Leaving behind his band The Virgins, Donald Cumming is in despair about the current state of music. His frankness about the industry, life and people is a result of the discovered pressures of band life, many a nights partying to the internal demon inside him, and then the wake-up call and the realisation that life goes on.

His album Out Calls Only, which was released in June this year, is a testament to Cummings current state of mind. The mood is a mix of ragtime piano melodies mixed with vocals that attest to the style of Bob Dylan and 80s rock. This album is about personal growth and one can see through the diverse and effecting change of melodies and chords present throughout.

We had a brief disclosure between Istanbul and NYC with Cumming and his thoughts; his answers are to the point.

Tell us about yourself. Where you grew up? Why music?

I grew up in NY. I don’t know why music, it wasn’t a decision that I made. Music always spoke to me in a direct way that I wished people would speak to me. Listening to music was like having a very open and compassionate friend.

You said in a Rolling Stones interview that “I was a young guy and wanted to be in a band and it was great, but I don’t feel that way anymore.” Why a change in dynamics?

I’ve grown up a lot since the days when I started the virgins. At that time in my life I wanted to get fucked up and have fun, go out at night with my friends. I wanted to make and spend money because I’d never had any before. I wasn’t interested in working on myself or healing the emotional wounds that motivated some of my self-destructive behaviour.

“To make another record felt very much like a career-oriented move, and to split up and try something new felt like an artistic and creative move.” Can you explain?

I was tired of being in The Virgins at that point. I only made the second record because I was playing with some good friends and we had more opportunities by using the name. It was also a chance to make an album that I liked because I hated the first one.

What is the biggest difference and challenge that you face when comparing to being in a band and going solo?

I feel like the pressure to stay in a band and hold on to your fan base leads to a lot of boring uninspired music. I feel completely free to do whatever I want as a solo musician and so I’m able to make things that are honest about who and where I am in my life.

There are a few talented people that I respect but the majority of musicians today are comp.

Do you feel like that the music you make now is more true to yourself?

It’s true to me today. I’m sure I will change and grow as I continue, I always want to make something better than the last thing I’ve made and if that feeling goes away I’ll stop.

You’ve said that there is a trend that favours aesthetics over content. Why do you think that is? What is influencing this trend?

The trend is just bullshit. There are more people making music today than probably ever before. Trends are an easy way to coast and be part of the crowd, soak up an audience from someone else’s spill over etc. It’s bullshit.

You don’t listen to a lot of contemporary music. Why is that?

I don’t listen to it because for the most part I don’t like it. There are a few talented people that I respect but the majority of musicians today are completely out of touch.

“It all happened at once for Donald Cumming: his band the Virgins broke up, his marriage ended and he moved out of his New York apartment.” Do you want to tell us about this period? Would you consider it perhaps one of lows of your life, and yet a high professionally? Do you think you would have gone solo and produced Out Calls Only if it weren’t for these turn of events?

I went solo because I’d wanted to for a long time. When the life I’d built fell apart I built a new one and when that fell apart I started over again, what else do people do?

Do you think you made any mistakes along the way? What were they?

I’ve made tons of mistakes. I try to learn from them. The things that haunt you also drive you creatively but yeah there’s plenty I’d like to have done differently.

There is often a big differencebetween commercial and personal success. What do you say to this?

It’s not something I think about anymore. Personal success is when you’re honest and do what’s in your heart. I’d rather make something that means a lot to a few people than something that means a little to a lot of people.

Will there be a second solo album? Is there anything you would change compared to the first?

I’m gonna record some songs next weekend. I don’t know if for an album or single. We’ll see. The good news is that I can do whatever I want.