To many of you the name Daniel Land may not bring anything to mind. But, what’s his connection with Engineers, Ulrich Schnauss, riverrun and of course ‘New York Boogie-Woogie’? (one of the most direct and touching songs of 2016). Don’t waste time! Just read the following interview and do not forget that his new solo album ‘In Love With A Ghost’ will be out tomorrow, November 25th. Ladies and gents….Mr. Daniel Land!
Hi Daniel! Feel free to introduce yourself, in your own words, to our readers.
Hello there! My name’s Daniel Land, I previously released dream-pop music under the name Daniel Land & The Modern Painters, and on 25th November I am releasing a new album of songs called ‘In Love With A Ghost‘. I also make atmospheric landscape music under the name riverrun, and was previously a member of the band Engineers, along with Ulrich Schnauss.
Could you share a few words about your upcoming album ‘In Love With A Ghost’? I understand this will be your second solo album, after 2011’s self-released ‘My Sad Captains’…
The new solo album ‘In Love With A Ghost‘, is a continuation of what I started with the Daniel Land & The Modern Painters albums ‘Love Songs For The Chemical Generation‘ and ‘The Space Between Us‘, so I see it as a successor to those albums. With those two albums, I did perhaps about 80% of the music in the studio myself and then brought in friends to help finish it, generally – Daniel Land & The Modern Painters was, really, the name of the live band. The process was the same here but with different musicians. ‘My Sad Captains‘ wasn’t really a solo album as such, it was an album of short piano pieces that I put out privately on my own name a few years ago. I should have released it under a different name because it’s very different from my song work! So I may re-release that at some point under a different project name. I had actually forgotten about that release, to be honest!
“This is an album about cities. It is an album about reinvention, and starting your life over. It is an album about growing up, finding love, and settling down. And to a lesser degree, it is about the damage that can be done to a person, or a family, by falling in love with the wrong person….” This is part of your description about ‘In Love With A Ghost’. Is it autobiographical in a way?
Yes, most of what I write about is autobiographical and the title and theme of each album is pretty much a reflection of where I am personally at the time. I’ve often felt like my albums are more like little autobiographical novels than albums really, I definitely feel a lot more kinship with authors than musicians, perhaps because I mostly work on my own! ‘In Love With A Ghost‘ has several meanings; on the most basic level, it’s a silly pun on my partner’s name, as one of his names is Casper; we met shortly I left Manchester and moved to London. Four years later, we’re still together and living together, and that’s been a big positive change in my life which I’ve written about in the album. But ‘In Love With A Ghost‘ also means being in love with a figment, someone who isn’t really there, or falling in love with an idea of a person rather than who they really are – something that has caused problems in my life many times, and something that, really, I had to sort out with therapy. And in the album I also extend this into other areas as well, writing about being brought up in a broken home, or the fact that ten years ago, I lost a friend, who was murdered by her abusive partner – I mean, ultimately this is a happy album, I think, but there are some dark moments, and all these thoughts were swirling around when I was writing the lyrics.
I simply cannot get enough of the bittersweet melancholia of the album’s first single ‘New York Boogie-Woogie’! What’s the story behind this immaculate song? What about the video?
Well I suppose the other “ghost” idea is this idea of the city, of how people have feelings about a city which are often completely irrational and totally subjective, a bit like romantic love. That song is one of several songs on the album that celebrate that kind of thing. New York is a place I always dreamed about and felt an irrational sense of attachment to, and I was lucky enough to be able to spend a fair amount of time there over the last two or three years, which fed into this song. This is the centrepiece of the album, as far as I am concerned.
What about your other projects like riverrun? Could you tell us about this?
It’s been a while since I did any new riverrun material, when I finished the last riverrun album (‘New Cartographies‘, in 2012) I really felt like I had run out of things to say. I pretty much put it on the back burner for a few years, which was fine as ‘In Love With A Ghost‘ was very complicated to make, and a hard record to finish. But after spending some time in the States, especially in the sort of harbour areas around New York bay, and travelling around a little bit, I was very inspired to make a new riverrun record. There will be a new riverrun album coming out soon – it’s called ‘Romer Shoal‘ and I see it as the flip-side to the new song album. In fact, for a while I considered releasing them together, as a double album.
In addition, could you please share a few words about your collaboration with electronica genius Ulrich Schnauss, both as part of Engineers and exclusive of that? Do you still keep in touch? Any chance you will collaborate again in future?
