The genre-bending artist gets candid on new single “I See You in the Dark”.
Expanding his musical prowess with retro synths and boundary-pushing rhythms is multifaceted talent DD Allen with his latest single “I See You in the Dark”. Effortlessly blending hard-hitting indie melodies with soothing vocals, Allen’s personality bursts at the seams of this track as he incorporates his songwriting ability with a chorus that’ll be on repeat in your head for days. Pulling on inspiration from Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, the single carries a strong influence of 80s nostalgia and past heartbreaking relationships.
Speaking on the process behind the single, the singer revealed, “Although I wrote I See You in the Dark about a broken romance, managing isolation, and the ‘yearning for what was and might be again… the narrative seems to have a wider context in today’s climate,” he claims. “People have lost a lot of the buzz that makes life so great. But we know it’ll all come back.”
With 2021 around the corner, we caught up with the singer, looking back on the year, musical inspirations and what we can expect from him in the new year.
Check out the interview below…
Hi DD Allen – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
It’s been tough for so many people. So many jobs lost, so much uncertainty in people’s lives. I think we all share each other’s pain. You can’t escape it. We started the year with a plan to record four new songs with a producer in London but the first lockdown put an end to the program. We managed to finish “Seattle Lights” and release the song in the spring but then we had to cancel two headline shows because of the restrictions. I’m an independent artist and I don’t have a label behind me to help financially so it all looked pretty bleak for a while. I was staring down the prospect of no live shows and no new music. But if you don’t give up you find a way, and that’s what we did. I hooked up with a local producer called Dave Griffiths in the fall and he came up with this 80s style vibe with a load of synths for my song ‘I See You in the Dark’. I fucking loved it. It was such a cool sound. We managed to get it all tracked in a small studio and sent the song off to another producer I’ve worked with called Mark Tucker up at ARC Studios. Mark worked the mix and came back with a song we could release. The irony is, if it wasn’t for the lockdown, I’d have never thought about taking the music in this direction so the whole thing’s been an inspiration.
Where did you grow up and how did it influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes growing up?
I grew up in a town called Bournemouth on the South coast of England, and it’s where I’m still based. It doesn’t really have a set vibe. . . well, not in the way that Seattle has Grunge and California had the surf-rock scene. But it’s got its own rhythm. It’s also the place where it all started for me. I remember watching a local band called Fearne play an outdoor show on the seafront. The sun was shining and the audience was lovin’ it. I don’t know how or why, but something struck me like a lightning bolt that day. I had this overwhelming sense that I needed to write and perform. That was the day I stepped into new shoes and the whole world became a different place. So I guess Bournemouth has a special place on my heart, and always will. I have too many heroes to list them all. But Neil Young, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty are up there. It was even a Little Mix song that set the ball rolling for the melody on “I See You In The Dark”. Bob Dylan single-handedly lit the match in terms of writing. His songs are insanely well-written. Bob has this way of transporting you off into someone else’s world. It’s like he creates the scene and invites you to play a part.
How would you describe your genre?
I don’t know if genres even exist any more. I think Billie Eilish tore up the genre rule book. Everything’s a mix of sounds and styles nowadays…although in a good way I guess. I often get the pop-rock label but I don’t consider myself to be a pop artist at all. I’m really a singer-songwriter that plays in a modern guitar band. Guitars never go out of fashion. There’s something enduring about a guitar band sound.
Congratulations on your latest single “‘I See You in the Dark” – which covers past relationships and heartbreak – was it inspired by any situation in particular?
Well, I’m on a mission to get to where I want to be, and I’m pretty consumed by music. It’s something that artists understand but often when you’re in a relationship the other person doesn’t get it. So it’s fair to say that I’ve messed up a lot of relationships along the way. I see a lot of different things when I hear the song back. The ‘dark’ can be coming out of a depression — or seeing someone in the shadows — or the dark you see when you close your eyes at night and fire your imagination. [Laughs] Maybe I’ll dedicate the song to whichever one takes me back!
How does it feel to be releasing music at such an uncertain time, or do you hope your music will help people get through this time?
I think anyone’s going to feel good about releasing music at the moment. Music’s been a life-saver for a lot of people. It’s probably one of the only things that create a sense of normality. I think music grounds people: it’s like a lifeline to protect you from thoughts that the world’s gone to shit and it’ll never be the same again.
You’ve supported James Blunt, as well as various UK and European tours – what’s been the highlight of your music career so far?
Anything that’s a ‘first’ is always a highlight. Opening for James was special. It happened soon after I started out so I went from playing in front of 30 people to playing a show in front of 3,000 within a year. I remember my manager grabbing me after the set and saying, “you need to get into the foyer — there are loads of people who want to meet you”. I went out to the merch stand and fans were queuing out of the door waiting for autographs. It was all pretty surreal. The shows we played in the Netherlands supporting Vintage Trouble were awesome as well. They were our first shows in mainland Europe so it was all a big adventure. We didn’t know how the Dutch audience would react but they loved the music. We had a great connection.
What’s the most unusual place you pull inspiration from?
Music comes from the soul. You have to dig deep and reconcile a lot of things. Music’s very personal to me and I hope it comes across. I’m also inspired by people who triumph over adversity… people like Maya Angelou. I also have an unusual relationship with a God I’m not sure I believe in.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
Whatever the fans are looking for, really. I try and write music that can be interpreted in different ways. I know what the songs mean to me, they are always introspective, but if it gives a listener a different message… that’s cool. It means a lot when someone tells me a song means something special, regardless of how and why.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Well, the dust hasn’t settled on “I See You in the Dark” yet. We’ve got three more singles planned for 2021 and I guess the most exciting thing is that I’m not just picking up from where I was at the start of 2020. I mean, the pandemic forced me to work in a different way. And because of this, I went down a different route than planned with the sound and I love where the whole 80s vibe has taken me. So I’m starting to record again with a clean slate, and I’m obviously looking forward to playing live again.