Artist Interview: New Jersey’s Own Dan Avery
New Jersey should be proud of their native son Dan Avery as he rises up the Tradiio charts. Avery is using this international music platform to reach audiences all over the world with his powerful and inspiring piano ballads. I got a chance to have a nice phone chat with Dan regarding his musical journey and career. He comes across immediately as a fast-talking mover and shaker; he’s a force in the industry and you need to know about his music.
First, Avery explains that he has been singing for as long as he can remember. He grew up singing songs like “Love Potion Number Nine” as a youngster. It wasn’t until his teenage years, probably around 17, that he decided to pursue music seriously. Avery found music a great way to process the peak emotional times in life. In the year 2009 he “hit a wall” and decided to just go for it musically; boy are we glad he did! Avery’s music wells up out of his charismatic life in ways that helps the rest of us make sense of our own experiences. He shines light into the darkness and we are grateful for it.
He has developed an eclectic musical palette. If you’ve heard his music, some of his influences will seem unsurprising: classics like Billy Joel and Elton John are on there. Even pop stars like Damian Rice and Jason Mraz make sense. But then Avery mentioned Butch Walker, whose intriguing pop sound is definitely all over Avery’s music. It was interesting hearing him talk about these influential artists, even classic rock acts like the Allman Brothers Band, that so fundamentally shape the way he makes music as well. It’s great to know that he’s fulfilling such a rich musical tradition in his own way.
I had to ask about his songwriting process. How does the music get from an idea in his head to the version that ends up in our earphones? He explained that it almost always starts with an acoustic guitar and some vocals; all of the music can be performed in its simplest form. In an intriguing twist, Avery said that he “sits on” songs for a long time. “I have catalogs of unfinished songs,” he explained. By this he means that he will start a song but keep going back to tweak it over and over. It’s the “artsy perfectionist” in him. On behalf of your listeners, Dan, we’re glad to keep going back and make it right; when it’s right, it’s really good!
My favorite of Dan’s songs is “Black Crow,” an emotionally-heavy ballad that comes from a deep place in his life. He explained that five years ago he received an important call to go see a friend who was in trouble. The conversations that emerged out of that – about the meaning of life and love for friends – shaped a dynamic and moving song. He explained that there’s a sentiment of friendship that we too often genuinely express to our friends. The song is about that feeling and our need to express love to our friends. Stylistically, I enjoy the song for its engaging pop sensibility – it reminds a bit of Ben Rector, who is one of my favorite artists. I have to say that a song that explores the depth of depression and self doubt with such an upbeat perspective is also something that Rector would do. “We all know how it feels to be the black crow…” Indeed.
Avery is in the process of setting up a tour right now, so go follow him on his socials and keep an eye out for that announcement. His EP Free Dan Avery released just a few months ago in the fall of 2015, so it’s a hot album right now. When I asked him to describe his music, Dan said that it is “empathy through sound.” I loved that line and think it reflects his pure heart for the music and for the people he influences. He said that if his music “affects one person in a positive way” that it is worth making. I can definitely say that this music does just that. Please give it a share and make sure that others get the chance to hear this accomplished songwriter and the powerful messages he’s sharing with the world.