Focus: Amateur Ornithologist | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Daniel, and I’m from South Shields.

What is it you do?
I write and record songs under the name Amateur Ornithologist. And I frequently spell both of those words wrong.

How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been co-writing songs since I was at college; mostly with my mate Martin (aka Harbourmaster). We have a band called Squares and played around the local scene a lot in the late 00s.

I lived away for a few years but moved back to Tyneside just when the first lockdown began. I had no job, nothing to do and nowhere to go, so I taught myself to write music using a midi keyboard. I spent every day watching YouTube tutorials and trying out different techniques and genres. As the songs got better, Harbourmaster set me up with great musicians – the drummer Matt Hardy and brass player Lee Morris – to work on proper recordings and now I have an album.

What inspires you?
I spent a lot of 2020 watching birds from the window I worked at. That’s where the name and all the other references come from. The lockdown restrictions themselves were inspiring – the loneliness and the amount of self-reflection you had to do. Musically, I listened to a lot of Teardrop Explodes, Wire, Orange Juice and Prefab Sprout while writing this album.

Tell us about your music.
I always want to say pop music, but I’m aware it isn’t proper pop. Indie-pop is probably the best word – lots of harmonies, spiky guitars, and parpy synths.

I’ve poured my weird brain into the lyrics, which means they’re full of my odd anxieties and fears. But also my playfulness and romantic optimism too. And plenty of bird references.

I don’t really see myself as a musician. When I’m writing, most of the instrumental parts start out as melodies I sing to myself and then play into GarageBand on my midi keyboard. But this means there are lots of tunes going on in my songs that listeners can sing along with.

What have you got coming up in the future?
My first single, Birds Fly Over Me, is out on 16th April. It’s a bouncy, happy song about the doubts and joy of surrendering yourself to love. And it’s got a great trumpet solo.

I’ll release another song, The Murmuration, in early June. A dancey little number about not being able to enjoy good stuff because you keep focusing on how everything ends.

And then my album, Birdwatching, comes out on my 35th birthday on 16th June. So anyone wanting to help me celebrate getting old could buy the album from my Bandcamp when it’s released.

Where can people find out more about you?
I’m on Bandcamp, Instagram and Facebook, which people can follow for music and any daft photo and video ideas I have. And, if anyone does, don’t be afraid to say hello – I’m someone who loves a good chat.

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