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Danny McCrum - MNZ Interview: Background Noise 001: Noise Play

13 Jul 2021 // An interview by Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo

Another new interview series making its mark on Muzic.net.nz is Background Noise. Brought to us from Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo, in issue 001 Gaby talks to musician extraordinaire Danny McCrum from Noise Play.

I'd like to base this interview on a theme of trust, friends, and the meaning of music. What top three things can you list that make you trust or distrust humans in the music world?

I’ve heard the music industry described as the Wild West which has always made sense to me. We don’t have the basics, like minimum wage and holiday pay, handshake deals are most common, and every type of agenda, motive and range of ethics is included. It’s an unregulated industry with no barrier to entry, so it’s full of every type of character. It’s a microcosm of the big bad world, all piled into a struggling industry. So, I don’t think it’s about trust or lack thereof, I think it’s just about being realistic and making smart decisions.

Why is music so important to you?

I’m sure most of us have a similar answer. Music was always the thing that lit me up, that possessed me, that I couldn’t get enough of. It was a great release and an escape from unhappy circumstances. It gave me a way out, an identity, a path to follow and it’s given me a career. Through music I’ve had some of the greatest experiences of my life, I’ve found purpose and adventure, I’ve travelled all over the country and overseas and I’ve met many of my closest friends.

At what stages in your musical careers did you know what you really wanted to play?

I remember first hearing Motown records when I was about four or five and thinking whatever that is, I need it! Ever since, I’ve been on an ongoing journey of discovery, always finding new music to listen to and to influence what I play.

Do you struggle with how things are changing in the music industry, or do you struggle with other concepts behind "making it" in music these days?

The music industry has been changing drastically throughout my career, so I’m quite used to it. To make a living and to establish a long-term career, I’ve had to practice the art of sorting through the chaos to find solid ground. For this reason, I don’t generally get caught up in hype and I’m more interested in finding real answers and working towards real outcomes. I’m a fulltime musician and I can’t pay the bills with hype and bragging rights.

I learnt long ago that the music industry is random, that ‘popular’ doesn’t exclusively mean ‘the best’, that just like life, the music business isn’t fair. I’ve also questioned what ‘making it’ really means and as I’ve considered this, I’ve realised there isn’t one answer. It’s personal. For me making a living in music, the pursuit of excellence, working with great people and constantly learning, is success.

I don’t like the state the music industry’s in, but most industries rise and fall and I certainly can’t change things. So I‘ve had to continually recalibrate my thinking to make my career work in the present. The only thing that really frustrates me ongoing, is the lack of transparency across the board.

Every artist has fears or concerns. What seems to be the concept you fear most about what makes it "big" music-wise here in Aotearoa?

I’m thrown by the word ‘Fear’. I don’t fear any music that comes out. I feel like I have a pretty clear understanding of how the music business works behind the scenes and I understand that historically there has always been a commercial element. Writing and production formulas that are more likely to work on radio, marketing strategies that often prove more successful and all the politics behind the scenes. While these factors have evolved, they’re not new. The main difference in my opinion is that in the past, the really good stuff still got through sometimes, whereas these days it’s far less likely to. For this reason I haven’t paid attention to the charts in the longest time. Instead I find the music that enthuses me, in the various local niche and underground scenes around the world.

Do you have any concerns you'd like to share about what seems to be making it through these days? And are these things easy to talk about?

Imagine if all the good restaurants closed and we were only left with fast food. If we’re honest, all of us like fast food sometimes, especially at 3am when you’re off your face. If we were only left with fast food, it wouldn’t achieve anything to criticise the fast food, we would simply be wondering where all the great food went. What happened to the chefs? Does no one want gourmet food anymore? Can we really no longer sit down for a beautiful meal in a nice Italian restaurant? We would be yearning for an experience that we loved and lost. There’s no point being angry at a hamburger!

What was your plan with Noise Play, the vibe of the band and the touring plan for the band's future?

We have lots of plans for Noise Play. Right now we’re focusing on our upcoming shows, we have singles being recorded and collaborations in the works. Each of us in the band have been in the game for a while, playing professionally and doing the job. While we appreciate the work we do, Noise Play is our chance to do something really fun and creative, a chance for us to try all the things we don’t usually get to try. In doing so we hope to give our audiences a unique and fresh experience. For us it’s all about reengaging with what we love about music. 


About Danny McCrum

Danny McCrum is a multi talented musician based in Auckland. He is a highly respected guitarist, singer and songwriter, with extensive experience on stage, in the studio and running the business behind the music. He has worked with many music greats including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Tommy Emmanuel, Jimmy Barnes, Simple Minds, Bryan Ferry, Joan Armatrading, Katie Melua and more.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Danny McCrum


Best Moments From A While Ago
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Hustle Bustle
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Year: 2013
Type: EP
Letters To The Future
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Say What You Mean
Year: 2009
Type: Album
These Dirty Days
Year: 2008
Type: EP
Awake & Restless
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Year: 2006
Type: EP

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