Possessing perhaps the sweetest voice in modern music, Euros Childs has been subverting the conventions of pop since the tender age of 16. From 1991 to 2003, as chief singer and songwriter of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Euros fused his disparate influences (from Soft Machine to Jeff Lynne, Brian Wilson to The Banana Splits) into a singularly accessible yet unconventional brand of pop that presaged much of what has become popular in modern “indie” music. Since Gorky’s last album, Sleep/Holiday in 2003, the restless songwriter has been pumping out a steady stream of sublimely skewed pop, releasing six albums in the span of four years. He has recently teamed up with his pal Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub as Jonny, releasing a free ep and preparing for a UK tour to promote their forthcoming album.
Nick Cullen: So, what’s the deal with Jonny? You’ve worked with Norman Blake before; what were the circumstances that led to an ep, an album and a tour? …any chance of a US tour?
Euros Childs: I’ve known Norman since Gorky’s toured with Teenage Fanclub in 1997. He played Gorky’s in 2000 for a few gigs and since 2006 we’ve been meeting up to write and play gigs. Over time it gradually evolved into a album. There’s a strong possibility of some US gigs, not sure when though…
N: In 2007 you (and Norman) provided backing vocals on Kevin Ayers brilliant record Unfairground. How did you get involved and what was it like getting to work with one of your heroes?
EC: It was Norman who was approached by Kevin Ayers’ manager. I think Norman put my name forward. It was a great honour and very surreal to hear your own voice on a Kevin Ayers record.
N: In years to come I think Ankst will be recognized (outside of Wales) as putting out some of the best music of the 90s: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, Topper, Rheinallt H. Rowlnds, Datblygu, Ectogram. What was going on at that time that made for so much great music?
EC: I think there’s always been good bands coming from Wales, either singing in Welsh or singing in English. I don’t see the 90’s being any different to the 70’s or 80’s, a lot of good music was made in all these decades.
N: How has the Welsh music scene changed in the past ten years? What’s it like seeing bands coming up like Race Horses who cut their teeth on your music?
EC: There’s less bands singing in Welsh and more bands singing in English.
It’s nice to know that now and again some people listen to the Gorky’s stuff. Although I don’t hear the influence on other bands.
N: There’s always been a touch of whimsy in your songs, but your recent album, Son of Euro Child, seems to take that whimsy in a darker direction, musically and lyrically. Is the title a nod to Nilsson’s equally beautiful and sinister album?
EC: I wasn’t really aware of the Nilsson album to be honest. The original title was just Euro Child but a friend of mine misheard the title as Son Of Euro Child. I’m not quite sure how he managed that! A lot of the lyrics on Son Of Euro Child are not necessarily sung from my perspective.
N: You seem to enjoy stepping out of yourself as a songwriter. I remember you created the idea of a band (Johnny and the Fevers if I remember correctly) to write “Christina” and then Fire Exits more recently on “Miracle Inn”. Is this a songwriting trick that helps get the creative juices flowing?
EC: I do it now and again. Last summer I tried to write as a Los Angeles teenager circa 1966, Gary Greenburg. He had a garage band called The High Teens. I could only sing in his voice if I had lots of echo on it. Gary was a spoilt brat with a high pitched whiney voice, he has been retired.
N: John Peel was a big supporter of Gorky’s. Did he play a large part in your musical upbringing as well, as it seems he did in most of the best songwriters?
EC: John Peel was very important, it’s hard to imagine us starting a band without having listened to his programme. I started listening to Peel around 1989, just before John and I started writing together. When I started listening to it my favourites were The Four Brothers from Zimbabwe, The Fall and lots of indie guitar bands.
N: Your Cymry comrade Gruff Rhys has done much to expose Welsh music to the rest of the world with his Welsh Rare Beat compilations. Are their any favorite Welsh artists/bands of yours, past or present, who you feel deserve more recognition?
EC: 80’s Welsh language music is still relatively obscure outside Wales. It’s probably only a matter of time before someone makes a compilation. There were some great bands,Datblugu, Y Fflaps, Y Cyrff, Plant Bach Ofnus, Ffa Coffi Pawb, Traddodiad Ofnus, Y Brodyr, Eirin Peryglus and Llwybe Llaethog (who are still going).
N: Music has been your profession for more than half of your life. Do you see yourself doing anything else somewhere down the line? What other talents or skills does Mr. Euros Childs have?
EC: I can’t do much else to be honest. I’ve started a label of sorts called National Elf and also a website where you can buy and download my music. I run it with assistance of other people. But that’s just a part of the music.
N: Can we expect a Gorky’s reunion tour anytime soon 🙂 ?
EC: No, not with me involved anyway.
Euros’s new album “Face Dripping,” released in December, can be downloaded for free (though a donation is more than deserved) at The National Elf Library (www.euroschilds.com). Jonny’s self-titled debut album will be released in the US on Merge, April 12.