Ulrich is a dear friend and I will always cherish the time I got to spend with him, particularly in around 2010 and 2011 when we were both part of the band Engineers. I came to really enjoy spending time at Ulrich’s place, hanging around and playing records, and talking about music. It was always energising and thought provoking just talking with him. We’ve talked in the past about working on something again in the future, and I’ve always felt that the people who admire his productions miss how talented he is as an actual player, as in, the kind of piano player he is, and the kind of chords he uses. Who knows, we’ve been trying to organise meeting up for coffee for about a year now, so maybe when we meet next I’ll tap him up about it. Either way, you should check out his new album, ‘No Further Ahead Than Today‘, I’ve been listening to it loads of the last couple of weeks and I think it’s one of his best.
I know you previously released albums through Sonic Cathedral and AC30. Are you releasing music through a label at the moment? Do you believe that self-releasing your music gives you more creativity freedom?
I’m not sure that it gives you more freedom really. I mean, unless labels have a really big budget, it’s very difficult for them to try to influence the creative process these days. Most labels that I know tend to accept records on a case by case basis, once the record has been finished. That’s pretty much how it was with this album – I had a couple of people interested in releasing it, but ultimately when it came down to it, it seemed that they weren’t really able to bring anything to the table that I couldn’t do myself. So I thought I might set up a new label, and try releasing this one on my own and see what happens with it. Luckily I have a publisher now, which is arguably more important than a label, so hopefully my music might find its way into some interesting places – fingers crossed! Anyone interested can get in contact, of course! Hahaha.
You are based in London now – a traditionally strong cultural market. Which new artists should we be paying attention to that the mainstream media doesn’t sufficiently promote?
This is going to sound totally pathetic but I don’t really know! I tend to go through phases of being out of touch with modern music, and I’m in one of those places at the moment. It seems like every-other year I click back into things and check out a load of new artists, but I’m in an “off” year at the minute, which means I’ve been concentrating on my own music, producing other artists, and doing my Masters degree in Record Production. But I can tell you that at the moment I’m producing a couple of tracks for London band called Komodo who I think are one of the most exciting live bands I’ve seen, and I’m also mixing and doing some additional production on the debut Swoone album, both of which you should definitely check out. Swoone is the new project by Gary Bruce and Siobhan De Mare, who some of you might know from Mono and Violet Indiana.
Now an ‘out of the box’ question. What’s your opinion on Brexit? Do you believe that British society just got fed up with the E.U. and why?
This is a really complicated question, and I don’t have any confidence that I could answer it in a short paragraph or two. But in general, I’m very much against Brexit. And I don’t think it’s got much to do with the fact that people got “fed up” with the EU. I fail to see how that can be the case when EU has given us seventy years of peace and prosperity within Europe (well, largely) – a continent that has historically always been at war with itself. The EU has also given us employment protection, consumer protection, trade opportunities, as well as freedom to live, work or retire anywhere in Europe. But you’d never know that, living here. Being in Britain actually means living with a largely right-wing press who have been continually and slowly dripping poison about the EU into the political dialogue for thirty or forty years. You couple that with the fact that no one took any responsibility for the financial crash, that the burden of paying for it has been largely left to the taxpayer whilst the banks have continued to make huge profits, it’s not surprising that there’s tremendous fatigue with the political establishment, and a view that “They’re all as bad as each other”. You can see why people would think that any change, even radical change, is better than the status quo. I also think this attitude came about because the political class has systematically failed to have a sensible and sustained debate about the globalisation, and has failed to make a case for the benefits of diversity, immigration, and economic inter-dependency. They just hoped the whole subject would go away. Factor all these things in and you can see how the groundwork has been laid for Brexit, Donald Trump, and the rise of hard-right leaders across Europe – it’s a mood sweeping the whole Western world. I’m very much against it, but you can see why it has happened.
What’s ahead for you Daniel? Touring? In general, what are your future plans?
We have an album launch party at the Sebright Arms in London where I’ll be playing live with my new band. My new band is really cooking at the minute and we’re looking forward to playing some of the new songs, as well as a load of old Daniel Land & The Modern Painters tunes too. After that, who knows, we’re hoping to tour early next year, around the UK and in Europe as well, just trying to put that together now so if any promoters happen to be reading this, feel free to get in touch! But aside from that, I’m about half way through finishing a new album of songs which is a return to pretty much straightforward dream-pop, so hopefully that will be out next year as well.
Do you have a message to readers of our publication Last Day Deaf or anything else you’d like to add?
Nothing to add really, just thanks so much to everyone who’s taken the time to read this, I really appreciate it! If you want to check out my work, or the new album, please either go to my website, or my Bandcamp page – you’ll be able to find some things there that you can download for free if you want a little taster. And to everyone, I hope you have a nice festive season and that 2017 doesn’t prove to be as much of a calamity as 2016 seems to have been for everyone… we can only hope!
Photo credits: Sue Westwood-Ruttledge (1st & 3rd one), Jade Nott (2nd one)