Note to Self

Note to Self
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

Songwriter Dan Sharp talks rhythmic inspiration and Kiwi determination

When it comes to the statement, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ Kiwi muso Dan Sharp concurs – with a few small caveats. The acoustic-folk-pop aficionado delved into a full-time music career five years ago (at the ripe old age of 24) and credits being in front of the right people, good timing, and good ole fashioned hard work, to his rising success in the New Zealand music industry.

Wised up
“I left my finance job in Auckland in 2016 to pursue music full time – but it took me a long time before that to fully commit. I had been told I would have to ditch the nine-to-five job to make a real go of it, so I finally made that call,” says Dan. “Being a little older, I was definitely aware of who I was and what I wanted artistically – I was never going to be the next Justin Bieber! However, not having a major record label behind me, and not having to factor in what a mainstream pop audience wants, is definitely a creative blessing.”

Full steam ahead
What Dan hasn’t missed out on is opportunities to join hands with some of New Zealand’s top music producers, and play at some of New Zealand’s renowned festivals – such as Rhythm and Vines. In 2018 he linked with acclaimed artist/producer Thomas Oliver to produce his first debut single Lifeline which received attention here and abroad. His song Kindle and Coal landed on a major Spotify playlist – receiving 500,000 plays in under two months. Most recently, his song Way That You Used To effectively landed him a record deal on the spot.

In the zone
And when it comes to actually crafting his tunes, Dan stays open to whatever the universe sends forth – no matter what the time of day or place. “Often, it’s when you’re busy doing routine things like driving, when great song ideas present themselves. It’s like your creative brain checks in! So, I’ll pull over, sing the idea into a voice memo on my phone (I’ve literally got hundreds of them stored).

“In terms of inspiration, it’s those touching moments, maybe my own experience or someone else’s, where you feel compelled to tell that story. Good storytelling is a beautiful thing and definitely the basis for the hit songs we all know.”

Seize the day
And, while Dan’s story to-date has been an equal mix of talent, tenacity and perseverance, he’s focused on open-mindedness to get him through the next leg.

“Before Covid turned the world upside down I had planned on heading to Europe to base myself out of Dublin. They have a great creative community over there that I really identify with as a musician,” he says. “For now, I’m really enjoying my base just outside of Tauranga – I’ve got a studio on an orchard, so I have a quiet space to let my creativity flow. I’m also touring New Zealand and grateful to spend time in many of our small towns and main centres – it’s a blessing.”


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