(Photo by Sean Brand)
It's one of the most gratifying feeling, for who writes about music, to see that there are still artists out there capable of making their sound to grow and evolve and still be successful and original, rather than trying to feed their fans with the same ole music recipe over and over again.
The South African guitar prodigy Dan Patlansky is, undoubtedly, one of those rare above mentioned exceptions and we, at Bluebird Reviews, are truly privileged to catch up once again with this tremendously skilled artist whilst he is touring Europe to promote his brand new album called Introvertigo. Where many were expecting Patlansky to repeat from A to Z the same formula that took his previous record, Dear Silence Thieves to the top of the blues and rock charts all over the world, his new album, Introvertigo, instead takes the listener to the next level of the South African artist's musical journey, moving into territories that embrace genres very close to Patlansky's heart, like blues, rock and funk. When we start our conversation with this very charismatic musician, it's almost inevitable for Bluebird Reviews to ask Patlansky whether he feels that Introvertigo is the natural development of the 2014's splendid album Dear Silence Thieves or it's rather another step in the musical journey of an artist in continous evolution. "I think it's a bit of both. It's an ongoing evolution, that I feel it will never stop evolving. This is due to myself having a whole lot of different musical influences each time I make an album. I am very open to different music styles and when I find something that really intrigues me, in a particular time of my life, I like to dig deeper into that particular genre, study carefully that music direction and make it my own. I do believe that in many ways, as you were saying, this album is the natural evolution of Dear Silence Thieves. Having said that, I also think that Introvertigo is very close to Dear Silence Thieves in many ways because I used the same producer, the same guy mixing the album and the sound is, at times, resembling parts of the Dear Silence Thieves album. In essence, Introvertigo is a record with a bunch of new songs, moving towards a slightly different direction than my previous record. But I feel it's a kind of an obvious thing to happen, being my music in constant evolution".
One thing that Patlansky has not changed on Introvertigo is indeed the producer. Theo Crous has been worked with the South African gunslinger on both Dear Silence Thieves and on the new record too. "Naturally, given the great success of Dear Silence Thieves, I thought that was common sense for me working again with Theo Crous. Introvertigo was much easier to record, in comparison to Dear Silence Thieves because this time around there was a better understanding, a better chemistry and a better trust between myself and Theo. On my previous record, we were arguing a lot more about the direction I was going to take musically but the outcome of Dear Silence Thieves proved that his input on the album was spot on. When we enter the studio for the Introvertigo sessions, we knew already the way we both like to work, therefore the recording process of the new album was much smoother than the previous one we did together. Theo comes from a music background that has not got the blues on the far front but he rather comes from a more commercial rock scene. That aspect worked perfectly with me, because the core of my music is essentially blues and, as I was writing the new songs, I found this common rock ground with Theo in which my music core was fitting perfectly in. The outcome of Introvertigo was very satisfactory both for me and Theo because I have got what I wanted musically from the album and he has got what he wanted the record to sound like. In my opinion, it was a win-win result for the two of us and we hope, for the fans too".
During the last couple of years, Patlansky has been in Europe to promote his latest two albums several times, including this one. Out of the many countries in the world in which this young and talented artist has performed, the United Kingdom seems to have built a special bond with Patlansky and his music. "Personally, I have always thought that the United Kingdom had stronger musical traditions and knowledge than many other countries in the world. When it comes to blues/rock, in particular, you can easily sense that there is a strong music scene in this part of the world. One of the aspects that I have noticed in this last couple of years, whenever I had the chance to play in the UK, was the fact that when you get people in UK that is really into your music, they will become your most loyal fans ever. The crowds here in UK are really great ones to play for, very appreciative of my music. In a short amount of time, I feel that myself and the UK fans have built together a very strong connection. I am not saying this because we are in London right now, as we speak, but please believe me when I say that the United Kingdom is among my most favourite places in the world to play live. There is such a healthy music scene here, not just for me but also for other artists and I am very excited to come back here in the UK and play whenever I have the opportunity to do so".
(Photo by Bakkes Images)
One of Patlansky's fondest memories, as a musician, goes back to 2015, when he had the opportunity to tour together with the Guitar Maestro Joe Satriani. To play with such an enormously talented musician, must surely have inspired Patlansky musically in the build-up to record Introvertigo. "Without a doubt. It has been one of the greatest honours of my life to be on Tour with such an incredible artist like Joe and trust me, the Man is a real force of nature. He is such a nice guy and from a personal point of view, one of the nicest artists I have ever met in my career. He made myself and my band feel at home every day, when we were touring with him and his crew. When you are a support artist, sometimes you may feel like you are in the way of things but that was not the case at all with Joe. I learned a lot from him, how can you not? What I really appreciated of him beside his stature as a guitarist, is the incredible level of consistancy he applies in his performances, night after night. He never has a night off or plays under par, never. That shows really how much he has got his head right, which is a skill that just masterful musicians like Satriani have. It was a world class experience working with him that I shall treasure forever".
