San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Dan Owen’s songs speak of love, loss and a vast spectrum of universal emotions in-between. Delivered with his husky wounded roar of a vocal, one could imagine these compositions emerging from an old soul with a wealth of experience behind him. In person, however, Dan Owen is a fresh-faced 23-year-old with a cheeky glint in his eye. “Collecting stories is one of my big goals,” he states, with a wide grin. “I always thought it would be amazing to be the guy in the corner of the pub with endless stories that no-one believes because he sits there drinking all day.”
Originating from Shrewsbury, the singer-songwriter is already building a rich catalogue of tall tales which tend to originate from everyday situations. His first big break came during a hometown jam session far from the clutches of the music industry’s eternal A&R search for talent. In attendance was an acquaintance of Owen’s who felt that his music deserved a bigger platform, and decided to post a video of him playing Bob Dylan’s The Ballad of Hollis Brown to Reddit.
What happened next was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Having previously loitered around the 700 views mark for seemingly months on end, the video raced to 25,000 overnight and then hit 40,000 by the time that Owen had woken up. The next thing he knew, it made Reddit’s front page and had shot up to 500,000 views.
“It just kept going up and up,” he recalls, still almost in disbelief to this day. “I remember looking at my phone and my hand was shaking. I actually asked my friends who knew more about computers than I do if YouTube had gone wrong or something.”
Dan Owen started playing guitar as a child. By his early teens, he dedicated himself to being the best guitarist he could be after being influenced from everyone from Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater. Now, he adds, he’s just as likely to be found listening to Paolo Nutini, Old Crow Medicine Show or Knife Party.
His first public performance came with open mic nights as the accompanying guitarist to his vocalist sister. When she left home for university, Owen was cajoled into singing. “I did three songs and couldn’t even look at the audience,” he laughs. “Afterwards I had so much adrenaline that I couldn’t sleep. So I just had to find somewhere to do it again.”
Although he admits to not particularly academically minded, Owen discovered that he had a gift for practical work. He excelled at carpentry and blended his talent with his love of music when he joined the master custom guitar manufacturer Patrick Eggle as a part-time apprentice. Back at college, his expertise allowed him to help those struggling at the bottom of the class until fate dealt a devastating blow.
A fellow student was cutting wood on a chop saw when a splinter shot out and, as Owen recalls with a grimace: “It hit me square in the pupil from a metre away. It was a perfect shot.” The result – blindness in that eye, no perception of depth and double vision – was the end of a promising career.
Eventually, however, Owen began to rebuild his life. When one job finished, he should’ve again found himself at a crossroads. Instead, he bought a Gibson acoustic guitar and decided to become a professional musician. Using the less than scientific method of a pin and a piece of string, he identified every town and city within a two hour drive of his home. He’d then identify potential venues in each locale and call dozens of places per day, which would usually result in a new date or two for the schedule.
That soon snowballed into playing 150 or 200 gigs a year, ranging from the one-man-and-his-dog-cliché to huge capacity festivals. He might trek up to Ayr and back in a single day, or perform on a boat on which the PA looks perilously close to sliding into the water. Imagine any possible gig scenario: Dan Owen has been there and, more often than not, triumphed against the odds.
Owen will be releasing his brand new EP Open Hands and Enemies on October 26th, following the huge success of its viral lead single ‘Made To Love You’.
‘Made To Love You’ has clocked up over half a million streams on Spotify. It also flew high in charts on the platform, topping the Viral Chart in Belgium, entering No.2 in France and charting in the Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey and Indonesia respectively. It’s also gained high profile support from the likes of Radio X, BBC Introducing, Shortlist and more.
The EP opener is a hauntingly beautiful, heart-on-sleeve, break-up ballad from the husky-voiced 24-year old. Examining what keeps people together yet drives them apart; the song comes from Dan’s personal experience supporting a friend who was suffering in an abusive relationship.
Elsewhere on Open Hands and Enemies EP, ‘Witching Hour’ is a redemption anthem reflecting on life’s mistakes, while ‘Moonlight’ is a haunting love ballad that finds Dan at his most effortlessly smooth. Closing the EP is a home recording of ‘Closer’, showcasing his intimate songwriting abilities and soulful performance that is winning hearts across the world.
Dan recently stunned the audience at his recent sold out headline show, which saw his voice cascade around the beautiful surrounds of St.Pancras Old Church.
He will be touring the UK with Birdy throughout autumn, which follows the recent 30-date European run he completed with the singer. Birdy is such a huge fan of Dan that she finished every night of her tour inviting him onstage to duet on her 2015 hit ‘Let It All Go’.
With ‘Made To Love You’ resonating throughout the world, the release of the Open Hands and Enemies EP will see Dan Owen make his mark as one of the most impressive new voices coming from the UK today.