An interview with up-and-coming songwriter Daniel Docherty

Singer, songwriter and virtuosic guitarist Daniel Docherty will be a new name to most; not long since having released his debut EP and announced his first UK tour, but he’s an artist you’ll definitely want to familiarise yourself with. Influenced by the likes of Jeff Buckley and John Martyn, he exhibits the dynamic vocal range and subtle finger-style guitar playing that were hallmarks of each artist’s respective style, but he’s no revivalist, with his vibrant recordings recalling that of artists Hozier and Ben Howard. His first Manchester show takes place at the idyllic Castle Hotel on 6th December. Ahead of the show, we spoke to Daniel about his hometown, his first UK tour and his plans for the new year.

So you’re embarking on your first UK tour next month, how are you preparing and what can we hope to hear from you?

Yes! The tour starts next month and is a brand new experience for me to be playing my first headline tour! I’ve been working a lot on the writing of new songs, and the live performance as a show. I use various guitar tunings, along with some effect pedals and a loop station. Having found two incredible guitars recently that I have been looking to buy for years, I am very excited to use these for the first time, live! (It also saves some time tuning between songs which is nice).

The new video for This Holy Fire is excellent, who developed the concept for it and how was the experience of shooting?

Thank you very much! My now good friends Billy Lusk and Jamie Brown had the beautiful idea of keeping the same concept that I wrote the song about, but with a different narrative. This narrative was of two people in love, and the loss of one of them. There is this amazing story of one of the girls being a ballet dancer, and the other not being able to see the show. There is a twist in the story however, as she decides to make her way to the show, cancelling her plans, to find out that she is too late, and that there has been a tragic accident, leaving one of the girls in hospital. It was an idea that I loved straight away!

There is beautiful cinematography and an amazing story to show such an important song to me. Christina Amaryllis and Lynsey Lawrie where perfect for the girls in the video and where so amazing to work with! I can’t thank them all enough! The experience of shooting was so fun! I had some of my brothers and sisters involved as extra’s which was so cool! Everyone involved in this video was brilliant, and made the experience so enjoyable! Thank you to Billy, Jamie, Lynsey, Christina, Ross, Berverley, Tony, Nina, Shaun, Loyd, Chloe and Patricia – You all made this experience unforgettable!

The track is rich and multi-textured with the inclusion of the strings; who arranged and produced the record, and what is your vision for your recorded work?

Again, thank you! I wrote this song on acoustic guitar, and actually started to rehearse the song like this too, but the ambient, warm tones I could get from the electric guitar suited the song nicely. Playing with a band was a new experience also, however the musicians where all incredible! Scott Masterton (Drums), Liam Grogan (Bass), Christy O’Donnell (Backing vocals), Jennifer Falconer Hall (Cello), Rachael Louise (Violin). They all brought incredible ideas, and it was a really special experience the share a song of mine that everyone could make their own individual contribution to. I arranged the record and wrote the string parts, and the producer was Chris Gordon. He was fantastic to work with, and gave us all the space to be totally creative in the studio which I loved. (There was coffee and sandwiches on tap too which was a bonus!) The track was mixed by Steve Lyon who has done an incredible job! I look back on the experience with only positive thoughts and memories that I am truly grateful for!

What inspired you to incorporate the tapping techniques into your acoustic guitar playing and did that open up the songwriting process for you?

I had seen guitarists like Andy McKee and Tommy Emmanuel, my favourite guitarists, and they helped open up this world of sounds for the acoustic guitar! I loved the idea of being able to take the instrument and make it sound huge through styles of playing, effects and various guitar tunings. The percussive part took a while, like most things, to get used to. However, over time it became more natural to think of a rhythmic part and then play it. CFCFCC, BFCFCC and DADF#AD (low to high) are some of my favourite guitar tunings! Using these allowed me create sounds that I didn’t find using the standard guitar tuning. It also allowed me to play percussively on the body, whilst the noises from the strings still remained pleasant to listen to. Finding new tunings and ways to experiment with the guitar really excites me!

Your hometown of Bellshill has quite a musical reputation, with members of Mogwai and Teenage Fanclub hailing from there. Has the area and it’s recent musical history had any baring on your work?

Bellshill is a magical place, haha! There have been some incredible musicians from here (My Dad’s brothers and sister had a band years ago called the Docherty Band. My Grandfather taught them all how to play different instruments and they where quite the local celebrities). In terms of my own family’s musical background, that has had more effect on me than most other music from Bellshill. I am proud of the fact that so many incredible musicians live here, and are from here, like Mogwai and Teenage Fanclub for example.

What are your plans looking ahead to 2017?

The plan for 2017 is to release the next EP! The tracks are are ready and just about finished. For my second EP, I really want to keep the same sound I make live, whilst having some other instruments like violin, cello, bass and some percussion to also add to the sound. I intend to be touring a lot too with many festivals throughout the year! I will be playing a lot throughout Europe and the UK and I really hope to be playing in the U.S. and Australia as well! Towards the end of 2017 there will be plans in place of an album – whether this will be recorded next year I don’t know yet but I think so. I am very excited for what is to come!

Daniel Docherty is live at the Castle Hotel, Manchester on Tuesday 6th December. 

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Tuesday | 06.12.16

Daniel Docherty at Gullivers, Manchester

Band on the Wall, Manchester