Image Courtesy of Daniel Champagne
If you’ve been to a folk or blues festival over the last few years you’ve probably come across the wonderful music of singer-songwriter Daniel Champagne. If you haven’t seen him before you’re in for a treat – at just 22 years of age Champagne has solidified his spot as one of the most talented and inspiring guitarists on the Australian festival circuit as well as one hell of a songwriter. With a new live EP, Real Live, just released and a string of dates throughout the country over the coming months we thought it was about time Timber and Steel got to know the man behind the music.
Evan Hughes: So the new EP Real Live has just hit the stands hasn’t it.
Daniel Champagne: Yeah on Thursday [19th April]
EH: Are you getting much of a reaction from it yet?
DC: Yeah! It went to all the radio stations earlier last week so they’ve started playing it and I’ve been doing heaps of interviews and that sort of thing. Everyone that I’ve heard from has been really appreciative of it. The reason I did it was because a lot of people were asking at gigs for a CD that sounded like me playing on stage. I got the idea from people listening – that’s why I did it.
EH: It’s nice to have something that you’re proud of that you can hand to people at the end of a gig and say “this is what you just saw”.
DC: Yeah, totally.
EH: And you played Bluesfest a couple of weeks ago. How was that?
DC: This is the third time I’ve played it and it’s always been really good. This year I was only there for a few hours because it was one of those weekends where I had different shows in different states. But yeah, it was a great show. A really good crowd. I think it was first thing on one of the mornings but it was a really full tent – there’s always a great sound and a really good response. It’s just good to be up there while all the energy’s there in Byron. It’s a colossal festival and always great to be a part of.
EH: It’s just huge but there is a community feel about it.
DC: I think a lot of people who live in the area work at the festival and are involved in some way which helps towards that.
EH: You tend to play a lot of festivals. Is there something about the festival crowd that you think really digs your music?
DC: I think festival people dig music in general. People go to festivals to have a good time so most of the festivals I’ve played you’d have to be doing something offensive or bad for them not to like you. For me it’s really relaxing going to a festival for a weekend and hanging out, catching up with other muso friends, seeing some music, playing and sleeping in the same bed for more than one night in a row. When I was 13 or 14 I started playing my local festivals and then started playing The National [Folk Festival] and Woodford [Folk Festival] and other ones around the country. They’re the first experiences I had of playing to larger crowds which is a different thing to playing shows which I’m starting to do a lot more of now.
EH: You’ve played a lot of the folk festivals as well which tend to attract a different crowd – people who are there for the music, not the big name headliners. Do you find that?
DC: Yeah definitely. I think with folk festivals – which is how I started out and still probably do most in Australia and overseas – it’s a real celebration of music. There’s been a few festivals I’ve been to, and I won’t name any, that you feel it’s more people going for the names on the poster and maybe to say that they’ve seen such-and-such. Most of the folk festivals and a lot of the blues festivals too are about just going for a weekend and celebrating music and each other’s company and seeing some acts you really like and discovering new acts.
EH: Would you describe your music as folk music?
DC: I’d describe it as acoustic music which can change song by song. That’s the beauty of playing a guitar and singing – you’ve got total control and you can play a deep blues song one minute and then a 300 year old English folk ballad the next.
EH: You’ve just started your absolutely massive national tour that takes place for the rest of April then May and June, playing all these dates in cities and regional centres as well. Are there many places on the tour you haven’t been to before?
DC: It’s just been extended through July too with North Queensland and regional areas. Weirdly enough I’ve played most places. I guess I’ve been doing this for four years now, since I left school, and I’ve always tried to get out of the cities. A lot of artists when they tour I guess just do Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and maybe Hobart. But because I always want to be on the road and playing five nights a week I’m addicted to it – that’s been my opportunity to do that, go out to the country and play all these different places. Some of them I would never go back to and there’s heaps that I’ve wanted to go back to.
EH: I’m looking at just how many shows you’ve got coming up – you must get exhausted by the end of it.
DC: People ask me that because I have literally been playing four or five nights a week for the last four years but the only times I’ve ever been tired or sick or anything is the times I’ve had a break. As long as there’s touring and a place to play each night there’s a lot of energy. It’s always an event when you rock up to a town and play a show. I’m only ever playing two hours a night so the rest of the time I’m just hanging out and doing my thing.
EH: It’s a hell of a life. There’s something romantic about it – like the old travelling minstrel.
DC: I think the best thing about it is every town I’ve played I’ve now got a little family and a place to stay. I’ve never paid for accommodation a single night touring, I’ve always got a place to stay and a group of friends who want to hang out and party or whatever. I guess I’ll have to keep on touring to keep catching up with my friends.
EH: Do you find that being on the road all the time informs the music you play? Does it help your music evolve?
DC: Definitely, it helps the songwriting. You get a lot of different perspectives because you’re meeting all these different people in different places. You’ve got more stories to tell and you’ve got more perspective to write from. And then in terms of singing and playing the guitar – playing heaps and heaps of shows can only make you better. That’s how my guitar playing’s developed and that’s how my singing’s developed.
EH: Well thanks for chatting with us today. Good luck with the rest of the tour.
DC: Thanks very much!
The remaining list of dates on Daniel Champagne’s current tour are below:
Sunday 29th April – The Bridge Tavern Nowra, NSW
Tuesday 1st May – Toff in Town Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 3rd May – Lizotte’s Central Coast, NSW
Friday 4th May – Lizotte’s Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 5th May – The Clarendon Guest House Katoomba, NSW
Sunday 6th May – The Brewery Mudgee, NSW
Monday 7th May – The Espy St Kilda, VIC
Tuesday 8th May – Toff in Town Melbourne, VIC
Friday 11th May – The Camelot Lounge Sydney, NSW
Saturday 12th May – Culburra Beach Festival Culburra, NSW
Monday 14th May – The Espy St Kilda, VIC
Tuesday 15th May – Toff in Town Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 16th May – Mojo’s Fremantle, WA
Friday 18th May – Ya Ya’s Perth, WA
Monday 21st May – The Espy St Kilda, VIC
Tuesday 22nd May – Toff in Town Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 24th May – Blues On Broad Beach Broad Beach, QLD
Friday 25th May – Blues On Broad Beach Broad Beach, QLD
Saturday 26th May – Blues On Broad Beach Broad Beach, QLD
Monday 27th May – The Espy St Kilda, VIC
Tuesday 28th May – Toff in Town St Kilda, VIC
Thursday 31st May – SOL Bar Maroochydore, QLD
Friday 1st June – The Sound Lounge Gold Coast, QLD
Sunday 3rd June – Harvest Café Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 7th June – Yours and Owls Wollongong, NSW
Friday 8th June – Snowy Mountains Music Festival Perisher, NSW
Saturday 9th June – Snowy Mountains Music Festival Perisher, NSW
Thursday 14th June – The Front Canberra, ACT
Friday 15th June – The Front Canberra, ACT
Saturday 16th June – The Joynt Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 17th June – The Joynt Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 20th June – Republic Bar Hobart, TAS
Thursday 21st June – Royal Oak Launceston, TAS
Friday 22nd June – Skwiz Café Sheffield, TAS
Saturday 23rd June – Caravan Music Club Melbourne, VIC