Dan Nolan – The Casual

6 Jun

When it comes to a lot of modern dance music, I can take it or leave it these days. In the early 80’s I loved the Electro sound that was drifting robotically across the Atlantic and into the 90’s the hardcore rave seen stirred my musical loins.

After the aforementioned decades my interest in the electronic scene petered out – That’s not to say there was nothing of interest as the decades passed; Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and Burial created patterns that kept many people mesmerized, including myself to this day.

I have always craved dance music with brains – Not the sort of stuff that has an elephant farting in a can bass, repetitive vocals and generic keyboards. Dance music should always have atmosphere, soul and most importantly integrity. Commercial radio has never had the brains that pirate radio did when it came to pushing interesting danceable music that stirred the mind. Most radio music these days is there for background noise and little else, quality dance music was never designed for this reason. Dance music for me and many others was about getting up, feeling a rush and was something to cherish – You will not find many talking about the genius of Aphex Twin in the same sentence as Pendulum.

Here’s where Dan Nolan comes in…

Dan Nolan possesses a musical mind that is driven by a never ending quest for inspiration. There are not many people I know of making electronic music that was spawned by Ska, Punk, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Trevor Horn, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Afrika Bambaataa. Nolan’s music contains an impressive mix that takes me back to the heady days of electro and rave but has a futuristic brain that isn’t steeped in pointless retro reproduction.

Nolan’s latest release ‘The Casual’ has an artist reaching an ever towering peak. The tracks on this record were created for the Cass Pennant DVD ‘Casuals’. Nolan wanted the tracks to emulate the atmosphere that went with the feeling you experience when going to a football match and the casual culture that surrounds the scene.

Tension, euphoria, catharsis, sadness and beauty are all feelings encapsulated on ‘The Casual’; Nolan has created the best Dance album that I have heard since Burial’s debut.

‘Away Days ‘is the stand out track on this release. Think Visage’s Fade to Grey mixed with the darkly ambient waves of early Kraftwerk and you halfway there. The atmosphere in this track is at times both menacing and uplifting. It would make the trip to a “dodgy” away ground ten times scarier.

Listening to a track like “Spotters” showcases  talent and creativity that Nolan posses in abundance. A seriously intricate drum patterns fights against a flickering bass and the synth’ patterns are pure shimmering beauty. ‘Spotters’ is a track that demands the repeat button being glued down.

Hearing a release as strong as this has restored my faith in current dance music and I am positive that it will become a staple for this summer. Nolan has crafted and composed a work of sheer genius and I could praise this album for hours but in all honesty the only justice for this record is to buy it and give it your full aural attention. Congratulations Mr Nolan you have you have reached a peak that many can only dream of.

Dan Nolan gave us an exclusive interview and here’s what he had to say.

So, Dan… Tell us all about your music.

“The music I’m currently producing is what I call “Cool House”, also known as “Slow Mo'”. It’s massive in Glasgow. My good friend DJ Harri is producing and playing this type of house music and it’s just a great mood. I met a guy recently in Glasgow aka The Revenge and he’s also playing and producing this type of house music. I’m working on four new tracks in this style. Greg Wilson plays a more retro set but the tempo is the same. Re edits seem to be the thing too at the moment but I’d sooner create my own thing rather than use samples of other artists.”

“How did you initially get into music?”

“I got into music very early. I got to be good friends with Greg Wilson back in 1984. Electro was big and hip hop had just gone main stream. He was mixing and scratching on the decks back then and it blew my mind. He was also producing too. Greg was responsible for the UK Electro album and also The Rap Assassins. I got the bug from him really but when the dawn of acid house broke , that was it and I was in a studio in Stoke with DJ Welly making our first track early 1990. We were both bouncing all over the country attending warehouse parties in Blackburn and clubs like the Hacienda, Quadrant Park and The Pleasure Dome. We were blessed to be part of that scene. I’ve been involved in production ever since and been signed to Island Records, Manchester Underground. Done big remixes for Deconstruction Records , Dina Carroll and done tracks with Harri on Bomba Records. The late Sir John Peal was a fan!”

What were/are you musical influences?

“My biggest musical influences can stretch back to Punk in the mid 1970’s. I loved the Pistols, The Clash, and The Jam but I was also into the Plasmatics and X-Ray Spex . The Ska revival was a big influence on me as well. I love a happy Ska bass and a riddim guitar riff. The Beatles, The Kinks and The Small faces are important to me too. I also write lyrics and harmonies and those were three of the best song writing bands ever and Ray Davies drinks in my local in Highgate, which is fucking mental as he’s my idol! Obviously, Greg Wilson inspired me; the man is a fucking genius! From the electronic age, for me.

