Dear Reader

It’s always a delight when Dear Reader find themselves in our city and this Saturday, they’ll be playing a show at artSPACE. We managed to get Luke Smith to fire off a couple questions to Cherilyn Neilson about what they’ve been been up to, loss of faith and how the latest album, Idealistic Animals, has been recieved.


DIY: Close to 8 months since you last graced our shores. What have you and Dear Reader been up to during that time?

Cherilyn: This year has been pretty full with touring in Germany and Europe. We’ve done a few long runs this year in support of the new release, and now we go back to play a couple of Summer festivals before things wind down. I also spent some time composing tracks for a German film, which was really different to writing for myself – a real challenge and a good experience. I hope to do more of that in the future.


DIY: We’re a bit late to the party regarding your latest album so apologies if you’ve heard all this, but have you been happy with the way ‘Idealistic Animals’ has been received? Are you ever tempted to hop online and google reviews of the album? If so, is it difficult reading a harsh review or is that something you’ve learnt to put that aside and deal with by now?

Cherilyn: ‘Idealistic Animals’ was never going to be an easy album to digest. I think it takes a lot more listens to get into than our previous record. It’s really densely layered, and the content is pretty hefty. I’ve found that some fans still prefer ‘Replace Why with Funny’, with it’s more accessible tunes and open sound. But other people see real growth in ‘Idealistic Animals’. I certainly think I’ve matured as an artist. I do read the reviews. Most of them have been good. I can’t say that some that are less positive don’t bother me at all, but I really have come to accept that not everyone is going to like what I make. I barely like it most of the time! (*please insert light-hearted tone here)


DIY: South Africa has quite a strong, often fundamentalist, Christian element to it. It’s almost avoidable at times, especially when you move out of the ‘big’ cities. With the key theme for ‘Idealistic Animals’ being the loss of your faith, and that ‘break up’ as you call it, seemingly happening while you were in Berlin, is it in anyway strange coming back here and being exposed to that aforementioned element again?

Cherilyn: Actually my loss of faith occurred about 6 years back, although it’s hard to pin-point exactly when it happened, as it was a long, drawn-out process. This album deals less with the loss of my faith and more with the attempt to build a new world-view for myself (something I can’t say I’ve succeeded at, but I continue to try). It’s true that Evangelical Christianity is much more prevalent in South Africa than in Europe. But I don’t have any problem with people who believe, as long as they don’t have any problem with people who doubt.


DIY: Has performing the songs live been a cathartic experience for you? Especially regarding songs like FOX (Take Your Chances) and ELEPHANT (Hearter) which, while still bathed in your melodrama alt-pop-ness, have this incredibly intense and terse element to them.

Cherilyn: Yeah, some of these songs are very emotional for me, and at different times, at different shows, certain songs will stick out, and I’ll relive some of the feelings I had when I was writing them. But to be honest, the real catharsis for me comes with writing the song itself. By the time I’ve gone into studio and recorded a song and then get on stage to play it, I’ve gained a lot of distance from the emotion that inspired me to write it. But new life is breathed into the songs by sharing the experience of the audience as they relate to the songs in a way that is a lot more fresh than it is for me anymore.


DIY: Are you looking forward to being back in our little city? What can your Durban audiences expect from your show on Saturday?

Cherilyn: I love Durban. In fact, it’s a little-known secret that should I have to choose a South African city to live, Durban would be it. I’m really looking forward to the show on Saturday. Our Durban audience has always been really warm, (to match the weather) and the lovely people at ArtSPACE are helping us create a great environment for the show to take place in. We’ll be playing as a 4-piece with drums this time (we’re being joined by Alex and Marko from Isochronous) and I’m also really excited about playing the songs more like the way they are on the record.


DIY: Finally, what plans do you have for Dear Reader after this little tour? Anything top secret that we can release as a DIY exclusive?

Cherilyn: The next 3 months will be fully devoted to writing and recording a new record. I can’t divulge too much, but it’s going to be something very different, and I think (I hope!), very close to the hearts of South Africans. It should be out next March, and I hope to be back in the first quarter of 2013 to tour it’s release.


Once again, you can catch Dear Reader at artSPACE this Saturday.

3 Responses to “Dear Reader”
  1. Jess says:

    now that’s a quality interview!

  2. No. says:

    fuck Christianity.

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