Article by Gio Pilato
(Photo courtesy of Stephen Fourie)
When some music genres are played with true passion, desire and drive, it doesn't matter when the music itself comes from. Blues is not a genre that gets associated to countries like South Africa, normally. Still, the country in question has been able to unleash to the world in the last few years, one of the finest blues guitarists and songwriter of this generation and his name is Dan Patlansky.
It is a nice, cool evening at The Borderline in London when we meet Dan and one can certainly feel excitement and trepidation about tonight's performance in the venue. Dan is going to showcase worldwide his new album, Dear Silence Thieves to a full house capacity tonight. Dear Silence Thieves is his seventh album and it sounds like a fully amped-up work, packed of potential hit singles. When asked how long did it take to record the album, the South African artist says: "We started working on the album in the beginning of 2013. It took about a year in writing both music and lyrics. Then we went to the studio in January 2014 and spent about three weeks there in perfecting several aspects of the album. Yeah, I would say, all in all it took about a year, although, worldwide, the album has got released just now but in South Africa was released last year".
Patlanky's seventh album sees him at the very peak of his songwriting. Already a very talented guitarist, Dan has been refining, year after year and album after album his talent as a songwriter too and that can be easily spotted on his new record. It is very difficult to pick up an individual track, out of this wonderful album but I cannot resist asking Dan about Madison Lane, the track that closes the record. Such track is full of pathos and intensity. "I was watching some documentaries on TV, back some time ago, on one of these drama channels. I watched the story of this woman, whose name I couldn't remember time after for the life of me. I remember, on this true story, that this woman, no matter how hard she tried, she kept failing in everything she tried to do in her life, until she ended up committing suicide. It was such a touching story but sadly I couldn't remember the name of this woman. Therefore I decided to call her, in my mind, Madison Lane and I just couldn't resist by writing a song on this story. Not the whole of the story in details, perhaps, but as much as I could remember. I am glad you liked it".
Although having built himself a very solid reputation as an artist during the past years, one cannot stop wonder how a South African kid might have been so enamored about blues and rock, in a country where the two genres are not immediately identified with the nation's traditions: "That is a good question, because in reality, I owe it a lot to my parents' record collection. Through them, I had got to hear a lot of blues, rock and blues/rock altogether and that was all I was hearing since I was a kid. When I started playing their record collection, I found myself in a music nirvana made by classic records of Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, BB King, amongst others. As you may figure, when I started playing guitar, it was natural for me to start directly with the kind of music I have been fed with since a very young age.. Fed on blues and bread!".
Talking of bread and food in general, Dan Patlansky recently stated, also on his own website that, when it comes to make music, "I'm the chef and my songs are recipes music fans can most certainly try at home". It certainly sounds like on his new album, the South African artist has spiced up even further his music recipe. "I would say that, something that never changes in my music recipes is my core ingredient, which is the blues, that makes the 50% of my recipes or alchemies, whichever way you want to call them. In every album I tent to add to such core different spices, under forms of different music genres. On Dear Silence Thieves, I must say that the thing I was concentrating the most was the songwriting aspect. That was my top priority, prior to focus on different music genres. If I would associate my personal view of this album to a food recipe, I would tell you that for me is a fabulous stew made of funk, country, rock'n'roll, soul, a whole bunch of stuff. But the core, fundamentally, remains the blues".
It is almost a pity that Patlansky's succulent music recipes under form of albums have not been available to the masses on a worldwide level until now, with his brand new record. Dan explains why: "To be honest with you, I didn't think my first two/three albums were ready to be distributed on a worldwide scale. Add to that the fact that in South Africa, it gets quite tough to try and export your works. Releasing an album worldwide is not exactly easy as it is touring an album and I have managed to take my previous records on tour in several part of the world, in order to create at least awareness to the masses that I had a new record out. With this record, I have finally managed to get the right Team to work with me and promote the album overseas. Take this current Uk Tour we are embarking right now. Myself and the band have been here before to play isolated, fairly small venues but now, with a proper Team supporting us, we are able to play in bigger venues and have a proper, long tour. And this time, thanks to this Team, we have even a bigger press/media circus involved in this tour, which on a promotional level, makes really a world of difference for any artist, including me."