Also, Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa and The Human League were all very important to me. Producers like Trevor Horn who made Frankie Goes to Hollywood what they were. Brian Eno/Roxy Music and the modern day producers like Andy Weatherall/Primal Scream. Sasha, Underworld , Massive Attack, Liam Howlett/Prodigy and The Chemical Bros. All these artists were hugely important at stages of my life. I could go on and on… But I won’t”

What are your influences outside of music?

“Aside from music I love a pint and football. Liverpool is my team, although it’s painful at the moment. I’ve gotten into art and even started messing about with paints myself. It goes without saying that my wife and son are the most important people to me and we always have great times either here in London, in Liverpool or abroad. The Glasgow crew is a special bunch and I love going up there to see them and get my inspiration topped up from the fantastic music they play. I’m a bit of a foodie, I love stuffing my face and quaffing wine the wife and I cook a mean roast so if you’re ever passing through Highgate Give us a shout, call in and help us rip a roast chicken apart.”

What have you released up until now?

“My releases to date have been quite a few. A lot as white labels in the early days under the name Void. Also releases under H Foundation, High Society, and Transient Blues/DjWelly. I had a successful remix reach number 20 in the charts back in 1992 for the Bassheads. I’ve written an album which was co-produced by John Kettle of the Tansads back in 2000. Got ‘The Casual’ out now and lots of irons in lots of fires. I’m very excited about things. It’s only taken me 20 yrs to get my arse in gear!”

How did you get involved with the ‘Casuals’ DVD and with Cass Pennant?

“I got involved with the casuals DVD through my wife, Helen . She’s a big Cardiff City Fan and Cass Pennant who produced the film wanted her to do an interview for the doc’/film as she was known in the (Soul Crew)    football family. She did her thing and asked Cass who was doing the music and Bob’s a your uncle, I got the gig along with Electronic Youth who by the way are fucking awesome, they’re gonna be massive.”

The artwork for your album is very impressive, can you tell us more about it?

“The art work was done by Rowan Newton who is absolutely brilliant. His work is being talked about as far as New York and he’s just had an exhibition In Milan. We’re mates now but I met him at art viewings in London.  There’s a great little buzz in London at the moment with some fucking superb artists, musicians, writers and creative types in general . Throw in the odd ex-football hooligan and it’s an interesting mix. We all get together most Thursday nights at various galleries and boozers in the city. I asked Rowan if he would do me a one off piece of Cass Pennant to accompany ‘The Casual’ album and he said, “No problem.” and the result is breath taking. It’s almost iconic! Rowan is a Top boy and an awesome talent. He’s going to be a wealthy man.”

What are your thoughts on The Casual DVD and how did that scene influence you?

“I think the ‘Casuals’ DVD is great. For me, I was going to watch my beloved Liverpool at the time the casual scene was born. Again, I feel lucky to be part of another chapter in youth culture. I suppose in my head I was a casual, I did my best to have the clobber but being 1 of 4 kids it was hard to get the labels. My folks just couldn’t do it. We used to run into sports shops and do snatch and grabs! I always ended up with one trainer or size 38 waist tracksuit bottoms. I’m 42 now and still got the Lacoste polos and Munchen trainers. I think casual is part of what my wife calls the Peter Pan generation. We can’t seem to grow up. The DVD is a great insight into a part of history, a part of Thatcher’s lost generation. Also the last proper fashion youth statement.”

So, what are your plans for the future and is there anything else you would like to add?

“I have so many plans and ideas not just for now but for years ahead. My son Harry is a very talented guitarist and pianist and I want to nurture his ability. He’s only 13 and he’s already performed with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with his own composition. I want to stay close to Cass. He’s a top man and a very wise. He makes things happen and brings people together. I’m hoping to be involved with some art shows involving things all music, fashion, protest and pictures. I’ve got another album on the go and I’ve an album finished but I need to raise funds so I can get the vocals recorded. Making money in the music business is not very easy but the Mrs. believes in me and I believe in what I do. As long as you believe anything is possible. Ask Didier Drogba. Best wishes to all who read this and big thanks Vivid Riot.”






2 Responses to “Dan Nolan – The Casual”

  1. Sal Job's June 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Thank You !:

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