Interview – Hush About The City

Dan Kelsey, now known as Hush About The City, may have taken a 10-year hiatus from music, but that only gave him time to grow even more as a person and, in turn, an artist.

When asked the main focus of his new album, On Making Friends, Dan says,

“it’s a fresh start. This collection of music narrates the pain and confusion that accompanies the loss we can’t escape in life. Part of my goal with the album and my platform is to help others acknowledge who they really are and what they feel as well. Mental health for everyone, it can’t be said enough.”

You’re working as a solo act now, but at the start of your career headed up your own band (Blue Sky Addicts). What made you want to change directions?

Well, the first thing that happened wasn’t the desire to change directions, the band sort of fell apart at breakfast one morning, so there I was. We were young, and I think [now] largely agree that we didn’t know how good of a thing it was that we were working on. I wanted to rework a couple of songs in a more electronic way even when we were still practicing and performing as a group, so I started learning about audio software and really just dove into it headfirst. I’d love a band again, but as anyone in a band will tell you, it can be really hard. It’s a totally different set of challenges, and we were a bunch of fatigued youths.

Your new album, On Making Friends, touches on some incredibly personal topics. Is there ever a line for you between just how much to share or does the music act more as an outlet?

Oof, great question. Well first and foremost, my writing is my primary outlet for the straight up processing of emotion in my life. Over the years I’ve definitely written things that were too personal and then censored the world from myself because I could tell it went too far or became too real.  Over the course of producing this album, I was living through the hardest period of my life, and those raw places and feelings almost write themselves if you have the wherewithal to take the lid off your pen. The first draft is always the most raw, but the most revealing and personal, so a lot of songs start closer to that state and then get written down to more of a 7/10 on the vulnerability scale.

The past year has definitely thrown the entertainment industry into a whirlwind; how did you stay motivated to keep creating?

The real truth is that a lot of the time, I didn’t. Sitting down at my station became a chore, and most days I had to regard it as an external obligation just to turn everything on and do something. Even when I was committed to it, I frequently failed to show up. Discipline is a really interesting variable to throw into art, and in this, I relied on it heavily to continue being productive. This is really a first album, so my support hasn’t come from leagues of fans dying to know what’s next. The accountability is largely internal. A few close friends who would check in, or encourage me when I shared something are largely responsible for this whole thing getting off the ground.

With such an incredible combination of sounds on the album, what’s a brief step-by-step in your creation process? Lyrics followed by music rounded out by everything else or is it different every time?

Well, I used to write everything sitting at a piano, and when I had something I liked musically, I shaped lyrics to it while making considerations for other instruments. Making music through a computer doesn’t necessarily happen the same way, I believe because it isn’t engaging in the same way as having your hands on an instrument. Organic instruments make me feel like a song is growing, where a computer session sort of feels like assembling. I always want to keep a lot of mood and emotion in my work, so that’s the bigger challenge with a style embedded in electronic sounds. A lot of times a song will start with a little beat or melody that pops into my head, so I end up generating the elements I can hear as well as I can. Then I just try to give it attention from a creative posture. I often have lyric starts ready, and if the vibe is right I might pair one into a session and build them together.

What are your plans for the next six months?

I’m really looking forward to sending these songs out into the world and then just resting about it all for a bit. I hope it’s natural to feel apprehensive at this stage because I really don’t know what’s about to happen, if anything. I’m ready to start another album, but I want to breathe some clean air first and get a good personal reset in. Other than that, lots of carbonara.

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