Daniel Payne is a musician who plays lots of instruments. And I mean lots and lots, including but not limited to: fiddle, mandolin, guitar, flute, tin whistle, drums and accordion. He reckons he loves them all the same, and claims that it isn’t just to stop the other instruments from feeling jealous.
Daniel lives in Corner Brook but was born in Stephenville and grew up in Cow Head. He comes from a family of incredibly talented people; his sister and two brothers all play music and one brother is a professional dancer. Daniel claims that there is more to their achievements than just talent. He says that lots of people have aptitude for particular skills, but believes that there isn’t a single person that isn’t musical. He remembers his father singing to him every night before bed, and constantly playing guitar. This gave Daniel the basics of sounds fitting with certain motions. He says that he became hooked on certain sounds and loved that he could create those sounds.
Making music has kept Daniel happy and healthy throughout his life. He recalls times when he was having a bad day and playing with someone else brought him right out of it. He says that making music with others is like ‘dancing in your chair’. He believes that as he has progressed in his musical career he has also developed as a person. Daniel told me that “your place in the space, and in your life at that time, affect your playing”. When you accept your body and your instrument as equal creative partners you make a dynamic that makes the best music. If you force, or fight with your instrument, you’re kind of missing the point.
Daniel has travelled quite extensively with his work. At the age of 19, after completing a year at university, he headed to Cork in Ireland. He knew that music was something that made him happy, and so he followed a thread there. There are obvious parallels between traditional music in Ireland and Newfoundland, and Daniel enjoyed playing there. At such a young age, he wasn’t as comfortable in his own skin then as he is now. But once he could play in front of celebrated musicians such as Seamus Cray, he knew that he had grown both as a musician and a person.
There was a time when Daniel considered leaving Corner Brook. He moved to St John’s and enjoyed living there and playing in a dynamic music scene. At the time many of his peers had left the area and he wasn’t sure if this was the place for him anymore. But on a visit home to see family, Daniel decided to come back. He felt excited to be here, and by the things that were happening in the area. He feels as though this is a big canvas, without too many people painting on it. Daniel has rediscovered a big group and network of people who play music and enjoy the same things as him. He is close to his family, and enjoys that he gets to spend more time with them now that he’s back on the west coast.
The studio in which Daniel practises is a fantastic place, and really reflects his personality. He took the time to paint the walls in stripes of black, white, grey and purple. There’s a mix of furniture that makes the space reminiscent of something between an old boys club and a private detective’s office. Lots of the chair and tables have extra legs screwed on the bottom, or sit on top of a humpty to move them up to fit Daniel’s super height. He’s something of a gentle giant and is a lovely person to sit and have a drink with. He indulged my generic questions pretty well and I learned that carrots are his favourite root veg, and he likes orange sherbert ice cream. He also seemed to enjoy the odd compliment to his excellent beard.