A Chat with Daniel Sherman (12.10.2021)

While Daniel Sherman hops from one genre to another, there is one thing that remains constant, the authenticity of his sound. With complex storylines, vulnerable lyrics and captivating vocals, he keeps listeners hooked to his sound. Now, he has unleashed his debut album UNCAGED on the world with a horror-inspired story packed with his genre-defying sound and enthralling lyricism. We had the chance to talk with Daniel Sherman about the album, defying musical genres, contrasting feelings, physical album releases and much more!

OSR: Was there a moment when you knew that you wanted to make music?

Sherman: I originally started writing lyrics and songs out of necessity and not so much out of desire. NF says in his song “Therapy Session’ that he wrote because it was therapeutic for him. When I heard him say that, I started writing songs hoping it would help me the same way it helped him. When a buddy of mine found those lyrics, he encouraged me to share them, so I did. Suddenly I was a songwriter!

OSR: You have recently released your debut solo album UNCAGED. Why did you feel now was the right time to do this?

Sherman: UNCAGED is a very specific album. Because so much of it is about my experience with the COVID-19 situation, I felt it had to be released as everyone was still wrestling with the effects of the pandemic. Aside from content, though, I also felt that I finally had the necessary experience and skill set to actually make this album happen. When I first wrote the record two years ago, I just did not have the means to finish it. After releasing a ton of content in 2020, I finally had the confidence and the knowledge that I needed to make the record at the quality it deserved.

OSR: Your music has always been genre-defying but holding a common thread. What is the thread that holds the tracks of your album together?

Sherman: Despite the constant change in sound, all of my music comes from a place of authentic emotional expression. I don’t write music unless I’m feeling an emotion so strong that I need to express it. I don’t write music if I’m having an okay day, or if I’m just a little sad. I write when the joy or the hopelessness is so strong that songwriting feels like the only place I can turn to. Writing that way guarantees that you’re getting the purest form of emotion that a person can give.

I also always write to a fictional storyline. Each project comes from its own world with its own set of rules and characters. There’s a narrative behind each album, EP, or single, and the listener can choose to dive into that narrative or ignore it almost completely.

OSR: Your previous releases have all been collaborations, how exciting was it to finally release a completely solo body of work?

Sherman: Doing a solo record was such a rewarding experience. I genuinely did not think I was capable of this until I saw the response my music was getting from my other projects. Words of encouragement and affirmation from listeners, collaborators, friends, and family were the only reason this album happened. I can honestly say that it’s my proudest accomplishment, and definitely the first of many solo releases from me. It’s an indescribable, overwhelming feeling to have so many people resonate with and support my art. Even after doing music for so long, I don’t quite have the words to describe it

OSR: You have a very thorough creative process for your music, can you tell us a little more about it?

Sherman: When I vision-cast a project, it usually starts with a single song or idea fueled by an extremely emotionally charged moment. From there, I’ll literally just word vomit onto a Google Doc while writing songs and poems in the notes app on my phone. Almost none of the “word vomiting” will be presented to the audience, but letting the emotion out and my thoughts out that way will give me enough content to form a storyline and trace the themes I want to tackle in a more methodical way, all while staying true to what I’m feeling. It’s not so much a straight line of creative thought as it is an absolute mess, bouncing between song idea to narrative idea to thematic idea. Sometimes that mess becomes organized in hours, other times it takes weeks. There’s definitely a formula I’ve locked into, but at the same time, when you deal with genuine, raw emotion, you can never fully stick to that formula.

OSR: There are a lot of contrasting feelings across the tracks of the album, is this something you actively tried to achieve or did it flow organically?

Sherman: Some songs were written intentionally to share opposing perspectives and stand in stark contrast with each other, and others were entirely organic. Even when there is a thematic and narrative strategy at play, I refuse to write from any sort of prediction or forced emotion, so I would say that most of the time, the answer is both! Every song on this record was written because I felt a certain way and needed to release that feeling. Even with the planning and guided narrative direction, there is no artificial emotion or sound inspiration on the entire album.

Daniel Sherman
Photo Credit: Christian Carranza

OSR: While you have released the album digitally, you have also released it as a physical album. What prompted this?

Sherman: I’ve always been a fan of being able to hold my favourite creative’s work in my hands. I love collecting vinyls and other merchandise, and I want to be able to give fans of my music that same ownership of the project that I always felt with my favourite artists. Being able to feel something and hold something makes it become real somehow. Even when I held the physical copies of this record for the first time, it was a sort of emotional experience. It was a real thing suddenly!

OSR: If people could listen to only one track off the album, which would you recommend?

Sherman: My “cop-out” answer would be that it depends on the person since every track is so different from each other, but I know that’s not the answer anyone is looking for when they ask this question, (laughs). My direct answer would be “I HATE NOSTALGIA.” That song could be the thesis statement for so much of my problems with how I view the world and, in turn, my music. My music always has something to do with time, seasons, memory, reflection, and the tension between where we’re headed and where we’ve been, and I feel like this song really drives my feelings about all that home.

OSR: You fluidly move from one genre and musical style to another in your music, but what is your favourite genre to listen to?

Sherman: My favourite genre to listen to changes almost once a month. Over the last couple of years, hip-hop has really spoken to me most consistently, but right now I’m finding myself shifting to artists like Matt Maeson and Dermot Kennedy who have this really cool alternative folk-pop singer-songwriter thing going. In the past, it’s been EDM, metal, pop-punk, nu-metal, modern emo and alternative pop-rock, even a brief bluegrass phase. There really is so much music out there, that I can’t limit what I listen to, to just one thing. Ask anyone who has ever gone on a long car ride with me and they’ll confirm that I cannot sit in one soundscape for very long!

OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to take away after listening to your album?

Sherman: Musically, I want people to realize that there is more music out there for them to listen to than whatever they listen to now. I hope listeners were exposed to sounds they normally wouldn’t seek out, and at the very least, have heard these genres presented in a way they never have before. We need to be willing to be uncomfortable artistically, both as consumers and creators. That’s how art progresses.

Thematically, I want people to realize there is always hope. That every story has conflict and darkness, and that our stories are not done being written. We were created to experience more than sorrow. Hope is the message I always try to keep at the forefront of my music.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Sherman: This next year will be really interesting. I am currently working on five music projects that should be at the very least announced by this time next year, and I’ve also got a lot of visual content coming as well, like music videos and my first short film, which is connected to one of those five music projects. The timeline is all blurry as I’m still getting back on track after everything was flipped upside down in 2020, but fans of mine will know that when I start a project, I finish it. So much coming, and none of it is anything like what I’ve done before.

Thanks to Daniel Sherman for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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