Writing songs has always been the centre of my musical life. Under the name Daniel Land & The Modern Painters I released two albums of songs - Love Songs For The Chemical Generation, and The Space Between Us - along with several singles, EPs, and one-off appearances, on some great labels including Sonic Cathedral and Club AC30. Daniel Land & The Modern Painters was my Manchester-based band and collaborative project, initially with Graeme Meikle and Oisin Scarlett, and then later with Andrew Galpin and Jason Magee as well.
The Painters disbanded in 2012, and since then I have been living in London. My third album of songs, In Love With A Ghost, was released in 2016, and although it was released under my own name, it is a continuation of the same project, more or less. I also now have a great new live band, with my friends Brin Coleman, Gary Bruce, Rob Sykes and Adam Gummer. My latest album, The Dream Of The Red Sails, has just been announced, and is a proper return to the Shoegaze/Dream Pop style I am best known for. It is available to pre-order at the following link.
Clicking on the following pictures will take you to pages where you can listen to each album, and read more about how they were created.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to sing and write songs, although for the longest time I convinced myself that I couldn't sing at all. In fact, it was only the support and encouragement of my friend Graeme Meikle that enabled to me open up, to start singing in front of people, and to write songs.
I met Graeme in a Hard House club in Manchester's gay village, on December 21st 2001 - my 21st birthday. We quickly became firm friends, and wrote our first songs in the summer 2002 when - both penniless, unemployed, and suffering from romantic disappointment - we decided to form some kind of band. Graeme introduced me to Idlewild and Spiritualized, and I introduced him to Slowdive and the Cocteau Twins. I bought the cheapest 4-track tape recorder I could find, and Graeme brought round his pedals and guitars and left them at mine all summer. The songs that we wrote at this time included "Glitterball" "Codeine", and "Good Speed, Good Fun", which were eventually re-recorded and released on our first album, seven years later.
I became increasingly frustrated throughout my twenties, full of ideas, confident in the songs I was writing with Graeme, but with no way to release them. It was only when I saw Ulrich Schnauss's DJ set at The Big Chill in August 2007 that I realised that there was already a significant subculture of shoegaze and dream-pop bands, releasing music on a small scale, putting on gigs together, sharing music on Myspace and generally supporting each other's endeavours. These were bands like Sway, Mahogany, Auburn Lull, and Fleeting Joys in the United States, and bands like Kyte, The Fauns, and The Tamborines in the UK.
To say that my eyes were opened, would be an understatement. I was radicalised. I couldn't believe that, under my nose, a scene had developed which would perhaps accept the kind of music I had already been making privately for years and years. I was so energised that, within a month, I had written and recorded what would become - in September 2007 - my first actual release, Voss. I recorded most of it by myself, although there was a fair amount of input and ideas both from Graeme Meikle, and our friend Oisin Scarlett, who we'd been jamming with for several years at that point. I picked the name Daniel Land & The Modern Painters, and we put the record out ourselves, almost just to see what would happen.
The response we received was much bigger than any of us had expected. People actually bought it. That was so amazing to me. Soon, we were being reviewed on some pretty prestigious music websites. I was sending CD orders to fans around the country, and then in the United States, and then beyond. By the end of 2007, we had picked up Marcus Mayes (drums) and Andrew Galpin (bass), and had ourselves a live band. Less than a year after the band formed, we had already toured the UK three or four times, had headlined Alan McGee's club in London, and even had our first record deal - for one 7" single, on the great shoegaze-leaning label Sonic Cathedral. This was all achieved with no small amount of help from friends including Ulrich Schnauss, who went from being an encouraging online presence, to a good friend and collaborator, and who mixed the Sonic Cathedral single with Mark Peters.
This period, and the two or three years that followed it, was without doubt the most amazing, creative, insane period of my life - a time which saw us touring with Neil Halstead (Slowdive/Mojave 3), playing gigs with many of our heroes, including Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and School of Seven Bells, doing perhaps a hundred gigs, including shows in Europe. We were played or interviewed (or both) on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 6, and featured, reviewed, or even gossiped about in the Guardian, the NME, City Life, and several hundred websites and blogs. Somewhere in the middle of this I also joined The Steals, Engineers, and launched my own riverrun project. I'd never been so busy - or so happy.
What goes up must come down - or at least, reach a plateau. That's certainly what had seemed to have happened by the time the second Daniel Land & The Modern Painters album came out in 2012. By this time we had a new drummer (Jason Magee) and had signed to Club AC30 - a natural label for us. And although the album was received positively, we seemed to have reached a kind of ceiling. This second album - our first on a "proper" label - didn't seem to do any better than our first album, which we had released ourselves. And so with band members juggling other commitments, wanting to take time off to go travelling, or starting a family, it seemed natural to wind things down. At the time, my own redundancy, and the renovation of the 500 year old cottage I'd been renting for six years, pushed me in the direction of London - where I still reside, living with my partner, and continuing as a solo artist what I started with the Painters. I now have a new live band, featuring my good friends Gary Bruce, Rob Sykes, Brin Coleman and Adam Gummer.
Having taken the better part of four years off to write, record, reflect, and deal with a lot of turmoil and change, I'm still hopeful that the best may be yet to come - whether that be the moody, introspective album of piano-led pop songs called In Love WIth A Ghost that I've recently released, or the album of shimmering guitar-based dream-pop that I'm (already) planning for next year. But I'll never forget those days with the Modern Painters - how it felt when we broke out for the first time, and how it was share my life with those guys for so many years - to tour, to play, and to meet so many amazing people on the way. I realise that I'm very lucky to have had the chance to do that.