It’s amazing that we’ve taken this long to talk to our wonderful teacher Dane for our Teacher Feature. He’s been with us almost from the beginning and has always been a favorite with students, both as a music instructor and a recoding engineer. We’re particularly excited to interview him now, because his self-titled album, Great Dane, dropped this month and made it to #9 on the iTunes electronic charts the week it came out. We couldn’t be more excited for him and encourage you to check out his music here.
MM: What instruments do you play, how did you get started with each one, and how long have you been playing them?
DM: I play piano, guitar, and drums. I got started first on the guitar with my grandpa teaching me the basic chords and such, then I started playing drums in Jr. High and I played in the youth band at my school Eastside. Finally I really started getting more into piano (the best instrument!) once I got to college at Chapman University. It was a requirement for my music majors to become fairly proficient in piano, but past that I really enjoyed it. Being able to accompany yourself as a singer is an extremely powerful tool.
MM: Now that you’re out in the music world “making it,” what do you wish someone had taught you when you were younger?
DM: I wish I would have started writing my own music earlier. I was always involved with music and in the music realm, but I was always singing or playing somebody else’s songs. I definitely think it’s important to really take time to listen to other artists and learn by repetition, but it’s also more than ok to start experimenting with your own compositional abilities at any age!
MM: Tell me about your current album.
DM: I make electronic “beat” music which is a sort of sub -genre & culture in the EDM world of things. This is my third album and it is self-titled “Great Dane.” It hit #9 on the iTunes electronic charts the week it came out and it seems to be getting a pretty great response overall!
MM: “Making it” in the old days used to involve getting picked up by a major label. Tell me about the process now.
DM: My albums are distributed through a small independent record label in Los Angeles, but this is hardly the defining factor in “making it” nowadays. I don’t really know what “making it” would mean now, I think that if you’re paying your bills with money you made from original music, that’s making it enough for me. More than that it’s gotta be something that you love to do- I would be doing this whether I was “making it” or not.
MM: How do you balance teaching, working on your own music, and working toward other life goals?
DM: It’s a balance for sure. I love teaching because it gives me a chance to get out of my own head and listen to/ work on music with students that I might not have heard before. Or maybe I know the music but I wouldn’t have thought to spend time delving into it if it weren’t for the differing tastes my students bring to the table. The collaborative effort in teaching is a lot like the efforts I take in writing. I attribute a lot of my success in coming up with original music to the amazing pool of young talent I’ve drawn from in working with my students over the years.
MM: Tell me about the performance venues you book. How do you find them, and what does the process look like to get to play there?
DM: I have a booking agent who fields offers I might receive, and also searches out and finds new gigs for me that fit my vibe. Before I got linked up with an official agent I was doing it on my own for about a year. Basically just over time making connections (mostly via the internet) with the right people and promoters I’ve been able to play lots of cool shows and build more of a diverse following who might not have found my music online but saw me live somewhere.
MM: I know you were classically trained but have a very different style now. Did your college days at all inform the musician you are now?
DM: It’s true I was classically trained, but before during and after my college music conservatory experience I was always into all sorts of differing genres of music. I don’t think being classically trained means you need to strictly listen to chamber music and shut out the rest of the music world or look down on it, I would call that being a snob haha. But yes I do appreciate having a solid music education and I think it has informed a lot of what I’m doing now.
MM: If you were stranded on an island and only got to have one album with you, which would you choose?
DM: Just one??! I would maybe go with J Dilla – Donuts