I think it was the first time that I knew what I wanted my album or my music to sound like. When you're creating your debut album, it's like this refreshing thing, because you're like, finally I can make my debut album. I think I just knew so much about what I wanted Victory to be, what I wanted the story to be, what I wanted the album to represent, and what songs I wanted on there. I knew what stories I wanted to tell. I knew I wanted a song for my mum, for my brother, for my stepdad. Songs that have totally different stories in different parts of my life. So it was quite easy in a way because I didn't write ten songs for each topic. I just wrote one and that's the song that made it to the album. And some of it was done a little bit before. Maybe 90% was written for the album. I made a lot of it in Paris with this amazing producer called Tristan Salvati who was a big source of inspiration and someone that I wanted to work with for a very long time. We met at work together and got on so well that I felt like I'd kind of finally found this collaborator that I'd always wanted to work with - someone that I trusted to sort of take the production and work with closely on the album.

We did a lot of it together in Paris, which also felt quite special and significant because that's where my mum is from and the album is dedicated to her and a lot of my life is thanks to her and so it just all felt really right. I was taking influences from everywhere. I really don't want it to be an album that people are expecting a certain sound. I just wanted to make whatever I wanted to make without worrying what people were going to anticipate. I listen to a lot of hip hop and stuff like that, and so it's not really necessarily inspired by what people would think it's going to be inspired by. I just had so much fun making it and it feels really profound, it feels really like me. I think if anyone listens to it, they'll get my story. And they'll hopefully connect or they'll start to understand the beginnings of where I come from and who I am. I think I wanted it to be sort of like this opening: the first chapter of Cian Ducrot and his life and what he's about but also, hopefully you can connect to it and resonate with it as well.

Yeah, I think that's very important. I listened to the album and there are certain songs I can relate to more and maybe some less because obviously everyone has their own history. I think that's the most magical thing about music is that you listen to a song and you can just take from it what resonates with you. And some of the songs I can personally relate to because they're about heartbreak, but I can put them on my heartbreak playlist on Spotify. [laughs].
[laughs] That is an interesting thing that people will relate to the ones they want to and will take different things from different songs and I think that's the magic.

Absolutely. Tell me about certain lyrics that you are very proud of and that may have been particularly hard to write?
Part Of Me was obviously a difficult one to write. And I've spoken about that a lot as to why, but I think another one that was difficult was when I wrote “Victory”, actually. Because I think it was very introspective. I was on my own completely at home in the studio. And I just wrote from very deep down and wrote these memories that I kind of had put away for a while and had to kind of bring those back up. The lyrics are: “Even grown ups walk out. I remember the day that I was standing in front of you picking sides in our living room. Who would have thought I'd be losing you?” I remember that moment over and over again - as a child with my dad's side of his family, with him, with my grandparents and my uncle. Just people abandoning us essentially. And I think experiencing that again kind of through writing was a moment where I was remembering how much that sucked.

Yeah, I feel like when you write about your experiences, as you said, you live through them again. It's also a way of processing your emotions and processing everything that happened to you. How does writing and performing music help you to process your emotions?
I think a lot of what I've done is very subconscious. Performing and actually playing music lets emotions come out. So sometimes you might not know that you're bobbing things up and you start singing and playing and you might just start crying and you're like, Oh my God, why? Why am I crying? I must be upset about something or stressed. So you get this release which is incredible because to play music, you have to let your guard down. You have to open up, you have to allow yourself to just feel and be in it and connect.

But then I think in terms of writing music, it's kind of like therapy. When you have a therapist, you talk and they get you to speak and open up about things that you don't necessarily know you're feeling. Then it comes out and you're like, Oh, I didn't really realise I felt that way.

Was there ever a moment in your career where you had to stop for a moment, take a step back and think this is where I always dreamed of being? In previous interviews you mentioned that you always believed in yourself. So when did you notice that other people believed in you too?
I think there's always people who believe in you and there's always people who don't believe in you. And I think it's up to you to choose whether you're going to listen to those who do or those who don't. My whole life I had people who believed in me and I was lucky for that. But I also, my whole life, had people who didn't believe in me and people who made me feel small and worthless. I think it's about choosing what you give your energy to. For me, it was always just about making people's lives better and helping people through my story. I think it wasn't even about necessarily needing people to believe or hear anything. If I can change one person's life through my music, then for me, that’s the greatest thing. I believed that I could do that because I did it for one person or two people or three people and then what's better than helping people? That's the greatest thing you can do when you're here on Earth.

I agree. When you were younger you probably only dreamed of the moments that you experience now. What moments in your real life have looked most like your young dreams?
Definitely. My dreams were always performances and playing in arenas and theatres with people having their lights out and singing back. When I would sleep, those would be the dreams that I would have and I would wake up and think, I have to do that. That's what I'm supposed to do if that's what I'm dreaming about. And it feels so amazing over this last year to have been touring and experiencing that in real life. It's just been mad being on stage and arenas or in theatres performing in beautiful venues and on television shows or festivals or even just meeting my peers and stuff like that, it's just something so crazy and dreamlike. It still doesn't feel real. So I think I don't really even know how to react or how to act in it. But I think it's almost so crazy, that it still does feel like a dream, that I wish it would feel like reality.

