London-based musician David ‘Dc’ Logan, better known by the moniker OFFICER, has drawn comparisons to Damien Rice, The National and Florence and The Machine with his strong, emotional and melodic sound. Logan was born in Glasgow and raised in Northern Ireland, drawing musical influences from Celtic Folk, British Pop, American Blues, The Clash, The Smiths, Ryan Adams and Radiohead. He had the opportunity in his youth to see U2 and Ash perform in Belfast ahead of the Good Friday Agreement, with the concert making a strong impression on him. Having started his journey into songwriting at the age of 18, he soon began performing in local pubs, open mic nights, parties and churches. It was soon after that he made the move to London and formed the punk band Colourcode. The band toured and released two EPs and album. He has also dedicated himself to helping the homeless, marginalized and most vulnerable populations in London by setting up and running community projects within the city. He decided to leave Colourcode and begin his solo project OFFICER in 2013, a project that reflects his love for bands such as The National, Frightened Rabbit, Iron & Wine and Local Natives. He underwent the challenge during that first year of writing one new song for each new gig he played, which in turn became his debut album Myriads. The way the album came to be recorded is quite a special story! Many of his fans were so inspired and captivated by his collection of songs that, unbeknownst to him, gathered the money he would need to record the songs and surprised him with the gift. Logan acknowledges that the album would probably not have been made without the funding from his fans. Logan will be releasing his second OFFICER album, Night Tennis, on February 28th, the songs of which will revolve around themes such as becoming a father, the perilous state of world affairs and drunk dancing. Three singles have been released ahead of the album- “Tilt The Clox”, “Heavening” and most recently “Pylon Moon”. You can follow OFFICER and stay up-to-date on all upcoming artist, album and tour news, as well as stream and purchase his music, via the following links:
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You grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to London at the age of 18. What was it like to grow up in Northern Ireland during that time and how do you feel that it shaped you, both personally and artistically? What can you tell me about your decision to move to London and the punk band Colourcode that you formed? What led you to decide to transition to your current solo project OFFICER?
It was a whole mix of things you know. It’s a really magical and beautiful place with completely stunning coastlines, rivers and countryside. The people are so welcoming, funny, hospitable, beautiful. But it was torn in half – the towns, schools, sports, music, the whole country. It was in constant battle for territory. There was an ever-present tension and fear hanging around and yet at the same time it’s like it was never really there until the next time someone was shot or a town was bombed. The tension would fluctuate, sometimes with annual events. It touched my life personally and the lives of so many people I grew up with and yet really my family lived outside of it in most ways and had stopped adhering to any particular side’s rhetoric and just wanted peace above all else. I guess it personally bred some fear in me and then in other ways fearlessness, some rage, a sense of battle and determination. I think it made you think from very young about what you wanted to grow up to be like and what you believed was wrong and right. It was paradoxical in it’s impact on people I think… for example you developed a sense of humour about it and yet carried a deep sadness about it all at the same time. I think all of that complexity, hope, belief, determination and ultimately love is what underpins all of my life and our of that my art. Unity is important to me, love for one another across divides, reconciliation…yeah, it’s all in there.
Moving to London was just an accident really. I was visiting for 10 days and just decided to not get on the flight home and instead went to the job centre and looked for a job, which ultimately resulted in losing my place at uni and taking a completely different path in life. I guess I decided in that moment to follow my heart and not my or other people’s heads, to take hold of myself and my own life and drive it in a certain direction towards my passions for people, music, art and all that. The band was a byproduct of that and really just ran it’s course. Life moved on for us all and a couple of us were taking it all a little too seriously and I just ended up not being that happy within it so left, which turned out to be great really for everyone. I took a masive break from music at that point before stating OFFICER, which was borne out of just that fact that writing music has been something innate in me from so young and the material was there and I was still getting asked to play live here and there and eventually said yes, mainly because it was a charity fundraiser for a homeless shelter I particularly loved the work of.
With OFFICER, you challenged yourself over the course of a year to write one new song for each gig, which led to your 2015 debut album Myriads. What led you to challenge yourself in that way and what was that process like for you?
