Darien Crossley played a beautiful set of music at the end of our most recent Words V Music. Her songs included some enchanting lyrics in keeping with our interest in all things wordy. I was fascinated by her song about Marianas Trench and also wanted to find out more about this young singer from the States and how things were working out for her in Manchester.
1) You are from Asheville, right? What’s it like there?
Asheville is a great city. I think that it is one of the most vibrant cities in the southeast. I have been living there on and off for about ten years and I am so absolutely smitten with the area and the people. There just isn’t anywhere quite like it in the States. In fact, Rolling Stone has gone so far as to label it the “New Freak Capital of the U.S.” which probably isn’t too far from the truth. And yet there is still such an air of sweet southern hospitality and rich American history, which I think is wonderful. The city is this mixture of beautiful old elegant architecture, punky cool little venues, and beautiful parks and trails. The skyline is terrific. It’s surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are the bluest mountains I have ever seen in my life!
I think Asheville is really the place to go if you’re an artist, a musician, a writer, a poet, a wanderer, a lover, a dreamer, really, anything… We are an open and accepting community and we are very happy. A while ago, in a meeting about the state amendment banning gay marriage, a republican state senator referred to Asheville as “a cesspool of sin” based on its accepting attitude towards any and allwalks of life. We loved that! Now, when you go to drum circle in Pritchard Park on Friday nights (which is, for the record, a city sponsored event and draws hundreds) you can see people wearing these cheeky “cesspool of sin, dive in!” t-shirts… You know, over their Grateful Dead t-shirts.
2) How long are you in the UK?
That’s a great question. I’m starting college in August… I bet I’ll have to show up for that! But until then, it’s all on the table. I’m having a lot of fun and feel blessed to have had this opportunity to spend time in a beautiful city and really focus on my music. Before settling in Manchester for a stretch, I also spent a little bit of time in Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Amsterdam. It was amazing! If it’s possible, I’d like to amble through Europe a bit more before I return to the States.
I think that I am a wanderer at heart, so I’m really in my element right now. My childhood was spent travelling also (as a child I spent a few years in Ukraine, lived in a handful of different states in America, and even went to boarding school here in England for about two years) so going “home” is almost a strange concept to me; my home is wandering. I’m having an amazing adventure here. I still have places to go, things to see.
3) How are you finding Manchester?
I love it. There’s this spirit to this whole city that is just so exciting to me. It’s bigger than Asheville, where I am from, but in a lot of ways the two cities are very similar. There is an openness to it, and people have been delightfully friendly and warm and inviting to me. My favourite thing about this city is just walking around looking up. Sometimes I will go for a walk and notice an old building with maybe some kind of stone angel carved into the doorway, just some stunningly gorgeous functionless beautiful thing, and it’s kind of just a testament to the beauty that we as a species are able to create just because. In America, where even some of the oldest buildings are obviously much newer, I think that there is a lot less emphasis put on creating beauty architecturally, versus building for function and fast. It has been so refreshing to exist in a city where even the walls around me are works of art.
4) Are you happy with how the music is going here?
Yes! Extremely. I am getting to play all the time and that is a dream come true for me. Manchester is such a musical city. I never would have dreamt that I would be received with so much warmth, but every time I play I meet new people and new doors open for me. I am so happy.
5) Tell us more about the song Marianas Trench and why you wrote it?
To understand this song, you have to know two things. First, the Marianas Trench is the deepest part of all the world’s oceans. Think about that for a second, okay? We have a lot of oceans here on earth, and this one small specific area is the deepest, darkest part of all of them. How amazing is that! A lot of strange things are happening down there. There are all these strange and silly and terrifying creatures, floating through this vast freezing darkness, and for the most part they are completely unseen and unacknowledged by the people existing up here in daylight. I think it’s absolutely fascinating. So that is one aspect of the song.
The other part of the song is this: when I wrote it, I was fourteen years old and extremely in love. The boy was a good friend of mine, but regretfully he did not love me back (otherwise I would have used more major chords) and I was just really struggling with that, as you occasionally do when you’re a fourteen year old girl. Anyway, there are a lot of lines in the song about trying to move away from those feelings, but knowing that ultimately your world is just completely wrapped up, and how maybe embracing that is more honest and beautiful, albeit painful, than giving all of it up. At the time I felt like one of those sea creatures, down in the darkness, totally miraculous and beautiful, but totally invisible also, living in the harshest condition on earth: heartbreak. I don’t know, it’s kind of a bummer! But in its own way, it’s a very hopeful song, too. I like it.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering? This boy is still one of my best friends. He actually lives in Manchester. We had a pint a few days ago. My story has a happy ending.
Thank you Darien!