Interview: Daniel Land (Part 2)
Daniel Land and the Modern Painters are an alternative band from Manchester with a gay lead vocalist. So So Gay took the opportunity to chat to Daniel about a range of issues and the first part of that conversation was published just over a week ago. Here is Part 2 of our interview with the charismatic artist.
We are keen to find out whether Land agreed with other singers who say that performing live is the best aspect of the job; ‘I have mixed feelings about it. What I really like about gigging is the chance to interact with the audience – at the level that we perform at, the audience isn’t big enough for it to seem like a proper gig but I can spend an hour or two chatting to the people who have come to see us. There are people who have come to see us as fans who are now like best friends. From someone who was so shy a few years ago to now, the gaps between songs are longer and longer. In the gaps, I’m cracking jokes and interacting. But for me, it’s always been about making the records. The record is always the thing people go back to. I’ve spent a year on this record – it’s like publishing a diary every few years’.
[pullquote_right]I used to love Shakespears Sister when I was 12 – my mum realised I was gay when I wanted to dress up like Siobhan Fahey. She’s fabulous[/pullquote_right]With such a beautiful sound to their music, we ask Land about his personal musical influences. His response is instantaneous; ‘Radiohead are one of those touchstones. You meet someone in a social situation and they ask you to describe the music you make and they only know as far as Coldplay, which makes it difficult to explain. I like Spiritualized, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel; they’re in my top list of influences. The Blue Nile, a little known Scottish band, have been very influential on my sound. Then there is some more dubious 1980s stuff like Deacon Blue and Tears For Fears. I used to love Shakespears Sister when I was 12 – my mum realised I was gay when I wanted to dress up like Siobhan Fahey. She’s fabulous’. Well, if we didn’t love Daniel Land before, we certainly do now.
Having just released The Space Between Us, Land is enthusiastic when asked about the direction of the album; ‘A lot of the general musical direction comes from me, but there was a general sense from the band that we wanted to do something that wasn’t too shoe-gazy. The first one had loads of guitars and was really layered up, almost like a psychedelic experience really. But that was what I was wanting at the time – music like an abstract painting; really blurry and ill-defined. Everyone in the band had their own tastes – we listen to a broad range of material. Jason, our drummer, originally has a harder rock background so found the slow tempos constraining. So I wanted to play to our strengths on this record. From my point of view, the few years since the first album have been a really transformative time for me as, when the first album came out, I was coming out of a long term relationship and I was starting a thing with a younger guy so it was a period of awful turmoil. Over the past few years, I’ve realised I wanted to sing honestly about stuff that mean something to me and not hide the vocals under a load of guitars’.
Land is eager to emphasise the personal aspect to the band’s music; ‘There aren’t many gay guys singing openly and honestly about what they are living through. It’s like reflecting a personal change I was going through – going to therapy and so on. So the material reflects this. My sexuality is embedded in the music – you don’t have to be gay to appreciate my music. Knowing I’m gay doesn’t add anything to the experience unless you’re gay yourself. Some mid-period Joni Mitchell stuff is obviously very specific to her life but you don’t have to have been there yourself to appreciate it. All my stuff is from my personal experience but strip it away and they’re just normal love songs. People expect ‘gay music’ to be Jimmy Somerville. I didn’t want it to be that blatant but on the other hand, I definitely didn’t want to hide my sexuality either. There’s been a real shortage of people in the industry recently who sing about gay stuff but not so obviously. I want people to love the stuff regardless of the sexuality element. The experiences aren’t specific to gay people’.
[pullquote_right]I often find intention doesn’t come that much into the process – it happens naturally[/pullquote_right]So, as our chat with Daniel Land draws to an end, the most obvious question is what the band has planned for the year ahead; ‘The album will also be released in Japan on a label called Vinyl Junkie – maybe with some shows out there. We might get it out in the US too which is a big thing for us’, explains Land, ‘For me, this record was done so long ago; I put the finishing touches to it in November, already thinking about the next steps. We will be promoting the album while thinking about our next move and starting to write lyrics – I’m hoping it won’t be another three years before the next album. That’s a nightmare scenario – a lot the artists I admire take longer and longer between albums; I’m hoping it wont be another six years between mine. I have this determination to strike while the iron’s hot. I got so much personally out of this album by being more honest lyrically, I’m really keen to push in that direction and see where that takes the band, maybe open up even more to make next album more commercial and see where that takes us. But I often find intention doesn’t come that much into the process – it happens naturally. A more commercial side coincides with opening up personally. This album more than the last one, we as a band have found a way of saying something more uniquely our own – the first album was quite traditional but this one, you couldn’t really say it was obviously inspired by anything or anyone else. Now that we’ve found that, I want to pursue it further’.