I think I just wanted to know what I had in me. Like a kind of questioning myself of “Do you have it in you to be like your heroes who have helped you and inspired you so much? When it comes to music, can you be that good, that creative, that filled with material, that disciplined?”. I wanted to know what I had deep down that could be unearthed and how honest I could be with it. I knew I was good at starting shit but I wanted to know if I could finish shit… like, can I actually complete a song? Can I actually eek something as beautiful and vast and determined as an album out of what I’m made of that is actually of any quality. I wanted to take myself on I guess and overcome things in me that had always had the better of me… fears, insecurities, loneliness, hurts, traumas, inadequacies. I wanted newness, I wanted to go somewhere new with each gig, with each performance, with myself, with each song, with who I was stuck being, with my audiences, with everything. And I knew the only way forward was through some shit as opposed to dodging it and that was all part of me saying to myself in the mirror “I’m going to go through you for a shortcut!”. It was thrilling, embarrassing, tough, funny, it was all the things in different moments, it was actually being a human for once.
Your fans were so inspired by your collection of songs that they, unbeknownst to you, gathered enough money to pay for the album’s recording. What was that moment like for you, when your fans surprised you with the news? What has it been like to have such a special connection with your fans?
That moment is really truly not very easy to describe. Something happened deep down and I still don’t really know how to put it into words. It both hugely called me out and challenged whilst giving me the most crazy loving soul cuddle you could ever have. It was a bit mad. It was a mixture of a couple of close friends and a big bunch of fans. It was just crazy. I couldn’t and didn’t say anything back to them in that moment for quite some time as I just didn’t think there were the right words and I was trying to get my head and my heart around it and couldn’t. It’s been truly amazing to have a special connection with people, really really special. I feel like when I was younger, and maybe not so young, that many times music has been a friend that has kept me alive and pulled me through and to think that my music connects with people in some kind of a way is huge for me. I have received several emails, letters, verbal communications over the years that have really effected me where people have told me about really profound ways in which listening to my songs or albums has actually gotten them through stuff or things like that and yeah… it’s obviously on a small scale right now but it still blows me apart and keeps me believing there’s something important and worthwhile happening when I take up an instrument and start to write and bare my soul. I guess I don’t leave anything out when I write, it’s all there and maybe people really need that sometimes. I know I do… it’s like some sort of twelve step music thing haha.
Your approach to recording the album was to not work on any one song for more than a day and to create a sense of rawness and urgency. Was this done out of necessity or was it a conscious decision on your part? Was the outcome what you had hoped for going into the recording?
Yeah, both really. I only had enough cash for that number of days and so it was suggested to me a lot that I scale it down and do a 3 song ep or something. I decided fuck it, I’m doing the whole thing and we went for it and limited ourselves, but like a lot of times in life, limiting yourself suddenly open parts of you up, gets you focused, gets you so afraid you can’t be afraid anymore and you just jump of the edge and yeah, I knew it would colour the whole thing and it would be a certain kind of piece of work because I had decided to do it that way and yeah I was really happy with it in the end. I would have done some things differently with more time but I don’t think it would have made anything better, just different, and what’s cool is it’s this really solid and unified piece of work with a dynamic relationship with itself… like a climate or a body being well looked after, it’s different parts are working for the good of each other and it all works.
What can you tell me about meeting and coming to work with illustrator and painter David B and the ideas and vision behind the artwork he has done for you?
Well, unfortunately there’s lots I can’t say. David was a client of mine at a homeless centre and my heart went out to him and I just really liked him and thought he was incredibly talented and kind and fun and just a bit lost and out in the cold of life. I wanted to work alongside him on something where he would be able to use his skills to benefit someone else and I’d be able to help him too with some belief in him, some friendship, and a lot of practical help to get him out of a bad situation. I wanted him to see how great I thought he was and how much of a future and hope I felt he had to reach for but couldn’t quite see himself under the piles and piles of pressures, challenges and general awfulness being homeless can bury you under. I basically happened upon him sketching one day following a music class I’d run at the centre and yeah, I just told him how amazing I thought it was and we started to have a cuppa together pretty much every few days after that. He’s a really sharp guy. He’s thoughtful and insightful and creative and intelligent and yeah, I wanted to illustrate that I could see him for what he was, I could see past the homelessness. I basically sat down with him and told him what the songs were about and asked “Can you put that into something visual for me?”, and he did a wonderful job of it.
