Dan Chapman’s musical background began in a study of classical piano at a young age which evolved into a lifetime of exploration of blues, rock, folk, swing and classical music. He learnt to sing by listening to Robert Plant, Ella Fitzgerald and Jeff Buckley among others. The evidence of this can be heard in his EP which uses a unique chemistry of bright and uplifting vocals in conjunction with cutting guitar tones that very few musicians have the ability to successfully utilize.
Entertwine: Could you tell us about your musical background?
Music came into my life from classical piano when I was 9, but it wasn’t until the age of 21 that I began singing. I learnt what could be done with a voice thanks to an Ella Fitzgerald boxset and Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ Album. My car stereo was the theatre and they among others, where my teachers.
Aside from piano, you sing and also play a number of other instruments, correct?
Yes, Guitar and Harmonica mainly but I am currently studying violin and trumpet.
Could you tell us about a few of your most recent live performances?
Well, this winter I have been getting to know Bristol pretty well playing at various venues around the town but still playing in the south west a lot, I played at a hostel near Padstow recently while the sun went down and everyone had come in from one of the first sunny days of spring. That was magical, everyone was particulary happy and welcoming that night, it was very intimate.
What experiences and events influenced the writing and recording of your latest self-titled EP?
Growing up! We all make a transition from child to adult to a certain extent and other than maturing I think the transition can be defined by a greater understanding of the world and the people in it. I wrote the songs on this record as poems to remind myself of lessons that I had learnt or experiences that had happened.
Could you tell us about each of the six featured tracks, especially the lead single ‘Mystery’?
The Call, in it’s repetitive structure is almost like a mantra to me, to think of living in the present. I found myself spending a large amount of time looking to the past or the future and it made me question why I was doing that, people around me were living in this way too.
The Oldest Old Oak tree was created after a conversation I had with a friend left me question why so many look for something better in the distance without looking at our present environment- grass is greener scenario really. It was written on Frenchman’s Creek in Cornwall, and old smugglers creek which is really detached from the world. I used spend a lot of time there alone, talking to trees and stuff…
Wolves was written by Phosphorescent, on the album ‘Pride’ which is a huge inspiration for me. I included it to say thanks.
In My Dreams is also a cover, written by Sam Lewis from Nashville, Tennessee.
Mystery is there to question the kind of dead end existence that some live because they have forgotten their dreams. I want to make sure I never to get too comfortable in any situation that is designed to be temporary or you know, lose the motivation for a great adventure because of bills or car insurance.
Carol of the Humbled Knight is a story set in a medieval time but applies to anyone now. I believe the day we start to learn how to humble and manage our ego we begin our path to discover who we really are. The inspiration for this song came from medieval choral motets and Jeff Buckley’s version of Corpus Christi Carol. To me they are full of grace, in every way. I love that.
What does the recording process look and sound like for Dan Chapman?
When I began, I built my own simple studio in a caravan in the middle of nowhere in Cornwall and began recording, re-arranging and re-writing songs regularly as I progressed. If I had been paying a studio it would have cost a fortune. I had friends come in towards the end to add cello, guitar and piano but largely the process was a solitary one. The key to my process is frame of mind, the environment that I created to record in really dictates the flow of creativity and eventually the sound of the record.
What instruments and other musical equipment do you use live and in the studio?
Sure 55sh for live vocals and Rode NT-2 in the studio, Focusrite pre-amp interface and a mac. Guitars used for live and studio are a Fender Telecaster single coil, a ‘74 Gibson Les Paul Standard and a little parlor acoustic guitar all through the pedal board and Hot Rod Deluxe.
What does 2015 hold in store for Dan Chapman?
I’ll be travelling around promoting this record this summer and potentially back in the studio in the winter. Gig wise, I’ll be in Bristol and the southwest playing on boats, bars and small festivals all of which will be listed at danchapman.co.uk and on twitter etc.