I have been chatting with D.A.N about…
his fantastic new track, 0300 (Human), and its nocturnal inspiration. D.A.N discusses new material and why he relocated from Northern Ireland to London; how it feels knowing his music is connecting with the public; what gigs he has lined up – I ask what music he grew up around as a child.
The multi-talented musician discusses his upbringing and bonding with music; which three albums mean the most to him; if he gets time to chill outside of music; the advice he would offer new songwriters emerging – D.A.N ends the interview by picking a pretty ace song.
Hi, D.A.N. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good, thanks. My week’s been pretty busy. I'm organising some upcoming things for the next few months.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m an artist from Ireland, but I moved to London when I was eighteen. I’ve been playing and writing music since I was young – started on piano, classically, but I now create in an electronic, soulful world with a big focus on songwriting.
0300 (Human) is your latest single. I believe insomnia is at its heart of it. Is it based on your personal experiences?
The song is based on personal experiences - I’m definitely a person who likes staying up quite late and I think it’s in those hours when you really start to delve deep into your thoughts. The track is an admission, really, that, sometimes, I’m not totally strong and, like anyone, there are times where I break and don’t have everything together. But, by writing the song and being honest about that, it had a positive effect and it made me feel stronger.
That hour, '3.A.M.', is when we shift from consciousness to dreams. What is it about that time/mindset that compelled you to write? Is insomnia, in a way, conducive to inspiration and creativity?
I think the song’s quite autobiographical – 3 A.M. happened to be the time when I wrote it and the lyrics are the narrative of everything that was going through my mind.
PHOTO CREDIT: Cora Hamilton
What comes next in terms of material? Might we see an E.P. later this year?
There’s definitely more music happening this year…pretty soon, actually. I’ve been living with it for a while, making sure it’s the best it can be and that it feels right, so I’m really looking forward to finally putting it out.
You are Northern Ireland-raised but live in London. What is the scene like there at the moment? What provoked the move?
I moved to London when I was eighteen - I always wanted to live here. I’d been a few times when I was younger and it seemed like the best place to pursue my music and work with the people I was inspired by. It’s such a fast-paced environment that it really teaches you to focus on what you’re doing and drives you to take it to the next level. I studied Popular Music at Goldsmiths for three years, too, and there’s always lots of stuff happening south of the river as well. I think there’s pretty much something for everyone here.
Your music has proved popular with fans and the media alike. Does that (popularity) drive you forward to keep reaching and aiming high?
It definitely reinforces that people might like it, which I’m really grateful for. But, I think the main thing that motivates me is the connection people have with the songs. When someone relates to a subject that I’ve experienced or written about, it’s the best feeling because you feel like you’ve expressed something that people can share and take comfort in.
Give me an impression of the artists you were raised on. Was your childhood home a musical one?
My family wasn’t overly-musical but we definitely had our car trip favourites – it was a mixture of everything from Björk to Damian Rice to Shania Twain. I’d say I always really gravitated towards Pop music too and I loved a lot of that; artists like Gwen Stefani, Marina and the Diamonds - that kind of vibe. Then, I studied piano and violin classically until I was eighteen, which was a good discipline for understanding music in a different way; some of these traits I probably then transferred when making Pop music.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
Some summer gigs are being confirmed at the minute, so I’m excited to announce those soon…
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Hunt
If you had to select three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Lorde – Melodrama
I think this one of the best Pop albums. It’s so instantly gratifying on a listening level but its lyrical content is what makes it so relatable. It’s a really beautifully crafted album, too. It has intricacies no other artists ever really discuss or looks into, lines like: “I overthink your punctuation use” and “I care for myself the way I used to care about you”. A modern twist without feeling overdone. Writer in the Dark is one of my favourites on it.
James Vincent McMorrow – We Move
I really love this album because of how delicate it is, but also because it knows the right moments to swell and blow up; a lot of moods to it. I’ve been a huge fan of his since We Don’t Eat and If I Had a Boat. I think this album pushed things to a new level, too, in terms of production: it merges Pop sensibilities with attention to songwriting. My favourites are One Thousand Times and Get Low.
Jessie Ware – Tough Love
Tough Love feels like a really sophisticated Pop record. It’s got that understated voice with really luxurious production throughout. I’m a big Jessie Ware fan, so all of the albums hold a big place in my heart. Say You Love Me is one of those perfect Pop songs. It absolutely hits the nail on the head; every line means something and has a purpose – it’s strong but entirely vulnerable at the same time, which is a quality I really love in songwriting.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
In 2018, I hope to keep putting out and making more music that I’m proud of, more live dates and, hopefully, reaching more people that find a connection with it too.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Being able to work with Dave Okumu has created some of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in music - he’s been at the heart of so many of my favourite songs, so I feel really blessed that he’s a part of mine too.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Do what feels right and plan as much of it yourself as possible. Work with people who make you a better artist and who give you good energy.
IN THIS PHOTO: Nilüfer Yanya
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There’s an artist I really like called Jamie Isaac. He’s releasing a new album soon - the song, Wings, is great.
I also love this artist called Nilüfer Yanya – the track, Baby Luv, is definitely one of my favourites.
There’s an Australian artist called Alexander Biggs. Very chilled and I really love his track, Out in the Dark.
Definitely, Grace Carter. I’ve been a fan for a while, but everyone should listen to her track, Silence. It’s one of those songs I wish I’d written.
IN THIS PHOTO: Grace Carter
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Yoga and walking are really great ways to take a step aside from everything for a while. I also love designing visuals and reading magazines (too) for inspiration.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
George Michael – Faith
This is one of my favourite songs. It’s one of those tracks that feels completely Pop but also discusses a subject matter that everyone probably can relate to at some stage. It’s a man being completely honest, which makes him a stronger character in the end, all at the same time making you feel great and helping when you listen. A genius Pop song.