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The 99% Podcast Episode #21 With Daniel J Morrow

The British New Yorker Daniel J Morrow is a modest musician sharing emotional songwriting. His music encompasses dark Pop with touches of other appealing genres. After visiting New York, he found his calling to remain a resident and soon enough others started to notice his talents. David Gray, an A & R director from Mercury Records, acknowledged that Daniel J Morrow’s lyrics were “particularly personal and intriguing, a rarity these days.” Singing and songwriting are a companion to many other talents Daniel portrays. His production and performances embody keynotes from the piano including strums of his guitar. Daniel’s lyrics are the constant anchor he vocalizes even while exploring a variety of styles.

Listen to the 99 Percent Podcast with Daniel J Morrow

[00:14] Steereo:

Welcome back to the 99% Podcast. We have Daniel Morrow with us. He’s joining us today all the way from New York. Welcome to the podcast. We’re excited to find out more about your music and your career so far. We’re going to start with a question; you’re originally from London but you’re based in New York. Can you tell us a little bit about the music scenes and how they actually differ?

Daniel J Morrow:

Oh yeah, that’s a good question. I’m probably not suited to talk about the London music scene because I try to spend as little time as possible out there. When you grow up somewhere you’ve had enough of it after a while, but there’s definitely a great indie music scene in both cities. I’m interested to see how it’s blossomed in the last few years. I haven’t really been in the scene over there so much. Over here, there are definitely tons and tons of venues that are very active in the independent scene. There are quite a lot of the music venues closing down over here, which might be part of the mass gentrification which is probably going on in both cities; it makes it kind of unaffordable but there are still plenty of cool places. One thing I’ve noticed is people are creating their own little venues and having concerts in churches and buildings, which I find really exciting.

Steereo:

That is definitely a huge thing in Los Angeles, people really think outside the box. Some of the venues lend great for live music.

Daniel J Morrow:

Absolutely and people are much more excited to be immersed in the experience, rather than just going to another club venue. Then you hang usually and it’s 50 bucks for a beer, so it’s exciting to see these new ideas and the new ways of experiencing music.

Steereo:

Tell me, Daniel, why did you choose New York? Was that a dream of yours, was it the plan, did it just fall into your lap? Why choose New York as your base?

Daniel J Morrow:

Yeah, it was a couple of things actually. It was the first part of your suggestion, which is that I had always been fascinated by it and I came on a visit and it was lovely – Brooklyn in particular. Also, it was around the time I had a band in London and we got a call from RCA Records to see if we could get the material and they said we’d love to meet you but we’re based in New York. I said “No problem I can come to New York,” so that was how it all started there, really.

Steereo:

In terms of New York, energetically it wasn’t the right fit for me. It drives me a little bit crazy sometimes in terms of, there is a lot of partying that goes on and people are very busy. I think I like the more chilled out LA vibe.

Daniel J Morrow:

You’re absolutely right, it’s very very fast paced here. It’s very hard to say, “no I’m just going to stay home tonight.” There is always something going on.

Photo by Daniel J Morrow via Facebook

[04:22] Steereo:

It literally is the city that never sleeps. So, I was fascinated by your genre of music. When I was doing a little bit of research on you, it talks about these albums superseding genres. If you were to put your music into a category or a lane, what do you think your music is reflective of?

Daniel J Morrow:

I kind of say it’s in the source of dark pop, in the sense that I like to mess around with pop music and fuck it up and play with that genre a little bit. I don’t start with an idea of a genre or texture. I usually start with this lyric or a little guitar riff, and it turns into what it turns into. I don’t think about production first, I just go for the song. Sometimes it’ll be a little bit like electro-pop and other times it’ll be dark indie rock. Against most people’s advice, I try to keep that genre a little flexible.

Steereo:

I think that makes sense. When people ask me that question as an artist, you said you’re dark pop. I describe mine as honest pop. I think that word pop, which comes from popular music, conjures up something a little different for each person. When people hear the word pop, some people think Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. That’s not necessarily the pop that I would do or the pop that you would do. Obviously, we’re aiming for something that’s universal and commercial at the end of the day. In the initial part of the journey, you were talking about record deals and things coming to fruition, and something that doesn’t. What were some of the challenges that you faced early on in your career, and how do you feel you dealt with them then, versus how you would actually deal with them now?

Daniel J Morrow:

That is a great question. Can I just spend a couple of weeks thinking about the answer?

Steereo:

I’m very good at asking the question but if I was the artist being interviewed, I’m with you. I’d be like, that’s a great question, get back to me before Christmas and I’ll have a perfect PR answer for you.

Daniel J Morrow:

Exactly. My answer is something about being a more mature artist and seeing how the industry works. Understanding that it is a lot more based around marketing, promotion, and networks than I initially hoped it would be. That’s not to say you can’t be a huge success just because someone sees you play and thinks you’re amazing, and that leads to other things, but 95% of success comes from being a fantastic networker, marketer and self-promoter. What I’d do differently now, I still don’t have the answer in terms of self-promotion but I definitely now understand the rules better. For example, I now have a little bit of help with my social media, and I think that that’s something in the past that I would have just outright said “No! If people think this is good, it will come through eventually.” Now I realize that you need help; as much as you can get.

