Tilly Dent comes from the tradition of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. His melodic, existential, poetic Castle of Sand single is the first to be released from his debut album. And for existential bleakness it’s incredibly moorish and uplifting. Maybe it’s the mellow vocals and wistful introspection that is so attractive.
Castle of Sand is one of the more stripped-back songs on the EP, produced in Bristol by Oliver Menadue.
Tilly sites influences from jazz to folk, and he has a particular soft-spot for 90s singer-songwriters like Jeff Buckley. Orginally from Devon, Tilly has a residency in Bermondsey hosting a monthly music night.
Ahead of the Bermondsey launch of his EP, and the release of the Devon-shot video to Castle of Sand, we caught up with Tilly.
ArtsCulture: Tell us about Castle of Sand and how you came to write it. Is that sense of the existential a response to the current world, or is it more profound than that?
Tilly Dent: The song began with the melody on the guitar, which I thought sounded winding and cyclical. The lyrics came from there really. I imagined a huge dissociated spirit hovering over the surface of the earth watching the people below go about their lives, and singing.
It’s not an existential response to the current world. I wanted to touch on something more fundamental than that, like the feeling you get when you climb a big hill and look over the whole town, and suddenly it looks very small, like a toy town. I love being struck by that humbling sensation that my own life is a lot smaller than it feels. The line in the chorus, ‘look at your life, it means nothing at all’ isn’t supposed to be depressing or negative in this context. Castle of Sand has a very positive message for me.
ArtsCulture: What can we expect from the rest of the album – does it have similar themes running through it?
Tilly Dent: I’m really looking forward to releasing the rest of the EP because it is so varied. Each of the songs cover very different themes, and have quite different sounds too. Castle of Sand is definitely one of the more ‘serious’ acoustic tracks on the album. But the next single I’m releasing is a lot more fun and rocky.
ArtsCulture: The music video was shot in Devon – where abouts and is there anything you can share about it?
Tilly Dent: My very talented director Ben Leggett happens to be friends with a farmer in Abbotskerswell who lent us his field. It was lovely to return to the south-west to shoot the video. Devon offers the kind of open space you just don’t get in the city. The video features a literal sand house, in which we shot a sand-parody of a typical domestic situation. I don’t know how my set-designer managed it, but imagine A Doll’s House meets one tonne of sand. I can’t wait to share the video with the rest of the EP!
ArtsCulture: You run a residency in Bermondsey hosting a monthly music night, what can you say about health of the music scene and the variety of bands and sounds?
Tilly Dent: The South Bermondsey Sessions is relatively new and we’ve already had some amazing acts come through and play. I’m always looking to book a variety of talent to perform in my favourite local cafe, Crol & Co. Like every musician, I’ve played my share of gigs in loud pubs full of drunk shouty revellers. That is what is great about hosting SBS, the audience is there to discover great new music and listen!
ArtsCulture: Thanks Tilly!