An Interview with Dan Bodan

Dan Bodan is a Berlin-based musician originating from the Canadian Prairies. Although there isn’t a huge amount of his music online, what there is of it is an intriguing selection of informal performances in galleries and collaborations with visual artists. A particular favourite, ‘What’s So New’, is a compelling blend of sweet echoing male vocal and dream-paced, tropically-tinted backing, teamed with a hypnotic video by artist Dena Yago. His recent album ‘Nudity & Atrocity’, described as a “gothic romance”, is available now on limited edition vinyl at Pro qmMotto, or upon email request to his co-founded record label Mangrove. We caught up with him to ask more about his projects:

How would you describe your music?

It’s not exactly genre-specific so I usually just say I sing. Like singer-songwriter style. But with beats.

Your records are for sale at Motto and Pro qm, not typical music outlets.. How did that come about?

Well with Pro qm, Axel Wieder saw me play at the CTM Festival a few years back and invited me to do a performance at the store and I prepared an album specifically for the shop (Cashmere Sweater). But in Berlin those book stores kinda make the most sense for distribution of all kinds of liberal and DIY productions, including music.

Is the video for ‘Nudity and Atrocity’ (below) a collaboration as part of a bigger project? 

Yeah, ‘Nudity & Atrocity’ became a collaborative work with other artists. There is, in theory at least, a video for each song and the record cover was designed by Simon Denny. Other people wrote press texts and developed MP3 art for the digital singles. I had an exhibition of all the completed works associated with a project in Japan this past november at Harcoza (details here). They changed the name to ‘COPYCAT in 3D’ though, because they felt ‘Nudity & Atrocity’ was insensitive in light of the earthquake and tsunami.

It seems you perform in more galleries than regular gig venues, how has that happened?

I mean, most of my friends are artists or work in the art world and a lot of people came to the Pro qm show so I started being offered gigs at galleries, museums, bookshops and other art spaces. I don’t see what I do as performance art or anything (I’ve thought about it, but I can never justify it that way), it’s just the context that I’ve found popularity. And it’s a tricky one too, because despite the enormity of the art market it’s not terribly lucrative and in some ways it can be limiting to play to a rather specific demographic. Then again I travel a lot and it’s given me the opportunity to play in some amazing spaces and engage in a dialogue with really fascinating and interesting people.  It’s provided me an access to a certain part of society that I either wouldn’t have known about or been able to engage with on (roughly) my own terms.

Can you tell me more about Mangrove? 

Mangrove is a project label I started with my friend Martin Thacker. I was working on putting out a self-released vinyl when I decided I wanted to start a label to help put out music from other people I like. Martin is an artist and runs a small import-export business and said he wanted to get involved too. So far we’ve only put out a limited run of my record and did some screenings for an indie film (www.wetlooks.net) but we’re slowly working towards getting more stuff out for 2012. I don’t think we’ll ever do another vinyl release though. There’s way more interesting ways of distributing and monetising music through new developments online, and we’re more interested in getting our hands dirty with that.

What’s next for you? 

I’ve started working with a label in the UK and they’re putting out a single in the next month or so. I’m working on another album at the moment, something more produced and polished, with some rad collaborators. I’m trying to move away from DIY where possible. I’m doing a collaboration with Maxwell Simmer at a group show at Sandy Brown on Saturday the 11th of feb and I do a monthly night of ‘Lounge Songz’ at TIMES here in Berlin.

See and hear more of Dan on his Bandcamp, facebook and vimeo.