Acclaimed singer-songwriter Dan Mangan talks change, fatherhood, and the immediate connection of music in this revealing and candid one-on-one
Dan Mangan can attest to the give and take between the songwriter and listener. It’s a delicate balance he explains, with the ultimate payoff being that link, that emotional connection that forms a bond not easily broken.
“I think all art, not just music, are stabs at trying to keep existential loneliness or dread at bay,” shares the award-winning singer-songwriter.
Two months removed from his latest studio offering More or Less, Mangan kicks off a lengthy Canadian tour here in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a sold out engagement in St. John’s.
“It’s really special,” he says of the province that has been so accommodating to him throughout the years. “Every time I come to St. John’s I go on some new excursion …. There’s a vibrant sort of culture embedded with the history of people and music and there’s also just a lot of crazy geography. It’s a pretty remarkable corner of the world.”
Daddy’s Gone Wild
Truth be told, life on the road is a very different beast for Mangan since becoming a father. Seizing the day and living the night takes a back seat to family and adult priorities, though if you could indulge anywhere, he laughs, St. John’s. would be the place to do it.
“We have a joke sometimes on tour of daddy’s gone wild,” he laughs. “To be honest, most of the time it is pretty mild. These days that’s not where my head is at. I tend to take it pretty easy.”
That maturity has led Mangan to the reasoning that the life of a touring musician provides a certain amount of give and take. Sure, he provides a service, a form of entertainment and escapism, but he owes it to his fans and public to provide a can’t miss night of entertainment, that requires a certain amount of commitment and professionalism.
“When I’m touring now there’s more of the sense that this is work, and I don’t mean that in a bad way,” he says.
“I mean that this is my life’s work and I’m less concerned in making sure that every night is the funnest night of my life and more concerned in making sure that every show is as good as it can possibly be. I respect the fact that people bought tickets, got babysitters or whatever they did. They’ve arranged their life to be there that night. If you go crazy in one town it could ruin the show in the next town. As much as I like to have fun on tour, my primary concern now is making sure that every show is awesome.”
Letting Go on Stage
On stage, Mangan prides himself on being an open book, providing an intimate and honest relationship between artist and audience. It’s been his M.O since day one, and has served him well in a decorated career.
“The thing that I want to do every night on stage is get totally vulnerable, honest and be in my skin,” he says.
“If I’m getting carried away in the fantasy of being on tour I find I have a harder time letting go on stage. That’s what I’m there to try to do, to get unconscious and be with people and remove all pedestals and take away any presumption of what’s happening and be myself with a bunch of people.”
Fatherhood has done wonders for the career singer-songwriter, opening up an entirely new avenue of inspiration and artistic expression, though it does of course present a certain amount of challenges to navigate.
“There’s no doubt that I’m a different person now than I was ten years ago. Every step along the way has been an important step to the next stone. When I was younger I really just wanted a piece of the thing. I wanted to be involved in this big, exciting world of music,” he admits.
“I’m one of the lucky ones where I was able to establish a following. Music used to be the absolute number one, without question, thing in my life. Now it’s my kids. It’s a balance, you have to find a balance.”
Mangan admits he’s never had quite such a positive response to his work as he’s had for More or Less, making that push and pull between artist and audience all that more rewarding.
“Every time there’s a cosmic connection between someone who broadcasts something and someone who receives it, that’s a win,” he says. “Take the win. That’ll give you a day of feeling connected.”
For more on More or Less and Dan Mangan visit his official social medias and website at danmanganmusic.com