From rugby player to music player, British artist Dan Croll couldn’t be more grateful for the adventurous life that he now lives. When his sports aspirations came crumbling down after a rough injury, he recruited his competitive sports background and drive and invested them in his natural musical inclination. Little did he know, that he would soon be touring the world with his best friends, all the while having a blast. THE UNLIMITED had a blast hearing all about it.
How did you make the transition from athlete to musician?
When I couldn’t play sports anymore I was driven to succeed in something, and music has always been a big thing for me and it has given me a lot of purpose. I’ve always been musical, though I was focused on rugby and sports. I’ve taught myself how to play piano, guitar, drums and a bit of trumpet, but I didn’t realize I would have a career in that. That only occurred to me later in life. When I ended my career in sports, I glanced over at all the musicians I was listening and thought, “They have these amazing lives. This is their job. They’re paid to play music and tour the world and connect with fans.” It was at that point that I thought, “oh. I’ll give it a go.”
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s a tough one. It’s one big melting pot. I’ve had a very folky upbringing, and over the passed five years or so I’ve been exposed to so much music from all over the world. But if I had to simplify, I would say folk-pop, which is kind of acoustic at times but also layered with synth over the top of it. But I suppose there’s also an African twist in there as well, which I think that all started when my mom played me Paul Simon’s Graceland, and introduced me to different African choirs, at a young age. Later on I started listening to to Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti and the likes, which were all great influences on me.
You don’t seem to take yourself too seriously, but your lyrics are exceptionally sincere and intimate. Do you write anything other than lyrics?
No, I don’t write. I come from a family of great storytellers, really animated characters, and we love having family gatherings where we all catch up. My Nan on my mom’s side is amazing. She’s eighty-six and she’ll jump about to demonstrate and bring her stories into life. She also happens to have the funniest stories. The funniest things happen to her. I feel like that was passed onto me. I like to talk a lot, tell stories, and listen to other people’s stories. Lyrics are just spoken words, so I have to bring the animation into the lyrics, which is what makes them playful and sincere, I suppose.
Your music also has a sort of wink to it. Would you say you were a funny dude?
I’m alone right now so I should say I am, because no one is here to disagree with me.
Maybe I am. I tour with nine people who I’ve known for six or seven years and we’re the best of mates. I’m constantly around fun things and funny people and I suppose that some of it rubs off on me. My family is funny as well. I’m obviously serious about making music, but it’s not worth anything if it’s not fun. It’s very important for me, with everything I do, to have a good time. Some things come out of being in a bad place, but for me, it’s mostly about having fun.
What do you currently listen to?
I try to listen to music that isn’t close to the music I make. I listen to a lot of a lot of hip-hop and R&B. I really love Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, and old stuff like Madlib. On the other side of the spectrum, I listen to a lot of metal, I really love this Swedish band named Meshuggah, they’re really fantastic, and another one named Kvelertak. My guilty pleasure is definitely metal. It weirdly relaxes me.
Tell us about performing.
I’ve had a clear idea of the kind of performer I wanted to become ever since I started making music, and what I wanted people to take away from it. When I went to watch performances as a teenager, I always found myself slightly frustrated when a band played the song identically to the recording. It was almost robotic. I set myself out to add a little special something during performances. I spent a lot of time working on that. Ultimately, that’s what makes people want to come out and see live shows, because they don’t really know what to expect.
Interview by Elian Zach