London Interview with DAN PATLANSKY
The South African singer-songwriter and guitarist DAN PATLANSKY provides some pure and sulky blues on his outstanding new album INTROVERTIGO [reviewed here]
INTROVERTIGO, he explains, is the sense of dizziness and disorientation experienced by an introvert who has spent more than 5 minutes with an extrovert…
And perhaps that’s how Dan feels — at least part of the time. Because he is a quiet family man with his own insecurities. The music industry is a rough place to be and can be quite quarrelsome at times. Maybe that’s why Dan feels excited and energized when he spends time alone writing; or when he’s up on stage performing. He finds his freedom when he’s unloading to an audience…
We had a chat with Dan about the new album, and playing the blues and being so far away from home…
How was the HRH BLUES Festival, Sheffield?
“It was great for me — probably the coolest show we’ve done this year. The sound was great, we had a great time and the audience reaction was really fantastic… Probably one of the best shows I’ve done in the UK. It was one of those shows where everything just came together — we were on form, in the moment… It was a really big audience and a great one to do… exposing ourselves to a far wider audience.”
“Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack were on after us so it was good. That kind of music — the classic blues — that is where I come from. That’s what I listened to and I used to play when I was a kid. Full time. But we are quite different to that now. I think there are a lot of guys who I call the “Blues Police” who come to my shows [and they can be found all over the world] and they comment, “That’s not blues...” And it might not be classic blues but what I do comes from the blues… and it’s my interpretation of the blues. And I have a lot of influence outside the blues too like classic rock, funk, soul, jazz… And I kinda draw from those as well. So I think my music works well in the festival situation, like at HRH Blues — and it’s fair to say that I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to do an hour-and-a-half of classic blues. I mean, I love it… but it takes a particular type of musician to pull that off. ”
“To have the skill-set to do an entire show of 12-bar blues — I’ve never had that. I kinda rely a lot on the songs to carry it and different kinds of vibes and energies. Having said that I managed a cover of an old Jimmy Reed song at Sheffield. I kinda re-worked it in a small way but it pays homage to the original song. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you’re going to cover a song it should be a rendition rather than a carbon copy.”
Do you think blues is alive and well? If you talk to a young person they seem almost scared by the term…
“I think you’re right. I think the word “blues” scares a lot of people. I suppose it depends where you come from, but back home in South Africa if I tell young people that don’t know the genre that I’m a blues musician they immediately suppose my music resembles Frank Sinatra! They see blues as Frank Sinatra… I say, “you couldn’t be more wrong...” but anyway there it is. It does scare people. So we find we don’t often bill ourselves as blues artists. And I enjoy playing a lot of rock festivals so I can change people’s minds about blues there…”
You did a solo acoustic tour. How was that? What are the pros and cons of acoustic concerts, do you think?
“Yeah, we start every year off doing a solo acoustic tour… it kind of blows the cobwebs off after a long December break. And we believe its a good way to get the year going.”
“I approach the acoustic shows very differently guitar-wise.. I find I dig myself into deep holes if I try to play the acoustic guitar like an electric. When I was a kid that’s what I tried to do — and it didn’t work out.”
“So I try to do the acoustic shows as very much a story-telling night. I try and keep the venues a lot smaller — maybe limited to around 200 people — and it’s a quiet audience, not rowdy. And we try to educate people or discuss why I wrote a particular song. There’s a lot of talking during the show, funny stories and that sort of thing, and I enjoy it in that sense.”
“But the electric thing is what I love and what I feel is home for me. It’s where I am most comfortable. It’s what I’m most passionate about. So, obviously, after a month on the road doing acoustic shows I can’t wait to get back to electric.”
How does the South African public compare with the British/European audience?
“I’ve built up such a great following in South Africa. I really have, over the years. And obviously the majority of my touring has been there but I think — in just a general sense — the British audiences, and I put European audiences in the same bracket — it’s a more educated audience. I think they listen to a lot more of the kind of thing I do and they probably have a keener ear for it. If you mess up, for example, they are going to know about it a lot quicker than a South African audience would. And it seems the scene here is healthier too.”
How are you away from home? Don’t you give yourself over to the scourge of homesickness?
“Yeah, it’s a tough one. When my daughter was a young baby she didn’t know when I’d gone. But now she’s almost three she realizes I’ve gone away. And so I try to keep touring limited, for example we can’t do a three-month trek on the road. That’s just out of the question now. It’s a tough balancing act and sometimes it feels virtually impossible… but I gotta do it somehow.”
INTROVERTIGO is the dizziness and disorientation experienced by an introvert who has spent more than 5 minutes with an extreme extrovert! Explain…
“It’s like when you start to feel dizzy after 5 minutes in the company of an extreme extrovert. It’s as if your soul has been sucked out of your body. I’ve had that feeling occasionally. It’s a cool word to describe the sensation…And I thought it was a fitting title for the album. Coming from an introvert. It’s almost as if [my album] is the memoires of an introvert.”
Do you feel like an artist?
“I think an artist is trying to perfect something. Sometimes I don’t feel like an artist because I go through dips in inspiration where I feel like I’m playing music by numbers. And I live to be inspired. My biggest inspiration comes from discovering other musicians.”
“But I find that being on stage I use a different part of my brain. I feel I am engaging with the audience — yet I’m in my own little bubble. I’m kind of expressing through my music. The part I battle with is being in large crowds of people — small talk kills me. It’s the worst thing ever.”
Is “Sonnava Faith” about the most gullible congregations?
“That’s the thinking behind the song. A lot of people think I’m knocking a particular religion… and I’m not. That’s not the case at all. But it’s that whole thing about “passing the purse around…” When your religious leader drives a Lamborghini but he takes money from the community for “charity.” I see it going on all over the world. And it’s crazy to me that the communities are like lemmings… they can see that the minister arrives at church in a flash car wearing diamond studded gold chains… Yet his community doesn’t say, “Hang on, what’s going on? Is that where our money is going?”
Thanks DAN PATLANSKY and congratulations on delivering a fine album
Dan was talking to @neilmach 2017 ©
Main Image Credit: Peter Noble
DAN PATLANSKY returns to the UK in May 2017 for a UK Tour with special guest Ash Wilson
Tuesday 2 May Islington O2 Academy, London
Wednesday 3 May The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Thursday 4 May The Globe, Cardiff
Friday 5 May The Tunnels, Bristol
Saturday 6 May The Factory, Barnstable, North Devon