Interview: Musician Dan Beese

I am a huge fan of the Acoustic Rooms event that takes place at Rescue Rooms Nottingham. In addition to the Happy Hour prices,it hosts the best of local talent (Jake Bugg had his first gig there)whilst providing a relaxed and friendly platform for the budding amateurs to take a shot under the spotlight. 

I managed to catch up with one of the acts who performed at Acoustic Rooms recently- Dan Beese and asked him a few questions about his love for music and how he got into performing. 

Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to play at Acoustic Rooms. 
A.My name is Dan Beese, I am 20 years old and I’m from London. I currently study Medicine at
Nottingham and I’m in my second year. 

Last year I was in Cripps Hall on Campus which is where I met one of the bar staff, George Holroyd, who is also a singer/songwriter. After watching him play at an open mic night in halls I spoke to him as he seemed really confident and like he’d been playing for a while. He recommended trying to play at open mic nights in Nottingham and mentioned how Acoustic Rooms was a really good night. 

I carried on playing in halls and once I was confident enough I ventured into town to play around local bars and pubs.

Q.When and why did you start playing? What was the first tune(s) you learned?
A.I started playing guitar when I was about 14. I already played the piano and the flute at school, and was generally interested in music, so just started teaching myself a few chords. I would play for a few weeks then drop it for another few weeks so it was quite on and off for the first 2 or 3 years. 

only really started playing when I started writing songs in my last years of school, but of course the first song I learnt was Wonderwall.

Q. You play guitar really well, what are your other talents?
A.Thank you! Urm, I play the flute a bit, I’m also really into rugby and play for the Medic team at uni. 

Since living in a house I’ve started to really enjoy cooking for myself aswell.

Q. Who do you admire within the music industry? Why?
A.I spent a lot of time listening to Damien Rice when I was younger and really enjoyed his music. I think I enjoyed the harmonies between him and Lisa Hannigan, but also the way he used a lot of strings to accompany him. I also enjoyed how he wasn’t afraid to have large pauses in his music where not much or nothing was playing, I liked the way it wasn’t conventional in that sense. 

From there I got into acoustic music quite a lot and really enjoyed Glen Hansard’s film ‘Once’ and the soundtrack to that has been a big influence on me. Going into my final years of school I began to get into rap and hip hop, with Eminem being a massive influence. I think this is where I acquired a taste for meaningful or clever lyrics. 

But nowadays I listen to most things really.

Q.Who/ What inspires you- both musically and in general life?
A.Musically, I find Gabrielle Aplin quite inspiring with the success she had through her Youtube videos and also found Muse’s success and song-writing inspiring when I was younger. In life, I don’t really know. I find many people inspiring to be honest. 

I think Leigh Halfpenny is an inspiration to me- I’m half Welsh and I think his desire for perfection as well as the discipline to stay so fit and train so hard is just crazy, and is why he’s so good. But some of my school teachers were particularly inspiring and I also admire my parents for their work ethic.

Q. Do you get nervous before a performance? If so how do you overcome this?
A.I still do get nervous before a performance but I think after a few times playing live it gets easier. 

Nerves are a good thing though, in my opinion. I don’t really have a way to overcome it, I think I quite enjoy it as it sharpens you up and I find I’m less likely to make a mistake if I’m nervous- it’s when I get comfortable and more casual that I’ll miss a note or forget a lyric.

Q. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

A.Mistakes aren’t nice, but again I think they get easier the more you perform, as you realise that most people miss them. I don’t know really if I’ve got a way of dealing with them as such, you’ve just got to keep going. I think a lot of people respect you just for standing up and playing, so most people don’t want you to mess up. 

On Monday night my strap buckle broke completely at the end of my 2nd song. I did get a bit flustered but in the end I just sat down for the rest of the set.

Q.What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous? 

A.I think I’d just tell people to give it a go. I was so nervous the first few times, but now I really look forward to playing- you just have to get past the first few nights. Playing live often also teaches you a lot more than a teacher could- you have to make a few mistakes to get better.  

If you write your own songs, one thing I also found which was a bit counter intuitive, was that playing your own songs can actually be easier than doing a cover. No one knows how your song goes if you’re a beginner and 
so they don’t know if you’ve made a mistake. 

Doing a good cover is actually really hard and if it’s a popular song that people know I think there is a lot more pressure on myself when I play. Maybe its just me.

Q.   "Lying Here" sadly seems to depict a personal experience (correct me if I am wrong)- Where do you start when writing a new song, is it personal experiences or other things. 

A.Yeah, ‘Lying Here’ was a song I wrote last year in halls. It’s about a relationship that didn’t work out, and I worry sometimes that the lyrics are a bit too personal. But I find it hard to write unless it’s about something that is personal and real to me. 

I think writing songs is sometimes quite a big outlet for me so the lyrics are always going to be quite personal.

 Q.  Who are you listening to and loving/hating at the moment?
A.I’ve loved Ben Howard for a while and have adopted some of his tapping techniques in my own songs from covering a few of his songs. I think again, like Damien rice, it’s his harmonies combined with the cello playing of India Knight that I really love.
 Ed Sheeran is very clever with his lyrics as well and I have also come to appreciate Grime music ever since I met one of my house mates last year who introduced me to that genre. 
Nottingham has a large house music scene at the moment but that doesn’t really appeal to me, and I’m not really into chart music.

 Q. What can we expect from you in the near future?
A.Hopefully in the future I’ll have a few more songs up on my Soundcloud as I think I’ll spend a lot of time over the summer writing and recording. Other than that I’ll just be hopefully playing around Nottingham at wherever wants me!

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