Scottish songwriter Daniel Docherty’s love of the guitar dates back to his childhood. From there he honed his confidence busking on the tough streets of Glasgow, Scotland and took his songs around the world, sleeping in his car and embracing the wealth of experiences.
Fast forward to January 2021, when Daniel not only released his third EP, Only Time Can Help Us, but also teamed up with the incredible director and animator Youri Dekker (Toy Story 4, The Incredibles 2). Following the release of the EP, we spoke with Daniel about his songs, growing up in Glasgow, and his experiences travelling the globe.
Thanks for your time Daniel. How is 2021 treating you so far and what are your hopes for the year ahead?
Daniel Docherty: “Hello! And thank you so much for taking the time to talk too, and for your brilliant readers for taking the time too, thank you all! This year, I’ll be promoting the new EP I have just released called Only Time Can Help Us. I’ll hopefully be recording this year, and look to be releasing my debut album next! I’ll be doing an online concert in the coming months, which I’ll be posting about on my social media.
This year, I’m hoping to be releasing a lot more live content too. I just moved into my first studio space which I am so excited about! I’m also looking at creating a guitar course too, focusing on lots of different techniques of playing guitar and using loop-stations. There have been shows booked, but I expect they will be postponed. I’m looking forward to 2021 and feeling very optimistic!”
Your animated new video is out for “Only Time Can Help Us.” What took you down the animated route?
“Ah, I am so excited that the video is out! I met Youri Dekker, an incredibly talented animator, based in California through Instagram. He kindly messaged and asked if I would consider an animated music video and as you can imagine, I was thrilled to do! We arranged a Zoom call, and Youri showed me and my manager the ‘pitch bible’ he had created. I was blown away. It was already an incredible body of work. Youri had created an animated version of myself! I must admit, seeing yourself as an animation is insanely cool! Youri had also researched a lot of Glasgow (where I am from and live currently) and had sketched landmarks throughout the city that he was going to include… Eight months later, from our first call, the animated video was released! I am truly thankful to Youri and all the work he has done! If you have a minute, you can see it on YouTube. It’s something I am super proud of, and feel very grateful that it has been created for one of my songs.”
Growing up were you a cartoon fan and are you a fan of animated films now?
“Absolutely, I love the feeling of watching animation. To me, it allows my mind to relax, and get taken away with all the beautiful colours and animation. I used to love Toy Story, which is cool, as Youri was also one of the animators for Toy Story 4! I found that very cool to see all the films he had made with Pixar too (The Incredibles 2, Coco, Soul). I’ve always really admired what these artists and animators create, and it has been so cool to see the animation for my song develop into what it is now.”
What was it like working with Youri who has worked on, as you have pointed out, some amazing films?
“From start to finish, so enjoyable. We both get on very well and had great fun sharing ideas. We were both very open to hear each other’s feedback. Being able to openly talk and be honest was really valuable, as it allowed us to really appreciate what we both saw and discuss how we felt about certain ideas. It’s a really exciting process of creating an idea with someone and experience the excitement being shared between two people! It really was a special experience that I am so thankful for!”
The track is also the title track to your new EP. How satisfying is it to be able to release music in these crazy times?
“It is a unique time for sure. I feel very grateful that I can release music still, and the fact that I could release an animated video was pure coincidence too! It still amazes me how an artist’s music can be heard all over the world via the internet and streaming services. It is satisfying knowing that I can engage with people who support my music through social media, and being able to share ideas and short videos is something I enjoy.”
It’s your third EP now. How do you feel you have changed as a songwriter over those three EPs?
“Third EP! Woohoo! It’s a special feeling to see how my music has changed since I released my first EP. I totally embrace the changes I’ve gone through as an artist; I’ve grown to be comfortable with appreciating all different styles of music I create and not feel too associated with any particular style. I’ve always been a big fan of guitar styles, especially acoustic/percussive/finger-style/loop-station styles, and love atmospheric guitar ideas within my music! I now have my own studio that I moved into in December, so I’m really excited about having my own space to produce and play! I’ll think about a lot of things when I’m making music, like what it would feel like to listen to with your headphones lying down relaxing, or what a song would feel like during a festival! I totally appreciate the unique experiences each environment gives.”
