Music interviews DH1 Records’s artist roster: Dan Quinn, Jack Patrick, and Samad.
You may be familiar with DH1 Records. Emerging from the undergrowth this year after a period of hibernation, DH1 Records is an entirely Durham student-ran record label, from PR to mixing, talent search to graphics. Behind the scenes, these students have worked hard to get the label off the ground, resulting in SoundCloud demos and a sold-out showcase at the end of last term. Without artists, though, you cannot have a label. DH1 Records currently has three main artists on its roster: Jack Patrick; Dan Quinn; and Samad.
All three give glowing reports about DH1 Records. Jack tells us that DH1 works, since “there is a group of people that love what they do and want to get involved; they don’t want to push you, but support you in producing your own music.” Samad wants to “stress the creative control; they give us a platform, like at the showcase.” Last term’s showcase was a huge success. It was Samad’s first time playing his own music live to a lot of people. Despite feeling terrified, he said “I think it went pretty well; after I came off, four people were asking me for my Spotify. I was gassed.” Dan was also very positive: “It was fun, I had a good time.”
All three stressed how important DH1’s “mission” is in bringing new contemporary music to Durham. Jack, Dan and Samad are all having singles released as soon as possible. Dan adds tough, that the process isn’t all about them: “Everyone has to be free, and no one is full-time staff. It’s just building bits and pieces at the moment; it’s like a balancing act, focusing on different things at various times.” Jack says we should keep our mouths watering: “The music is going to start rolling out”.
Both Jack and Samad are first years, and have few contact hours, devoting much of their free time to consuming and producing music in all of its various forms. “It’s a time to relax, but also to be productive. Dan admits he misses a few of his lectures;, but that it’s all for a good cause. He had just finished bits off in the studio for his new release, “Jay + Kanye.” There is a lot of focus not just on what DH1 offers them, but what the artists bring to DH1.
Despite main DH1 producer Alex Comaish being heavily involved, Samad stresses that himself and Jack self-produce. Yet, most of the creative work is done at home, with studio time devoted to “mixing and mastering, getting the sound right.’ Jack adds, “a studio can be artistically frustrating and blocking; when I’m in a familiar space like my room, it can feel much more intimate.” I can sense the camaraderie between the three, as they joke and discuss each other’s music enthusiastically.
Speaking before the release of his Valentine’s single “Jay + Kanye,” Dan discussed his first demo release, ‘Pop Girl.’ “It’s in essence a fun song; I was sat and trying to think of an idea for a song, and I thought, ‘I just want to be a pop girl, just being stanned and having a lot of fun.’” Some lyrics did get too dramatic, as he thought about the darker sides of notoriety – but Dan then realised he wanted it to be more fun. A lot of his professed influences, such as Charli XCX, Lana Del Rey and Carly Rae Jepsen are ‘pop girls.’ His track holds a lot of similarity to Charli XCX’s work – “the catchy choruses and motifs are on purpose, as well as the song’s rapidity. A lot of Charli XCX’s lyrical content may be ‘shit,’ but it’s shit on purpose. It’s junk food music, which I really appreciate. It’s tongue-in-cheek and self-aware.”
Dan sees more relatable content in this style of music; Carly Rae Jepsen, for example, “writing about all her breakups”; he is angry how her label has tarnished her career, forcing some to think of her as a one-hit wonder after “Call Me Maybe.” Dan also has an EP in the works, though he underlines it’s only early days: “The idea is ambitious – it might not come to fruition. It may be called Leaving Eden or Forgetting Eden, just by coincidence there’s a lot of religious allegory. The narrative is about being in and then leaving the Garden of Eden. Whether this idea comes across, well, time will tell.”
Jack’s story is different. He describes his music as essentially “chilled,” and he told me how he goes about creating this kind of atmosphere: “I might create a riff with a guitar, piano, or synth, and when I write, it’s with a lot of reverb.” From that, Jack crafts the song, but this means that “sometimes the song never gets finished, because there’s no solid structure.” Songs that do progress from beyond the initial stages work out as a treat. Jack has a demo song on the DH1 SoundCloud – ‘Green Stone’: “This was one of the first proper songs I wrote, about three years ago. It’s kind of a dig at someone, but rather more nostalgic than aggressive. They did feel shocked when I sent it to them, but there’s no hard feelings.”
The 1975 and Coldplay are Jack’s main inspirations. “The 1975 at the moment are my favourite band. The band are quite chill while Matty is flamboyant and out-there. Their sound is so diverse, too – from 80s synth-pop to now, having a jazzy song, “Sincerity is Scary,” on their last record.”
Desiring to play Glastonbury, he knows what it would take: “a good, polished, energetic live act, playing good music and being charismatic on stage. I don’t want the vibe of an audience paying to see an artist perform – of course the quality is important – but rather a community coming together. The best shows are those that make you feel like you are one with the band.”
Samad is the newest artist on the roster, and with no music released yet: “the schedule for recording is ASAP. I’m hoping to have my single recorded within the next week or so, and then released the month after.” Before the release, he’s building up to it with a number of shows, including a successful set at DUCFS. Samad describes his music as a blend of indie pop and RnB, and draws inspiration from Frank Ocean, Pharrell (he professes his admiration for the Neptunes), Tyler, the Creator and Future – “that sphere of RnB, with smooth chords and jazzy beats.”
I quizzed him on how to avoid becoming a replica of his ‘idol’ Frank Ocean, and Samad responded: “I don’t think my music sounds much like Frank Ocean – the reason I call him my main influence is because his music, especially his textures and production techniques, inspires me to create my own music. An album like Blond., thematically and scopewise, is what I’d like to create.” Meeting other artists, who have a similar sound or vision to him, is also crucial in the development of his music. “Coming to Durham, I was worried about not finding many contemporary music artists. In terms of people, though, my songs’ lyrical content are inspired by everyone I meet and things that have happened.”
Image: DH1 Records.