Interview with Musician Dan Fur – Part of the Explore Independent Unsigned Artists Series – Dan Fur is an Ambient Synthesist (gun to my head and I had to classify) and one heck of an underground electronic musician. His material is enchanting, intriguing and not exactly associated with the unfortunate connotation of “dour” which ambient tunes tend to receive. Dan’s music is reminiscent of a long contemplative wander down a cylindrical tunnel. The difference here, is that there is a light at the end of it. Thought-provoking, nuanced and always worthy of a listen, let’s give it up for Dan Fur!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today, Dan! As you know, this site’s entire intention is artists helping artists. I’m an experimental artist, you are certainly a hell of an underground artist yourself, so this seems like the perfect pairing for an interview, haha. All kidding aside, I’m interested in learning as much as I can about you and what all that means – Let’s get this road on the show !
You happen to be the first interviewee I’ve worked alongside with who doesn’t use a pen name, so need to ask you your real name. But, part two of the question isn’t a wash at least! Where do you hail from?
Dan Fur actually is a pen name, believe it or not. My real name is Paul. Dan Fur stems from scrambling my full name. When you look at one of the combos of the letters you get, “Warped Oddball Dan Fur.” I always felt that was suiting, ha-ha.
As for part 2 of the question, I was born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada. Then, I moved out to Halifax, Nova Scotia for 5 years. Now I happen to be back living in Winnipeg.
Well, that’s an embarrassing way to start which is my fault… I apologize for not knowing that. Although, I will continue to call you Dan regardless . . But, hey, this is just us getting to know one another anyway.
How does residing in that location specifically affect and reflect its connection to your music, if any?
I’m super grateful for where I live right now. The culture in Winnipeg is a very art-friendly scene. I was even able to find a good Mentor in this city! That has been huge for the progression of my artistry.
So, I’m just taking a complete shot in the dark here, so set me straight if I’m wrong – originally a piano player?
Funny enough, not really. You assumed incorrectly but I can get why. My parents tried to put me in to piano as a kid and I HATED it. I actually never got passed level 1 piano. However, about 3(ish?) years ago I decided I wanted to start making music. I figured I might as well just learn the piano. However, I had been playing guitar and bass since grade 7. I was always into music.
How long have you been a musician and what ultimately drew you towards utilizing synthesizers?
I have been playing guitar and bass since around 12. I didn’t start producing, playing piano and actually loving/appreciating music the way I do until about 3 years ago. As far as what drew me to synths it’s really hard to say. I think i just always loved the sounds growing up and when I finally started to figure out how those sounds were made, I couldn’t not play around with synths. Believe it or not, it was actually discovering what synths are that led me to want to learn the piano.
What other forms of art pique your interest most outside of music and why?
I recently have been really interested in graphic design and video editing, however they seem to be much more challenging than music for me.
“Man, you move quick” is the first thing I think when I look at your catalog and how much you’ve released in just two years. What do you attribute this speedy pace to?
Why, thank you 🙂 I would probably attribute the amount of releases due to a good number of things; One reason would be the fact that I love to mix and master. As soon as I finish a song I’m so excited to master it and release it to the world that I just keep on going.
Another reason would be deadlines! I tell my Mentor all of my deadlines and whenever I don’t meet those deadlines he asks me why I didn’t do it. He doesn’t actually care, but the simple conversation about it really encourages me to beat the deadlines and finish projects.
As far as album art goes – Do you do that yourself, or is there another artist whom we can give some props here for their excellent works?
One of my best friends does almost all of my graphic design and cover art. His Instagram page is @scottmandziuk if anyone was interested in hitting him up for some work. He’s pretty busy right now, but there’s a possibility he could be up for more projects soon!
I usually wait until about question 4 for this one but your material piques my interest in this regard. Gear rundown, present rig only, go!
Oh boy, ha-ha. My main hub and master clock is Ableton. Then, I run Ableton out to a Novation Circuit as my main groovebox/sequencer for a bassstation 2. I then run midi clock out of the Circuit to my DSI Rev2, TR8 and JP08. And finally, I have a Studiologic Sledge 2.0 for playing live leads and crazy ambient space.
That is almost too funny. You answered that the way I would – ‘Well, there’s this chained to that, which causes this but really we have this over here controlling that’. Not just device, device, device – I love it!
Of your many instruments, which one still surprises and excites you? Your ‘main squeeze’ of a unit, if you will. The one you find you always default to. What bit of gear would that be?
No doubt in my mind – It’s the Rev2. It has such a beautifully grainy texture to it, it’s just truly amazing.
