For the inaugural ‘For The Turnstiles’ interview I wanted to introduce Ireland to a considerable talent from Blackpool called Dan Wilde. ‘This is the Place’ is Dan’s debut album released officially on February 28th through The Littlest Mojo music company. The twelve tracks are wonderfully composed songs which are full of charm and warmth. These songs of real depth are accompanied by strong vocals, delicate finger picking and on some tracks enhanced by the inclusion of strings. ‘This is the Place’ is a stunning debut which should be embraced by the contemporary folk community.
You are about to release your debut album ‘This is the Place’. How would you describe the album and your music?
Well, I would say that it’s contemporary folk if I had to put a label on it. The music is played on mostly acoustic instruments and there’s a lot of finger picking and folky guitar parts, as well as violins, banjos and mandolins etc… So it’s folk but it’s not folky folk. What I mean is it’s not traditional folk. I’m not singing about mining or fair maidens or anything like that. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with that but I just don’t write those kinds of songs. I cover a few traditional folk tunes but I don’t try to imitate them when I write. I’d struggle to describe what my music is beyond that. I could probably list a lot of things that my music isn’t but I don’t really know what it is. I’m sure someone else will tell me exactly what it is soon.
What I try to do when writing though is to tap into some kind of emotion and see what comes out. Then I try and fit the arrangement around the song. This could be one other instrument, a whole band, or nothing. Again I’d really struggle to describe the album. It’s currently being sent out to be reviewed so maybe I’ll wait to see what the reviewers have to say about it. Also, there’s a little bit of not wanting to explain what I think it is. Obviously I have an opinion about it but I really just want to wait and see how people perceive it. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that.
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
Well to begin with, I didn’t start to write the album with any particular themes or topics in mind. The majority of the songs though, were written within a year and during that time I was going through a few difficulties. So this inevitably came out in the songs. I’d say the main thing I was feeling at the time was confused. So to me the album is about that. It’s about making a decision when you feel like you’re being pulled in opposing directions. Then you have to live with those decisions and I think that’s the scary bit. So it’s also about dealing with your conscience but not necessarily because you’ve done anything wrong.
As with any music though there are lots of different themes/topics within the songs. It’s not all personal either as some of the songs were written about people I know, even though they are written in the first person. There are also a few songs written about the past.
You mentioned there that “the main thing I was feeling at the time was confused”; did the composing of the songs and recording the album help with the confusion?
I think so. To be honest I think it was completing the album that really helped. Writing always helps as a release I think but for me I think getting an album finished was more significant. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I never seemed to be able to get around to it. I think I probably put it off ’cause I was scared about actually releasing something. I’ve been gigging for a long time now and although there’s a certain pressure involved there, if you do have a bad day, it’ll be forgotten. Most of the people will come out and see you again so you can make sure you do a good job the next time. With an album though it’s completely different. You record it, package it up and then you release it. By this point it’s no longer in your control. It’s there for people to scrutinise as much as they want, and that’s quite scary for the artist. So, I think by getting on with making the album I overcame a big obstacle, and this has given me more belief in myself. As a result I’ve been able to make choices based on what I really want, rather than just choosing the easy options. So yeah it has helped.
What one event, person or experience has given you the most inspiration to write music?
Well I first started writing songs when I was about 14. I remember taking part in a German exchange and during that time I started going out with this German girl. I thought she was the one. Funny now but it was serious stuff at the time. As soon as the exchange ended though that was it. There was no way I could just get on a flight to go and see her because I was 14. So I was frustrated and I remember writing loads of songs about her. I was an angry little man for a couple of months but I got over it. So I think the first songs I wrote were about her.
Influences? We all have them! What unsung hero in your music collection has influenced you as a composer?
There are a few. I mentioned that I started writing when I was 14 but by the time I was 16 I just wanted to be a guitarist. So I pretty much stopped writing songs. When I was 18 I went off to London to study at a guitar school for a year. When I went back to Blackpool I got a gig with a local legend by the name of Nick Gribbon. He used to be in a band with Lemmy from Motorhead and he’s still rockin out every Sunday. Anyway, so I did a gig with him and in the break this guy called Jon Brindley got up. I’d never seen anyone play like him before. He was on his own with an acoustic but it sounded like a full band. He totally changed my perception of what a singer songwriter was. So I started going to watch him quite a lot and I got a copy of his album. It was that album that made me want to write my own music. I no longer felt like I needed to be in a band to make great music. So I would say that he was big influence in that he got me writing and singing again. He’s definitely unsung too, that guy should be massive.
Another influence more recently has been Mark Geary, he was over in England a couple of years ago and we did a few gigs together. I also went on tour with him and during this time I got really into his music. He’s had an influence on the way I think about lyrics writing more than anything.
As you’re about to release your debut album what do you think about the current music business in general?
Well it’s going to have to be in general ’cause I’m not an expert, but I know that record companies are scared to take risks at the moment. I think that’s a shame. They’re scared to invest in artists because they’re not sure where things are heading. Fair enough I guess and I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe if they focused on serious music fans they’re more likely to sell more physical copies. Then again there’s probably more money in downloads now. So I don’t know. I’m happy that I’ve done this one on my own, although I have now got an Independent label behind me called ‘The Littlest Mojo’. They’re doing a great job and it’s working well so far, so I’m not letting the current state of the music business get to me, just trying to get on with it really.
What are your plans for 2011? Where will you be touring and have you got plans to do any festivals in the summer?
Well at the moment things are a bit up in the air. I’ve just moved from Blackpool to Cambridge so I’ve had a lot to sort out. I think I’ll definitely be heading over to Ireland sometime soon so I’ll be doing some gigs then. It’s likely to be May but I’m not sure yet. I’ll be doing a little tour of the UK and there’s also talk of going to Holland. As for festivals I’ll be playing at Moonbeams festival and Beverley Folk Festival. I’ve just sent off to a few others so hopefully I’ll be doing a few more.
How can fans-to-be or people reading this gain access to your music?
Well there’s my website which is www.danwilde.net and there’s also The Littlest Mojo’s website which is www.thelittlestmojo.com. There’s also loads of live stuff on YouTube. Oh and on February 28th the album will be on iTunes and Amazon etc…
1.Nearest I Have to Home
2.Broke My Heart Alright
4.Wait Untill Tomorrow
6.How Will I Know
7.Opened My Eyes
9.We Will Have Time
12.It Hearts To Reminisce
Buy The Album: Dan Wilde – This is the Place
Listen to the delicate Nowhere from the album!