A few moments with Daniel Pye

Today, we are speaking with Sydney’s Daniel Pye. Can you give us a little background information about yourself?

Hey there! We’ll basically I’m a singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia. My interest in music really picked up around the age of thirteen or fourteen when I was in high school. From there a strong passion and fascination for anything music related soon developed. My father was also a guitarist and I used to hear him play some tunes at home. I really enjoyed those moments and it was cool to already have a guitar on hand.Daniel Pye

I started out as a guitarist and played a lot of jazz based stuff (and still do to this day when practicing) and also collaborated on some projects with friends from school. At the same time I loved writing. Especially scriptwriting. So while still in school I decided to infuse my love of music and writing together and started writing my own music. There was a problem though – my voice. I had never sung before (besides in the shower and also at a school creative arts night where we sung in Japanese) and was determined to not only write but also perform my own music. After a few early hurdles the transition became more natural and I ended up being in a band with some friends. The band didn’t last primarily due to disparate life directions taken by the various members, although we almost exclusively performed originals.

It was after this time that I decided to explore the world a bit and travel. When I eventually returned home I started meticulously writing new music based on a myriad of themes, experiences, processes, feelings and thoughts. I then decided to put the music to the test and start playing live.

 

You have just released the Dawn Is Night EP; what was the writing process for the release like?

 

It’s a cool little story. Or at least I think it is. As I mentioned earlier, I started writing again and felt like I was sitting on a pile of potential tracks that weren’t being taken further and more fully developed. However, I had a flight booked to Europe in the not too distant future. I was a café with a good friend and former band member who gave me some advice and recommendations regarding a reputable recording studio and talented producer. After our meeting I made demos of my songs and sent them to the producer to see what he thought. Following a positive response from him I delayed the flight and booked time to record. Basically I then had five weeks to finish writing, recruit some friends, teach them the tracks, rehearse, and then record. It was at times an arduous process but I’m so fortunate that all my friends who helped out (Andrew, Dean, Justin and April) were absolutely amazing and the group just gelled together both on a musical, friendship and work ethic level.

During those five weeks I was investing time every day to refine the tracks (some of which were recently written and some out of my personal archive) in terms of both musical and lyrical content. My lyrics are usually derived from personal experiences and associated thoughts or specific perceptions either evident or ambiguous in the world around us. However, I prefer to leave them open for interpretation and give the audience or listener the opportunity to formulate their own meaning of the song and consequently to build a personalized connection with it. Although I created a fairly solidified plan of the music itself for each instrument a lot of improvisation and creative thinking continued and was subsequently executed even while in the studio. Some of the lines and layers you hear were written on the same day of recording.

 

To get into a bit of the technical, what does your recording set up look like (what do you use to record, what are your favorite instruments)?

 

The EP itself was recorded in Jungle Studios in Sydney and I give a huge shout-out to Phan Sjarif for all his work, effort and support as an amazing producer. At home I have a room where I like to compile material and develop it further but with writing, this is often done in nature by a lake or under a tree in a park for example. I usually start off on my acoustic guitar and lay down the chord progression and riffs and then write the lyrics. Following this I write the lead guitar lines, bass, keyboard and anything else I can. When I play with other musicians I give them the freedom to play around with the tracks too and to add or subtract things. A collaborative environment can really stimulate creative ideas and bring about new layers and degrees of music in a song. I genuinely like most instruments but always feel most natural with a guitar in tow. Busting out on the mandolin is also always good fun.

 

Throughout the last few months, you have kept busy. Can you give us some information about your new compositions?

 

Dawn Is Night was my first solo record and a massive learning experience from start to end. I’m really grateful for all the moments engaged in the project and it definitely opened my eyes and educated me more in the music world. It also enabled me to see what areas of my music I can evolve and develop going forward. It’s a long journey which offers the opportunity to change and grow along the way.

I’m constantly writing and am planning to record a full album. At the moment I’m actually living and working in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for some new life experiences which has to date been amazing. I’ve been performing here as often as possible and testing some of the new compositions. When I come home I’ll be investing a lot of time in developing and working on these tracks. I really want it to be a fluid and natural process that is not expedited or rushed and falls into place as needed. With that in mind, I’d love to add a whole range of new instruments as I’m trying to be more experimental and varied with the way the album will be arranged. For example, I’m using quite a few different tunings on a number of the tracks. Concurrently, it is really important to performing regularly when home in order to actively gauge the audience and allow them to feel the music in a live environment.

 

Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music? Is there a dream lineup of performers that you would like to perform with if given the chance?

I like a lot of music and a lot of different styles and am a fan of quite a few bands and performers. I really like Lifehouse. They have been doing their thing for a long time, touring relentlessly, bringing quality live performances and continuously releasing new material. The lyrical content Jason Wade offers is quite deep in a lot of ways and given some personal experiences in my life, I’ve definitely been able to connect with their music. I also really enjoy artists such as Asgeir from Iceland and Jonn Gomm. Asgeir has an air of serenity and sincerity about himself and in his music and I like the vibe he has. Jonn does some freakish things with the guitar and his ability to multi-task on the guitar is fantastic to watch and listen to. I’m working on improving my ability to coordinate different elements simultaneously.  Life itself is a huge influence. I believe I’m a lucky person and I really hope that my music has the capacity to facilitate change in people’s lives or help them in some way, shape or form. Everyday something new, exciting, strange or scary is happening somewhere in the world and it impacts and touches each individual slightly differently. It also provides a mechanism and impetus for writing new material.

 

It would be cool to perform with the above mentioned artists and of course many others from around the world. I’m also really excited about the artists coming out of Australia and am looking forward to getting back into things when I’m home.

 

How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started playing?

 

Basically I try and be more creative and innovative with what I do. I guess the current style could be defined as a blend of alternative, folk and acoustic sounds. When I was younger I played more straight out rock, especially before my singing days. While I do acoustic sets I also like to play with a band and I’m planning some heavier tracks for the next record. I feel these new songs offer a platform to expand and diversify my vocal range as well. Ultimately I guess the style is a continuously evolving element of who I am as a person and as an artist.

 

Which sort of social media website have you had the best successes with? What about these traditionally online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting that musicians utilize?

 

Probably the most success has been realized through Soundcloud. All the songs are available to listen to there. Online is a part of the modern world and it serves to connect people, places and ideas. While I’m an interpersonal guy and love face to face interaction, I also see the benefits of online mediums such as ease of access. They do foster the ability to diminish previous barriers such as geographic distance and also lend a hand from a financial standpoint I suppose.

 

As 2015 is coming to a close, what are your plans for 2016 and beyond? How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music?

 

I plan to keep writing and performing and to be preparing for more recording. Readers can locate my music on Soundcloud, Triple J Unearthed or Bandcamp via Daniel Pye as well as keep up to date with things that are happening on my Facebook page. I’m planning a Youtube channel and anyone in Saint Petersburg or Sydney can come and meet me and see me play live.

 

Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers?

 

Not a problem at all! My pleasure and thanks a lot for the interview. Trying not to sound cliché at all but honestly just follow your heart, dreams and passions. Go for it and make it happen. In my opinion it’s much better to try something and fail then never try at all. You can still learn and take something away from it. Additionally, value life, value who you are and make great moments happen and ultimately lead a happy life.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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