Music Q&A:
David Ford

The singer songwriter plays Sheffield's Greystones, 4 June, Manchester's Deaf Institute, 18 June, and Leeds' Brudenell Social Club, 22 June

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What informs your music and songwriting?
I think my songwriting is informed by the experience of living as a human being at this point in history. Seems pretty obvious, but I feel like this makes me something of a rarity. I have this compulsion to both document the age and try to make sense of some of the more messy and complicated parts of that experience. I write about whatever feels important. So while I’m not likely to pen the feelgood hit of the summer, I specialise in weddings, funerals and political indignation.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I think I have become more patient and meticulous as a writer while becoming less uptight and more adaptable as a performer. Most of all, I’ve found that the less interest I take in my musical career, the more I enjoy being a musician.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I have been obsessively reading about economics and have just finished writing an album of songs that each contain observations on the subject buried at various distances from the surface of seemingly unrelated stories. I’ll be playing some of these songs around the UK in June with a really incredible new band.

What’s on your rider?
I stopped asking for a rider a few years ago. I don’t like the feeling of self-importance. Playing music for an audience is such a great thrill, I don’t need the luxury of a gently sweating cheeseboard to make me feel special. I prefer to feel like a worker than a celebrity.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
One of the more surreal experiences of the last few years was when, despite speaking no French and having no experience in the field, I was summoned to a Paris recording studio to coach France’s all-time greatest rock star, Johnny Hallyday in American-English pronunciation. It was not a great success but I did learn a lot about writing English lyrics for French singers. Top tip: avoid the letter R.

What song do you wish you’d written?

I consider Always on my Mind to be just about the pinnacle of pop songwriting. It’s so simple, direct, memorable and utterly heartbreaking. Every version I know is beautiful in a different way. There are many songs that might be more edgy or poetically rich but the skill it takes to write something that accessible but that poignant is incredibly rare.

What’s your worst lyric?
Now I hate to be that guy, but having always employed a writing style that relies very heavily on bullish confidence tempered by crippling self-doubt, I have developed a level of quality control that is frankly calamitous to my productivity as a songwriter and I take the process horribly seriously. In a good year I might write five songs, spending weeks and months obsessing over each word and scrutinising the turn of every phrase so that when I am asked questions such as these, I feel able to say in honesty that all my lyrics are good.

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