Artist Spotlight: Cairns

Cairns – (Larkin left, Smith right).

Dream pop outfit Cairns played Riverwest DIY venue Nausicaa along with a solo version of Lifetime Achievement Award and new Minneapolis solo project Animal Actor (Jeremy from Double Grave) on Saturday evening.

Cairns is the project of John Larkin. His music is described as being “emotionally sonic.” He played a semi-solo set with his guitarist Eli Smith for this show. Cairns’ last album “Entanglement” came out last December. Larkin is currently experimenting with his lineup.

“We were doing a full-band thing with drums, bass, flute and everything…I kinda just wanted to do something different and bring it back to how it was first intended to be heard. When I first started playing shows I was playing very low-key and it slowly built up into this giant thing with horns and whatnot. I wanted a break from that and hear what I’m singing and do more experimental-ambient free-form stuff. I have a few shows with Eli booked and we’re doing a little tour; then I’m doing a tour out to Maine with my partner and she’s playing keyboards. It’s gonna be different every time.”

Larkin is involved in several other projects as well, including Divine Crush and playing bass with Caley Conway. He describes the direction he wants to take Cairns.

“I’m doing experiments with recording techniques and I’ll probably put something out. I’m trying to maybe record something within this month, like a four-song thing to bring on tour. I’m also trying to play drums more. I’m definitely out of my comfort zone with this lineup; I feel very exposed and I can’t hide behind drums and bass and stuff. It’s not like an obstacle I’m putting in front of myself, I just feel it’s necessary for what I want to do.”

Larkin talks a bit about his songwriting lately.

“I think a lot about nature and the destruction of it inevitably…desolation…weird human greed. I don’t think this comes into my lyrics but I write about imagery around that stuff. More recently I’ve been writing more personal stuff about moving around and things changing in my family and brain and being alone a lot.”

Cairns plays Between Two Galleries on Wednesday and Riverwest Public House on October 18th.

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