Hot off the heels from supporting Band of Horses on their UK tour dates, as well as attracting the attentions of the BBC and ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, we sat down with the Welsh singer-songwriter to chat about his career to date, his upcoming debut album, his hopes and dreams… that sort of stuff.
Trackd: Who are you?
Dan Bettridge: My name is Dan Bettridge – I’m a songwriter, singer and musician from the UK.
T: Where is home?
DB: At the moment I live on the coast of South Wales – but mentally, home is Canada.
T: Your style is very soulful, in the vein of classic songwriters. Was there anyone or anything in particular that set you on a journey through music?
DB: It was an accumulation of many things that put me on the path I’m on today. People ask me a lot, “When did you decide to become a musician?”, “When did you know you were going to leave University?” and to be honest I never did. It never felt like a decision was made, it was just something that was always going to happen. But in short, an old family friend and incredible musician called Stef who I wrote a song about called ‘Harvey’s Angel’. My mum. Certain circumstances in my own upbringing that I could only vent through music, the first album I ever bought – Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘By The Way’ and it’s ‘Go your own way’ attitude. All kinds of things. I think the most important reasons are probably those that escape me – which is probably the main thing that keeps me playing today, the mystery of it all, how did I get here? Why did I write these things? Can I make a difference doing this?
T: Where do your songs come from?
DB: All kinds of places, the answer to this question changes all the time. The more I write, the more I feel comfortable writing about things outside of my personal realm of experience. For instance things I haven’t been involved in but that have certainly had an effect on me. In the beginning I would only write about things I had been through personally. ‘Harvey’s Angel’ is a good example – the story of the struggle of someone close to my heart.
T: Do you have a songwriting process, or is it all down to just being super talented?
DB: Thank you! But I think it is mostly down to perspiration. Of course there is a certain talent for words or music and how to connect them but there are many days and weeks when I don’t feel I have anything to write about, I don’t want to write about anything. Sometimes it is easy to become literally and thoroughly absorbed by writing songs and when you have so called ‘inspiration’ strike it’s easy to take it for granted while you have this seemingly endless, self-perpetuating source of energy that makes the process feel almost primeval, so natural. However, it’s rare and I fear a lot of artists give up at the point where they need to work hardest – you were given this inspiration to set you on this path, to set you in the right direction, now you must work to be rewarded and be worthy of the talents you’ve been blessed with, whatever art you’re creating. It’s your duty as an artist and it’s our best chance of leaving this world a better place.
T: What’s your favourite song you’ve written and why is it special to you (if not too personal to spill!)?
DB: I think of the songs I’ve released so far, ‘Third Eye Blind’ is definitely my favourite. Purely because it connected to so many people, more than any of the others and that what I want to do – have this common ground with people, whether the words mean the same to them as they do to me or not, that’s not important – it’s a bit of a paradox really.
T: What’s on the horizon for Dan B? Any shows, releases or things you think the Trackd audience should watch out for?
DB: I’m writing my first album right now. I’ve just come off the back of two fantastic shows in London, 2 nights with Band of Horses at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire and at Cadogan Hall. Now things are quietening down for a while so I can finish writing, recording and rehearsing this album. It’s a huge step personally, as an artist and otherwise. I never dreamed I would get to the point where I would have to record an album, in fact when I walked out those University doors having only been there a term the idea of an album was terrifying. But here I am, still scared but equally as excited to be pushing what I can do!
Talking of Trackd, when I was first introduced to it I was really sceptical of it, as an artist. The idea of putting ideas out there that aren’t quite finished and opening them up for others to hear or even play with was almost the ultimate nightmare, but I was wrong. I’ve been having real fun experimenting with it, doing things I would never normally do – exploring how I can use my voice and instruments in a way that normally wouldn’t cross my mind when I’m sitting with a guitar, it’s proving to be great fun and a useful tool.
T: That’s awesome. Collaboration is key in music. Give us your top 3 – alive or dead – who you’d collaborate with and why?
DB: Oh there are way to many of those. Three right off the top of my head are James Taylor, Justin Vernon and Chance the Rapper. Genre’s don’t matter to me, like Duke Ellington said, “There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind.”
Interview by James Eaton and Charlotte Final – The Internet, September 2016
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