Friday, August 15, 2014

INTERVIEW: Dan Michaelson

London-based artist Dan Michaelson will release his somber, deeply-layered album Distance on Monday (the 18th.) The single, "Breaking Falls," was featured in MTV's Teen Wolf -- but that aside, it's a beautiful song. Dan took the time to answer some of my questions about his approach to songwriters.

Your music is richly textured and -- from a pop writing perspective -- nonlinear. Could you describe your creative process?
I usually have a line or a string of words that feel true to me or seem to suggest a descriptive framework around my mood. I let that sink in for as long as it takes then build a narrative around it. Take a grain of truth and build a story around it. With that a melody naturally comes to hold it all together.. then I just try to make it sound as much like a song as i can.
I hear a lot of influence from the National in your music. Who else do you draw from for inspiration? 
The early inspirations will be familiar to most people.. Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed were the earliest, the people who knew you didn't need to be the greatest technical singer, that an individual voice with something to say can be more important. After that i found Lee Hazelwood, another strange and wonderful voice. Eventually I fell for the soul music of Etta James, Carla Thomas, Darondo and such.. All the Chess artists, The Supremes.. a long list that also readdressed the balance in terms of a female voice. Like most people, I'm the product of a thousand influences seen through fresh eyes, I hope.
Do you prefer recording your music or performing it live? 
They seem so different to me, its impossible to choose. One is a very private experience, the other an "outing" of all those moments. I find recording to be a more natural instinct than standing in front of a room of people. But one insists upon the other, I'd be unlikely to build a house and refuse the opportunity to live in it.
Your music feels rather dark and introspective. Do you find the writing process cathartic?
 I do, its like shedding a skin and feeling fresh and waking up with a clear outlook.. but the dust settles again quite quickly so theres always more to do.
Dan Michaelson --  Official, Facebook

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