Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:23:21
After one listen to Dotan, you will feel at “Home.” His upbeat and uplifting single of the same name carries an undeniable energy that’s instantly welcoming and immediately wonderful. The same can be said for his new album 7 Layers [iTunes link]. The vocalist and multi-instrumentalist juxtaposes warm instrumentation with unshakable hooks. It’s one of the catchiest and simultaneously thought-provoking releases in recent memory.
ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with Dotan for this exclusive interview about 7 Layers and so much more.
Did you approach 7 Layers with one specific vision or vibe in mind?
It all fell into place that way. I had a certain vision of sound, and I was in a certain mode while writing it. Since I produced the record and wrote it, it's my thing. I think that's the reason it became one story and mind. I didn't plan on doing that before. I just wrote the songs I wanted to write and create the record I wanted to make.
How much of the album came together while you were in different people's living rooms versus actually sitting down to write in the studio? Was it a combination of both?
I do sit down in my studio and try to write songs, but normally it doesn't work like that. I just feel like it needs to come to me. I did a lot of living room concerts before—as you mentioned. I used to go to people's houses and play there and test new songs. I made a deal with myself that I had to write a new song every time I would play at someone's place. I ended up having tons of songs. For the album, I wanted to give the feeling that I'm playing a song in front of you. It all starts with just me and an acoustic guitar. When it comes to songwriting, it needs to be there. At that moment, I'll be honest it's quite hard to write songs because I'm just playing every day. It's hard to step away from it and connect to the songwriting again. Back then, I was just writing and writing. It all came quite naturally.
What's the story behind "Ghost?"
That's cool you asked about it. It's basically a live recording. You hear from beginning to end how it was recorded. You hear me sitting down in the chair. I feel like I had a previous life as well. I just started doing music about four-and-a-half years ago. Before, I went to Uni, and I was working full-time. I sort of did what people expected me to do. It was "what I should do" and a "safe life." Then, I dropped everything and went for the music. That song is basically about my previous life and how I never really felt connected with what I was doing and how I was living my life back then. It all falls into place right now where the music is my life.
Where did "Swim To You" come from?
It was sort of like an old-fashioned dreamy lullaby. I listen to a lot of older singer-songwriters, but I'm a huge Bon Iver fan. That's the song where you can hear that. It's something in between a love song and a lullaby. I experiment a lot with nature sounds. You'll hear the sea on the album. I record sea sounds from different countries and shores. I write on these sea sounds, and "Swim To You" is an example of that.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Definitely! When I write, I have a movie inside my head, and I see very strong visuals of the song. That's what I've noticed. A lot of film directors and people who are into movies and television want to use music for that sort of thing because it speaks for itself. It's very good. It works very well with images in film. I tend to write with a certain image in my head. I'll have a film there.
I basically grew up with Neil Young and James Taylor. My dad forced me to listen to that from a very young age. I was the weird kid in school listening to older singer-songwriters while everyone was listening to Top 40. I still listen to that a lot. I like finding more indie bands. Then, there are current bands like Arcade Fire and Radical Face.
If the album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's difficult! I've never thought about it actually. I couldn't name a specific one. It needs to be a movie with wide landscapes and big emotions. That's what I try to do with the record. It goes from silent acoustic parts to big explosions and group vocals. I tried to mix that up. It would need to be a movie with a lot of dynamics and different vibes.
Have you heard Dotan yet?