The Young Pretender
Steven Rainey gets down to business with songerwriter/songwriter John D'Arcy
The first thing you notice when John D’Arcy is performing is his smile. Grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat, this is not a fake smile, but the smile of someone who wholeheartedly loves what he is doing. The second thing you notice is how good his songs are. For an eighteen-year-old, he shows remarkable maturity in his song-writing. His words quickly draw you in with their wit, their insight and their charm.
The music industry is a difficult business, and part of the problem that many musicians face in their quest for success is the inability to reconcile the worlds of art and commerce and accept that the music business is just that - business.
D’Arcy is unquestionably a talented songwriter, with a great gift for melody and a witty turn of phrase, but he is also aware of the realities of being a musician in an often cut-throat world.
By learning how to do things on his own, D’Arcy has become adaptable, able to perform under various circumstances. Need an acoustic singer-songwriter? Give John D’Arcy a call. Need an exciting and dynamic indie-rock band? Give John D’Arcy a call. With a full band line-up behind him, he can rock out with the best of them.
Understanding that a songwriter has to take his material to the audience, D’Arcy has developed the zeal and verve required to put in the hard work and win the crowd over, regardless of the circumstances.
'I know that if someone sees a picture on a flyer with me holding a guitar, then they’re probably going to assume that I’m some kind of acoustic singer/songwriter, strumming chords and singing about how their girlfriend has left them. Now, I don’t do that, but I know that if that makes someone come to see me, then I have to win them over so that they’ll come out again, having enjoyed what they saw.'
Following his inventive reinterpretation of Radiohead's 'No Surprises' at the Trans Festival's Oh Yeah Computer event in Belfast, D'Arcy shared a bill with Iain Archer at a triumphant home-town gig in Lisburn’s Island Arts Centre. His next big performance is supporting John Martyn at the Rotterdam bar - surely a nerve-wracking task for any performer, but D'Arcy seems to take everything in his stride. 'I’ll probably just have a rest for a little bit,' he proclaims. 'I might even record a new CD before Christmas, if you’re not careful!'
D’Arcy is a captivating performer, skilled in the ways of working an audience. He performs with a wry look in his eye and a smile plastered across his face, providing a perfect tonic to all of those wannabe world weary troubadours that pass for singer/songwriters. Clearly he enjoys performing on stage, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
D'arcy's latest release, the Sarah EP, is crammed with hooks and melodies, and represents a definite step forward for this talented songwriter, especially when you consider that he was studying for his A-levels in the run-up to recording.
'During my A-levels I was also thinking about arrangements and lyrics, and when I’d finished the exams I got straight into the recording process and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I really think it benefited from the extra time I was able to spend thinking about it beforehand, and I feel it’s the strongest thing I’ve done.'
D'Arcy is the product of a post-Lily Allen revolution in the music industry in 2007 - media savvy, self-confident, enthusiastic and talented. Perhaps a few Tommy Saxondale figures gigging the province at the minute might do themselves a favour by taking a leaf from the young man's book.