You grew up as a musician in Glasgow. How tough was that and what did you learn from those times?
“I first realized I was interested in playing the guitar when I was about ten when I would listen to my dad playing, who is an incredible guitarist. I would become more and more interested and would listen for longer each time. I would play with the tunings pegs while he was at work! I got my first guitar on Christmas Day, a right-handed Spanish/classical guitar that my dad turned into a left-handed guitar for me. I would play in bands and perform solo throughout high school.
When was 18, I began busking on May 10th, 2010. I was so scared! I remember sitting on the stairs outside a shopping centre, outside the busiest shopping street in Glasgow, thinking ‘no one does this, this is crazy!’ I played my first song ‘Faith’ by George Michael… what a buzz that was! The next day I went busking I decided to stand up while playing, to then eventually buying an amplifier and a microphone. I met my best friend too while busking, Christy O’Donnell, check out his music too, an incredible songwriter and singer, and an amazing person! I’m very proud of myself that I decided to go out and do something that was very scary at the time, whilst being so excited about it too!”
You’re also well-travelled as a musician. Again, what did you learn from those experiences and how frustrating is it not to be able to perform at the moment?
“I’m reallllllly missing playing live shows and the special atmosphere that we create through being in the one place. Anytime I play live, there is always this magic feeling before, throughout, and afterward. I love the setting up, soundcheck, being backstage knowing there are hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people just beyond the stage! I miss standing on stage and seeing faces, and the beautiful experience it is when people are so engaged listening. It really is a collective experience for me, where everyone in the room is part of one unique special experience!
I used to busk for years, and still love doing it! I travelled to a lot of cities in Scotland to busk, I went over to Dublin a few times, and I also took some trips with my car (and sometimes train) around parts of Europe. I would sleep in my car sometimes and just set up in these towns and cities I had never visited. I really embraced the unique and different cultures that each city offered. I learned to feel very comfortable improvising and playing what I felt. I met a lot of cool people doing this and I really appreciate all these experiences.”
Now the EP is out, tough question given the current climate, but what are your plans to promote it?
“Supportive people like yourself are a great way to reach new listeners! I’ve been doing some radio interviews via Zoom calls too which have been fun. I have been posting a lot of content on social media about the new EP and the making of the animated video… If you’d like to see how the video was made, then you can have a look on my Instagram. I plan on doing some live sessions of the tracks too which will be filmed and shared online.”
Your songs come written from personal experiences. What do you get out of writing from that point of view?
“I get a lot out of writing from personal experience. It’s a way of writing, that allows me to understand things more clearly, and from a different perspective sometimes. Writing down my thoughts acts like therapy, as you are getting things out of your head, into the world. It really helps to figure out some things by writing them down. There are also a lot of songs I write from a place of wonder and imagination. Things that haven’t happened to me, but thinking about what I think someone would feel like.”
Looking back through the journey that inspires your songs, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
“I think allowing myself to go wherever I feel when writing. To allow myself to sing words that come out of my mouth while I’m jamming, and improvising. I feel that when I am doing this, I am very relaxed in the sense that I am not trying to write about certain things until I get to a point where I feel like I want to continue writing about an idea.”
Looking to the future now, what about plans for new music and maybe an album?
“For now, continuing to promote the EP. I’m going to be doing an online concert in the coming months, which I will post about on my social media. I hope to be recording this year, and I expect the next body of work I release will be my debut album, which I am very excited about!”
Thanks for your time Daniel and good luck with the EP. Over to you for the final words…
“Thank you too for the great questions, and thank you to everyone who has read… I really appreciate you taking the time. I hope you are all doing good, and feel free to say hello on Facebook or Instagram. Thank you!”