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It has been nearly 8 years since Dan Black released his debut full length ((un)), which featured Kid Cudi and the fresh single “Symphonies.” It has been too long! Thankfully this is changing, Dan has just re-emerged with the fresh new track “Headphones,” it’s pure sonic goodness and will be featured on his forthcoming LP ‘Do Not Revenge.’
The album features appearances by Imogen Heap and Kelis and is being released through an approach Black calls, “12 Songs, 12 Experiences.” Throughout the weeks leading up to ‘Do Not Revenge’ listeners will be able to familiarize themselves with the music through various opportunities including a virtual reality video, a playable video game and more.
‘Do Not Revenge,’ is slated to drop later this year, check out the exclusive interview with Dan below!
For those just discovering Dan Black, can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and how you got started with music?
I grew up in a very quiet English village, an hour out of London. Very cute, picture postcard cliché. Great fun as a boy, tedious as a teen. My dad was a very passionate, evangelical music fan, so I was always around stacks of vinyl, with music blasting all day. Very diverse, Dylan to Davis to Debussy. So that was obviously a big factor. And I always like playing with things that could make some kind of noise, from a very young age. And I pretty much instantly tried writing songs from a very young age, way before I could play anyone else’s, though it took me a good decade before I wrote anything not totally awful! I then moved to London around 17, ostensibly to study art, but basically to join bands and try do something for real. I then dropped out of art-school to go record with a pretty crazy performance art band called Minty in New York. I guess that was the “start”.
What do you enjoy most about Paris? What is one low key spot every visitor should check out?
100 years ago Paris was the center of the world, especially culturally. It was proper fire! And today it kind of feels like you’re living in the left over embers of that blazing moment. So it’s very inspiring but kind with this allusive sadness too, which I find very appealing for some reason. It’s very romantic to me, even after being here for 10 years now. I live by Canal St. Martin which is in the west and is really great area to wander around.
Can you tell us about working on and bringing your forthcoming album ‘Do Not Revenge’ to fruition? Is there a release date?
The process was long! I made records with and for other artists while making it, so that slowed things down. But the main thing with Do Not Revenge is that I did it all largely utterly on my own. I really came to properly grasp why most records are by teams of people. Being on top of your lyric game is very different headspace to being an on-point drum programmer or mixer. So it kept taking time to transition between all these different disciplines, to get up to being as good as I possibly be at all the different aspects.
The album should be out in June!
What made you decide on the album title Do Not Revenge?
It’s a little known Basquiat painting, I saw it years ago and thought “album title” but then had to unpick why over time. It is partly because a lot of my process is how a Basquiat painting appears to be made. Randomness meeting precision, crossing outs, building things up and then scraping them back down. But also in terms of meaning, doing anything with a proper dedication and vision is pretty toxic for certain kinds of relationships, it comes with certain kinds of costs. And, over the years, being in bands, being an artist has led to a few pretty catastrophic moments. And I have found that pretty hard, and a lot of this record is exploring that. And I guess this record is about somehow getting to a place of calm with all that.
We heard that the album features appearances by Imogen Heap and Kelis, what was it like working with them?
Well, for 2 artist so totally different, it was wonderful in pretty surprisingly similar ways. They are both very distinct and unique as artist – like, no one sounds like them. And they are quick, SO quick, and yet so present. It can take me to get a good vocal performance or vocal idea, but with them it just pretty much pours out of them. I engineer vocals obviously and generally like to be sat right there, so to hear them singing and writing just 1 meter away was just an incredible experience. To hear such iconic voices so up close and personal was a total privilege.
I was trying at first to do a kind of Clams Casino type of beat, but it ended sort of getting more Paul’s Boutique meets The Bladerunner Soundtrack. It was one of the key tracks to bringing the album together as a whole. When it came along it brought tracks I had but couldn’t see together suddenly make sense on the same record.
What musicians/bands are you currently listening to?
I listen to a lot of obvious stuff I guess, Rae Sremmurd, Dirty Projectors, Shirely Ellis!
What was the inspiration behind your single?
I was working a lot at home on the record, I had a little studio there. But I have kids now, so I had to work a lot on headphones, at night – plus, as the years have slipped by, living on the road or in studios, you can kind of look up, slip the headphones off, and realize certain things you thought were there have gone, people, places.
Can you tell us about your “12 Songs, 12 Experiences?”
All my visuals, videos, artwork are done in collaboration with my wife and her creative partner at Chic&Artistic. For this album we wanted to try to do something a little mysterious, a little unusual and a bit more ambitious. So for every song we decided to create some kind of online experience. 12 experiences that will be counted down to on my site, one every three weeks, with each one able to stand alone, but also for them all to then come together to make something special at the end. It’s still very early, so I don’t want to give too much away. But if you go to danblacksound.com all will eventually be revealed!
After the album drops what can fans look forward to?
Once the album is out, there are a bunch of records I have been doing for other artists to come out. And hopefully I can also start seeing how the album plays out “live”!