Is there a show that you performed that you're the most proud of?
There's been a lot of shows. When I played KOKO in London, it was really special because I'd always, for a long time, dreamt of playing there since I had gone to other people's shows there. And there was an amazing show I had in Paris when I supported Ed which just felt like a really special show. There's just always really really special ones that make it feel very magical. And I'm always sad when it ends. I'm always excited for the next one.

Yeah. And I think especially as a fan as well, there‘s nothing that compares to going to concerts and being in the moment with an artist and singing the songs. So I can only imagine how it feels like being the artist. In a previous interview you said that everything you've done up until now has been in control, which is surprising to hear from an artist as many feel they have limited control. Do you mind expanding on this a little bit?
Yeah, as a modern day artist, so much of what you do is your choice or in your control and I think obviously, not all the time. A lot of people probably have toxic situations with their record labels and situations where they're being pushed in certain directions. There's only so much that's controllable in your life, and even when you're in control, sometimes the outcome is out of your control. But, back in the day, it was always down to the big people in the radio or the record label or tastemakers and things like that. But nowadays, it's all down to you. So I feel like there is some sort of safety in knowing that it is in your control whether or not you want to promote your music and you want to put yourself out there. Or you leave it up to someone else, but someone else won't do it for you.

On Instagram, you mentioned that your mum's strength really inspires you. She’s a professional classical musician. Is there a memory that you associate with watching her relationship with music?
Yeah. My mum‘s always been a huge inspiration to me in terms of just her approach to music and life and in so many things, but I definitely remember as a kid, how much my mum would just be playing piano all the time and practising. She just loved it. I would go to sleep every night and my mum would be in the living room practising piano and playing until the early hours in the morning because she had to practise for concerts. She was a single mum, so she had to do the best that she could do. She was working all the time, but it was just the most beautiful thing to see that, to hear that and to fall asleep to that every night. I think that not many people get to experience that, but she's always had an extreme emotional love relationship with music. Especially in classical music, it is very much about technicality and exams and competitions. My mum has always just been about playing with your heart and really going to that deep place.

Vulnerability - A word that holds so much meaning. On your Instagram account you shared a post about diving deeper into the meaning of Victory and everything you went through and all the events that inspired the album. How does it feel to let so much of your inner world be seen by the outside?
Funnily enough, I'm currently on holiday, and I noticed that everyone that I'm with on holiday has posted a picture of us on their Instagram stories. All of my friends who are here, have taken a bunch of photos and posted them all over Instagram and are tagging me. Part of my job is that I would be a social media person, but I realised I'm the only one who hasn't posted anything about being here and being on holiday because I just don't feel the need to. I feel like I don't really want to because these little bits of my life get to be private. It’s nice to keep people out of the know. I don't need people to know where I am or what I'm doing all the time. But there are parts of my life that I'm not afraid to share. I'm not afraid to share what I've been through. I'm not afraid to let people know my story because I think that’s my purpose. Or it’s my purpose anyway, in terms of being a musician, and I think that's the purpose of going through anything sort of difficult in your life, is that you can come out the other side and share your story. I want to encourage people to share theirs and to feel like they can inspire others. They can share their stories openly and they can turn it into art if they want to. Also [ it’s important] just to let people who are investing themselves into my life and into my music, to know a bit about me as well and where I come from.

Social media is a massive catalyst for today’s musicians. One of your songs “I’ll Be Waiting” has gone viral on TikTok. What is your relationship with social media on a professional level?
I guess some of the things I already said, but it's pretty good. I think it's relatively good. I don't spend that much time on social media. I'm not a big scroller. I think I just like to make content and share stuff. And I just kind of let go as well because that's the part again that's in your control. The result is not in your control. So you have to just let go and let what happens happen.

What is something you want to manifest for yourself this year?
I think just continuing the journey, the way it's going. It’s been really positive this year so far and everything is going really well. I would love to have a number one album or would love to have my album be received really well. I think that's kind of what's most important to me. I would love people to just love the album and maybe I’d manifest some cool collaborations as well. I think happiness is probably the biggest thing and just enjoying the whole ride and the journey.

Finally, what is something that you want to be remembered for?
Wow. I think just being a good person and trying to help others and creating a legacy of love and happiness and sharing music. [I want to be remembered] for creating something real and for being an artist that was passionate and really dedicated to writing his true story and not chasing something fake.

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above left: Cian wears jacket by Jacquemus
above right: Cian wears full look by Botter

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above left: Cian wears shirt by Kenzo and trousers by Maxime
above right: Cian wears balaclava by Loewe

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above left: Cian wears jacket and trousers by Maxime, socks by Burlington and shoes by Kenzo
above right: outfit as before

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above left: Cian wears jumper by Denzilpatrick, trousers by Billionaires Boys Club and shoes by Kenzo
above right: Cian wears jacket by Charles Jeffrey Loverboy

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Cian wears jacket and trousers by Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and shirt by Toron

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Cian wears shirt and vest by Kenzo and trousers by Maxime

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