Dan Owen – A Craftsman At Work Dan Owen is one of those musicians who’s material is incredibly haunting and personally stays with you much like his contemporary Ben Montague. 2016 is a big year for Dan with the release of his new EP ‘Open Hands and Enemies’ on LAB Records, sold-out headline London shows and various special guest tour appearances. We sat down with him for a chat about his love of guitar, touring with Birdy, his friendship with Mick Fleetwood and his hometown of Shrewsbury. Enjoy…
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Could you please tell me about the track ‘Made To Love You’?

Well it’s just about a friend from home who was in a bit of a tough relationship. He told me about what had been happening at the pub and I got back and wrote a song about what he was going through. Physical abuse is a hard thing to write about but the song seems to be connecting with people which is nice. 

When you are writing a song, what comes first for you lyrics or music? What is your process?

People often ask me this question and I think it depends. Sometimes I’ll be somewhere and make a voice note of a lyric and other times I’m playing guitar and hear something that could be interesting – I guess I don’t have a set way, it just happens!

Have you ever recorded a duet with a female artist? If you have, who was it and what song did you do? If you haven’t, who would you like to duet with and what song would you like to perform/record? (Please give reasons)

No I haven’t unfortunately, but if I could it would be with someone outside of my own genre with someone like Ellie Goulding because I like what she does. Probably something fun like ‘Luna’ by Bombay Bicycle Club. 

Could you please tell me about the music video for ‘Made To Love You’? Who was the director and how did the creative collaboration come about?

The director is an Australian called Samuel Faull. He is mainly an independent short film maker which is part of why we chose him. The subject matter of the song/video meant it needed to be done very delicately. He connected with the song immediately and totally understood what needed to be done. I think he nailed it.

Do you have any favoured stage guitars?

My Patrick James Eggle is my pride and joy. He makes amazing bespoke guitars and because I’ve known him for a few years I was lucky enough to get my hands on one. He only made two with that design and the neck of it is made from an old billiard board table. 

Where are you planning to tour next?

I’m touring the UK supporting Birdy in Oct/Nov, then I am supporting Kaleo on their UK run of shows, and then I am doing a headline tour of Ireland. I am excited about it all. Playing shows is my favourite part of it all. 

Describe Shrewsbury in five words please

Picturesque. Rural. Nostalgic. Relaxed. Home. 

Please take us through your stage/performance gear and explain your choices

Well I have a surprising amount of equipment on stage with me and a lot of it isn’t particularly interesting. My old stomp box used to draw a lot of attention because I made it out of an old shortbread tin with a bit of carpet nailed to the top of it. Airport security always got a bit suspicious about it though because of all the wires and screws holding it together…so I switched to a conventional one. Then I have the Eggle guitar and a Martin guitar as well as a Hohner Blues Harp harmonica going through a microvox microphone. 

You recently just finished a European Tour with Birdy. Were there any special moments for you e.g. funny, interesting, moving etc. on the tour? Did you have a favourite venue and if so where was it?

I think my favourite venue was in the Konzerthaus in Vienna. All the other venues were quite modern and this one was just so unexpected. It’s one of the top ten best sounding venues in the world (according to their sound tech…) so that was pretty special!

In Amsterdam me and the tour manager went to a pub and ended up getting involved in Dutch cabaret/karaoke night. That went down as well as you can imagine. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received and who was it from?

The drummer from Razorlight, Andy Burrows, said to me to try not to take it too seriously. Remember we are all just singing songs. That advice grounds me when things sometimes become a bit stressful. 

In doing a bit of background, I read that you had a placement Oswestry guitar makers. During that time, did you ever watch anyone performing with one of the guitars that you had worked on? If so, what was that experience like for you personally?

Wow you really did do some research! That was actually when I was working with Patrick Eggle and so whilst nobody played anything I made I guess I got to play something he made! I actually had to cut the placement short because of an accident I had in another workshop. I won’t go into the details but I can no longer see properly with one eye so I couldn’t do any of the fine detail work. 

Willie Nelson or Willie Dixon? (Feel free to say something about each)

There’s something to take from both of them as one is country one is blues. Can I choose both? Willie Dixon because he gave me Little Red Rooster and Willie Nelson just for being so cool!

You have received a lot of support for your music, not least from Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. Have you ever met him and how old were you? 

Yes I have met him. I was 20 and we went for dinner then I played him some songs. He was great and we connected straight away. It was like talking to someone I already knew. He gave me some good advice which was a privilege coming from someone as accomplished as him. 

Name a song that makes you laugh (Intentionally or otherwise!)

Wednesday 13 ‘Bad Things’. Me and my mates used to listen to this at school and it has lyrics that aren’t meant to be funny but kind of are…

What can people expect from the new EP ‘Open Hands and Enemies’?

They can expect a mix of different influences, moody and mellow. There are two happy songs on there and two significantly less happy ones! We are launching the EP with a happy one next month.

Do you play any other instruments as well as guitar?

Yeah I play bodhran (an Irish drum), harmonica and stomp box. 

Glenn Sargeant

(Many thanks to Dan for taking the time to do the interview, Kieran White and David Sullivan at Wilful Publicity)



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Dan Owen’s new EP ‘Open Hands and Enemies’ is released Wednesday 26th October 2016 on LAB Records. For further information visit Dan’s official website here: http://www.danowenmusic.com/  In addition, Dan will follow his special guest slots with Birdy and Kaleo with a headline show at The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington, London United Kingdom on Tuesday 15th November 2016 and a nine-date headline tour of Ireland at the following venues: 

DECEMBER

6th – Ruby Sessions, Dublin, Ireland 7th – Kasbah Social Club, Limerick, Ireland 8th – Cleere’s, Kilkenny, Ireland 10th – Brehon Bar, Killarney, Ireland  

11th – Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland 12th – The Loft, Galway, Ireland 13th – McHugh’s, Belfast, United Kingdom  15th – Spirit Store, Dundalk, Ireland 16th – Upstairs at Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland