9 Songs, 31 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“There’s nothing worse, at a party, or a mate’s house, [than] when somebody says, ‘You need to hear this. It’s f**king amazing, the best song ever,’” Gerry Cinnamon tells Apple Music. “You’re like, ‘This better blow my eyebrows and ears off,’ and it never does. So I try not to do that.” The Glaswegian singer-songwriter is explaining why he’s avoided feeding himself into the music industry’s zealous marketing machine by not signing with a label. Promotional activities for his self-released debut album, Erratic Cinematic, essentially amounted to a single social media post announcing its arrival in September 2017. Since then, word-of-mouth recommendations have helped the album become a regular fixture in the upper reaches of the charts, with Cinnamon selling out arenas across the UK and Ireland. “It means that the people that come to the gigs have discovered it themselves,” he says. “The songs mean something to them. They know every word. That’s why the gigs are so special. That makes it real. That’s why it works.” The cornerstone of Cinnamon’s success is his songwriting: Against unshakeable acoustic melodies, his words tell vivid, personal stories that resonate. Erratic Cinematic carries nostalgic portraits of childhood innocence (“Keysies”) and impassioned surveys of a turbulent world (“War TV”), alongside a love song that reveals as much about Cinnamon as the person it was written for (“Belter”). While Cinnamon knows his grassroots methodology might not be for everyone, Erratic Cinematic vindicates his indomitable instinct to do things his own way. “If people tell me not to, I'll probably do it,” he says. “So the album is more about saying ‘f**k you’ to the people who were trying to tell me there was a system that you have to follow.” Here, he takes us through the record track by track.

Sometimes
“‘Sometimes’ is a song that I wrote when I was about 18. It's just about growing up—an attempt at nostalgia from somebody with a bit of a f**ked-up childhood. It's kind of presented in a happy way but it's just got a little bit of darkness about it. There's similarities between that and The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’. I’m not the biggest Smiths fan, but I've always appreciated that song because of the way it's presented. It’s a dark subject presented in a light-hearted way.”

Lullaby
“In this music game, or in any game, you've got plenty of opportunities to make the wrong choices. ‘Lullaby’ is a projection of my future if I started believing my own hype, started going to all the parties that I get invited to and just became another industry…what’s the word I'm looking for…c**t. It's a sarcastic take on what musicians are supposed to be. It's also about me as well—there’s my own fears mixed in with it. In 10 years time, if I became a caricature of myself, and became a cliché music person, that would be my outlook. And if it ever gets to that point, then just ‘Sing me to sleep/Sing me a love song’—which is just put me to sleep.”

What Have You Done
“‘What Have You Done’ is watching my mate fall foul to the dangers of the party. Watching somebody that I cared about become someone else in front of my eyes—and trying to stop it. At the time I thought I was writing it about him, but I realised well after I'd written it that I was really singing about myself.”

Belter (Live)
“It’s a tongue-in-cheek love song. But really it’s an inner monologue. At the start of any relationship, if two people do the trying-to-be-cool thing, then it can just evaporate, and then the moment’s gone. ‘Belter’ is about that wee moment when it could go either way. The chorus is ‘No happy endings, unless fairy tales come true/But she looks like a princess and there's not much else to do.’ The flippancy is just trying to convince yourself that you’re not bothered, when really it’s the opposite. ‘I’ve been stung a few times, so I don't let no one in’: Letting your guard down is always a gamble, and ‘Belter’ is just about the charade of pretending you’re in control when really your heart’s doing what it wants. There’s more to it but that’s the gist of it. Most love songs nowadays feel like you’re being slapped about with a wet cloth. My favourite thing about that song is seeing folk hug and sing it to the people they love. That’s what it’s all about.”

Fortune Favours the Bold
“Playing it live, I’ve said a few times, ‘This is a song about believing in yourself.’ But it's not really, man, because I've never really believed in myself. When you're on a downer and people try and give you advice, it just bounces off, because you're in your own head, and you're in a downward spiral. But what I say is what I would want someone to remind me: If you put the graft in for a full year, within a year, you will be in a better place than you were before. I wrote this about eight years ago, and it was a prediction of when money gets involved in the choices that you start making. ‘They tell me be silent, make paper and do what you’re told’: It’s to do with getting signed. When people throw money at you, it's usually at the sacrifice of something else—usually your character or your moral compass, or your taste. So this is really a call to arms to never change.”

