Tennessee. Home of Dolly Parton, the first Coca Cola bottling plant and the iconic Grand Ole Opry.
This weeks State Of Music artist was actually someone who was recommended to me by Todd Howe of UK based band The Boxer Rebellion, who I had the pleasure of seeing live twice this year after they invited Brooklyn based up and comers We Are Augustines out on the road with them.
Indeed, such is The Boxer Rebellion's ability to pick out a decent support band time and time again, Canon Blue, a.k.a Daniel James, got recommended to me as he is about to join them on their
North American tour starting on 13th October. You can get the dates here *The tour has since been cancelled by The Boxer Rebellion due to a 'personal tragedy*
I suppose the best description I can give of Canon Blue is 'Orchestral Pop'. It does remind me a little of Patrick Wolf, although with less falsetto and eye liner. Joking aside, when listening to Canon Blue you are dealing with an artist who is clearly a very talent musician and arranger.
You can listen to Canon Blue's album "Rumspringa" below, and while you do you can find out more about the man behind it in the interview below.
CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who are Canon Blue and where in the world would we find you?
CB: Canon Blue is basically the name I've given to my solo project, based in Nashville, TN. I always find band names to be more interesting than just going by my given name. I think it allows more room for invention and creating mythology around the art which I think is important to keep the music from being to closely connected to one individual and their personal life.
CMM: How long has the band been in existence and how did it all start?
CB: I've been doing music since middle school, but Canon Blue specifically started around 6 years ago when I moved back to Nashville after living in New Orleans until Katrina hit. My time down there had been pretty depressing and unproductive and then the devastation of the hurricane only added to the emotions I was going through. The music I started making after leaving, and subsequently the band, where born out of a response to that period of my life.
CMM: How best would you describe your music?
CB: The best that anyones come up with so far is orchestral pop. There are a lot of traditional string and brass instruments, but theres also some electronic influences both in the structures of the songs as well as the actual tones used.
CMM: What is the music scene like in Tennessee right now? What the genre of choice out there at the moment?
CB: Right now garage rock is everywhere. There are tons of house shows and underground venues going on all the time. Plus having people like Jack White, The Black Keys, and Jeff The Brotherhood around definitely shapes a lot of the scene. However, there are plenty of other things happening beyond that and the traditional country stuff. Theres a growing scene of electronic artists as well as those pursuing more orchestral based ideas which is really exciting to me.
CMM: One thing I am hoping to find in this series is some kind of link between where a band is based and their msuic. Do you feel as an artist you are influenced by your surroundings and the scene around you?
CB: I think the biggest influence for me is the geography of the south. I'm very influenced by my location and landscapes in general and I think having so much space and land and only being a 15 drive away from open country is something I really value. I could never live in a city like LA or New York. They're both amazing places, but I can only stand being there for a few days before I start missing my front porch or drives out by the farms. Musically, I feel for the most part I'm a bit out of place here which I'm fine with. Most of my influences come from scandinavia and the UK so it makes sense. But nowadays having access to any music you could possibly want I think lessens the effect or influence of your immediate surroundings musically speaking.
CMM: What other influences does the band have, musical or otherwise?
CB: Musically I'm all over the place. I listen to everything from classical music to pop radio. I tend to try to find something I can take away from whatever I'm listening to. But to be specific, bands like Efterklang, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Talk Talk have been big influences. Films and books are also big factors in my writing process. The work of Flannery O'Connor or the poet Rilke have always been personal favorites. I'm also a fan of directors like Terrence Malick, PT Anderson and Fellini.
CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the albums you have released so far?
CB: My first record was called 'Colonies' and was made in my bedroom on a laptop and then later finished and mixed with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. After that I released an EP called 'Halcyon' as a free download. Now, the new record is out called 'Rumspringa' which was co-produced with Mads Brauer and Casper Clausen of Efterklang. Most of the recording was done in Copenhagen as well as in Reykjavik with a group there named amiina.
CMM: When I first made contact with you the band was about to go out on tour with Boxer Rebellion. Where are your favourite places to play both in and out of state?
CB: I really love the basement here in Nashville. Its really small, but there is always a great atmosphere there. The 930 club in DC is great. I also love playing Glasslands in Brooklyn as well.
CMM: What's next in the pipeline for Canon Blue?
CB: I'm working on a music video at the moment for the song 'Bows & Arrows' off the new record and then getting ready for the fall tour with Boxer Rebellion. After that I'm hoping to dive into recording again as well as staying on the road as much as I can.
CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?