Dan Cross. Remember his name. His social-critique protest song “Paingiver” will confront you as well as many of his songs come with asking you to take time and think, immerse, digest and let unnecessary things out. While so many “wannabes” are using broken language and explicit lyrics thinking that is real art, which is obviously not the way, Dan Cross lays his artistic experience and flair over on his songs letting more people to connect. And as they say, never judge a book by the cover, this interview will show you how real one can stay even when it is the highest peak of turmoils all around. So, welcome Dan, we’ve been waiting for you!
And while you are at it, listen to Dan Cross’s Ahab’s Soul!
Music Authentic: Welcome to Music Authentic! Our “site-traditional” first question is: How did you sleep last night?
Dan Cross: Considering I had a double espresso 5 minutes before I put my head down, not bad !
Music Authentic: Your new song is quite a strong and harsh opinion. It might be obvious to ask but how much was it influenced by the events around you, in your country?
Dan Cross: Yes, my new song PAINGIVER is a howl of outrage aimed specifically at Donald Trump. I got tired of waiting for better known songwriters to confront him so did it myself.
These times are at least as perilous as the 60s but I don’t hear a new ‘Hard rain’ or ‘Universal soldier’ & there seems to be no new Lennon or Phil Ochs taking on the rise of fascism anywhere right now.
Music Authentic: Do you think it will be even more challenging to stay as an authentic, sincere artist, musician as the world is still just closing on, seemingly endlessly?
Dan Cross: I’ve written more & more about ‘Big issues’ on my new album it’s a split between songs about my own struggle with the everyday & songs like ‘Turn On’ which came out of the whole Brexit debacle. I think, sincerity will come through one way or another if you are being honest in your subject matter & your writing. I just hope that younger creative people are bothering to get angry & not just sit back & get demoralised: the time to act is now.
Music Authentic: How hard is it with the everyday? Artists are insecure by nature and they are one the most heavily affected by the new – and hopefully just temporary – way of life…
Dan Cross: Honestly, I haven’t had a bad year with COVID – I won’t complain- obviously I’m terrified of getting ill & I respect the virus enough to be careful but there are factors that have been extraordinarily uplifting- London was like a beautiful garden in Spring, very quiet & peaceful- I’ve never seen that side of life here in 30 years – I went up to the local reservoir in the evening to watch the sunset – all you could hear was the occasional lone ambulance- very weird. On the negative side I must say I over relied on alcohol & spent too many days drunk !
Music Authentic: It’s important to learn from each other in life, especially during these challenging times. Where do you usually gain strength?
Dan Cross: That’s easy – I have faith in my family friends & community- everything else is secondary
Music Authentic: Where do you see yourself in a few years from now on?
Dan Cross: Keeping on being interested in the world around me & trying to stay healthy under all circumstances!
Music Authentic: You play in a bigger band, what made you to start a solo career, too?
Dan Cross: I’ve played in bands on & off – I was in an indie band called The Perfect Disaster when I left school – we made 4 albums & had some success, played support to some famous bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain & The Pixies, recently I made an album with Field Trip To The Moon & did some good gigs with them l but I’ve always played solo too. I guess, initially I just wanted to see if I could do it – my earliest musical influences were my mother’s singer /songwriter albums like Leonard Cohen & Carly Simon- she took me to see Don McLean when I was 11 or 12 & I think all those confessional songs must have got under my skin a bit – when I first heard Dylan’s ‘Blood on the tracks’ I was really impressed- so much storytelling in song.
Music Authentic: Is it hard to sell yourself and be your on merchant as an indie?
Dan Cross: I just can’t see how to make money playing & writing like I do – I’ve almost given up on thinking it possible to be honest. Streaming sites have conspired with the record industry to totally stitch up original artists, there will be a revolution one day but at the moment 99.9% of musicians are getting a terrible deal. It’s unbelievable how easily it’s all been lost.
Music Authentic: I so much agree with you on this. So, the question now has a greater reality then: Would you rather live in the Earth in 20 years or be the part of the first Mars colony?
Dan Cross: The future is unwritten is one of my favourite sayings:- Its up to each one of us to make this planet sufficient to continue to sustain us all – there is no alternative,
Music Authentic: “This Damn Civil War” has more familiar melody, chords and performance, something people could get used to. “Paingiver” is pretty much different, more of a statement song. Who do you think will get the message?
Dan Cross: I consciously tried really hard to make parts of my new album ‘Cup of Thrills’ to be commercial – I didn’t want it to be just a load of self indulgent songs or, if they were introspective lyrically then I wanted to present them in as accessible a way as possibly could, partly to get them heard & partly to reflect my own musical tastes – I’ve always loved pop music as much as rock & see no contradiction in liking say ‘Godspeed you Black Emperor’ as well as Calvin Harris or Diana Ross. When it came to songs like ‘This Damn Civil War’ or ‘Paingiver’ I just couldn’t really help myself – reason kind of flies out of the window & I feel compelled to be active in current events. After all this is my life too & I don’t intend to be a victim. I don’t know who will hear those songs but I’m not in control of where they go when they are out in the world- people have already told me those songs are meaningful to them and that is good enough – all I ask is that you pass them on to others that might like them while you can.