Erratic Cinematic
“There’s a song, ‘Powderfinger’ by Neil Young. It’s f**king amazing, man—an example of the most information crammed into one song. He paints the entire scene with the boy on the dock, with the ship coming towards him—it creates this sense of urgency. ‘Erratic Cinematic’ is in that kind of vein. It’s three of my favourite films compressed, trying to create imagery. ’Say hello to my little friend’ is out of Scarface. The chorus is ‘I don't think we're in Kansas anymore/Still the same old road/Lions and tigers and bears, oh my/Just want to go back home, there's no place like home.’ That’s obviously The Wizard of Oz. ‘This is your life, and it’s ending one moment at a time.’ That’s from Fight Club—nobody remembers that line, but when you say [where it’s from], they go, ‘Ahhhhhhhhhh!’”

Keysies
“‘Keysies up, keysies down/Magic circle all around’: That whole thing [a saying kids used in Glasgow to give them temporary immunity in playground games] captures being a child, believing in weird things. Aged five ’til about ten, you’re in that childlike bubble, everything’s bigger, you're always out playing in the grass and you have no real time constraints. You didn't have any worries about f**king politics or the economy or how you were going to pay for your dinner. You either got your dinner or you didnae. Obviously, you have to grow up and change, but that childlike state is a beautiful thing. I tried to capture that. It was just a wee recording I did on my phone, but it kicks off when I play it live. Actually, right at the end of the record I start picking the guitar very hard, and the string pops and whips my cheek. If you listen closely, you can hear the top string almost removing one of my eyeballs.”

Diamonds in the Mud
“It’s a kind of ode to my hometown, about people that I've grown up with that are ridiculous characters. I play it all over the world, and no matter where I play it, you've got people singing it about their hometown. Now I dedicate it to wherever I am—it went from Glasgow and became something else, which is beautiful. It doesn't matter where I go, I still carry all the scars, the good and the bad, from where I was brought up. Because I love it and hate it at the same time. ‘No’ the best place, but there’s diamonds in the mud.’ No matter where you're from, I think people can relate to that.”

War TV
“‘War TV’ is what it is: ‘Shout the odds like a gangster, but they won't hold a gun.’ There’s few things I find more laughable than people who have never been in a fight in their life talking about going to war.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“There’s nothing worse, at a party, or a mate’s house, [than] when somebody says, ‘You need to hear this. It’s f**king amazing, the best song ever,’” Gerry Cinnamon tells Apple Music. “You’re like, ‘This better blow my eyebrows and ears off,’ and it never does. So I try not to do that.” The Glaswegian singer-songwriter is explaining why he’s avoided feeding himself into the music industry’s zealous marketing machine by not signing with a label. Promotional activities for his self-released debut album, Erratic Cinematic, essentially amounted to a single social media post announcing its arrival in September 2017. Since then, word-of-mouth recommendations have helped the album become a regular fixture in the upper reaches of the charts, with Cinnamon selling out arenas across the UK and Ireland. “It means that the people that come to the gigs have discovered it themselves,” he says. “The songs mean something to them. They know every word. That’s why the gigs are so special. That makes it real. That’s why it works.” The cornerstone of Cinnamon’s success is his songwriting: Against unshakeable acoustic melodies, his words tell vivid, personal stories that resonate. Erratic Cinematic carries nostalgic portraits of childhood innocence (“Keysies”) and impassioned surveys of a turbulent world (“War TV”), alongside a love song that reveals as much about Cinnamon as the person it was written for (“Belter”). While Cinnamon knows his grassroots methodology might not be for everyone, Erratic Cinematic vindicates his indomitable instinct to do things his own way. “If people tell me not to, I'll probably do it,” he says. “So the album is more about saying ‘f**k you’ to the people who were trying to tell me there was a system that you have to follow.” Here, he takes us through the record track by track.

Sometimes
“‘Sometimes’ is a song that I wrote when I was about 18. It's just about growing up—an attempt at nostalgia from somebody with a bit of a f**ked-up childhood. It's kind of presented in a happy way but it's just got a little bit of darkness about it. There's similarities between that and The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’. I’m not the biggest Smiths fan, but I've always appreciated that song because of the way it's presented. It’s a dark subject presented in a light-hearted way.”

