Interview: Dan Maguire

Could you share the story behind your latest song and what inspired its creation?

The song I have most recently finished is called You and Me. This is about the beautiful journey and adventure it has been to be my 22 year old daughter’s father.

How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there any specific themes or emotions you tend to explore in your music?

Songwriting always starts with the music. I always have a guitar close, so grabbing it and playing it is just part of a habit or lifestyle for me. If I hear something I like, I build other parts around it. Then when I have a structure, I hum and mumble along and lyrics come together. As the lyrics reveal themselves, the theme appears. Typically my songs are about my family, or people that are important to me and the human condition.

As an indie musician, how do you navigate the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal?

For me, navigating the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal starts with getting a song in front of people. I like every song I write, but that is a biased perspective. I want to push the envelope and offer music that is unique, but I want to keep in mind that most people want something they can hold on to or remember and have an easy experience. So, I put the song out there, see what kind of response I get and assess what I do from there.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist in today’s music industry?

I do pretty much all the parts of this myself: from writing songs to social media to booking to the studio, and this can be tricky. My Dad was a doctor and would say, “Don’t practice medicine alone. Or, anything else you decide to do.” I’d like more perspectives on what I’m doing, and finding the right kind of people for that can be difficult. But to get better, one has to learn from others further down the path.

Can you talk about your experiences collaborating with other artists or musicians? How does it influence your creative process?

With this solo project, I haven’t done a lot of songwriting collaboration…yet. But, I am actively pursuing that with some other artists. I have also begun recording another record, and unlike my first record Travelin’ Light, this one will have a full band and other players. That will surely introduce collaboration. Also, I have found some female vocalists in other cities and asked them if they’d be willing to learn the accompanying vocals on my record and perform with me when I come through their area. This has gone pretty well. (If you’re reading this and are interested in something like that, send me a message!)

What role does technology and social media play in promoting your music and connecting with your audience?

Social media plays a critical role in what I’m doing. It’s everything for public relations, marketing, updating people, staying on the radar and engagement. But, it is very important to me that my social media is an accurate and authentic representation of me, and what I’m doing. If you see my social media and then see me or talk to me, it all adds up. I don’t want to be the present with the coolest wrapping paper, and when you open it, you got socks.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have had a significant impact on your musical style?

I grew up in Tulsa, OK and Southern rock and roll and blues were huge to me. I always heard country music, so it had an impact by its constant presence. When I went to college, I was introduced to jazz and classical in ensembles. All these ingredients have come together and a country and jazz inflected rock and roll is the outcome.

Indie musicians often have a close relationship with their fanbase. How do you engage with your fans and build a dedicated community around your music?

When it comes to engaging people, social media is very important. But, it can’t really capture sincerity. I think only in person can you really get that. So, I talk to people, before, during and after playing.

Could you describe a memorable live performance experience or tour that has had a lasting impact on you and your music?

Well, I said earlier I grew up in Tulsa, OK. I love that city, and I love that area of the country. I’ve been doing regional tours from outside Chicago, to Southern Missouri, and into NW Arkansas and NE Oklahoma. There is so much nostalgia, old (and new) friends, memories, there is really great bluegrass/country music and The Ozarks area is gorgeous. Each year I head down there, I add a date or two.These experiences have, and are having a big impact on my whole music project.

In an era of streaming platforms, how do you feel about the changing landscape of music consumption and its impact on independent musicians?

I think it’s great that there are more and more avenues for artists to get their work in front of people. But, with all things, there is going to be a yin and yang. As options in streaming platforms evolve, hopefully this will create more harmonious relationships between artists and providers.