Dan Webb is a maverick singer/songwriter/keyboardist/producer from Melbourne. His highly anticipated debut album -Sandstorm' is due to be released May 9 on his own newly formed label, Misdemeanor Records – featuring the addictive first single -Sleep (feat. Ashleigh Cummings)'.
Webb is certainly no stranger to doing things differently, having stormed the rock scene with his guitar-less six piece band and having already released all songs on his album for free in the form of demos, one per month in 2013.
Renowned for his exhilarating live show, he breaks from convention once again whilst embarking on his biggest challenge to date: a 32-month moratorium from live music performance, to conclude on Thursday, October 15, 2015; the 200th anniversary of the beginning of Napoleon's exile to Saint Helena. 'It might not please my fans – I've been threatened with violence," he adds with a wink, 'but it's something I must do. The needs of my art come first."
'Rock music has traditionally been about sex, drugs and rock -n' roll. That's all there to some degree in my work, but I really hate the idea of being pigeonholed. My main goal for this album was to take risks where others might not. Shall we release all the songs as demos in advance? Sure. How about an afrobeat-infused electronica track – and I won't sing or play a single note on it? Why the fuck not! Music should be about breaking boundaries and expectations" Webb slyly remarks. The 24 year-old has made a spectacular entry to the music scene with the release of his unique 2013 demo series -12 Songs, 12 Months' – downloaded in over 25 countries and picked up by notable radio stations including BBC Radio 6 Music (UK) and triple j (Australia) – in addition to frenetic live tours of Australia, the UK and New Zealand and critically acclaimed EPs -Capitulation' (2009) and -Hyperspace Clearance' (2010). This impressive and intriguing debut album consolidates his status as -one to watch'.
Following a successful crowd funding campaign in which he raised over $8000 to finance the release, Webb teamed up with renowned engineer Colin Leadbetter (Whitley, Gossling) along with some of Australia's finest session musicians to put the finishing touches on his album.
The resulting -Sandstorm' is an entrancing rock/pop album traversing a variety of genres and showcasing Webb's sensational ability to pen and produce infectious tunes. Guest vocal appearances from Kylie Auldist (The Bamboos), Bobby Flynn and Logie Award nominated actress Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries) assure a unique and rewarding listening experience for any music fan.
Question: Who is featured on Sandstorm?
Dan Webb: Bobby Flynn, Kylie Auldist and Ashleigh Cummings all made guest vocal appearances on this album.
Question: What message would you like this album to say to your fans?
Dan Webb: I'd like to think that my lyrics are cryptic enough to allow people to bring their own meaning to the songs and the album as a whole. For me personally, once I saw the completed artwork and I had settled on the final track listing, I sort of viewed this album as a soundtrack to getting lost and wandering the desert.
Question: How would you describe Sandstorm?
Dan Webb: Sandstorm's got a bit of everything and I reckon it's got quite a broad appeal. It's primarily a rock/pop album but there are also reggae, electronica, mariachi, funk and psychedelic elements in there. I like breaking from convention and playing on people's expectations. It makes things more interesting.
Question: What was it like to work with Ashleigh Cummings?
Dan Webb: It was awesome, an absolute pleasure. I've known her for a while, knew she sang as a kid. I suggested she come in to record some stuff with me and fortunately she was keen to give it a shot. It was her first time in a recording studio but she nailed it.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Dan Webb: Yes, it's all me.
I'm inspired by a range of things – time, places, events, people... I guess it's often different for each song I write and to say more would be giving too much away.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Dan Webb: Hard to compress into a short list but lately I've been listening to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Portishead, John Coltrane, David Bowie, Beck, The Roots, Connan Mockasin, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Deerhoof…
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Dan Webb: I've made the decision not to tour Sandstorm. Given the vast array of instruments, sounds and textures on the album I need time to rework the live show. The second single and film clip will be released sometime in June. After that I'll be working towards my second album. I've already got about ten songs ready to go, so I'm hopeful we'll start rehearsing in the coming months.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Dan Webb: Yeah I suppose early on but I mean, what else am I going to do? I get bored very quickly if I'm not making music and keeping busy. These days I'm very driven to keep going.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Dan Webb: Both are fun. But I've mainly been in the studio environment for the past couple of years so I'm very much in that headspace right now, still.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Dan Webb: I've always admired the innovative aspect of The Beatles. Sure, they wrote awesome songs, but they were always looking for new ways to do things and subsequently invented a handful of new technologies, sonic ideas and recording techniques along the way.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Dan Webb: I suppose being an independent musician means I don't have access to exorbitant cash advances, which is a pity, given my mind's overflowing with song ideas at the moment and I'd love to record it all. I honestly feel like I've recently entered the most creative period of my life so far.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Dan Webb: Seeing other people enjoy my music has been the best part by far. Whether it's people dancing on stage with me in Auckland or getting a tweet from an excited fan who has just bought a copy of the album…it's a great feeling. I've got a great fan base and I'm grateful for their support.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Dan Webb: I'm always looking to collaborate with other artists. Right now I think I'd really like to work with Craig Nicholls or Daniel Johns.
Question: Do you have a website fans can visit?
Dan Webb: http://danwebbmusic.com
Interview by Brooke Hunter