Steereo:

I think the problem is that artists are expected, in this day and age, to be experienced at branding, artwork, websites, social media, PR and networking. I think that’s really hard for some artists, especially because the audience see that that’s not their forte. I think that’s just modern day balance now. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, ask for help and get the people involved where it is natural. For me, branding is very easy for me because that’s what I did in my previous life; to have a grand strategy for my career. Most people don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to a grand strategy or content strategy. They’re like I just post whenever I post. For some people, I think that works. There are definitely some people that I follow on Instagram, and I am so impressed by the fact that it’s not thought out and it’s very authentic. For me, I like to think about what something would say about me as an artist.

Daniel J Morrow:

I’ll add another element to that as well; I’m pretty good at promoting other people and doing branding for other people. Sometimes, when it’s for yourself, it’s very hard to take on the same role. It’s strange to have that objective opinion about others is a lot easier than having it for yourself.

[11:16] Steereo:

I think when you’re so close to your own project and it’s so personal, it’s very hard to see the trees from the clouds and the clouds from the trees. Inspiration! Given all the craziness going on the world right now, where are you pulling your inspiration from, when it comes to your music, your performances, your sets, and our artistry? Where are you pulling that inspiration from these days?

Daniel J Morrow:

As we discussed, I live in New York and it’s nonstop craziness. Everything going on here has given me enough material to last the next fifty years. I don’t know if you mean music specifically, or just like in general?

Steereo:

People think artists are inspired all the time about different things and different people. I think, for me, it’s very much everyday real-life situations that I become inspired by. Whether that’s my nephew, a relationship, so yes I am specifically talking about music and writing and creating songs, but for me, that comes from so many different places.

Danieljmorrow:

For me, I’m quite a slow learner in life, and it takes me quite a lot to figure stuff out. I usually figure out through writing, and I think that’s probably the answer. It’s a world of self-discovery for me to try to understand what I’m experiencing, which could be anything from a relationship, to why Google is taking over the world or why people are so fake. All these kinds of things I’m trying to understand.

Watch Daniel J Morrow Perform Live Below:

www.danieljmorrow.com/music

Posted by Daniel J Morrow on Friday, May 11, 2018

 

Steereo:

Well if that all gets revealed to you while you’re creating songs, I hope you’re creating songs at least 16 out of the 24 hours in a day because someone needs to figure out what’s going on in the world so maybe we’ll leave that to you Daniel.

Daniel J Morrow:

That’s a lot of responsibility but I’ll see what I can do.

Steereo:

We’re doing a Steereo podcast and you’ve been on the platform in New York, one of the first markets we were in. When someone gets into the back of an Uber or Lyft, Steereo is playing and they’re hearing Daniel for the very first time, what is it you want to leave them? What is it you want them to feel in that moment?

Daniel J Morrow:

If it can emotionally touch them, which is a hard ask for a first listen. I like to make people think. It’s a little different because of the whole side to pop that we talked about. It’s still kind of acceptable, but hopefully engaging and touches someone in an emotional way. I just want them to feel an authentic side to the music because it’s coming from a real place. Keeping that as my focus is the main thing. It’s not fake or mass produced in some way.

Steereo:

For anyone out there now listening and are trying to decide to chase their dreams or music passion, or someone at the very beginning of that journey, what advice would you give them? What would you tell your younger self?

Daniel J Morrow:

If you really want to take it seriously then definitely invest as much time in how you get your music out there as you do in the actual creation. It’s not ideal but it’s the way of the world. The other important thing is to work with as many people as you can. People you connect with and you feel like they have something exciting to offer. That helps you so much; when you have a collaboration with one person it’s worth five years of self-discovery. Working with as many people that you connect with makes it so much more enjoyable. I’ve learned that enjoyment is actually quite important in life. That’s the angle, really. You may not be successful straight away, but enjoy every single moment of great music because it can be so much fun, especially when you work with other people.

Steereo:

What are some of the new exciting things coming up for you in the back end of this year?

Daniel J Morrow:

Released an album a couple months ago, released my first single with a video, and I’m now working on a really exciting video for the second single, which is going to be a virtual reality video; a 360 video. It’s the first time I’m crossing over my work and my passion. VR is a very interesting world. That should be out in about 3 or 4 weeks. I also have a second album all written and half recorded. I’m hoping to really push that early next year, to try to get a release out as soon as possible.

Steereo:

Tell us where we can find these videos and the new music?

Daniel J Morrow:

My artist name is Daniel J Morrow, and I’m under that on SoundCloud, Band Camp, Facebook, my website is DanielJMorrow.com, and on Instagram.

Steereo:

Daniel, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to do the 99% podcast.

Daniel J Morrow:

Thank you so much for having me, and keep doing what you guys are doing!

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.