Whilst touring with Satriani in 2015, Patlansky had the opportunity to test live, in many occasions, two very powerful tracks with his audience that ended up then in Introvertigo, Run and Stop The Blessing. Bluebird Reviews is curious to know whether Patlansky thought already, at the time, that those two songs would have been the driving force of the new album, in terms of radio airplay. "To be honest with you, the only reason why we were playing those two tracks in our setlists while touring with Satriani, it was because at the time those songs were the only two tracks ready from the new album. Playing those tracks gave us the opportunity not just to test them live but also the chance to get an immediate feedback from the crowds long before the album was released. The fact that Stop The Messing became a single here in UK, on radio stations like Planet Rock, was purely coincidental, as it was just coincidental what brought those two songs in the spotlight too. But I am glad it happened that way, because it gets always tough for me to pick a single song from any of my records and decide which would be a better single than another or more radio friendly. Every song is like a child for me and you don't get to pick and choose any of your kids, because you don't want to disappoint anybody, therefore I am glad that radio stations do that job on my behalf".
Patlansky is a truly eclectic artist on many different levels. Not only a fabulous guitarist and an excellent singer, Patlansky's songwriting gets better and better as the years go by. One of the songs from Introvertigo, called Western Decay, is not just a splendidly written tune but also one that gives the real feeling that the South African artist means every word he sings, when he worries about the future of the world we are living in. "That is a song about how much the world has changed from when I was a kid and the amount of freedom I had as a young boy, in comparison to this present time. I guess that life in South Africa, back in the days, was pretty much like here in Europe or in the rest of the world. You could go out with your friends, coming back when the sun was down and my parents wouldn't worry at all, because everything was going to be good. It's a total different game, now. Since I have become a father, I can actually sense on my own skin how much things have changed and it's a sad thing to realise. You get the feeling that those days of freedom are long gone and they are never coming back again, because the world is getting more and more crazy, as the years go by. That's what the song is all about. As I said, it really means a lot to me because it makes me appreciate even more the way that I have been raised and I feel blessed for that. At the same time, it makes me feel even more responsible about trying to be the best parent I can possibly be, especially in crazy times like these".
(Photo by Bakkes Images)
Introvertigo is an album that doesn't just showcase Patlansky's love for blues but also for a quintessentially 90's rock sound, superbly executed through his unmistakable artistic touch. We ask Dan Patlansky which were the 90's rock bands that made a particular impact on him. "Definitely Soundgarden. They were such a big influence for me. Them and the Rage Against The Machine. When the project Audioslave came up, back in 2000, that was for me the best of both worlds I could possibly ask for, musically, because that band was including 3/4 of the RATM plus Soundgarden's Chris Cornell as the lead singer. Cornell is for me one of the best singers ever. Obviously, I listened to many other big rock bands of the 90's, people like Nirvana, that kind of stuff. Truth to be told, I don't think that the 90's was the best ever music era, at least for me personally but there were certainly some decent stuff made in that decade".
Another highly interesting tune present on Introvertigo is, without a doubt, Heartbeat. In this song, Patlansky displays in full his ability on both acoustic and electric guitar, by mixing and alternating the two different guitar types on the same track with very inspired brilliancy. "The genesis of that song it's quite interesting, because that was the last song we recorded for the new album. The only thing I had for that song were the lyrics but I had no music ready at all for that tune. So we started messing around in the studio and then, little by little, we came up with the riff, then the melody and so we thought "Hey, we are getting somewhere, here!". One of the winning factors about that song, for me , was that it wasn't an over-thought tune at all. It was almost a last minute kind of thing. We did not know until the very end whether Heartbeat was going to become an acoustic tune or an electric one, because we had the platform to build the structure of the song in both ways. I like to play my music differently, either whispered in a more soft and gentle way through an acoustic gutar or more loud and boombastic through an electric guitar. It's a great accomplishment this song, for me, because it shows two different dimensions of my music style. Although it's complicate to play this song live, because I cannot play the acoustic and the electric guitar at the same time when I am on stage. You need some kind of magicians to be able to do that! (chuckles). It's possibly one of my most favourite tracks of the albums, because of the unusual dynamic occurring on Heartbeat".
Patlansky is a truly eclectic musician able to express his talent using different layers of music, in the same way he expresses his personal feeling, through those different music layers. By using different music styles as instruments of expressions, one would hope that, at least, the musical Vertigos are finally over for the South African artist. "Possibly. I agree about what you just said about feelings. Music is a platform that allows me to express who I am, as every art form does with any artists. It can be a painter, a photographer, any kind of. Obviously, rock is a far easier platform for me to express feelings like anger through, because has got a raw sound in itself, an "in-your-face" type of music approach. You may be able, I guess, to express anger through blues too but, because I love both genres, I guess that this album gave me the opportunity to dislodge feelings like anger and love using different sounds, the ones I really love. Fundamentally, my idea of Introvertigo is like, say, going out shopping at Xmas time and be surrounded by hundreds of people doing exactly the same. That idea of chaos surrounding you, the feeling that you don't want to be there, that is kind of what I was trying to express by using a made up word like Introvertigo. But you know what? You can dislodge any kind of feeling for a while through a record, but an Introvertigo kind of feeling is something I feel I have to live for the rest of my life with, because chaos is something that will never cease to exist, in every aspects of modern society. With the sole exception of when I am on stage playing my music or being surrounded by the love of my family, the best feelings ever in the whole world".
Giovanni "Gio" Pilato
Introvertigo is out now and it's available on Amazon