Canadian Juno and Polaris Prize Award Winner Dan Mangan will be bringing his thoughtful and reflective sound to Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer this evening.
The Vancouver-based artist is coming off the 2016 release of his latest EP release Unmake, which is intentionally different than his 2015 album Club Meds.
“The intention behind Unmake was a recovery from the intention of the record before,” he explained. “Not because the record before was a bad experience – it was an incredibly, profoundly important experience in my life and the result of Club Med is something I am exceedingly proud of – but it was exhausting and the touring cycle proved to be stressful in a variety of ways.
“That record was approached as an opus. We spent a lot of time and investigated every little nook and cranny, whereas Unmake was the opposite.
“It was me in a room, often with one microphone, messing around with things and recording songs in one take and then barely adding anything to them. It was a cathartic solo experience after coming off something that was much more band oriented.”
Mangan explained that as he has progressed as an artist, the music has grown into a more personal experience.
“When everyone starts playing music, all they can do is emulate their heroes,” he said.
“Along the way you hope that, even though you wear other artists on your sleeve, you find your angle on it – your voice. I feel like that is something I am always getting better at doing. Your angle is important and the energy you bring to the world of songwriting. I think that is an evolving thing.”
Mangan is grateful he is able to make a living creating music and understands the privilege it is to be making money as a side effect of your passion.
“I can’t imagine ever doing work that is trying to make money for the sake of money. I always feel more fulfilled when money is the side effect of something that creates experience and throws some kindness into the world,” he said. “It changes when you have kids. There is a feeling of separation of work and family for the first time.
“Up to that point the idea of music as work is ridiculous because it is everything you want to do and if you start making a living from it – it is a miracle. You are one of the lucky ones.
“As soon as you have kids, there is this other responsibility. You have to delegate your time so that you are not an absentee father, but you also have to invest in the artistic side of yourself.
“I have to put time in my shared iCal with my wife to write a song and previous to having a family, that would have seemed utterly ludicrous.”
Unmake consists of four slower more reflective songs, with an upbeat rock song separating the pairs.
This is something that was important for the flow of the EP according to Mangan.
“The funny thing is that I have four melancholic downer songs and one big rock song,” he said. “I think it was about how can we split up the downer songs, so we decided to put the rock song right in the middle so it wouldn’t feel like a monotonous listen.”
Mangan also spoke about one of his more played songs – Robots – which for a time was something he wasn’t enjoying playing.
“I’ve come back around on it,” he said. “There was a number of years where I felt like the song had run its course and was not being its own thing, like a caricature of itself.
“We didn’t play it so much for awhile and I have come back around on it. I’ve learned to appreciate it in a new way and the last number of festivals we have done I have certainly played that song. It started to feel really fun again.”
One of the best things about growing as an artist is understanding the ebbs and flows of emotions that go with it, according to Mangan.
“On my good days I don’t think I need some external reassurance,” he said.
“I think that is what you hope for as an artist; to find that place you can create and be yourself and not worry about things. The real world isn’t so perfect. I’m like anyone where I have my moments where I am seeking affirmation about what I am doing, but I think that is life.
“You have days where you feel strong and you have days where you feel like you need some support. You bob and weave your way through the days.”
Mangan said the intentions for his life have remained the same through all of his albums and starting his family.
“I want to have a long standing body of work that spans its way through decades,” he said.
“I want to develop, change and grow as a writer and performer. Hopefully I will keep getting better. You want to do something that gets you through the beginning of your life to the end in a suitably enjoyable way and hopefully it brings some joy or reflection to help other people.”