SXSW 2018 Interview: Dan Bettridge

By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

If you’re a long time TGTF reader, you might remember that Welsh singer/songwriter Dan Bettridge was originally tapped to make the trip to America for SXSW 2017. (If not, you can read our SXSW 2017 preview coverage here and here.) Sadly, unexpected visa issues prevented Bettridge and several other international artists, from making the trip last year.

I met with Bettridge on the Wednesday night of SXSW 2018, at the Focus Wales showcase hosted by downtown Austin club the Townsend. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes before he played his set on the showcase, and we naturally started with a chat about the aforementioned visa challenges. Specifically, Bettridge had a problem with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which determines eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens of 38 approved countries, including the UK, to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

If that sounds complicated to you, you’re not alone. “To be honest, I think it was a clerical error,” Bettridge said. But the ordeal inspired his management team to write a guide for international musicians planning to travel to America ahead of his rescheduled trip to Austin this year. “I think that was helpful to some people, because people are still confused, you know, artists and management, about how to get their band over here. So the more we share about it the better, I guess.”

I mentioned the current American political climate as a potential obstacle for visiting musicians, and Bettridge quickly agreed. “Yeah, it’s a nightmare! I mean you’re supposed to be able to do it with an ESTA, but people are saying, just for security reasons, go and get a visa which is a bit of a pain, really. But I got [a visa] this year.”

“You don’t strike me as a security risk,” I joked. Bettridge laughed, “No, that’s just what people said! I don’t consider myself a security risk.”

At that point, we turned our attention to Bettridge’s impending set, and I asked him what I might expect to hear when he took the stage. “It will be all new stuff,” he said, “it’s kind of, how do I explain it?” He paused for a moment, and I empathised with the ever present challenge of trying to describe music in words. “I guess it’s soul rock, with a little bit of country thrown in sometimes. I guess that’s the best way to explain it.”

That intriguing description led to discussion of Bettridge’s forthcoming LP, ‘Asking for Trouble’, whose release format is equally intriguing. In the midst of the digital age, when so many musicians are releasing singles and EPs rather than waiting to put out a full album, Bettridge has struck a very deliberate compromise with the new project. “It is going to culminate in an album,” he explained, “but I’m releasing it in ‘Waves’ of four songs at a time.” The idea behind the staggered release, he said, is “to take advantage, really, of everything turning to streaming. It’s just more digestible. It’s a 16 track album, so I think it just wouldn’t work, putting it out in one piece.”

Bettridge also wanted to encourage his listeners to take some time with the new songs. “Sometimes huge artists will bring out albums, and the following week they’re just forgotten about, you know, they’re just dead. So [this] was another way of prolonging the release and trying to get every song to be [heard] without interruption. I think four songs is a good number of songs to be released at a time.”

The individual ‘Waves’ are each carefully constructed and deliberately different from the final album tracklisting. “It’s a little bit eclectic,” Bettridge said of the full LP. “There’s some really driving rock songs on there, and then there’s also some more sort of pop sensibility songs on it. The ‘Waves’ are gathered together where the songs make sense together, so there won’t be so much of a shock when the full album does come out. There’ll be three ‘Waves’ in total, and then the final ‘Wave’ will be kind of like a completion of the album. So when people buy the album, they’ll still be getting songs they haven’t yet heard.”

Despite the temptation of that payoff at the end, I suggested that the ‘Wave’ approach might be asking a lot from Bettridge’s listeners in terms of thoughtful comprehension of the music. “I kind of thought I was making it easier for them!” Bettridge exclaimed. Still, this is clearly an album for dedicated listeners, even with accessible singles like ‘Heavenly Father’ in the mix.

Dan Bettridge’s LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ is due for full release on the 6th of July. In the meantime, you can listen to Waves One, Two, and Three on Spotify or on his official Soundcloud. Bettridge will be on tour in the UK this summer, playing headline shows and festival slots.  TGTF’s collected coverage of Dan Bettridge is right through here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required
 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us