Lullaby
“In this music game, or in any game, you've got plenty of opportunities to make the wrong choices. ‘Lullaby’ is a projection of my future if I started believing my own hype, started going to all the parties that I get invited to and just became another industry…what’s the word I'm looking for…c**t. It's a sarcastic take on what musicians are supposed to be. It's also about me as well—there’s my own fears mixed in with it. In 10 years time, if I became a caricature of myself, and became a cliché music person, that would be my outlook. And if it ever gets to that point, then just ‘Sing me to sleep/Sing me a love song’—which is just put me to sleep.”

What Have You Done
“‘What Have You Done’ is watching my mate fall foul to the dangers of the party. Watching somebody that I cared about become someone else in front of my eyes—and trying to stop it. At the time I thought I was writing it about him, but I realised well after I'd written it that I was really singing about myself.”

Belter (Live)
“It’s a tongue-in-cheek love song. But really it’s an inner monologue. At the start of any relationship, if two people do the trying-to-be-cool thing, then it can just evaporate, and then the moment’s gone. ‘Belter’ is about that wee moment when it could go either way. The chorus is ‘No happy endings, unless fairy tales come true/But she looks like a princess and there's not much else to do.’ The flippancy is just trying to convince yourself that you’re not bothered, when really it’s the opposite. ‘I’ve been stung a few times, so I don't let no one in’: Letting your guard down is always a gamble, and ‘Belter’ is just about the charade of pretending you’re in control when really your heart’s doing what it wants. There’s more to it but that’s the gist of it. Most love songs nowadays feel like you’re being slapped about with a wet cloth. My favourite thing about that song is seeing folk hug and sing it to the people they love. That’s what it’s all about.”

Fortune Favours the Bold
“Playing it live, I’ve said a few times, ‘This is a song about believing in yourself.’ But it's not really, man, because I've never really believed in myself. When you're on a downer and people try and give you advice, it just bounces off, because you're in your own head, and you're in a downward spiral. But what I say is what I would want someone to remind me: If you put the graft in for a full year, within a year, you will be in a better place than you were before. I wrote this about eight years ago, and it was a prediction of when money gets involved in the choices that you start making. ‘They tell me be silent, make paper and do what you’re told’: It’s to do with getting signed. When people throw money at you, it's usually at the sacrifice of something else—usually your character or your moral compass, or your taste. So this is really a call to arms to never change.”

Erratic Cinematic
“There’s a song, ‘Powderfinger’ by Neil Young. It’s f**king amazing, man—an example of the most information crammed into one song. He paints the entire scene with the boy on the dock, with the ship coming towards him—it creates this sense of urgency. ‘Erratic Cinematic’ is in that kind of vein. It’s three of my favourite films compressed, trying to create imagery. ’Say hello to my little friend’ is out of Scarface. The chorus is ‘I don't think we're in Kansas anymore/Still the same old road/Lions and tigers and bears, oh my/Just want to go back home, there's no place like home.’ That’s obviously The Wizard of Oz. ‘This is your life, and it’s ending one moment at a time.’ That’s from Fight Club—nobody remembers that line, but when you say [where it’s from], they go, ‘Ahhhhhhhhhh!’”

Keysies
“‘Keysies up, keysies down/Magic circle all around’: That whole thing [a saying kids used in Glasgow to give them temporary immunity in playground games] captures being a child, believing in weird things. Aged five ’til about ten, you’re in that childlike bubble, everything’s bigger, you're always out playing in the grass and you have no real time constraints. You didn't have any worries about f**king politics or the economy or how you were going to pay for your dinner. You either got your dinner or you didnae. Obviously, you have to grow up and change, but that childlike state is a beautiful thing. I tried to capture that. It was just a wee recording I did on my phone, but it kicks off when I play it live. Actually, right at the end of the record I start picking the guitar very hard, and the string pops and whips my cheek. If you listen closely, you can hear the top string almost removing one of my eyeballs.”

Diamonds in the Mud
“It’s a kind of ode to my hometown, about people that I've grown up with that are ridiculous characters. I play it all over the world, and no matter where I play it, you've got people singing it about their hometown. Now I dedicate it to wherever I am—it went from Glasgow and became something else, which is beautiful. It doesn't matter where I go, I still carry all the scars, the good and the bad, from where I was brought up. Because I love it and hate it at the same time. ‘No’ the best place, but there’s diamonds in the mud.’ No matter where you're from, I think people can relate to that.”

War TV
“‘War TV’ is what it is: ‘Shout the odds like a gangster, but they won't hold a gun.’ There’s few things I find more laughable than people who have never been in a fight in their life talking about going to war.”

TITLE TIME

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