IT CAME FROM THE SKY

 
 

So where did the obsession with music, transgressive art and auteur cinema come from? I'd say earliest childhood.

My dad died when I was three and it created a strange effect – I thought he’d been shot – but actually he was a doctor who had been at the forefront of research into chemotherapy, but he didn’t wear the gloves and protective clothing when he was starting out – and contracted the very disease he was trying to cure. This led me to really think of life as very transient – and to try and concentrate on the important. But it also turned me into a rebel, I never liked being told what to do – after all – it was my short life – let me alone to live it!

 
 
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In all the adventures of childhood and early adulthood, I could never forget the duty to find my own way and not to believe too much in what people tell you you can do / or can't do. Therein lies the key to adventure and independence. But there needs to be a SAFE SPACE - and the music and films are a world where all that is wrong with the real everyday place can be fixed and put right.

Let's burn millions of pounds of illegitimate debt

 
 

We work between music, art and cinema. We believe in complete freedom of the artistic imagination. 

We're committed to a fairer economy and to supporting true representative democracy. As well as working hard on The Orchestra of Cardboard, some of our members are making a feature documentary / movement film. For more information about The Debtonator project in which we're attempting to buy up and destroy millions of pounds worth of payday and student loans, visit www.debtonatorthemovie.com.

Come? We're on quite a journey this year! 

 

A manifesto to tenderness

 

I've been writing my whole life. It's primarily helped me to gain perspective on the world around me and my place in it. But had you asked me a few years back, “Why do you write?” it would have been hard to explain – a sense of loss and a search for bearings in a complex world perhaps. But my reasons have become much clearer. 

Right now we are all trapped in what we would call a “creditocracy” where our democratic rights are under sustained attacks by a narrow and highly financialized elite. We’re living in a system where hope has been minimalized and our futures have been mortgaged far off in advance. There’s almost no space left for freedom or creativity. This culture has become a battleground, where ideals which we once cherished as central to our democracies are now under barrage attack from a hostile media which is leaving most people disempowered and unsure of what to do to bring about change. 

This is not to say the songs are all directly about politics or economics, they are not weighty and in fact many of them make no mention at all of the situation. But these are the things informing the current trajectory and the purpose of the project. So when we say: “We’re creating an alternative universe fusing music, radical politics, art and early cinema style films." It's really a manifesto to tenderness. Another world is possible! This is a rerun of David and Goliath, the small man and woman versus the big, the righteous against the rotters.

We are working on a project called The Debtonator in which we have launched our own currency, made by singer and artist Hilary Powell. On the notes, which are hand printed we have the face of the local food bank coordinator, Gary Nash. The money we are making from selling these notes is going to the food bank, but also to buying up millions of pounds worth of debts. We will then be blowing these up  using a detonator. I will write more about the project - but the music we are creating plays a vital role. We are building ourselves up over the next year towards an underground hit. To get there, we need you and your support. We will  not be able to do it without building a community. To find out more about The Debtonator project please visit www.debtonatorthemovie.com

with love and cardboard,  Dan

 

 
 

"I struggled with some demons, they were middle class and tame."

 

This is a true story - and like most stories of early childhood, it has shaped my entire life. I was a kid of about 7 when I was sent to my first boarding school, it was in the countryside of northern Ireland, a place called Holywood – one ‘l’ – and considerably less glamorous than its Californian namesake. My dad was a famous doctor, he was one of the pioneers of chemotherapy, but he died when I was three years old, leaving me and my brother with our mum. As I mentioned we were in Northern Ireland, so somehow the violence of the place came through to my childish imagination and when my mum told me the news I asked her who had shot him...

 

At 6 years old, I smashed up a car that was left down the road near our house. It is something that gave me a feeling of eternal and unending guilt. I don't know why I did it. My mum, guessing it was me, threatened me with naval college, which her dad - who had been lawless too - had gone to finally get broken down - licked into officer material!

 

By the age of 11 I was listening to Iron Maiden and Metallica, it was odd to be so into these heavy metal bands, but I felt weirdly relaxed by the music. I think it made me feel less alone. I wasn't listening to it to appear cool, it just genuinely brought me some relief!

 

At home I made myself a little guitar out of a piece of wood and cardboard, and on it I wrote “Jimi Hendrix”. I was then sent off to another boarding school. Music was the only thing that got me through what was effectively a prison sentence. I began to learn the guitar, at school I stuck out as by now I was really into the sixties counter cultural music, Bob Dylan, The Stones, Donovan. My guitar teacher was called Barry Bishop and I lived for those lessons. At night in the dorms I would just listen to Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland on headphones and dream of getting out. I imagined the centres of creativity like Paris and London and New York as far away places bustling with excitement and creativity. My future as an artist was plotted and planned from the dark dormitories of this famous Scottish public school, it was forged in despair.

 

Eventually I escaped from what felt like prison (this was the school they sent Prince Charles to – and I know for a fact he felt the same!)

In the summer holidays me and some friends and my big brother used to go down to a music festival in Cork, southern Ireland, called Feile. We saw so many cool bands, like James – (Sit down next to me) and the Levellers… (still one of my favourites!) When I was 18 I took my then girlfriend to see Bob Dylan in Belfast. Bob Dylan. I just couldn't believe I was looking at him. It was strange. But he wasn't amazing. It was amazing he was there, but he wasn't VITAL.. in the way the young Bob had been. Maybe a bit mechanical!

Me and my friends swore that we would make art our whole lives, we wouldn’t let anything stop us. After all that generous over privileged repression it felt like the only way forward. I decided to follow my path and have never stopped. I'm still very proud of my friends too - though most of them have taken more conventional paths towards their lives, they have retained many of the values we cherished so much as kids.

I’m now an artist full time. I can’t say it’s an easy road, but it’s my road, and it’s cool and I am working really hard to make it work.

Anyway, finally I was out and to celebrate I moved to Paris. I tried to write a novel, fell in love, drank and smoked as much as I dared and had the time of my life, while working in McDonalds to support myself. I also took with me a 4 track tape recorder and on that I started to write and record some acoustic songs. After coming home from there, I moved to London and have been making films about history and anarchy, politics of protest, writing songs – some of them protests, some of them about building alternative universes. I believe – like John Lennon – in trying to imagine our way to a better world – and if there’s one thing that unifies my work – it's that. I have to say now I have been totally obsessed with the new Leonard Cohen album and also I read a lot of books. 

I hope this helps you to get your head slightly around what makes me write, and where I’m coming from with my music. The truth is it’s hard to be an artist – you want to change the world, and bring great things – but often no one wants to hear it. I discovered last Christmas that my mum was ill I decided to stop worrying and making excuses for myself and to get back off my ass and start recording music again. What I knew was that after everything else was done nothing in the world has any purpose for me like creating and sharing my work. I'm doing this for the long haul. Do drop me a line, as I always reply personally to every email.