Interview: Daniel Thomas Gray

Brighton based ‘sarcastic pop’ extraordinaire Daniel Thomas Gray takes a moment to answer a few burning questions ahead of his show at Brighton Pride 2015.

Hi Daniel, having such a big interest in pop music, which pop artist (dead or alive) would you most like to have been?

I am a bit geeky when it comes to pop music. Apparently, when I was about four years old I could name every song in the Top 40 and even sing a bit of them. But that could be bollocks for all I know. It’s been a huge part of my life and I’ve taken inspiration from so much of it. Music has such power. If I could be one person it would be Prince. Listening to his music for the first time aged 8 years old, before I even knew what most of the dirtiest lyrics meant, made me feel like such a rebel. I first got into him when everybody else seemed to be losing interest for a while, during the early to mid nineties. I liked the fact he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. In fact, I’m sure I insisted on something similar during registration at school one day shortly after. His talent is immense, he has a voice like nobody else and is also a multi-instrumentalist. If I could sing even a fraction as well as him or play as many instruments as him it would be amazing. For now I’ll just keep doing what I do until I’m the best I can be! So yes, the one person I’d be would be Prince.

Would you say your personality is reflected in your music? Are you a sarcastic and witty person, or does it take you until the next day in the shower to come up with that clever remark that would have sounded awesome the night before?

I’m a bit of a cunning linguist. I love a bit of punnilingus. Etc. When I’m on top form, I can be witty I suppose. But some people are so easy to offend and I’m not interested in those kinds of people. My lyrics are honest and they tell it how it is, like I do in every day life. If this means they are sometimes humorous and pithy then that would make sense – the single Is There Something in Your Closet? but also another song I have written entitled Gray Is The New Black. See what I did there? But it’s more important to be truthful, so my lyrics are from the heart and spell out my own unique perspective. A song I wrote for my partner spells out exactly how I feel about him!

Your sound feels very much rooted in the electro synth 80’s (in your closet is a stand out example of this). Were the 80’s in general a big part of defining who you are as you grew up?

My single “Is there something in your closet?” is rooted in 80s synths because it’s probably my favourite kind of sound. In fact I toned down the “retro” aspect when working with my producer on that one! It had a lot more tom toms on it. And bells. Some of my favourite artists started or had their commercial peak in the 80s – Prince, Pet Shop Boys, David Bowie, George Michael. What these artists have done, though, is span genres whilst firmly staying true to their own style, making much of their music timeless. Being timeless, for me, is more important than any trend or fashion. Hence why I wear suits every day because I never want to look back and think “what on earth was I wearing?” The problem with being too retro is the risk of being a niche or novelty act. I know pop music and I love pop music, but I don’t think pop is limited in scope. Sometimes pop is seen as a dirty word by pretentious indie types, but it doesn’t have to be watered down. It’s a bit like a cocktail – add another shot of something. Mine’s a Long Island Iced Tea, thanks.

How many grammatical errors have I made in these questions so far?

You got the title of my single wrong, but I’ll assume you were abridging it for the sake of time, so I’ll let that one go. The trusty red pen remains in my pencil case. Yes, I have a pencil case. Spot the teacher in the room.

If you were to headline Wembley stadium, who would you want as your support?

I like to imagine I’m always headlining Wembley Stadium. Usually when I have my iPod on and I’m doing my hair. Do you ever do that thing where you’re pretending to be interviewed whilst having breakfast? Also when I was little, dancing around the coffee table was my Wembley Stadium. I’d want my support act to be somebody really shit to make me look amazing – quite a lot of what’s in the charts at the moment would be fine.

Finally, is there something in your closet?

Currently in my closet (or “wardrobe” if you will): a few tailored suits; approximately thirty ties; neon coloured mismatching socks; a vintage cat box; a Henry vacuum cleaner; Calvin Klein underwear and some White Company bedding. Is that the kind of thing?

Daniel is performing at 6:30pm on Saturday August 1st 2015 as part of the Brighton and Hove Pride street party on the Bar Broadway outdoor stage. His single ‘Is there something in your closet?’ is available to purchase now from iTunes & Amazon.