You wrote your first song at the age of 18. What was your approach to songwriting when you first started out, and how do you feel that your songwriting style has changed over the years, if at all?
Yeah… I was late to actually playing music compared to the musical people in my life but it just kind of happened at 18. I think there’s something completely the same at the heart of how I write now but that around that heart lots of other things have changed in terms of the modes of how to get access to the heart and expressing it best. I just adapted my fingers on the fretboard until the guitar went where I needed it to go in order for me to be able to sing the next note or word that was already in me to sing. Sometimes I have lots of those notes or words lined up and I just chase after them on an instrument… so it’s like there’s something in me that wants to be sung lyrically or melodically and the instrument or machine or whatever’s there is a kind of tool or companion to get me to the feeling of that lyric or note. It’s funny actually cos sometimes that thing to be sung can’t be sung and express what you know it can until you hear a certain instrument or machine making a certain sound… so like if I get stuck with a song on one guitar I’ll try another probably shitter guitar, if I’m still stuck I’ll bang some drums a bit, if I’m still stuck I’ll try some piano chords or synth sounds and then when the feeling of the sound matches or supports the feeling and movement of the melody in my head it’s a breakthrough to the next bit. I once had a real breakthrough with a song through playing drums on my knee with a couple of pencils… basic stuff really.
Although you are the band leader, you perform with a various group of friends/collaborators. What can you tell me about the group of musicians you perform with?
They’re amazing people. I’m unspeakably fortunate to have them in my life. They’re all just friends really who also happen to be musical mountains of magic. But very few of them, if any, did I actually meet through music. So some people I work with day to day, some people I know through different faith gatherings I’ve worked with or been part of, some people through homelessness, some people through going out with them, some through playing footy or going trekking with them, some through sharing flats with them. So yeah, I just keep in touch with them all, ask them to come and record or play live sometimes and then I just work with whoever is available at any given time and so things have shifted a lot. Although, recently, really naturally we seem to have become a core 5 piece band for this passage of time right now and I’m really loving that because you can go somewhere new together with that and bring some great stuff out of each other. So that core other than me are Loris on bass and Fab on guitar who are Italian brothers, and what great band doesn’t have some brothers going on! And Alex on drums and Will on keys and guitar.
While in London, you have dedicated yourself to helping the homeless and most vulnerable within the city by setting up and running community projects to help them. What led you to start working with these populations and what can you tell me about the projects you set up? Do you still stay busy with this outside of music?
I am not sure why but I have always from a very young age cared about people not having a home and I think maybe that comes from my own spiritual, mental and emotional sense of homelessness having come from a very troubled home growing up where things were homeless in a certain more abstract way. I talk about this on my song ‘Can We Talk?’ on my first album which talks about it way better than I ever can in interviews. But yeah, I have a sense that we’re all somewhat homeless in this world and that we really need each other and need to reach out to and be connected to each other in order to stop fracture and division and isolation… like each other is the best home we’ve got to work with and a house just doesn’t make a home in that way. And actually you find that lots in homelessness, that it’s the fractures and broken off pieces of the hearts of people that is at play in a maybe slightly more unhide-able manner than in your life or mine, but the same things are at stake, the same hurts and wars are raging in the heart and mind and yeah… anyway, I’m on a tangent a bit. I just have always cared about people who are fractured off, left out, shut down, voiceless, different, poor, don’t belong, refugees, downtrodden… real people in an all too unreal world. And I guess it’s partly cos I see there what is the reality of us all, and I know that on some level I wander the earth like that a bit too but just have always had the friends, laughs, skills, inner stability, fortune, cash, whatever it is to just keep things on an even enough keel. The projects I ran or set up were just shelters, rehabilitative accommodation projects, stuff like that… really just seeing a need and responding to it is all and yeah, I think I’ll always think about and remain close to that work and that people in some way, like I do right now.
