“It’s a much more personal collection of songs...” - hmv.com talks to Dan Croll
As he releases his second full-length effort Emerging Adulthood, we sat down with singer Dan Croll to find out why he headed off to Atlanta to make the album and how he came to terms with his own emerging adulthood...
How did Emerging Adulthood move on from what you did on your debut LP Sweet Disarray?
“The first album was a much more DIY album, I was young, fresh out of university, trying to beg and borrow equipment, we recorded in this disused gym. For this album, I wanted to come from a very different angle and go down a much cleaner, more clinical route. I worked in a proper studio with a proper producer, I got out of the UK, it was much more professional.”
You recorded the album in Atlanta, when did that become a possibility?
“There was always a thought about getting out of the UK to make the record. I wanted a different headspace. Ben Allen, who produced the record, normally he comes to where you are, but he’d just had a baby and he was anchored to Atlanta and he told me that if I wanted to work together I’d have to come to him, I jumped at the chance.”
How did you find living and working in Atlanta? When Brits head over to the US to record it’s normally Los Angeles or New York, but there’s just as much going on in Atlanta…
“It’s a real hotbed for music, but not my music. It’s basically the home of trap, so most of Atlanta is just trap and hip-hop, so it was a strange place to work. I could only afford to live and work slightly outside of the city so I bought this cheap bike and I’d cycle 45 minutes to the studio each morning and night and so I got to take in a lot of the city, it’s a really exciting, buzzy place.”
Why did you decide on Ben? His background is pretty diverse too, there’s indie in there with the Kaiser Chiefs, but there’s plenty of hip-hop too…
“That was an attractive thing for me, how diverse he is. He came recommended from some friends, we’re quite similar in how scatty our influences are. His work goes from Cee Lo Green and Amerie to Animal Collective and Deerhunter. I want to be a commercial pop artist, I want to be on radio and TV, but to come at it from a leftfield direction.”
How did the writing change for this album? If you’re working much more clinically it must have been quite a different process?
“The first album was quite meat and potatoes, some of the songs were four years old by the time they came to be recorded, it was just a collection of what I had. This time I was starting fresh, brand new songs written over a six-month period. It was tough, but I had a real idea of what I wanted the album to be like and it came together quite quickly.”
What kind of LP is it lyrically? How have your lyrics moved on?
“It’s been a rough year or two for me and that’s fed into this record. There’s quite a bit of me dealing with my mental health, coming to terms with anxiety, the hardships of being away all the time, it’s a much more personal collection of songs, but I feel like there’s a real positive spin too.”
What kind of lyricist are you? Are you writing all the time? Or do you wait until you have a song ready to go?
“Lyrics are the last thing I do. I approach songs rhythmically, it starts with drums or a percussion loop and then I just layer and layer. Once it’s all there I’ll work on the words, what I’m feeling right there and then tends to settle on what the song is about.”
Was Emerging Adulthood always the title?
“The exact title didn’t come until quite late, but I had a sense that it was a theme that summed up the album. I was reading this book called Emerging Adulthood to try and help me through what I was going through, trying to find my place in things, in the end, it worked out well. There weren’t any other titles.”
You’ve got some good festivals coming up, does that kick off the start of a year of touring? Or is the plan still being worked out in terms of your live plans?
“That’s the story of a very busy year. After the festivals, we’re off to America and Australia and then back around Europe, 2018 is already very full…”