Interview: Dan Mangan (Vancouver)

This week we welcome our latest contributor Danni!  Based out of Calgary, Danni will be assisting with our coverage of the flourishing Canadian music scene.  She’s the music editor for Calgary Fashion and has previously written pieces on Bloc Party, Gaslight Anthem and Stars.  Today enjoy her inspiring interview with Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Mangan!  Welcome to Mezzic, Danni!

“What Happens Next?” is a forty-five minute documentary following Dan Mangan through his journey to play Vancouver’s Orpheum Theater. The theater opened it’s doors in 1927, rested in the heart of downtown Vancouver and it’s the largest vaudeville house the city has. He had a dream to share the experience with 3000 people. “All my life I have wanted to be adored by 3,000 people, that’s a very different thing then saying all my life I wanted to share this experience with 3,000 people,” he states at the start of the film. This is one of the reasons that Mangan is respected and loved by his peers. This isn’t about fame, or being adored, it’s about sharing something he holds so close to his heart, with a crowd of people that feel the same way. Inspiration is an interesting thing; we feed off each other whether it’s negative or positive we take what we are putting out, and Mangan is the definition of unconditional love. “The best part about being with Dan is being inspired to be a better person and better artist. Cause he brings out a lot of the thing I want to be,” Kirsten Slenning says of her husband during the filming of documentary. You might think she is being biased, but there is this moment right afterward she is at a loss for words in what she has said about the man she loves, and in that moment you feel how honest and lovely what she just said was.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/21126938″ iframe=”true” /]
When you are passionate about something, that what you are doing is an outlet to your own personal sanity it’s easy to understand why music chose Mangan, “I think that thus far my music has become, unquestionable, the catalase to experience in all the things I am doing. I feel like if I wasn’t making music I would be doing something that provided me with a body of work, when I am old I want to look back and think about what that has meant. At this point that’s about music, shows and albums. If I was a teacher it would be kids, and if you were a painter it would be your paintings. Working a job that provides no satisfaction aside from a paycheck, is crazy. You get one shot at life and you spend most of it just barely getting the bills paid. I would rather be poor and satisfied. The fact is that as soon as you do something that you truly love, with passion and integrity, somehow the bills will get paid. It happens in some cosmic way.” People have wrote books on the kind of stuff that he is saying, he hasn’t read them, he has been too busy living it.

Life is about connecting, whether it is a temporary connection or one that over the years grows stronger and stronger. “We are a combination of all the experience in our lives. When you’re a kid you get stung by a bee, you learn don’t mess around with bees. All the things that have taught us that compassion and honesty are good thing, that positive reinforcement goes a long way. The people in my bands, the people in my music industry team, I just don’t want to be surrounded by people that are dicks, so it’s important to that everybody gives off that good vibe, and be surround by good people. It’s incredible what can be accomplished when you know everyone has the right intention in mind. My band keeps me in line; they give me as hard of time as my buddies back home. It’s about believing in something and not to settle, I am not a trained musician I am very street school musician, making sure that people around me are truly great, and intuitive players, I think back to a couple years ago and how much I have learned from being around them.”

Words come easy for him, over the course of our twenty minute chat you can tell he spends a lot of time in that head of his. “Et Les Mots Croises” he sings, “a singer needs to feel that he’s been had, it’s all so sad, oh broke, oh beat, oh twisted feet and so on and so fourth.” The song “Fair Verona” though named after the city which “Romeo and Juliet” was taken place, transports me to Cameron Crowe’s “Vanilla Sky,” “Now forgot, how we met, Those days have all passed, Now the cast is filling to the stage, In the rage and taking their places.” He ends the song repeating, “Til we’ve forgotten where our hearts have been.”

There is a wisdom that Dan Mangan has about him, maybe it is the Taurus in him if you believe in astrology, but I think it’s more of the solid people that enrich his life and make him be better every day. He is an amazing musician and person, and you know that he has surrounded himself with people that are just like him, people that challenge him, inspire him and push him. In return he does the same.

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