You will be releasing your new album Night Tennis next month! What was your writing process like for the new album and how did it compare with Myriads? Did you approach the recording of the album in the same way? What can you tell me about the themes of the album?
No, it’s been a completely different album and journey, deliberately completely differently approached actually. With this one I had some really clear thoughts, visions and sounds I was hoping to reach before I picked up an instrument. A lot of those things came to me in the dead of the night during some prolonged periods of insomnia I was experiencing due to being woken up and kept awake at night by what felt like apocalyptic games played against overwhelming avalanches of anxious thoughts, feelings and experiences and my desire and resolve not to be taken down in a permanent way by what I was up against in my internal world. I was going through some kind of crisis or breakdown and was filled with both my own traumas and the traumas of others within a world that right now feels like it’s creaking and crumbling under the weight and cascade of impacts of it’s various traumas historically, financially, social medially, politically, racially, genderally, all of it really that we all keep at bay moment to moment. I took that darkness and played with it to turn it into something as beautiful as I could in order to be able to play at all, to create, to believe and hope on both a micro kind of personal level and the macro kind of global level. During the time I was experiencing this insomnia I got a bit obsessed with watching the film footage of Robert Rauschenberg’s 9 Evenings performance art piece ‘Open Score’ which is unbelievably and indescribably stunning on a few levels and just captivated and soothed me. It features a game of tennis played in a New York City Armory where it goes from light to dark with each hit of the ball. That combined with this feeling of playing tennis in the night against what felt like the hundreds of tennis ball-like thoughts, always batting them back and it all becoming a game until the light returned were big parts of what led me to this new album, including its title, Night Tennis. There’s something rebellious, something magical, something playful through the darkness about it all. Anyway, as a result of really aiming for something that meant something to me and could speak to where I was at and correctly present a lot of the poetry-come-lyrics I’d written through those nights I, in an unplanned and kind of just natural way, took time with it on this one and recorded and re-recorded things, worked in more detail on sounds, recorded more at night. It feels really special to me, this album, as it feels like I really went on a huge and important journey across time and space with it. It feels like an album to me that could keep someone company and be a great friend to you in your dark hour. Help you to be un-alone, hopeful and still. Essentially this album is someone working their way out of the darkness by accepting the darkness and taking the darkness and turning it into a play thing. Becoming unafraid of the dark, of their ghosts, of their controllers, of their traumas and fears. Learning to stand and play like a child at the dawn, acknowledging and facing the darkness but not forgetting the light and it’s easing of the sense of lostness.
You recently released “Pylon Moon”, the third single from Night Tennis, preceded by “Tilt The Clox” and “Heavening”. What can you tell me about the song? How did you decide which songs to release as singles ahead of the new album’s release?
I don’t know how I chose them really. It felt like all the songs could’ve worked in different ways, so I just tried my best to get a bit of a mix of feels from the journey of the album out there and avoid the longer tracks. “Pylon Moon” is sprawling and driving storm of a song but where you are caught in the stillness of the eye of that storm just sitting tight and quietly and intimately hoping and praying about what’s to come. It’s about family, the pure joy and beauty of kids, of love and real connection… the needing someone else to be your light in your darkness, acknowledging your weakness, fractured heart, your general at-sea-ness, being in love so much it makes you a little afraid, battling for your mental health and wellbeing like life is carrying out some kind of intrusive border control search of your heart, battling against addiction and control.
What’s next for you?
Enjoy some of the joy, wonder and magic of some live gigging and get writing and recording OFFICER album three. Although I am considering a couple of offers of working on film soundtracks and things like that, which could maybe be a good thing to explore at this time. Time with family and just yeah, moving on from this particular passage of life. It kind of feels like releasing Night Tennis is bringing to a close a certain chapter of me and ushering me into some new era of things that will be different and new and it feels quite hopeful at this moment.