We caught up with the superb London based artist Dan Cross, following the release of his brilliant single, ‘Paingiver’. Read the full interview now!
How did you first get into music?
I guess it was my dad playing the piano – that must have awakened something inside me – that people like me could actually do it too.
I can vividly remember him trying to get both hands working together playing ‘Someone to watch over me’. I guess the Sinatra version.
Later I would interrogate my foster sister’s boyfriends for any pearls of wisdom on the guitar they might know – I picked up the lick from ‘Over the hills & far away’ by Led Zeppelin, the chords to Ohio by CSN&Y & I was all set to start writing.
What is the first song that captured your attention as a youngster?
When I heard ‘Debora’ by T Rex I think I actually had my mind expanded – it’s a short song, maybe only 90 seconds long or something so someone came up with the bright idea of turning the tapes over & having the entire song play again backwards!
I remember just levitating off the ground when I heard ‘Debora’, and the lyrics are outrageous:
always look like a zebra
Your sunken face is like a galleon
Clawed with mysteries of the Spanish Main O Debora
always dress like a conjurer
It’s fine to see your young face hiding neath the stallion that I’m riding
How could you not be excited by that?
Who influenced your latest release?
Trump influenced my latest release!
The music is a kind of loving homage to Rick Rubin really, all those early DefJam releases by LL Cool J & the Beastie Boys where they married crunchy metal guitars to a hip hop beat – there’s also some pretty outrageous feedback guitar which is a kind of ‘Blue Mask’ ( Lou Reed ) thing. It’s just a New York City mash-up!
What motivates you to make music?
Well, it’s not the money. It’s more like a spiritual meditation you can take up & still drink espresso all day.
If you could open for any artist/band who would it be?
Dua Lipa then I’d get to go backstage & say hello.
What’s your favourite venue to play?
Anywhere with low lights that serve olives & alcohol.
What are your other passions aside from music?
I like old movies like ‘Sunset Boulevard’, ‘White Heat’, film noir, black & white dramas, stuff like that or even further back into the silent era, Buster Keaton, Marx Brothers, etc.I’m happy with subtitles too.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
That’s very complex – as a fan there probably never been a better time to find new music, but as a musician, it’s like armageddon out there. To say I regret the rise of multinational corporations like Apple or Spotify is just naive because the truth is that big business has always ripped off musicians. It’s just the nature of the beast – there are a million stories of bands like Led Zeppelin & The Rolling Stones who signed deals ripping off obscure blues musicians & never paying them a penny.
I hope that we work this thing out pretty soon – I have confidence that the money will eventually find its way into the hands of the workers – there are encouraging signs in spite of the prevailing trends if you look for them.
I think an artist like Taylor Swift could change a lot in her moment of opportunity. She’s been pretty badly served in the past so she knows what can happen to you if you sign your life away. Musicians need to get unionised.
What is the best music advice you have ever been given?
Ok, two things come to mind:
Leonard Cohen said ‘I always thought that the work should come from the life lived not from the work itself’.
I know that Patti Smith refers to gigs as JOBS and to music-making as WORK. Her attitude is that this music is important & worth taking seriously. I like the fact that she carries her own amp & has never kissed anyone’s ass.
How Cohen & Patti Smith lived their lives by dancing in the jaws of the tiger is like a piece of living advice if you watch closely.
What new music are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been checking out a French girl calling herself Charlene Darling this year – she released her album ‘Mon jeu Prefere’ just before lockdown- shes trop cool!
Brigid Mae Power is great – shes got some amazing material, what else? Oh yeah, I liked the last ‘War on Drugs’ album – that one was really good to work out in the gym to!
What musical plans do you have for the next two years?
I want to write something as great as ‘Hallucinate’ by Dua Lipa. I want to get this album heard & put together a band capable of playing the music on it – they’ll have to be like an Indian Steely Dan with Jaki Liebezeit on drums & Donna Summer on vocals tho!
FV Music Blog September 2020
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