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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

A round of Champagne

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At the age of 22, singer-songwriter and gun-guitarist Daniel Champagne has already lived the life of many a musician more than twice his age. One of his earliest memories is of watching his singer-songwriter and guitar-playing father rehearse with his band in their country backyard. This led the four-year-old to take up his instrument of choice a year later, training classically through his teenage years. He started to write his own songs at 12, performing at local events and festivals.

At 18, Daniel left school, turned professional and hit the road. Daniel talks to Mandy Nolan about his career and his inspirations on the eve of his gig at Harvest Bakery in Newrybar.

Daniel, it seems your career has picked up huge momentum, with tours both nationally and internationally; is this a dream come true for you? Not so much a dream… it’s never something I set out chasing but it’s been exciting so far and a lot of learning. I love it and it’s a real honour and a privilege to be able to call this my life at the moment.

What do you credit for helping you ‘break’ your market? I’ve just tried to play well and to keep playing… it’s worked okay this far so I’ll just keep trying to do that I think.

Has growing up with a musical father helped you cut your teeth, or is it harder when you enter your dad’s domain? At the start it just gave me some sort of direction and it’s certainly why I did first get started. I haven’t taken anything from him since I was a teenager though… maybe I’m just too proud or stubborn but it’s definitely my own thing now.

Was music always the path that you intended to take? Did you have a plan ready if that one hadn’t worked, or was that never an option? It’s just something I started doing at one stage and haven’t stopped yet because there has never been a good reason to stop… It’s been a nice path so far so I’ll just keep going until something else comes along or maybe I’ll do this forever…

You started songwriting as a very young man; was it a natural creative outlet for you? Now it is. I guess you’ve got to push it a little and learn certain things to start out but now there’s not so much thinking going on for me…

What are the things or stories that you write about now? I’m lucky because I’m always on the road, which means I get to meet all types of people and go to all sorts of places and because it’s all on some sort of rollercoaster for me emotionally (with the travel and the art and all) I get to see a lot from a whole bunch of different perspectives, which is maybe the most important part for me. So often I’ll write about a similar thing from song to song just from a different place in the room.

What is your songwriting process? Do you run your songs past anyone? It’s long and vague and I don’t think/know too much about it… mostly just coming out of fumbling round at airports, on trains or the half-hour before you’ve got to jump on stage and bounces off however I am at the time or what’s around for me. I do keep it all to myself though… till I feel like playing it one night…

You move rapidly through genres – do you feel that there are times where there is no separation between you and your guitar? At its best that can be what it feels like… it doesn’t happen so often but when it does I just want to close my eyes and play all night…

What should we expect for your upcoming show at Harvest? Hopefully I will arrive on time, with an instrument in working or almost working order and play some of my songs, some of other people’s songs, tell some stories and see where the night takes us in between all of this… I’ve got a good feeling about it though…

Daniel Champagne plays Harvest Bakery in Newrybar on Sunday at 4.30pm. Tix are $17 presale or $20 at the door. Go to www.kupromotions.com.au.

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