Dan Selwood is a 16 year old singer songwriter from Manchester who has just released his debut EP ‘Dirty Hands’ which you should check out.
Dan was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
Growing up who were your musical influences?
“I’m 16 on Friday, as of writing this, so I don’t know if I even count as grown up yet but I’m influenced by loads of different bands and artists. I’m aware that almost every Northern band or artist is influenced in some way by Arctic Monkeys but they were the first band I got properly obsessed with so I’d have to say I’m heavily influenced by them, in terms of actually wanting to be a musician. I listen to a lot of The Cure and I was inspired by them, amongst some other bands like the Killers, to try and incorporate some synths into my music and I’m planning to experiment more with that in the future. Classic singer songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and newer ones like Sam Fender are really big influences for me and watching him playing these amazing songs on stage with a big band inspires me a lot to form my own band as I get older and to perform live shows like that, as I currently play my sets on my own with just my guitar and amp”,
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
“Despite that cringey songwriting cliche of “I find so much inspiration in the middle of the night”, I do tend to write a lot at night, usually when I come in from watching a gig as I come in inspired by whoever I’ve just been to watch. The problems with doing that though, are that I write songs I end up not being able to sing, due to having to be quiet and I wake up and play it back to myself and see that I’ve just ripped off whoever I’ve been to see and end up having to mess around and change it: not the most efficient way I suppose but it’s worked for me so far”
Describe your music in three words.
“Catchy but sad“
Do you have any gig stories you can share with us?
“Due to my age, I haven’t had much experience in playing in proper venues really but I do have a funny story about my first ever paid gig. I was booked by a couple for a party when I was playing in a packed pub just after Christmas, I was really excited as I’d never been booked for a paid gig before. I’d worked on my set, practiced my ‘Stage Bants’ and then the night before the gig, I got a message with some suggestions for songs to play. Some of them were alright but one in particular stood out to me “Baby Shark – Ping Fong”, I realised then the party may be for someone a lot younger than I expected. When I got there, it turned out to be a confirmation party for a little girl, who was lovely, and the couple were lovely too but they did let me know that they did book me when they were very drunk and hoped that I was good. Luckily I went down well but there was definitely an element of fear after that suggestion!“
What has been your Best/Worst gig?
“So far I’ve not really had any bad experiences playing gigs apart from maybe the occasional pissed up woman shouting something like “ABBA” at me like I’m a jukebox.
I’m looking to play more gigs as I get older because most of the bars in Manchester are a bit funny about me playing because I’m still practically a foetus.
Sometimes people don’t really expect much of me when I’m playing places because of how young I am, like the other day I was playing at a brewery in the town I live in and the host of the gig made a joke about me not doing my homework but after a few songs he got up and said a “ fair play shouldn’t have said that” kind of thing, which was really nice and that whole gig ended up being one of my favourites”
What is the music scene like where your from?
“I’m from a relatively small town called Glossop, outside of Manchester and for such a small town it’s full of some of the best musicians I’ve seen. There’s always live music on, with open mics and other gigs and there is a really friendly community with the people who play regularly around Glossop. The first gig I ever did was at an open mic at a pub called the Oakwood in Glossop when I was 14 and that was a really good experience and I’ve made good friends with the people there and everyone helps each other out getting other gigs and stuff like that so just generally a really talented, supportive community”
Can you tell us more about the new EP?
“The E.P is kind of in two parts, which is why the first two songs are with a band and are more energetic and the last two more slow and retrospective on my own.
Headlock was written after I got in from watching a band and it is trying to capture the emotion and rawness of the opening of a gig. The anticipation of waiting around for an hour and then the band coming on stage and it going mental. Pints flying people jumping singing along with the melody that kind of thing. This kind of feeling of being trapped and being dragged into a headlock by a partner in your relationship and the feeling of the gig kind of being the tipping point if that makes sense. I also used a recording of a ceiling fan in my Grandad’s bathroom for the start which makes me laugh.
The Mess I’ve Made is about the aftermath of a breakup which didn’t go down well and you want help sorting it out. Looking back on the time you had together and how you fucked it basically. Kind of a slightly guilty look into a failed relationship and how it came to an end.
No Rush is about wanting to hold onto something you shouldn’t be holding on to. How you tell yourself that what you’re doing is right and you should stay doing it but you know it’s not going to work out well for you in the future. Something like that anyway. Glass Half Empty is another retrospective song about someone who has tried to rekindle the flame of a past relationship with someone but it’s not the same and the deflated feeling they have as a result of this.
I recorded the EP by myself in the makeshift studio in the back room of my house, cobbled together out of second hand gear, borrowed stuff and a really old laptop. I ended up wrapping myself in a curtain to record my vocals which is quite ghetto but I also kind of like it, a DIY approach I guess. I have trouble describing the stories behind my music as I don’t really know what I’m writing about most of the time and it’s only later on I’m like “oh that’s what that means”
Can you tell us more about your music?
“My songs are usually described as having big choruses with catchy synth hooks. I like to write stuff that I would want to sing along to in the shower because that’s (hopefully) what other people will end up wanting to do when they hear them. I write everything on my electric guitar, usually in bed and then build up the songs later on and make demos before I properly record them”
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
“At the minute I’m focusing on writing/recording new stuff and getting that released in the new year. Next year I’m looking to start playing more gigs and to keep writing songs I’m happy with”
By Siân Parker