With a truly unique voice that soars way beyond his years, we caught up with the extremely talented and all-round nice guy Dan Owen for a chat.
Hey Dan, so how’s your year been?
It’s been crazy, it’s hard to remember how many tours we’ve actually done this year. I think it’s only been like two or three but remembering which ones which and when they started has been tough.
We toured with Birdy at the beginning of the year and then with the band Kaleo. Then we started one of my own which has been a European tour and now this one. It’s also been the year that we’re trying to get the album finished. It’s getting there, all the recording parts are done, it’s just the mixing and mastering left to do.
Is that quite a nice feeling to have finished writing the songs?
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to having like a physical album. When I was growing up, I didn’t even know anyone that recorded music, it was all just people playing. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been spending the time solidly in the studio.
What is it about blues music that resonates with you?
I think my first ever proper experience with it was when I was like nine. My old guitar teacher started teaching me the building blocks of guitar and it started with the blues. Then I remember hearing it and just being really into it but also keeping it a secret because it wasn’t exactly considered cool, it wasn’t like Nirvana. Then I started playing it again when I was about sixteen and going on YouTube and watching one video after the other and just learning loads about the blues.
The name ‘Blues Boy’ is often associated with you online, have you ever felt restricted by it?
That kind of came when I was around sixteen, I started gigging full time around the pubs and all I played then was old blues covers in the pubs for like two hours a night, six nights a week. From playing that, people then started calling me ‘Blues Boy’ and I started getting blues gigs so I thought I would just roll with it because at the time that’s all I played. I think what people didn’t realise was that I was playing loads of blues but I was actually listening to all different genres of music so I think the shock for people came when I started writing music that wasn’t just strictly blues.
It’s like Little Red Rooster, it’s an old Willie Dixson song and I learnt it exactly how Willie Dixson did it, like quite slow, and then through gigging it, it just evolved into something else. I never tried to make it like that! That’s when I thought to just leave the Blues Boy name behind. Plus you also get the blues police come after you if you start playing a Robert Johnson song in a different key!
You’re known to play such a large number of gigs throughout the year, has there been any in particular that have stood out?
Yeah there’s been like three or four. There was one at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, I was doing my own gig there and it was the first time I had people sing back Made To Love You. That was quite a moment. Then a couple of the Birdy shows have been amazing and also just being accepted by her crowd. In Barcelona and Madrid, I was supporting and I remember the crowd being so loud. We did a duet at the end and it was just like ear piercingly loud, people screaming and crying at the front. I said to Birdy after the gig if she had ever experienced that before and she hadn’t, she was just as amazed as I was. It was her gig but it was just really nice to be a part of it.
I remember the first packed out pub gig I did, I had been doing like a hundred, two hundred gigs a year and a lot of them was just me playing to my dad and the bar staff. Then there was this one gig at The Loggerheads in Shrewsbury. I played there just as things had been kicking off with a video I had made which Mick Fleetwood got involved in and the pub was absolutely rammed. People stood on the stools, having to pass each other pints; it was quite a surreal moment.
In Birmingham they sang Hideaway, it had only been out for like three weeks. It took me like two weeks to learn the lyrics!
You mentioned previously the album, is that the focus for the rest of the year? What have you got coming up next?
Yeah, I think I wont stop until the album comes out. I’m just going to keep writing and keep gigging as much as possible, there’s actually nothing in the diary after this show.
Is that quite nice in a way?
Yeah, at the minute it’s nice but it’s also what I do, I live for it! So I cant stay quiet for too long.