YouTube star Dan Henig seeks wider range
Benjamin Weatherston, The Ann’s photo wizard and bon vivant, interviewed singer/songwriter Dan Henig, an Ann Arbor native who once turned down a scholarship to business school to pursue his passion. Learn more about Henig and what it feels like to have a viral video on YouTube at danhenig.com. Which local artist should Ben interview next? Let him know at email@example.com.
Ben: I first saw you perform at Top of the Park two years ago. Was that like a springboard or just another gig?
Dan: Playing anywhere in Ann Arbor, especially a cool festival like TOP, always feels like a springboard. There is so much love and support for music in this city. Definitely a springboard.
Ben: And then I saw your Lil Jon cover video which seemed to go viral. Was that expected or did it come out of the blue?
Dan: It was hoped for, but not expected. It was a true surprise that it went as viral as it did. Crazy … that silly video absolutely changed my life.
Ben: And then a music video, A2SF last year, a ton of touring and a now a new album. What’s it been like maturing as a musician in your hometown?
Dan: It’s been incredible. I wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing support of my fellow Ann Arborites, Matthew Altruda, John Bommarito, Martin Bandyke and the countless other individuals who make the Ann Arbor music scene so incredible to be a part of. I feel really lucky to be in such a nurturing environment for music.
Ben: But do you find more fans and appreciation in other cities?
Dan: I wouldn’t say more appreciation, but since Ann Arbor is only a little over 100,000 people in population, I have found that I have lots of very dedicated fans in bigger cities all over. Quantity? Sure, there’s more outside of this city. Quality? No way. My fans are all truly incredible and I’m thankful for every single one, and my hometown has been extra kind to me in that regard.
Ben: Who are your biggest influences musically?
Dan: Always a tough question. Leonard Cohen, John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Michael Jackson, Sara Bareilles, Mat Kearney, Coldplay, Ingrid Michaelson … the list literally could go on forever, and wasting ink/trees is bad for the environment.
Ben: Are you trying to move in a specific direction with this new album?
Dan: Yes, I’m definitely moving toward a very lyrically driven and melodically catchy album. I’m trying to write a broader range of songs, emotionally speaking. Songs which make people feel happiness, envy, jealousy, embarrassment, pain and guilt. I’ve been drawing influences from lots of ’70s and ’80s R&B music along with country, pop, indie rock and lots of other stuff thrown in, which makes the melodies in the album pretty diverse. I’m really excited about this record. I think I’ve grown a lot since my last release, and I can’t wait to finish it and put it out there.
Ben: What’s next and where do you want to be a couple of years from now?
Dan: Next for me is finishing this record, along with continuing to write songs for other artists, touring and meeting more incredible songwriters and musicians. In a couple of years I want to be touring the world, hopefully with some successful songs to push said tour. I want to be writing songs for a multitude of artists, and hanging out with my friends and family when I have time to be home. I’d also love to live in Nashville soon … these Michigan winters are no joke.