Euros Childs brings amazing 5-albums-in-3-years creative odyssey full circle
In the mid-1990‘s, Euros Childs was the teenage frontman of Peel Show stalwarts Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. That much-loved band were renowned for their unique ability to reach beyond the confines of their own times and tap into the unfettered pastoral spirits of such then-neglected maverick forebears as Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt. Two decades later, Euros Childs has become just that kind of inspirational figure himself.
In the three years since its first release, Childs’ own National Elf label has played host to a creative rebirth on a par with Will Oldham becoming Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy or Neil Young after Eldorado (the mini-album, not the TV series). “I’d had enough different people putting out my records and wanted a bit of stability”, Childs explains, “so the best way I thought I could achieve this was by starting my own label. Also”, he adds with a characteristic twinkle, “By 2009 the bigger imprints had less money than they had in the past, so there was less of an incentive to be on one”.
Unshackled from the need to fulfill anyone else’s promotional requirements but his own, Euros Childs has turned this liberation to listeners’ advantage with a thrilling surge of creativity. A work-rate that makes Damon Albarn look like Scott Walker has seen him follow up 2009‘s amazing Son Of Euro Child (“irresistible… polemical… the kind of atmosphere which it would be nice to think next year’s Mercury Prize judges might have the imagination to acknowledge” **** Observer Music Monthly), with the visceral Kraut-rock carnage of 2010’s Face Dripping, the exquisite piano/vocal melancholy of 2011’s Ends, and the collaborative electro-pop breakthrough (imagine a no-budget psychedelic Pet Shop Boys) of 2012’s First Cousins – the debut album by spin-off duo (with Euros joined by Race Horses’ Meilyr Jones) Cousins.
“Son of Euro Child opened up so many new possibilities that it was almost like a debut album”, Childs explains, “and everything I’ve done since then has been sparked by that. But I’m very wary of repeating formulas, and that applies just as much to my experimental solo releases as it has done to the more upbeat stuff. Because I feel I went somewhere new with the last 3 solo albums, that’s enabled me to get excited again about making a more straight-ahead pop record, so that’s what Summer Special is”.
This new more approachable style was signalled by the current single “Spin That Girl Around” – a full-band version of one of Ends‘ numerous piano-vocal gems which was the most requested session track in the history of 6Music’s Marc Riley Show on first broadcast in 2009. And the August release of Summer Special will find Euros Childs returning to the sunlit uplands of some of his most blissfully untroubled songwriting.
His first group release since 2008’s Nashville-recorded Cheer Gone was laid down in the less rhinestone-studded surroundings of Bristol’s Toybox studios, with Ali Chant at the console. The ensemble featured Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) on guitar, Meilyr Jones (Race Horses, Cousins) on bass, Stuart Kidd (ex-BMX Bandits and Jonny) and fellow ex-Gorky (and sibling) Megan Childs on violin.
As befits an album made “under the influence of becoming a Gilbert O’Sullivan convert on the island of Jersey in 2010”, the mood of Summer Special runs the gamut from the carefree Welsh language pop of ‘Clap a Chan’ (“It’s a song about music, whose title translates as ‘Clap and Sing’ – ‘A song in g, a song in d… a song on the table for
breakfast’”) to the substantially more wistful ‘Pictures of Summer’ (“It’s about someone whose life is consumed by creating. It could be any art-form, but I went for painting”). And if this deliciously light and airy smorgasbord piques your appetite for something a little heavier, earlier National Elf releases are all still available – either as “pay if you want” downloads or beautifully packaged CD’s (with covers designed by Kirsten McTernan – Peter Saville to National Elf’s Factory) from www.euroschilds.com.
“I like the challenge of making music good enough that people will be willing to pay for it voluntarily”, says Euros. “And as far as the physical copies are concerned, apart from a few sold in shops in Wales, every one has been delivered by post or hand. There’s something very gratifying about that. You’d probably get the same kick if you grew and sold your own vegetables’.