Dan Haigh is from the British electronic-music band GUNSHIP, “a neon soaked, late night, sonic getaway drive, dripping with analog synthesizers, cinematic vocals and cyberpunk values, all exploding from the front cover of a dusty plastic VHS case which has lain forgotten since 1984.”
Here's our conversation with Dan:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
Collaborating with film and synth icon John Carpenter on Tech Noir
Collaborating with Timmy Cappello and seeing him reprise his role as the sexy sax man from ‘The Lost Boys’ movie on our track Dark All Day
Receiving praise from writer Ernest Cline for our adaption of, and tribute to, his book ‘Ready Player One’ with our track Art3mis & Parzival
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?
We all wear a lot of hats in GUNSHIP. Some of what I do routinely would be to write songs, produce, do a lot of synth work, and cook up concepts for videos, art and collaborations.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
I come from a rock and metal background and so I came to synths fairly late in the day. To me, music is sort of a visual experience internally. I’m trying to evoke in others an emotional state and a sense of place with sound. Guitars are a fantastically expressive and diverse instrument for that task, but once I discovered the sound shaping potential of synthesizers it was like being gifted one of those ludicrously huge packs of felt tip pens… suddenly so many more colours, and those colours could be as pure or corrupted as you wish.
Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
Film - The 80s was an extremely creatively rich period for cinema - some of the finest film scores ever made came from that era and the early use of analog synths played a huge part there. We are now re-creating the sounds that literally scored our childhoods, there's some deep, hard wired, psychological response to that which is just magic.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
I’m self taught in almost everything I do, from music, to editing or visual FX work. The world of electronic music was certainly a vast area of ‘unknown’ to me after being in a rock band like Fightstar for many years. I think that was part of the attraction. I love to learn, but diving headlong into electronic music production, synthesis and its near infinite nuances, certainly had its frustrating moments for sure. I don’t think a different approach would necessarily yield different results though, as for me the only way to learn is to immerse yourself in your chosen arena of learning and work really really hard at it. I’m still learning (Eurorack addiction is now out of control! ;) ).
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
1. The UDO ‘Super 6’ - I actually just programmed some of the factory presets on this amazing synth. The pads you can achieve in binaural mode are ludicrously great.
2. Erica Synths Eurorack modules - they just sound so rich.
3. Sequential Prophet 6 - This has done a huge amount of synth heavy lifting on GUNSHIP records.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
I think I’ll let Arnold Schwarzenegger handle this one “If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dream.”
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
I use headphones for detail work, essentially in situations where extremely high levels of critical analysis are required. This is typically during mix or mastering work or evaluation for me, but headphones are equally useful in sound design / patch creation too.
So, during the first UK lockdown my main studio monitors failed (the magic smoke escaped!) leaving me high and dry... The pandemic meant I was unable to get them repaired. I needed a solution. After a doing bunch of research, including speaking to producer friends, the mastering engineers we routinely use at Metropolis studios as well as a lot of chin wagging with other musician friends and the Gunship dudes, I decided to buy a pair of LCD-MX4s... I think they’re probably the best singular gear purchase I’ve ever made. I find the MX4s to be crystal clear, supremely accurate, and perhaps most significantly, they can actually render low end with precision. To me it means having AAA tier monitoring wherever I go... sure they’re not cheap but to hear precisely what’s actually there in any mix situation, to hear the complete frequency range of any random patch coming out of modular synths etc is a genuine joy and obviously they’re portable too. Zero regrets... They have been great, they now play a critical role in all my audio work. They have also been instrumental in the remote co mixing myself and Carl Bown have been doing on the new Kat Von D record. Also as Carl says - they make your head smell like a BMW. 😂
If you fancy a little chill, please check out our cyberpunk noir collaboration with Kat Von D