Dan Thatsme Interview

Meet Dan Presencer, the youthful face behind DanThatsme, an ambitious singer-songwriter who’s trying to make a career writing and performing songs, as he looks to carve his niche in the musical landscape of the modern day. Somewhere at the swaying crossroads between Jeff Buckley and Joni Mitchel, DanThatsme is now a something of a fixture on the local singer-songwriter circuit. But the former Camden town lad has plans that extend beyond the borders of wonderful Copenhagen. Here is Dan’s story: (photo credits: AmK) 

AmK : “Dan Thatsme. Who is that ?”

Dan: “DanThatsme.” “I wanted to have a name that was really simple without it really meaning anything.” “I didn’t want to have a name like Cloudy Sunday or something like that.” “I wanted something very straightforward without any connotations.” “I wanted all of the focus to be on my playing and my music- nothing else.”

AmK : “And you play as part of a trio here in Copenhagen now.” “Could you tell us a bit about that ?”

Dan: “At the moment i’m playing with a trio, and i’m on the guitar, vocals and writing myself.” “I’ve got an amazing bass player, Dan Peter Sundland who is Norwegian and lives in Berlin and comes over here for gigs.” “He is an absolute burner, whilst being very tasteful, very giving and very thoughtful.” “There’s also a young drummer who is up and coming on the Copenhagen jazz scene, Rasmus Meyer.” “He’s a fantastic guy, fantastic player – really committed.” “It’s a privilege to have them both in my band and when we play it’s a lot of fun.” “Sometimes I play with another up and coming jazz saxophone player called Ollie Wallace who is a burning bee bop player who plays solo lines and backup harmonies on the sax.”

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A seasoned musician.

AmK: “How long have you played music for ?”

Dan: “Since the age of four.” “I took violin lessons initially but I was never really into it.” “From the age of nine I started singing in choirs.” “If you google my real name you can find me on a CD as a soloist when I was 10.” “We sang really complex songs and toured the world quite a bit so it was serious stuff.” “My voice broke and I stopped singing in a cathedral choir and I got a guitar at around the same time, aged 11.” “I really got into it and got bored of playing standard stuff.” “I wanted to play material that was as harmonically complex as what I sang in the choir and I wanted to be able to do it on my own as opposed to with the choir.” “This is what drove me to branch out as a guitarist.”

AmK: “You come from a strong tradition of musicians and artists in your family- your dad is a famous jazz trumpet player and your mum is composer.”Does this create any pressure on you as a musician ?”

Dan: “Yeah my dad, Gerard Presencer, played the trumpet combination in the famous Cantaloupe record, aged just eighteen.” “He’s a busy, successful jazz trumpet player.” “When I was still in my mum’s womb she was a very active classical flute player so even before I was born I was exposed to high level classical music.” “My granddad is a trombone player and he played in Woody Herman’s band and under Frank Sinatra’s big band so I was brought up with music around me, jazz especially.”

It does create a bit of pressure- it’s one of the reasons behind my artist name, DanThatsme – I don’t want to tarnish the family name.” “I quit music when I was 20 and thought, sod this – I wanted to have a real job but I tired of it pretty quick and came back to it.” “It’s also really useful though, to have such influential musicians in my family.” “I have very high standards and a discipline that comes from them – I don’t have some sort of naive dream about what the music industry is.” “My parents are musicians, my grandparents are musicians, all of my family friends and the people I hang out with a kid- all of their parents are musicians, so from a very early age I knew what the reality was and how things work.” “When my parents come to my performances I get very nervous because I know they’re judging me, not as a parent, but as colleagues.”

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From Camden town to Copenhagen

AmK: “You now live in Copenhagen, having grown up in London, Camden town to be more exact?”

Dan: “Yeah, well I lived in Camden town and I worked in a few places – When I stopped playing for a few years I got into bikes and I worked in different bike shops.” “I worked in a shop on Great Portland Street and in another in Euston and I loved it.” “I loved bikes but I got a bit bored and broke up with a girl which left me at the crossroads.” “My parents live here and I love Denmark so a move seemed logical.” “I told them I was thinking of working part-time and getting back into music and they said “sod that, come live with us and you don’t have to worry about rent or buying your own food and you can practice everyday. ” “My dad would give me lessons in the mornings; i’d go into the cellar everyday and practice for a long time.” “I came here with a vision of being a man for hire- playing in somebody’s band or something of the sort but I got back into songwriting again and sort of branched out on my own.” “My mum suggested that I go to an open mic and play as I didn’t know anyone here in Copenhagen, which I nervously did…”

AmK : “Was that the Juke Joint at Modjo’s `?”

Dan: “It was at Blågårds Apotek actually.” “The Juke Joint was a bit later.” “I went to Blågårds and the legendary Benjamin Aggerbæk put me on.” “I played a few songs and made some friends really quickly and the process sort of repeated itself as these things tend to do.” “The emphasis went to writing and practicing my own songs rather than doing covers, which meant that my songwriting skills grew a fair bit.”

