How would you describe your music?
I try very hard not to describe it so as not to ruin it for anyone who might have their own idea what it is. I got really used to comparing it to the 20s/30s era songwriting I’m mostly inspired by but that comes with it’s own baggage. Anymore I just try and get away with saying “I play the piano aInd sing” and let people draw their own conclusions.
When did you first realise that music was for you? What does it mean to you?
Probably in my early twenties after some disillusionment with the filmmaking process. I had begun playing the piano in downtown hotels at night and wrote a few things I was singing along to in this big over the top Judy Garland style voice. I was sort of trying it on like a hat that only sort of fit. But my friend John Atwood heard me belt a few of these out when I was drunk and made it pretty clear this is what I ought to be doing. So I pressed on, writing songs mainly just for him and I or his friends who he would bring around to watch me play now and then. I still tried to make films after that (and I still do) but music became the priority.
As for what music means to me, I don’t know how I could really quantify that other than to try to imagine my life without it. If I were to suddenly go deaf, for instance. I think that I would probably spend a few years mourning it’s loss and then move on and try making something else. I have no idea what that would be, but I guess my point is, I never have thought “music is my life” or “I can’t live without it”. Like anything or anyone you love, it needs work. You need time away from it. And you can lose it and still carry on.
What’s the worst thing about being a musician?
The worst thing for me is being a piano player. I’m no great fan of the guitar but boy to I envy the portability of that instrument. Most venues don’t have pianos these days and the ones that do don’t bother to keep them in good condition. Or they don’t like being bothered to bring them out for you. Keyboards (the decent ones anyhow) are no picnic to lug around either. Being a pianist can be a real drag.
What do you write about and what inspires you?
I write a lot about stores, alleys, parking lots. Places are way more interesting to me than people. I draw a lot of inspiration from taking pictures of things and building habits out of that. I take pictures of stuff on the ground, an empty little spot, that sort of thing, and I think a lot of that stuff makes it into my songs in an unconscious way. I’m less and less interested in writing about love. And I don’t think I have even one song about the sex act.
If you could invite three music artists round for dinner, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than have dinner with a bunch of musicians. But if I’m able to resurrect the dead, I’d certainly bring Elvis back because there’s a lot I’d like to ask him about performing. I’d bring back Samuel Barber because there’s a lot I’d like to ask him about writing. And then I’d invite Harpo Marx because he wouldn’t interrupt anyone but he’d keep the conversation from getting too serious.
If you could have written one song, which would it be and why?
I’ve never felt this way about anyone else’s song in my entire life.
What are your ambitions for your music?
My ambitions for my music remain the same as they always were. For people to hear it.
Finally, we’re always looking to expand our musical horizons. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?
I’ve been really loving the re-discovered songs of Connie Converse. Another album I’ve been listening to a lot lately is this one by The Caretaker.And he’s an acquired taste for sure but I really adore the music of Canadian composer/songwriter Vincent Bergeron. I sang on some of his recent releases but I still think his first album is the best entry to his work.
Daniel Knox is out on the 24th Feb on Carrot Top Records
For details of Daniel’s forthcoming tour, click here