Dan talks about his music project Arcas and the Bear
Twist Online : First of all introduce yourself to our readers?
Dan : Hi, I’m Dan from Arcas and the Bear, an electronica home studio project.
Twist Online : Who or what inspired you to get into music industry?
Dan : Right from being a small child using a tennis racquet as a guitar pretending to be Chesney Hawkes (!) music has always mattered to me. At 15 I picked up a guitar after briefly flirting with the drums, realising that I wanted to write songs and sing, and short of being Phil Colins I wasn’t going to manage that from behind a drum kit. I started writing songs as soon as I could play 2 chords.
My commitment to creating music has ebbed and flowed over the years due to a number of things, but the biggest change has been in remembering that if it’s not fun for me, there’s no point.
Twist Online : What’s the story behind the name “Arcas and the Bear”?
Dan : Last year I finally got sorted with a home studio set up after a number of years without anyway to record music. I started with the intention of recording my alt-folk band Starlings and Sparrows, but instead found myself drawn into making electronic music, which is something I’d never been able to do.
I really wanted a name steeped in space or mythology, as nature and storytelling are important to me. A little research led me to not only the story of Arcas and his mother Callisto, but their connection to the constellations and stellar objects. So I played a bit with the images from their story.
Arcas was the son of an affair between Zeus and Callisto. Both Arcas was a great hunter, and his mother turned into a bear in jealousy. They were sent to the stars to stop them killing one another. Callisto is Ursa Major – the great bear- and also a moon of Jupiter; Arcas is Ursa Minor -the little bear.
I’m a bit of a nerd.
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent releases?
Dan : At the time of writing (10/04/20) AatB has just released a 3rd EP, called “A Quarter of Chemistry”, this is a week after a stand-alone single “4am”.
I’ve been trying to put lockdown to good use, between work and entertaining the kids, it has been my release and opportunity to stay sane during this weird COVID-19 dominated period where other uses of leisure time are restricted. As the proejct is still kinda new, Im experimenting a lot still and trying to focus on finishing and releasing each track, rather than get stuck on perfection.
Some of what I’ve released to date make lack some of the ‘special sauce’ of more refined work, but I’m learning, having fun and enjoying listening to my own output, which of itself is pretty novel.
Take 4am for example, I have never made a track as dance focused in all my life. Ive spent most of my musical career with acoustic instruments!
Twist Online : What attracts you more, Working in studios or performing on stage?
Dan : Gosh. I love them both. With Starlings and Sparrows it’s more fun live than in the studio. Im often on stage with my brother and a couple of good friends, there are loads of harmonies, lots of laughter and silliness and I get a huge kick out of that, but, it can be a big commitment when we all have kids. In the studio I can’t hide behind my ‘enthusiastic stage presence’ and get frustrated with the imperfections in my playing.
Where as Working on Arcas and the Bear at home just feels like creative play-time. Making music in Ableton feels so logical, I feel less emotionally wedded to everything and things flow and problems feel easier to solve. I get a huge kick out of that, but right now, Im not sure I’d ever want to take it live.
Twist Online : What’s your favorite music genre?
Dan : I love a lot of different music, but if I had to have a fall back genre it would be alt-folk. The likes of Bon Iver and Fleet foxes. However, you are just as likely to find me listening to aggressive metal like Hatebreed and Slipknot, electronica such as the aforementioned Jon Hopkins and Boards of Canada as singing my heart out to George Michael and Whitney.
Twist Online : Have you set any goals to achieve?
Dan : The main one is to keep having fun with it. The second one is to learn about growing an audience outside of relying on friends, family and other musicians. I’m trying a lot of different promotion stuff right now, partly so I can keep learning during this weird transitional time we are all going through.
Twist Online : Are you working on any new project?
Dan : Well despite launching an EP today, I pushed another one for release next week (like I say, putting locakdown to good use!). I started working on a pretty brutal industrial track earlier this week, which I’d like to finish and release. I think I need to get back to a bit more singing, so I think I will be working on weaving more vocals into the next few tracks.