What other instruments might be present in your mix which are played by yourself but are items I may not notice had you not told me?
All my music released so far is synth based stuff, but I have been learning to play the saxophone and want to start including it in my music ASAP.
Oh my freaking god that sounds like an awesome thing to look forward to. I can’t wait for the ‘Dan Fur Presents Jazz Fusion’ album because I know that’s definitely something you’d make really interesting.
I feel the pacing of your recent single, Uncertain, is one of the awesome aspects that may go over the head of the John Q. Listeners out there. Your pace seems, at least to me, to be a purposeful, thought provoking effort (across your catalog). Do you find yourself increasingly drawn in by these slower, more relaxed tempos in general as time goes on, or is this somewhat of a stylistic shift we’re seeing from you as you just continue to hammer material out?
You hit the nail right on the head with that one. I totally love the slower more drawn out beats. I’m finding that by slowing the songs down it gives more room in between each beat and that creates so much more space to lock in a unique groove. Or, just provide enough space for the sound to breathe. When the bpm is fast, the focus is all on the beat, but with a slower bpm there is much more focus on what happens between the transient moments of a song. THAT’s what I’m really interested in.
I’m not sure if I’m speaking accurately here, so please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Since only a very tiny percentage of us are able to keep the eviction notice off of our doors thanks to an additional day job I’m imagining you have one. What do you do for a “living”?
Well, a few months ago I used to be a manager at a customs brokerage firm, but I recently quit that job to do audio full time! So, currently I run my own studio and have a few small clients that I have been able to make a bit of money from this summer. Business is growing, but still not quite where I need it to be so I recently took out my savings and bought a house. I plan on renting a few rooms (and I also have a job cleaning carpets one day a week just for a bit of extra income, ha-ha).
How does that gig affect your musical material, either positively or negatively?
Back when I was working a full time job it was sooo draining, but ever since I quit and have been doing audio mostly full time it has been amazing. I find I am sometimes too busy to work on music due to client projects, but the skills I learn from those projects I can take back and use in my music and that’s really cool.
Have you always been a solo artist, or will I be shocked to find out you were previously a member of the most esteemed Kiss cover band to ever exist, or something wild like that?
I did play in a High School band. We played one gig and I was the bass player, ha-ha. I was so nervous I stood still and didn’t move the whole show. I currently play bass in my buddies band “The Sunset Vibe” but other than that it’s just my solo stuff.
Do you ever plan on straying from solo artistry and joining forces with some folks to start a band, or this is your niche and you’re sticking to it?
I really want to collaborate with as many artists as possible. As I love the creative flow you can get through collaboration, but I’m not sure I have the time to fully focus on starting up another band with everything I have going on right now. However, that being said, there are some old friends that don’t live in the same city anymore and we have strong ambitions to start up a side project. Guess the answer is you never know what can happen!
Is there any super-duper Dan-only secrets in regards to your music or approach that now, since I’ve put you on the spot, you would be comfortable with sharing for the first time here? Interesting factoids, famous relatives, you coat checked Hunter S. Thompson once?.. Things like that.
Go out and network!!!!! The best thing I have ever done for my music production is going to local producer events. I spent 25$ and went to a full day workshop and met some of the best resources in the city. Social media is amazing for networking, but don’t neglect the power of real life networking. Those events are the only reason I was able to start up my own studio and actually get clients. It’s at those events that I met my Mentor.
Is there anything at all which you’d like to convey towards any readers as we start wrapping up here? Things I neglected to ask you about yourself and your music, your process or your approach?
Stop worrying if your music is good enough and just release it. You will learn so much more from releasing music and working on a new song than you ever will constantly tweaking the same song in the hopes of making it perfect. Some of my most successful songs are songs I almost didn’t want to release, so it just goes to show you never know what is actually going to resonate with people.
Everyone, let’s give it up for Dan Fur!!
What an absolutely inspiring interview. Like him or not, there’s no denying the dude’s got freakin’ cajones. Leaving a job is never easy and this guy went and dumped his whole wad into audio production! That’s just incredible to me. Everyone reading this article needs to take heed of the sage advice he provided here. Forget everything else and pursue your passion, make the music you want, network, collaborate and focus. If you didn’t get side-tracked and go to his Spotify page while you were in the midst of reading this I will personally come to your house and bitch slap you. Go there now! I want to thank Dan once more for his time and honest, open answers. And, as always, keep on rockin’ and rollin’!
Fyi – There’s actually boatloads of interviews available with underground artists available within the Latest News section.