David Cloyd’s ascent to national awareness is a unique story equaled only by the stories told in his songs themselves.
David Cloyd had already established himself as a staple in New York City’s indie-rock scene. But after his band broke up in early 2008, his musical future looked, at best, uncertain. He had no money for studio time or any real recording gear. What he did have was a wealth of songs and no one but himself to play them. “If you wait for the perfect circumstances to record an album, then you wait forever. So, I worked with what I had.” He sat down on the floor of his 9-foot by 9-foot home studio in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and began working by recording what he could, into a personal computer he had built by hand.
Rough sketches for a number of these recordings found their way to producer, recording artist, and ECR founder Blake Morgan. “What I listened to were his recordings, but what I heard were his songs. There’s no recording studio in the world that can make your lyrics great or your melodies memorable,” says Morgan. “David’s were.”
The result was an album that is anything but small in scope. From its opening moments, Unhand Me, You Fiend! evokes comparisons with Radiohead, Beck, and Peter Gabriel, while underlining its improbable journey towards high fidelity. Tremolo electric guitars buoy Cloyd’s Lennon-esque vocals like orchestral string parts, while Kid A-era drum loops propel dense and frenetic layers of sound. The album’s range matches its stakes, with everything from sparse acoustic-driven ballads and symphonic-scale arrangements to the title track’s a-cappella setting.
Ultimately, Unhand Me, You Fiend! was mastered by Grammy Award–winner Phil “Butcher Bros.” Nicolo at world-famous Studio 4 in Philadelphia, completing its unimaginable voyage. Following its worldwide release, Unhand Me, You Fiend! hit #1 on eMusic’s Album Charts. Other notable albums on the chart at the time included Radiohead’s In Rainbows, from which Cloyd recorded a moving version of “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” as a digital bonus track.
In 2010, Cloyd followed on the national success of Unhand Me, You Fiend! with his second album, I Could Disappear, a powerful collection of performances unlike any in his past—solo, in the studio. Evoking the striking intimacy of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” or Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon,” Cloyd offsets the Radiohead-like architecture of his first album using only guitar or piano to accompany his haunting vocals. Simple and timeless, these stirring arrangements offer a stripped and vivid vision, where only the muscle and bone of Cloyd’s songwriting are left exposed. Knowing this unique album was more than simply a companion to its predecessor, he found reinterpreting material from Unhand Me, You Fiend! a distinct opportunity. “With each song boiled down to its essence I discovered something exciting—working with less demands more from you as an artist.”
Cloyd has recently taken on two additional challenges while currently immersing himself in the songwriting for his next album. First, Cloyd offers up a fresh take on a Paul McCartney classic—“Dear Boy” from the 1971 album Ram. “David’s talents as a mulit-instrumentalist and his vocal work on the song ‘Unhand Me, You Fiend!’ made ‘Dear Boy’ both an obvious choice and an ideal challenge for a new recording,” says Morgan. The Dear Boy maxi-single contains three mixes of Cloyd’s distinct and powerful version of the song, and is already the most successful release of his career.
Secondly, Cloyd has welcomed a new role alongside his duties as ECR’s Executive Vice President of Creative Operations. He’s also heading his own imprint, Hook & Ladder Records. “As an artist, I was always looking for a place where I could continue to push myself and develop all of my talents alongside other artists who were on the same path, a collaborative and supportive environment where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole,” says Cloyd. “I’ve found that home at ECR, and Hook & Ladder Records will reflect and express that philosophy as well.”