Cyril Durant – Interview

Multi-talented artist Cyril Durant is interviewed about his musical upbringing, his secret musical indulgences, his craziest performances, and much more.

What first got you into music?

Like many musicians, I came into music through church. Specifically, I sang in the youth choir. Growing up though I was always surrounded music and musicians. My mother sang in choir and was always programmed to sing for events and programs as a soloist. I have older cousins who were church musicians. My older siblings were both in high school marching band. So, it was only natural that music be a part of my life. I was in choir and marching band throughout high school and college. I majored in Music Performance with voice as my primary instrument. Along the way though, I worked as a gigging musician singing and playing keys and/or guitar.

Who are some of your influences?

There are many. My mother is and always has been at the top of the list. There was something about the way she sang with such power, and it be so effortless. My wife is another. In so many ways she has taught me how to remain a scholar of music at the professional level. She definitely is the better half in this duo. As a soul artist and performer, my big two are Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. They are easily two of the most authentic and influential voices in men’s R&B and soul music. Their music to me is something that is meant to be experienced, not just heard. You can hear it and see it footage of live audio and video recordings. The list goes on, but those are the big ones.

Cyril Durant playing guitar on the beach

What draws you to your preferred genre?

I don’t know that I have a preferred genre. I like a lot of things. The music that I do prefer though has a lot to do with the production. I’m a huge fan of live instrumentation, and production that can duplicated in a live performance. I also prefer vocals to be as clean as possible without being heavy on the effects.

Do you have a secret music indulgence that you might want to admit or share?

I love System of a Down. My favorite album of theirs is Toxicity. Their entire catalogue is great though. I’m especially a fan of how they incorporate multiple meters into their music. I was late getting on the Radiohead train, but I’m glad I did. I really dig them as well. Thom Yorke has become one of my favorite vocalists to listen too. Radiohead’s music well crafted.

Erica and Wade also introduced me to a whole network of folks, who have embraced me as music family, like Lyn Avenue, Eric Britt, Rachael Shaner, Chuck Courtney, and the list really goes on.

How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I started gigging around Savannah in 2011 with my project Those Cats. Through that band is where I began making Savannah connections. I didn’t really get into the Savannah music scene until 2014 I believe. I honestly felt like I was at the right place at the right time. I still feel that way too.

I started playing with General Patton and The Heads of State. I had a connection with them through John Patton and Ben Lewis from sharing shows with Domino Effect. It would be another year before I really started making waves as a solo performer in Savannah. Again, I was in the right place at the right time. Laiken sent some work my way and got me opportunities in front of important people. She still helps out when she can and offers a listening ear when I have questions. I’ve met and played with some of the best in the city because of Laiken. I have much respect and appreciation for her.

I also played with Wood & Steel for just under two years. I met them (Erica and Wade Holmes) through Ben Lewis as well. They played as a duo outside of the full band, and facilitated in connecting me with venues and people for solo booking. Erica and Wade also introduced me to a whole network of folks, who have embraced me as music family, like Lyn Avenue, Eric Britt, Rachael Shaner, Chuck Courtney, and the list really goes on.

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What was the craziest performance you ever had?

I was playing at Congress Street Social Club on St. Pats. Things were going great. Then out of nowhere is this guy dancing right in front of me, in a speedo and a wrestling mask. I wish this was a made-up event. A different occasion at Barrelhouse, a random person in the crowd took our tip jar and walked around the entire bar getting tips for us. When we got it back it was full, and all was well that night.

Name a Savannah artist who you’d love to collaborate with …

I would love to do a set of jazz standards with The Eric Jones Trio. Eric is an artist I’ve admired since I met him in graduate school. I also want to write with Eric Britt and Aaron Zimmer. It would be great to be across the table from two guys who are working musicians, as well as full time dads…and are great at both.

Erica and Wade also introduced me to a whole network of folks, who have embraced me as music family, like Lyn Avenue, Eric Britt, Rachael Shaner, Chuck Courtney, and the list really goes on.

What are some of your favorite local places to play?

I would have to list my whole calendar. The places that frequently book with me, treat me as if I’m part of their work family whenever I’m playing.

Your thoughts on the state of the Savannah music scene …

There’s enough work for everyone to be as busy as they want or need to be. I feel like everyone essentially has “their gigs.” To me, it doesn’t seem like anyone has to fight or bid for gigs, which can’t be said for other places. I do feel like there isn’t enough being done for local bands. There should be more places like The Bayou, or The Jinx, that cater to the musicians of Savannah, and the presentation of local bands playing their original music.

The Wormhole has been a great asset for that. The singer songwriter showcase, and Victory North are doing a great job as well. I look forward to the day that The Undergo fest comes back for local artist to have an opportunity to play the music that they work so hard to create, and often have other gigs that support that original creative outlet. I am hopeful though that while venues are moving towards touring, and regional acts, that they will reach out to local artists to support those shows.

Cyril Durant at Churchill's

Talk a bit about your band the Boondockers …

I cannot claim the Boondockers as my band. It’s a project that I’ve been fortunate enough to be welcomed into. It’s the brainchild of Tim Ochoa and Dray Harris. Josh Johansson is also a part of the group. So, on the billing, it’s always Tim and Dray.

Sometimes the third man is Josh, and other times it’s me. There are also times where it will be someone else. It’s a band, but it’s also a network, but more importantly a musical family. We all draw on our different styles and influences to make great moments in music with each other. I am looking forward to playing more with them in 2022. Hopefully the stars will align and Josh and I can finally get on that gig together. I owe him a jam session, so it needs to happen.

What’s next for you?

I’m releasing original music now and am planning for a release of a full album soon. I am also studying sync licensing and doing research on music for TV and film. The goal is to create residual income from a catalogue of music, that essentially works for itself after being created.

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