LEADING me into the weekend is Dan Rawle…
who has been talking about his upcoming single, Matter of Opinion (out on 3rd June). I ask the Oxford-based songwriter about the track’s story and whether there is more material coming before the end of the year.
Rawle tells me whether he thinks he has evolved over the past year; what he wants to achieve in the coming months; the three albums that mean the most to him; some new artists worth looking out for – he talks about future gigs and tells me how he relaxes away from music.
Hi, Dan. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. I’m well, ta. I have been a little under the weather but I’m on the straight and narrow now, so it’s all good. Just been working and gigging a fair bit.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure thing. My name’s Dan Rawle (you’ve probably gathered that by now!); I’m an Oxford-based singer-songwriter with a guitar and a little songbook. I grew up in Abingdon, not far from Oxford, and have pretty much just stuck around! Musically, I've got a simple, honest sought of vibe I guess and have been likened to Passenger shaking hands with Jack Johnson at a Beatles show.
Matter of Opinion is your new single. Can you reveal the inspiration and story of the song?
So. The new single, Matter of Opinion, is a song that’s very close to my heart. It’s a song for my dad, of whom we lost to cancer when I was five (I’m now thirty). I’ve written it to say that, even though he’s not physically here anymore, he is still around in so many ways…in the belongings he left behind, in our memories and stories and in my sisters and me.
Without getting too soppy, it’s about never forgetting a loved one that’s not with us anymore...
There are hints of classic Pop and modern Acoustic in the song. It relaxes the soul and nourishes the listener. What do you hope people get from the song?
Well. I’d be really chuffed if people can connect with the song in some way and maybe even find it helpful if they’ve lost someone close. Or, simply, I hope people just enjoy listening to it.
Your 2017-E.P., It’ll All Come One Day, was well-received. Do you think, since then, you have evolved as a songwriter and learnt anything new about yourself?
Hmm. I’ve definitely learnt things about myself that seems to be happening slowly but surely over the years! In terms of writing, as any musician will know, you try to better yourself each time: a better hook, a better lyric; more this, less that! But, I’ve got a few songs on the go that I’m really excited about and that’s a most important thing I reckon.
Do you know what the next step will be in terms of material?
With the new songs, all I know at this stage is that I’m working closer to the band (Sarah Morgan and Patrick Foley) to really punch them home. There’s a subtle change in the style, which is gonna keep things fresh and new.
When did music arrive in your life? Who did you follow as a child?
I think I was always a bit musical, which was probably down to my wonderful mum. She’s always sung and played the guitar, so at least one of us four kids was going to follow suit! The first album I bought was, ahem, Britney Spears. I’d say I’m embarrassed, but I’m not. It was a tour de force! Ha. Later, I got into a lot of Pop-Punk, Oasis and then The Beatles.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
There are a few shows coming up this summer, namely Cowley Road Carnival on 1st July. We’ll be at The Cape of Good Hope from 1-ish. Then, WaddStock on 28th July. I’m going back to basics as well through June and doing a cheeky little open mic tour of Oxford, just for a bit of fun, and to shout about the single.
How does it feel being up there on the stage? Can you describe the feeling?
Being on stage is wicked. It feels weirdly natural and exhilarating. But, there’s nothing better than playing to a crowd that is having a bloody good time and singing along! It’s hugely flattering.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
This is like a midyear resolution list! For 2018, I’m hoping to get the single out, obviously; buy a new car, get a new flat; see some new places and generally have a good time. Oh, and cheesy alert: think less and feel more.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Ooh, that’s tricky...
If I had to pick, it’d be the launch gig at The Library for the E.P., It’ll All Come One Day. I was so happy with how many people came and when they all sang the chorus of the title-track back at me I nearly shed a bloody tear! It’s a simple thing I know, but it means a lot.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Three albums...let’s go with Passenger - All the Little Lights; Michael Jackson – Thriller and The Beatles – Help!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I’m hardly one for giving advice here, but I would say this: believe in yourself. If you want to go somewhere, work your arse off. Don’t worry about being too self-promoting (no-one else will do it for you...unless you pay them loads). Try to be yourself and have your own little thing, even if no one else is doing it. From a writing point of view, try to hear your music back as a listener, not a writer. Get as much constructive feedback as you can; it’ll help focus things to a strong point.
That’s actually quite a lot of advice!
IN THIS PHOTO: David Ashworth
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
They’re not really that new anymore, but my good pals David Ashworth and The Steady Letters are damn fine musicians and writers. We’ve shared a lot of inspirations and drunken ideas - and the results can be heard for sure!
IMAGE CREDIT: Victor Hensel Photography
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
When I get a little time away from music, I love to lie on the sofa and watch a good show. I’m smashing my way through Friends right now! I spend time with my girlfriend, head down the pub and I’m reading a bit, too. Currently, I’m half-way through an incredible book called The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts: a must-read.
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).
Ooh, nice; a personal request. The song that gets me jumpin’ about is Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba. One of the happiest songs I’ve ever heard.
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