Q&A with Aussie Singer-Songwriter, DANIEL MERRIWEATHER – Talks New Single, “Shine A Light,” with Sampology, Working with Mark Ronson & More!
Posted On 17 Nov 2014
Tag: Adele, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, ARIA, ARIA award, Aussie, Australian musician, Biz Markie, Bob Dylan, Boys II Men, Brooklyn, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Caribbean, City Rules, Cooleyhighharmony, Culture Collide, Culture Collide Music Festival, D'Angelo, Daniel Merriweather, David Lynch, Europe, Flying Lotus, GZA, Hyde Park, Japanese, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Koreatown, Liquid Swards, London, Lost Highway, Love & War, Mark Ronson, Melbourne, Montreuax Jazz Festival, Neo-Soul, Nicole DeRosa, NYC, Pete Seeger, Sampology, Shine A Light, Soulchild, Stevie Wonder, Stop Me, Suzuki method, The Dap Kings, The Smiths, Thundercat, Tribeca, UK, Version, Water and a Flame, You're Dead
Daniel Merriweather is an Australian singer/songwriter. Merriweather’s debut solo album ‘Love & War‘, was released in June 2009. It entered the U.K Album chart at number 2. It was preceded by 2 singles, ‘Change‘ which charted at No.4 and ‘Red‘, which got to No.2 on the related U.K singles chart.
Merriweather has won two ARIA Music Awards, Best Urban Release in 2005 for ‘She’s Got Me‘ and Best Male Artist in 2009 for ‘Love & War‘. He has also been nominated for best newcomer in the ’09 European MTV Music Awards and won an APRA award in ’05 for best dance work.
Merriweather has performed alongside Mark Ronson, Adele and Amy Winehouse at the 2010 BRIT awards. Merriweather also appeared alongside Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Mary J Blige, Chaka Khan, Jay Electronica, Eve, Bobby Brown, Ronald Isley, Mike Posner, The Roots and D-Nice in a documentary about live music called ‘The Art of Blending‘ by Thibout De Longeville and curated by Ahmir ‘?uestlove‘ Thomson.
In addition to his solo career, he has worked as a featured vocalist and writer for other well-known artists. His guest vocals are included on album tracks and singles by, Pnau, Disco Montego, Mark Ronson, Wylie, Phrase, Wale, Diafrix, Urthboy, The Bamboo’s, Bliss n Eso, The way of the Eagle and Cookin’ on 3 Burners and Sampology.
His collaborations with Ronson led to working in the United Kingdom and including lead vocals on Ronson’s cover version of ‘The Smiths‘ song ‘Stop Me‘ which reached No. 2 in the 2007 U.K singles charts.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to ask the singer-songwriter a few questions between gigs during his Culture Collide Tour. Read more below!
Hi Daniel! How are you doing? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Hi… Well, I just finished watching David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’.
For those not as familiar with you, how did your musical journey begin?
My musical journey started when I was 4 years old and learning to play the violin in the Japanese Suzuki method, where you start super young and learn the instrument by ear. Fast forward to the early naughties and I had just dropped ‘City Rules’ in Australia which won me my first ARIA award, then in 2007 Mark Ronson a long standing friend featured me on His song ‘Stop Me’ from his sophomore album ‘Version’. After a lot of touring in the UK following the success of The Smiths cover ’Stop Me,’ I finally in 2009 put out my debut album ‘Love & War’. Ronson produced it and I was lucky enough to have The Dap Kings play on it from start to finish. I toured all over the UK and Europe and then all around the edges of the US. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been able to do all this.
You appear on fellow Aussie producer, Sampology new single, “Shine A Light” from his debut US studio album (which will be released June 2015). How did collaborating with Sampology come about?
We were both in LA earlier this year and met up for a coffee in Korea town where I was staying at the time. He played me the bare bones of his album and I loved what he was doing. Within the next couple of days we were in the studio. I literally got in the booth and free-styled the lyrics to ‘Shine a Light’. There was something about the beat that spoke to me and so what you hear now is straight off the top.
What was the inspiration for “Shine A Light”? I love the Caribbean house beat mixed with synths, percussion and gospel choir-like harmonies. It makes for a delicious mix! Did the music or lyrics come first?
The music was there first, Sam showed me that beat that he had made and I really liked it so we just started recording and the lyrics just came to me.
Daniel, what is your writing process like? How do you capture inspiration when it comes to you?
I don’t really have one process, it always depends on the situation. I love collaborating with different people so often the vibe leads the way. Working with Sam was so effortless that ‘Shine a Light’ just came together naturally. I literally wrote it in the booth with the mic on singing along with the music, No pens or pads or laptops.
Your collaborations with fellow musician, producer, DJ Mark Ronson, led to working in the UK including lead vocals on Ronson’s cover version of The Smiths’ song “Stop Me” as well as his debut single, “City Rules,” along with ?uestlove. How were you and Mark introduced? What have you learned from collaborating with Mark?
Mark was like a big brother to me when I first came to NYC in 2003, he let me stay on a futon in his Tribeca apartment for literally 3 months, it was sizeable, but still that is a long time.
“I think that over the years of working with Mark, his work ethic rubbed off on me, I also think he taught me not to be so precious when recording. I used to be such a perfectionist in the booth, he taught me to throw caution to the wind a little more in a recording setting.”
Your song, “Water and a Flame,” from your album, Love & War is such a favorite of mine. Your friend, the very talented Adele sang guest vocals on that track. How did that all come about? Did you have to do many takes on the song or did it flow pretty easily?
“I wrote ‘Water and a Flame’ initially as a solo song, I was just going to sing it on my own for my album. Then Adele agreed to doing it with me so I changed some lyrics to suit her perspective. The process was pretty smooth, I had already recorded my part and she sent me hers, and Ronson spliced them together.”
Who were your major influences growing up?
The first album I ever bought was Boys II Men’s ‘Cooleyhighharmony’. I think it was the only album I had for a while, I knew every line and lick off that album. After that I just went backwards through time getting into Stevie Wonder and old funk and soul music. My Dad loved 60’s protest folk music, so I still love listening to Bob Dylan, Pete Seegar and Buffy Sainte-Marie and then I always had classical music running through my veins from learning the violin so young.
As a teenager I started listening to hip hop and neo-soul, so D’angelo and Music-Soulchild were a massive influence on me, hip hop really was the soundtrack to my late teens though, GZA’s ‘Liquid Swards’ was always a favourite along with many more of course.
Who is in your current playlist? Anyone we would be surprised to find in there?
I am loving the new Flying Lotus album ‘You’re Dead’. But I have really had my head in the sand working on my own stuff lately so you’ve caught me at a very self indulgent time.
Touring is nothing new to you, Daniel. You’ve opened for Justin Timberlake in London, Biz Markie in Brooklyn, you’ve played the Montreuax Jazz Festival, and you have headlined the second stage at London’s Hyde Park to name a few. Currently, you are about to embark on the Culture Collide Music Festival Tour. What is your most memorable show so far?
Opening for Jay Z was pretty amazing on his UK tour a few years back, but there really is nothing like a home crowd, so probably my most memorable shows were in Melbourne, theres really nothing like it to be honest, I love my city!
Who else would you love to tour with and perhaps collaborate with in the future?
I’m a big fan of Thundercat, I think I would really like to work with him, his bass playing is unbelievable.
To stay up to the latest with DANIEL MERRIWEATHER, visit his Facebook page here.