Born in Los Angeles and raised in Philadelphia, Dan Harrison had been singing and learning numerous instruments from a very young age, but it wasn’t until he picked up guitar around age 11 that he felt the call to create his own music. Growing up influenced by classic rock, pop, electric blues, hip-hop and jazz, it was down south that he discovered where his musical path lay ahead. After graduating and working for two years, Harrison moved to Nashville in 2018 and since then has developed a strong network of co-writers and continues to hone his craft as a performer around town, sharing the stage with other fast-rising acts like Mitchell Tenpenny.
You said, in reference to music, “It connects us all across space, time and culture — it’s a lot more powerful than we realize.” What songs/stations did you listen to growing up in Philadelphia?
I listened to a lot of different music growing up, rock/blues/jazz/pop, the list goes on. That was also reflected in the radio stations I listened to growing up in Philly. The stations I listened to there were. 93.3 WMMR (Rock), 92.5 XTU (Country), Q102 (Pop/Hits), 90.1 WRTI (Jazz). So I got everything from Springsteen, Van Halen, Lonestar, Big & Rich, Nas, Eminem to Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
Listening to different genres growing up — classic rock, pop, electric blues, hip-hop, and jazz — which songs from each genre shaped your music? If you could put together a tour with artists from all the genres what would the lineup look like?
There are lots of songs that influenced me growing up; “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen, the entire “Continuum” album by John Mayer, to name a few. So my tour would probably be the most unique tour of all time. I would definitely have those artists, as well as others like Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Kanye West, Jay-Z, U2, Shania Twain, Santana, Juanes, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Breaking Benjamin. It would have to be more like a traveling festival haha.
What drew you to North Carolina for college, was it for sports?
Originally it was for sports; I ran track and cross country in high school and early college pretty seriously. I still try to keep up with it when I can.
What inspires you as a songwriter?
Life inspires me. It sounds like an obvious answer, but it’s the truth; being a songwriter is about listening and observing your surroundings and experience, and analyzing the past in a fresh way. I could hear someone say something in passing or see a billboard sign and get a lyric and/or melody idea. I also watch a lot of movies/tv, read, and listen to a ton of music. Art inspires art.
Saw you produced your first single “Nowhere Bar”. How important is it for you to be part of the different aspects of production?
Well my producer, Josh Gleave, really did the heavy lifting. I played all the guitar parts on top of the lead vocals, and we worked together to really craft a production that felt modern but also timeless. It was my first real time in a studio setting and it was very eye-opening; I think as an artist it’s important to know and be involved in as much of your art as possible. The more time you spend with it the more you can put yourself into it and really know and be proud of you’re putting out there. That said, it always helps to have a fresh and different set of ears working with you, and there are certain things on the technical side production that should be left to others, but overall certainly my goal as I keep growing and writing/recording, is to grow my skill set and knowledge and involved in as much of the process as possible.
Did you create the storyboard for the video (read it’s based on personal experience) for that first song? What was it like recreating a past memory?
My buddy Mark Still and I put together the storyboard; we kind of followed the story told in the song but added some extra scenes and angles to give the story more dynamics visually. The song itself is based on a few real experiences; it’s always a surreal and cool experience seeing something you created come to life in front of you; recording the song was the first level, so then seeing the video was the next level.
What do you hope fans take away from your music?
I hope they feel energized, inspired, and reflective. I hope it makes them want to sing a long, to go out do that thing they’ve been wanting to do for a while, and to think about or see an aspect of life in a new and thought-provoking way.
What’s the backstory of your new single “Runnin Out of Radio”?
It was one of those happy accidents. My friends and I were in the middle of writing another song when someone threw out a line “until we run out of radio”, or something like that. When that happened we knew we kind of needed to drop what we were doing and explore that idea separately. It was the right move haha.
There’s a lot of disheartening things going on in the world today, so the goal of “Runnin’ Out of Radio” was to remind people no matter who we are, where we live or what happens in our lives, we have this amazing force of nature called music. It connects us all across space, time and culture — its a lot more powerful than we realize.
What was it like putting music out there in the world and having people react to it so positively?
I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was really young; I think the hardest thing to do when you’ve been working towards something so long is putting out that first bit of music into the world, because you have no prior history to base it off of and don’t know how people will react. It was a huge relief when I did, and is still so awesome to get messages and videos from people listening to the song and telling me how much they love it and what it means them.
What’s an important cause or issue you’ve supported through your songs?
I think there’s elements of nostalgia, loss, discovery, and love in almost all of my songs. I really believe in diversity, education and mental health, so those issues are important to me and I think are reflected in a lot of my music (most of which is yet to be released). I definitely would like to address them more directly in the future.
What’s a subject you hope to write about in the future?
I’ll always be writing what I feel, so I can’t be sure of how I’ll feel in the future. A lot of that will probably always be love songs, but I’m also focusing on writing bigger picture life and message songs, songs about my personal experience and everyday life and that are relatable; the kinda songs that drew me to country music; like “The House That Built Me”, “Live Like You Were Dying”, “Homemade”, or “Some Of It”.
If you could cover any song, which one would you choose and why?
Springsteen by Eric Church; there are a bunch of songs I could pick, but that one is significant for me because it’s sort of the inflection point that connected my country and non-country influences and sort of laid the groundwork that brought me to where I am now. It’s like a Polaroid memory of a song, classic and powerful.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
What free time? Haha; aside from writing and playing more music, I love reading and watching new shows and films, running, fishing, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.