Solo Musician Interview: Danny Mortimer

Danny Mortimer photo

Where are you from?

I’m from a town called Elgin in the North East of Scotland, in between Inverness and Aberdeen.

How long have you been playing your respective instrument(s)?

I have been playing guitar for maybe 13 years, playing in many bands etc and stepping up to be the singer in the last 4 or 5.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?

I would describe my music as being “Melodic Guitar Based Rock”.

What are your influences?

I have quite a few influences. My two favourite song writers are Jim Adkins (of Jimmy Eat World) and Johnny Rzeznik (of the Goo Goo Dolls). I really enjoy the way that they both write and that they both have their own unique style (or at least to me they do). They can both be very direct with their lyrics when they want to be, and yet be very vague when the song calls for it. I enjoy listening to lyrics that aren’t necessarily obvious as to what the song has been written about, which is something I try to emulate with my music. I very rarely give away the meaning to a song that I have written, as I feel that it doesn’t leave a listener to make up their own interpretation of what the song is about. Different songs will mean something different to each person and I believe if you give away the meaning, you take that away from the listener.

From a Guitar influence (other than Jim and Johnny mentioned above), I’m a huge fan of Richie Sambora. Although it might not be obvious in the music that I play, he has influenced my playing from very early on. I love the way that he can put so much emotion into his performance, especially during guitar solos at live gigs. You can see, that he has connected with the music and that each note means something. He is very much an ’emotional guitar player’ which is something I try to incorporate into my music. I try to play what I feel is write for the song, rather than throwing in fast licks and flashy guitar parts.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?

I tend to play more of my own material at gigs, however I have been known to throw in the occasional cover. During Acoustic shows, I have been known to play a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. With the band, I have also seen us playing some varied stuff from Neil Young’s “Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World” to Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together”, with both versions receiving a rocked up approach.

Do you have a process for writing your songs?

Not really, I try to run with an idea as and when it happens. If I’m playing guitar and find an interesting melody or riff, I will run with it as the idea is fresh and see what would actually happen with it. The same would happen with lyrics. I have seen me stressing over Lyrics for hours on end and then other times they come so naturally. I have also seen ideas for melodies and lyrics come at the most randomest of times, including when doing the dishes haha!

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?

Nothing springs to mind just now. I have been lucky enough to jam with Malcolm Jones of Runrig before, with myself on my Les Paul and Malcolm playing an accordion. It was an interesting set up.

What song do you remember most from your childhood?

I remember listening to a lot of Pop songs when I was very young, but I also remember my Dad had a small collection of albums in his car that he would listen to, including Dr Hook, The Police and Queen. So any time I hear a song by any of those bands, I think about those days.

What has been your biggest challenge as a performer? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so then how?

The biggest challenge for me would probably be trying to overcome being nervous before gigs. In the early days, I use to worry myself sick about playing music in front of a crowd, and then when I decided to take the step into singing those nerves became even worse. I knew what  I wanted to do , so I knew if I wanted to continue I would have to learn to use them to my advantage. It has taken me a long time to realize that being nervous can be a good thing. I applied for a music competition a while ago and I mentioned to one of the judges that I was nervous. Her reply has stuck with me since then, saying “that being nervous is a good thing, that it shows that you care about what you are doing”.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?

My music is available on all Digital Platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, Google Play, Deezer, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube etc.) as well as on CD from my website. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you released anything yet/if you have then how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?

I have released 2 Solo albums as well as one full band album, all of which are available online. My first experience in releasing a full album was with my last band “Christie Row” and the album “Headlights At Midnight”. From people that have listened to that record, to my first solo release (“Out Of The Blue”) and then to my most recent one (“Anything But Silent”), I would like to think people would be able to hear that I have progressed with each offering.  “Headlights…” was recorded as a band, whereas “Out Of The Blue” and “Anything But Silent” I went into the studio with my drummer friend, and I recorded as much as I could myself. It has pushed me to look at all aspects of the song, and making sure that all the instruments work together well. So hopefully if people listened to each album, they will be able to see that I’m feeling more comfortable in what I am doing and (with any luck) improving from the last.

Writing music on my own means I have a lot of creativity on where the song can go, but I try to push my writing with each release. I’m constantly writing new material and collecting ideas for new songs and I’m hoping to release some new music next year. My latest album “Anything But Silent” was released in April this year.

I’m incredibly lucky to say that my Music has received worldwide radio airplay, has charted in the Scottish New Music Charts on various occasions and even brought me to the attention of a New York based Record Label.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?

I have been lucky to perform at a wide variety of venues and events in my short time as a solo artist. Because there isn’t really many music venues in my hometown, I have to travel to get my music out there, which is great. Some of the highlights so far for me are playing at Tunnels (Aberdeen), The Green Room (Perth), Speyfest (for 3 years running), NXNE Scotland (Deeside), Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival (Beauly), O2 ABC (Glasgow) and more recently playing at the O2 Academy (Glasgow). I prefer venues where I can move about on stage, as i have a tendency to get very excited when playing and move around a lot.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

I’m currently leaning towards the tail-end of my “Anything But Silent” Tour just now promoting the album of the same name, so I have a few shows left. Having just recently played at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, I’m going to be playing at the Market Bar in Inverness, (4th of September), The Playhouse in Nairn (7th of September) before a few local shows before heading to Edinburgh to play at The Brig Below (6th October). The last date of the Tour is in my hometown on Halloween.

What do you think about downloading music online?

I think downloading music online does have its advantages. It obviously allows listeners to check out new upcoming music at the push of a button, which I think is great for unsigned acts. There is now so much variety that new fans and listeners can be found anywhere. But at the same time, it’s trying to get your music across to potential fans that is the biggest hurdle to get over, with bands trying to stand out in an abundance of acts in the same boat.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

Having next to no experience with record industries, I definitely think the more a band or act has control over their music/brand, the better. I feel that if it’s your brand that’s out in the public eye, you should have a firm grasp on what your ‘vision’ is and be able to do with it as you wish. The Indie market is a perfect example, doing things the way you want to do them.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?

I think if I had the opportunity to have dinner with any one of my inspirations mentioned above would be incredible. Just to talk about music and the way they work etc. I also think that having dinner with either Steven Tyler or Joe Perry (from Aerosmith) would be very interesting! Especially Steven Tyler. I think it would most definitely be an eye opener, hearing stories from the Aerosmith early years.


First Published on:

Off the Record is and always will be a free platform, but if you like what we do here and want to contribute to the production of future content then you can do so by donating to our PayPal or Ko-Fi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s