AmK: “If you were to describe your music, is there any particular genre you think it falls under ?”

Dan: “Well, I guess people would say pop though I would say it’s more a combination of things that I like, things that I take inspiration from.” “I remember listening to Jeff Buckley aged fourteen over and over again and thinking “This guy is just the best , I love him !” Joni Mitchel is another big influence – I got a copy of “Blue” at around the same time I started to listen to Jeff Buckley (fourteen-fifteen) which is also the same age that I started to write songs.” “I listened to them both on repeat and I’d say they came to influence a huge part of my music.” “I have a thing for the letter J actually- if your artist name starts with the letter J then you know you’ll be successful- Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Jill Scott , who I named a song of my own after (Better at home)”

AmK : So you’re a J Junkie is that it ?

Dan: “Haha yeah, you could say so.” “It’s difficult to say who one’s influences are really- I have periods of absorption really, where i’ll listen to one thing for a few weeks all the time and then move on to something else.”

AmK: “Would you say that you’re the traditional singer-songwriter type then ?” “Or is there another dimension to Dan Thatsme ?”

Dan: “Well there’s different types of singer-songwriter people.” “I’m not a Bob Dylan type for instance- I was never really a fan.” “However I sing and I write my own songs and I play them so yes, I am a singer songwriter even though I don’t think it helps my audience to view me as such.” “It can be limiting as a description of me because it pretty much describes every guy with a guitar – there’s an awful lot of songwriters which makes it hard to stand out.”

Amk: “It is hard to stand out. What about your songs, what sort of themes do you sing about ?”

Dan; “My songs are all about women (laughs) They are all about women !”

Amk: “All of them ?”

Dan: “Yeah, bar maybe one which I never play.”

Amk: “Is that one about a guy then?”

Dan: “It’s about a man, yeah, this massive guy.” “No, they’re all about women.” “I find relationships and women really inspiring.” “I could easily play a whole set of songs just about my current girlfriend.” “With music you can say things that you can’t really say in real life.” “I have three and half minutes to speak my mind without getting interrupted (laughs)”

AmK: “Yeah there’s a forum for it, isn’t there ?”

Dan: “Indeed, and you can always brush it off and say “It’s just a song, nothing more you know?” “It’s also something that people can relate to and it’s really cliche to write songs about women but it’s what I do.”

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More than just music

Amk: “So now that you’re settled in Copenhagen, what’s next for you ?” “You give guitar lessons in your free time, what does this bring to your musicianship ?”

Dan: “Yeah I’m settled here now and I love Denmark.” “I had to work out a way of making some money when I first moved here.” “Initially I wanted to work in bike shops, so I made a CV documenting my experiences as a bike mechanic and sent an email to pretty much every bike shop you can imagine and I got nothing back, which was disappointing as I am a good mechanic.” “So my mum gave me one of her GCSE students who needed a few lessons.” “He was in a very safe place for me to learn how to teach music.” “One student turned into two and that turned into three and now I have around twenty to twenty five weekly students.” “Some are beginners and some are pretty good.” “It’s inspiring to start someone’s career in music and I think that my enthusiasm and love of music comes off through my teaching.” “It also keeps me on my toes- I have some students that are really good and who inspire me when it comes to composing my own material.” “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re a musician so having students that ask tricky questions or come up with interesting, inspiring chord combinations helps.”

Amk: “You’re set to play at a music festival in Italy soon too, tell us a bit about that”

Dan: “My band and I have been booked to play at the Ferrara music festival in the Northeast of Italy.” “I’m really looking forward to it- traveling with two really good friends who happen to be in my band and some other good friends will be playing at the festival too.”

AmK: “It’s your second festival, having just played at Nakkefestival, Does this give you more confidence ?”

Dan: “It will actually be my third, as I’m playing at the Copenhagen singer-songwriter festival just before so by then i’ll be a seasoned festival player (laughs)”

Amk: “What would you say the challenges are when it comes to being a musician ?”

Dan: “I find it hard to practice everyday- to remember to keep fresh, even though I love doing so.” “I love finding new ways of playing, new ways of understanding music and so on.” “It’s my passion so i’m really lucky that I get to do so as part of my job.” “There are challenges to every job; you have to work out what your niche is and what you can do to make a living.” “There’s also more to being a musician than just the music, even for established musicians – they have to do interviews, photos, charity work and so on, some of which may not necessarily be interesting but that is nonetheless a part of the job.”

Amk: “Which brings me to one of my last question.” “Where do you want to go with DanThatsme, where will you be in a few years time ?”

Dan: “For the moment it’s going great.” “I have a fantastic band and the songs keep coming.” “My goal as a musician is to do something new.” “My thought process is to add new approaches to the rhythm and nature of my music whilst still sounding pleasant.” “I don’t mean like making squeaky door contemporary classical music- It’s about crossing between genre lines and being myself.” “I would like to have recorded my album in a years time here in Denmark.” “I’d like to be playing more gigs and to more people, to a broader audience.” “I just want to play really and see how it goes.”

Find Dan’s music on his Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/DanThatsme?fref=ts

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