Instead of remaining in the traditional ways of playing live, Dan Aston has a new way of performing his music. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this is a resource that many artist are yet to tap their skills into. I am talking about Google plus concerts. Performing live has been part of his upbringing, as music is a family affair for the Astons. The internet proved to be another effective way of reaching potential fans all over the world.
This interview also talks about his goals and upcoming projects this year.
1. You are going to conduct your second Google hangout this march 30th. What’s good about this medium?
It’s a brand new way of performing music, a platform that is still in its early stages and one that hasn’t been discovered by many especially here in the UK. It enables musicians to perform sets to a global audience from their own home and the possibilities are endless! Some artists have had tremendous success through it as their shows get shared around the world and people tune in on their devices wherever they are. Initially, getting the technicalities right was a challenge, but my dad, Phil Aston, is an expert on Google Plus and thanks to his hard work and knowledge the set up I now have is great.
2. Can you tell us more about your current project(s)?
I’ve been busy writing pages of songs since the release of ‘The Way Home’. A few of them were played live during shows last year, some were dropped and some never left the notebook. I wrote a mini sequence of songs in DADGAD tuning not long ago that formed a short conceptual piece, and I don’t know what to really do with those. More recently I have been writing heavily with the idea of a new album in mind. I hope to return to the studio this year, although I think it will be a bit different this time around. The songs I have written for the next release sound great so far but I think they would sound even better with other musicians on them. I’m trying out some ideas with a pianist and percussion player and I may well have a three piece for the new album. It’s still early days though!
3. I played one of (off your EP The Way Home) last week on my radio show. Can you tell us more about the experience recording this live version for the camera as opposed to the one you recorded for the EP?
To be honest I wasn’t sure if it would work the way I wanted it to at first and I’d never recorded like that before. However, I wanted to give fans some regular output and I think having a video adds a lot to just an audio file. After getting into recording videos regularly for my Youtube channel, it was from there that I took the big leap into the world of Google Plus Hangouts. In the hangouts it really is live! Quite a surreal experience, too. There I am playing to a computer and apparently forty people around the world are watching! It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to the next show.
4. You’ve been doing covers lately. One of them is Mansion on the Hill originally done by Bruce Springsteen. How huge is his influence in your music?
That’s my favourite song from Bruce Springsteen’s album ‘Nebraska’. When I first heard that album, it resonated with me immediately. It was playing in the background whilst I was washing the dishes and I stopped immediately to find out what the music was. The music on that album is so sparse, so raw and bleak yet beautiful and honest at the same time. Yes, it’s a depressing album, but let’s face it depressing music is often the best. I loved the intimacy of the stripped down production and instrumentation. Just one man, his guitar and his feelings. It was this album that introduced me to the harmonica too. Without hearing this album I wouldn’t have picked up the harmonica and wouldn’t be playing music the way I am now. I wasn’t a singer back then either. I was really shy and had never sung a note to anybody. Hearing that album and others by the likes of John Martyn and Nick Drake really inspired me to express myself through singing.
5. Harmonica and guitars…what other instruments do you play?
I can play a bit of piano and very basic violin and drums. I’ve used the piano to write songs in the past and I’d really like to learn to play it properly at some stage.
6. It must be a great experience hearing your song played on The David White Show on BBC Radio Cornwall.
Yeah it was nice, I was played on BBC Radio Cornwall prior to that too on another show. A lot of people still listen to the radio.
7. What are your live stage/recording plans this 2014?
I may be playing some festivals and a few stage gigs later in the year, but nothing is set in stone yet. I’ve primarily been focusing on getting to grips with Google Plus concerts and writing new material. I have some songs that I definitely want to be on the next release, some that I’m not sure about and some that I’m sure are yet to be written. Having the idea of a pianist on board is very interesting. Some songs I’ve been thinking about arranging for solo piano and voice, stripping the guitar out entirely. I hope to enter the studio later this year.
8. Where can listeners buy and download your recordings?
Pretty much anywhere! ‘The Way Home’ EP can be found digitally on Amazon, itunes, Google Music, Spotify, Bandcamp and more. Head to my website for further details http://danaston.com/
9. Message to our readers?
Keep supporting new music and check out one of my online concerts, they’re quite unusual and a lot of fun. People can interact during the show too and I’m going to be inviting some guests on during the next few shows, so if you have a webcam and a good internet connection you could join me! Thanks.
His style of music is filed under: Acoustic Folk, Jazz and Blues.
He listens to:John Martyn, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gary Moore, Pink Floyd, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Queensryche, Porcupine Tree, Anathema and Black Sabbath.
EP ‘The Way Home’ available now!