■ The singer-songwriter, 44, on the little men in his record player, being told to do Instagram and being chased by skinheads
What equipment do you use the most in the studio?
My Roland GR-20 guitar synthesiser. It’s great for writing riffs and changes the guitar sound to strings, brass and piano. And I love my wah-wah pedal. I also still use a Sony digital voice recorder when I’m writing. It’s fairly primitive but it works for me.
Are you a fan of streaming?
I use Spotify. People are less likely to buy albums now with streaming services so you need to have a strong live reputation to make the money. I still make albums, the fans still buy them and we release some vinyl copies but when the record company takes its cut there’s not much left.
Do you use any music apps?
The Guitar Tuna app is the only one. The record company was also telling me to get an iPhone for ages and I finally got round to buying one 18 months ago. They were telling me to get one so I could take pictures and things for social media. But I’ve had the phone for over a year and I still haven’t started yet — I go swimming in the sea and go up to the mountains to write lyrics, so there are things to take pictures of.
For a long time now I’ve been writing a long letter that I send to fans every few months, which they seem to like, but the record label is telling me to take pictures and get followers.
What gadgets made an impression on you as a kid?
We had a Decca record player. I was only four or five and asked my brother how it was making the music. He said there was a load of little people in there playing the drums and the bass. One day he caught me trying to dismantle it to look for them.
Then I had a tape player to record songs off the radio and when I got a bit older, I saved up to buy my first vinyl album. It was Nightlife by Thin Lizzy. The guys in Thin Lizzy had long hair and, as I was walking along the road, a gang of skinheads saw the record and chased me across a field, shouting ‘Get the hippy!’
How ‘smart’ is your home?
Fairly rustic. I have two open fires, a stand-up piano and an old Technics SL1200 turntable. It sounds amazing. I play it out of Bose speakers.
What’s been your most disappointing tech purchase?
A small iPod for my birthday. The volume was really low. I still like to have a physical product with music — I still buy CDs for the car and vinyl for my record player at home. Music is seen as being more throwaway now. When you used to have to save up for an album it was something you appreciated.
If you could invent any gadget what would it do?
A device that would lock my wallet when I’d had enough Guinness.
Dempsey’s new album, Union, is out now and his short UK tour starts at Islington Assembly Hall, London, tonight, damiendempsey.com