(the interview continues below the photo, be brave and read on!)
Music Authentic: This was a really candid answer, a trait a authentic artist need to embrace. So, you’ve mentioned the streaming industry being taken over by the very same players who have been ruling press and radio, TV, shows and so on. Now let’s see this question with this in the mind: Lately there is a debate whether to create singles frequently over a concept album. In which side are you on?
Dan Cross: I’ve always made albums just cos I’m so prolific – I had 30 songs ready for my 1st album (‘Love in here’) about 50 for the last one (Atheist Anthems) & I recorded 18 for this new one – choosing singles is a real art & I find it almost impossible to just go with one song – having said that I would love to write a really catchy song that kind of ‘says it all ‘ like a ‘Waterloo sunset’ or a ‘Fairytale of New York’ or something one day – a song that sums up everything you can aspire to in one tune.
Music Authentic: Let’s lighten up a bit: If you had a chance to play a superhero character in a movie or a series, whom would you choose?
Dan Cross: ‘Wonder Woman’ is my favourite.
Music Authentic: The whole world is changing rapidly, societies collapse, the UK finally sees what unwillingness and arrogance combined with neglect and ignorance can result. Do you think the clashes will come back?
Dan Cross: I’m sure we will see another world war before long – the mood music is about right & the tempo is building up with more intensity every year but ultimately I think it’s something the men we put in power are hard wired to resort to every few decades. Again, we have allowed this to happen – there are plenty of rational voices speaking for peace, tolerance & unity but collectively we have been asleep at the wheel- too easily seduced by the promise of an easy life. Sorry, but that’s how I see it. We are going to find out what previous generations have had to learn the hard way – without some form of real socialism the military / industrial complex always rises on the backs of the workers
Music Authentic: As a creator, what things would be the greatest achievements for you through your art?
Dan Cross: Great question – dare I say to move someone to tears (or laughter!) with a shared experience ?
Music Authentic: I like learning from other people, it is so important in my opinion. Which artist do you recommend to listen to from the past or the contemporary era and why?
Dan Cross: The first one that comes to mind is Sandy Denny – not as well known as Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell but an amazing folk singer and writer & she had one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. The kind of voice that can make grown men cry. The fact that she never had her music used commercially means its never become banal or devalued. Check out any good compilation album!
Music Authentic: Noone else will take responsibility for our life unless we stand up. Now, imagine you are the Prime Minister for a week. What would be the most meaningful to begin an actual and lasting change with?
Dan Cross: It would all be environmental policies I’m afraid – nothing else matters in the scheme of things – forget tokenism like planting 1 million trees , I would want to tax multinational oil companies with reparations for aggressively pursuing fossil fuel technologies over renewable energy sources for the last 50 years.
Music Authentic: Nowadays computers, algorithms are taking over everyone and everything – music is not an exception either. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are at our doors. Do you think artists and musicians will be replaced deemed to be obsolete?
Dan Cross: It’s well documented that the software is already here to come up with entirely A.I generated pop music. I’m not worried for the genre particularly, perhaps when everyone gets sick of computer written pop music they might start valuing the human touch again !
Music Authentic: Whose story had a great effect on your life?
Dan Cross: I think ‘1984 ‘by George Orwell is the most important book of our times – it’s astonishingly prescient whenever you read it. It predicts so much that we are living through right now: – The war against intelligence, the cynicism of the elite towards the working class & the manipulation of state controlled media to drug the individual into mindless inertia.
Music Authentic: Have you ever used your stage as a platform to help out others?
Dan Cross: I’ve had a lot of fun helping local kids out with their songs at school ‘Battle of the bands’ competitions a few times. That’s always a nice thing to be part of.
Music Authentic: What do you think the hardest challenges are in society these days?
Dan Cross: Staying positive is always a challenge – there are always 100 things to churn you up inside & your own mental health is always under pressure – society is under strain like never before partly due, in my opinion, to the fact that just a handful of old men run the entire worlds media – that’s terrifying to me – anytime you feel under pressure to look a certain way ,think a certain way or act a certain way it’s because you’re being socially conditioned by a billionaire sitting on a private island on the other side of the world.
Music Authentic: How do you like spending your favourite pastime activity?
Dan Cross: I like to read & write, get drunk & go to the gym in equal measures
Music Authentic: Let’s close it today with your message to encourage others:
Dan Cross: Play the long game & work hard at it!