Posted On 18 Apr 2017
It has been nearly 8 years since Dan Black released his debut full length ((un)). Best known for his track “Symphonies” which featured Kid Cudi, Black has returned, releasing his first single from his new album Do Not Revenge.
The album surrounds the emotions that stem from dedicating yourself to achieving anything and what you trade or ignore in exchange for that total focus. The first single for example, “Headphones” metaphorically (and in Black’s case, actually) focus on who is being drowned out and unheard while we wear our headphones in life.
The album features appearances by Imogen Heap and Kelis and is being released through an approach Black calls, In what he calls “12 Songs, 12 Experiences.”
Throughout the weeks leading up to Do Not Revenge listeners will be able to familiarize themselves with the music through opportunities including a live experience, broadcast through 100 interactive cameras, a virtual reality video, and a playable video game + more.
Learn more about Dan Black in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for 2017?
2016 was a year of plotting and planning in the bunker for me. I finally wrapped up the music for my album, after literal years of work. So quite a bit of relief and even a little pride, but then also trepidation about finally sharing it. But then obviously also excitement. This all means 2017 is all about finally opening the cage and letting my monsters loose upon the world!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
Music was so all encompassing for me that I kind of didn’t really notice it as anything special. I just presumed everyone one was as obsessed with as I was. I thought saying music was your passion was like saying oxygen or water were your passion. Only as I got older did I discover this wasn’t the case.
My dad is a music nut so my earliest memory is looking at records sleeves on the floor while he was listening to them. It was a full sensory experience. Besides the sound obviously – the touch of the sleeves, the smell of the vinyl, the exotic images of the artwork…
It’s been almost 8 years since you released new music. Can you talk about what you’ve been doing musically this break or have you not been doing anything musical?
I have been doing nothing but music! Well in between having kids and converting Parisian workshops.. But lots and lots of writing and producing for other from US acts like Kelis, Ryan Tedder, Mikky Ekko, Wrabel to huge young French artists like Louane and new talents like Adam Naas. Maybe be it’s no wonder it took me so long to finish my own record…
What was the inspiration for your latest single, “Headphones”? What was it like recording this new album, “Do Not Revenge”? Did you feel like it came out of you very easily and the inspiration was constantly flowing out of you? How long did it take to put together?
Headphones is about being literally and metaphorically locked in technology. Being hyper dedicated to something comes with a price. Headphones is a celebration of that intensity but also with the accompanying sadness just under the surface.
The making of the whole album was a long demanding adventure. Inspiration comes and goes – the main thing is to keep turning up everyday – so you’re there the days the muse decides to drop by. I have no idea how much exact time it took. I always had multiple outside projects at the same time, but we’re definitely talking years!
What was it like working with two of my favorite artists, Imogen Heap and Kelis on your new collection? How did you come to work with them both in the first place? Have you been wanting to work with them for some time now?
It was as magical as you probably imagine! They are both crazily gifted. Ideas kind of pour out of them effortlessly. To hear them sing at just a meter away is very special. They each have a unique, instantly recognizable voice. I too am a massive fan of them so I had to work extra hard to keep my cool around them, and not just turn into a simpering wreck!
How do you think that you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What has changed about your process and ultimately how you go about putting a song together?
I feel like most of what has changed for me is a shift from being subconscious to conscious about what I’m doing. Which is both good and maybe bad. Also, I love the artistic side but equally adore the technical “craft” side of making records. The science of making a track is something you never stop learning about. But it can often seem like the more you learn the more you realise how much you don’t know!
Can you please elaborate on the way this album is being released? Where did the idea for “12 Songs, 12 Experiences” come from?
I work very closely with my wife and her company Chic&Artistic here in Paris for all the visual side of things. We wanted try to put together something more ambitious and unusual for the release. Something that is a kind of adventure as it is being made and released – which then becomes something to be explored once the albums out. So we decided to create these digital experiences to coexist with the songs, putting one out every few weeks. They will then all piece together at the end to create the artwork, and be like a virtual mini museum to the album.
Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Like most people today my taste in music is very broad. I love stuff like ANOHNI or Arca, but also Rihanna and Rae Srummerd.
When I was young, music fandom was super tribal, but now it’s much more fragmented. Which could be seen as maybe dilettante-ish but is really how I’ve always consumed music.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
I like working with really new artists, with a style that is unusual. So I’m always hunting for that.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
I don’t have a message and then make music to express it. I make music to find out what it is I want to say. It’s the other way round. It’s kind of a way to discover who you are. That’s something that is very hard to see from inside your own head. By making songs I get to see almost in the third person what concerns me, moves me.