Interview

Deep Dive with Daniel Allan [Q&A]

Ian Hansen

Daniel Allan was recently featured in Time Magazine for pioneering a new way for artists to deliver music through NFTs and crowdfunding. He describes the plan as way for artists to gain independent capital and co-ownership between artists and the fans. Not only is Allan finding ways to innovate from a business standpoint, he is innovating through his signature sound as well. Learn more about Daniel Allan below.

What got you into music in just the second grade?

When I was in second grade, my brother, who is 15 years older than me, gave me his iPod classic. He was a curator of my early music taste. The iPod had Rakim, LL Cool J, Nas, Biggie, Raekwon, and the early rap music. I grew up in Louisville, so later on in my life, I noticed a lot of rappers were just rapping in the hallway in middle school. I just came up to them and asked them if they had a place to record. That was my first time with it. I just set up a $100 mic in my closet and would record rappers. In high school, I knew all the words to the rap beats and I got into producing. In line with recording these rappers, I asked where they got their beats and told them I’m learning how to produce and asked to make beats for them. That’s how I got into music.

How important was it for you to have multiple talents and be as versatile as you are?

It’s one of those things where you don’t know that it matters until you have to use it. I didn’t know that recording artists when I was 14 would help me 10 years later. I look up to Kenny Beats. He can do anything. He can make a country record, a rock record, and a crazy rap record. He came from an electronic world. He’s the poster boy of being versatile. What is important is being the energy in the room. That is something I didn’t realize I had been fostering when I was recording those artists. Just being their hype man and telling them they’re dope and making them comfortable.

You have a really unique sound. Tell me how you’re finding your sound and the direction you want to take your music.

I grew up on rap. Then I went straight 180 into electronic. For me, I listen to a lot of different stuff. I think because I make a lot of electronic music, a lot of people think that is all I listen to. My biggest influence is Kanye West. I have such an appreciation for both genres. I’ve seen both sides of it. I want to find a way to make both of them accessible. I’m working on more projects, and my next body of work will have a lot of rappers on it. I’m trying to make a space where both of those fans can come together. There is definitely pop influence in my music as well. I definitely like pop music too. I just want to create a world where people don’t really know what’s going on musically, but they like it.

Your most recent single “Too Close” is a prime example of having a distinct sound. What did you want to accomplish with it?

It’s a record I made with my buddy Bloody White. This year, one of my biggest things is working with artists that are out of the lane of stuff I was already doing. Last year I made straight pop music. I wanted to show I can do other stuff. I met him in March of 2021 and he became my most frequent collaborator. We make so much music together. “Too Close” was the third record we ever made together. It was in the middle of working on my upcoming EP, Overstimulated. The theme of Overstimulated is when I get overwhelmed, my unhealthy way of turning to things is locking the door and sitting in my room making music all day. It’s a therapeutic process for me. That’s how I came up with the whole theme. Bloody White sent me piano chords and I knew the whole song already. That’s how “Too Close” came about.

What do you want fans to get from your Overstimulated EP?

What is most important to me is outside the music, inspiring kids. Part of the project is I didn’t grow up as this insanely musically talented kid. It’s never too late to start on your musical journey and get after it. I make money doing what I love, and I’m not some special person. I just worked really hard, and I want to show kids you can do that. From a musical perspective, I want to showcase I'm not just a pop and EDM boy. I can do a bunch of different stuff. The rest of the project is showcasing what I can do. Everyone is unique and has their own way of dealing with stuff. I couldn’t figure out how to put mine into words and write it down. I just put it into this project.

How is it going to be different from your last EP, On The Bright Side?

I would say sonically, it’s a change. On The Bright Side is something I’m proud of, but it’s more on the pop side. Overstimulated will have more dark textures and will feel more real. On The Bright Side was me focusing on the bright side and seeing everything with a positive light.

How important is it to let out your emotions in your music?

It’s everything. I think it made me a better boyfriend, and a better friend. If you don’t let those feelings come to you then I think you limit yourself to sources of inspiration. I think if you are only looking for the positive side of everything which I think can be great, but I think you limit yourself on a sonic palette.

Take me through this whole NFT you have going on? What is it, why are you doing it, and what do you aim to accomplish with it? How can it help smaller artists?

I want to approach it delicately, because not a lot of people know about it. My biggest concern was being this intimidating guy. In music, I have two groups of friends. Those who want to sign a record deal and those who want to get out of a record deal. For artists like me, who are close to talking to major labels, they do have some weird situations. After a show I did, a bunch of people came up to me and of them was this dude named Cooper Turley. He is a big guy in the music NFT space. That next month, I got a few offers from record labels, but they weren’t the right fit. I talked to Cooper and asked him what it looks like. He told me to drop a music NFT. I was confused, but there is a way through this platform called “Catalogue” where you can put music files through artwork. I dropped my first music NFT and sold my first one for $3500. I sold five or six by the end of the month. I wasn’t blowing up on TikTok or doing a three month marketing campaign. Everyone valued my art.

When I dropped my NFTs, I spent my whole summer meeting people. This year, for my project Overstimulated, I gave away 50 percent of my master. The fans were the ones helping become my record label. We raised about $200k for the EP. That is all going into marketing, making it look sick, and stuff like that. I did this with 200 Twitter followers. Anyone can do it. You can change people’s lives with it. There was this lady who worked at Jimmy John’s and she also painted. She put up her art as an NFT and made $4,000. She called me crying and told me she could be a better mom. It’s bigger than me.

So you release the music through an NFT?

NFTs create a digital marketplace for art. If the Mona Lisa exists at a museum. Someone can pick up the physical painting and buy it. The value of the Mona Lisa is created by the people who say it’s a crazy piece of art. What if you are someone who is a digital artist? They spend 20 years doing this crazy digital art, but can only sell $20 prints of it. The only way they got any money was post stuff on Instagram. NFTs – for everyone – have created a digital marketplace for this to live. Let’s say you want to buy an online picture, you can sell it again. Let’s say you buy a piece of art early on, you can sell it later on for a lot of money. It’s the same thing for music NFTs. If you believe in the artist and want to have a connection with them, for you to own their art and collectible, you get close to the artist. They get to invest in my career.

They buy your NFT for little money now, then you blow up, they can sell it for a lot later?

Yes, and I own 20 percent of every secondary market sale. So every sale I get 20 percent of resell and perpetuity.

So the fans make money too?

Yes, and so do I. Let’s say the fan sells it for a $1 million, I get $200k. The next person sells it for $10 million, I get $2 million. I’m always benefitting from every resale because it’s my art. They are betting on me. Everything still comes out on DSPs. This is separate. It’s a different conceptual model of how people value art.

Listen to Overstimulated, out now below:

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