(Photo courtesy of Yolanda Saayman)
Life for Dan Patlansky has been also very frenetic in the last 12 months; the birth of his first child, a lovely little girl called Sophia, opening for Bruce Springsteen in Johannesburg last year in front of 64.000 people and more recently, the announcement that this winter, Patlansky will open for Joe Satriani on his 2015 Shockwave Uk Tour. With all this happening, one wonder how does the South African artist manage to stay grounded and focus, both as a musician and a parent too. "I often wonder whether the birth of my baby girl might impact my songwriting style one day. I guess that just time will tell, it may happen, it may not. I am certainly aware of the impact that the birth of my little girl has made on me and becoming a parent, of course, adds a little more pressure on my everyday's life. Therefore, to remain focused and grounded is important on many levels. In addition to that, when I shall tour with Satriani, just the thought of the kind of guitar level played by him will certainly ground me down in no time, if I happen to fly anywhere else, do you know what I mean? There is certainly a lot of pressure on me by supporting him and a certain music standard I need to constantly deliver, as an artist, when I shall open his shows. It certainly will keep on my toes and makes me work even harder. I am a truly believer of the fact that the better you get, the more successful you are and that can be just achieved by working your socks off all the time."
During our conversation, Dan tells me about his favourite artists that inspired him and the name of Count Basie, all of a sudden, crops up as a new subject. One of Basie's quotes comes to my mind, "There are a lot of ways you can treat the blues, but it will still be the blues". At which point, I ask Patlansky how does he treat HIS Blues: "That is a good question, man. I agree with that statement completely, that's what I kind of live by, that's why my core ingredient is and always remain the Blues for me. The songs I want to write, the direction I want to go into, is the kind of Blues I am passionate about, which is for me, a sort of Renegade Blues. A bit out of scheme, a bit in your face. If we break it down, there are a lot of classic rock influences in what I do or what I write, a bit of funk elements I like to put into my music. Then I like to stir it all together in a sort of music melting pot which hopefully, releases a unique kind of sound. That very sound of which I feel really passionate about, because if you play without that passion, it's gonna be tough for you as an artist, no one would trust you and I guess that, was what Count Basie meant. Which works perfectly for me too".
Dan is also very appreciative of the support his parents have always given to him since a very young age, about wanting to be a musician: "I couldn't imagine my life without music, it would have been all sad and boring. It was and it is really all that I wanted to do. I have been very fortunate about the fact my parents supported me all the way and without them, it would have been virtually impossible for me to make it in the music business, especially in my country of origin. Because we all know that in this business, it takes years to make a living out of it and, by starting very young as a musician, I was able to save money by living with my parents under their roof, until I was able to stand on my own feet, financially speaking.".
A magnificent new record out, perhaps the best so far in his career. Without a doubt, Dan Patlansky will tour the world for the whole year, in support of the record and after so many praises received by fans and media, one wonder what the next step is going to be, in the career of the South African artist. "Well, as you were saying, 2015 will see me and the band touring the album almost everywhere in Europe, then back to South Africa for further tour dates and, if things remain according to plan, we should be able to be back in the studio in February 2016 to write and record new material. But for the time being, let's enjoy ourselves touring Europe and tour this record that means so much to me".
A wise human being and a hugely talented musician. And most importantly, a true rising star in the music firmament.
Dear Silence Thieves can be purchased on: Amazon
Dan Patlansky at The Borderline - 27/04/15
There is a real buzz in the air tonight. The historic venue in the heart of London, The Borderline, features the Worldwide Premiere of Dan Patlansky's seventh album, Dear Silence Thieves. What the crowd and the press invited to the show tonight will witness in the next 70 minutes, it's a full treat of the South African's guitarist ability, class, clever songwriting and a singing style that would blow away anybody.
The one-two-three punch that Dan throws at the beginning of the show is a definite knock-out; Backbite (his first single off the album), Taking Chances and Pop Collar Jockey emanate at full blast the versatility of Dan Patlansky both as a musician and as a performer. The rest of the show is a continous rollercoaster of blues, funk and rock (Madison Lane and the cover of Voodoo Chile from Hendrix were some of the many highlights of the night) and there is a palpable sense, within the venue, that we are all watching somebody destined to the highest music glory.
Dan Patlansky has just started the journey in UK for the launch of Dear Silence Thieves. If I was any of you in UK or the rest of Europe on this leg of his Tour, I wouldn't miss for the world.