i by self
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i by self

Band Alternative Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Interview with MK-Music"

Steffi met up with singer/songwriter Dan Patmore, the name behind the ‘i by self’ project, and walked along the Grand Union Canal in the winter sunshine, chatting about life, music and the future.

Becoming musically aware in his early teens, he and a few friends decided to form a band. They insisted that he played drums, but after a few months of just having a laugh he decided to quit and learn music properly. “My friends just wanted to mess about and make stupid noises” he said “and as I wanted to write and sing, which I couldn’t do as a drummer, I decided to leave and do my own thing”.

He borrowed a guitar from his older brother Rich (Exit Motel) and started strumming out a couple of chords on it. I asked whether his brother helped him to learn. “A little bit” he said “I asked him for pointers more than anything as I just wanted to get on with it and teach myself” he added.

After six months of furious learning Dan felt he was at a point he could make the sounds he wanted and bought an old analogue four track to record on. “I put together a tape with about a dozen songs on it, sent it to The Roadmender guys and promptly forgot about it” he said. “A few months later they rang me up and asked me to play on their Acoustic stage during an all day event”.

For a sixteen year old to be offered a chance like that was amazing and I asked if he was at all nervous about it. “I was ok until the morning of the event and got shaky then, but as soon as I took the stage I was fine and it felt really natural to me” he said.

He laughed as he remembered the highlight of the day. “I wasn’t sure if they were joking or not but the organisers asked every band to finish on their own version of a Madonna track”. He continued, “I thought I should be prepared so I learned to strum ‘Like a Prayer’ but I was never happy about it”.

So what happened next then I wondered? A sly grin appeared as he said “I decided it was rubbish so I just sang it acapella instead, and my family were just amazed that it was my first gig and I had the balls to do that”.

Dan said that he never got stage fright in those early days but as he has had a break from music for a few years, getting back into it has been quite nerve racking. “Only in the past few months now that I’m gigging again” he said.

“So why the break from music?” I wondered and ever thoughtful he said “I’d been trying to put a band together and got really frustrated that I couldn’t find the right people”. He added “I gigged a lot in support of some up and coming bands then spent a lot of time in Ireland, hoping to get inspiration, but it didn’t work out like that so I just gave up for a while”.

But as with most genuine creatives, the urge to play got the better of him and he borrowed a digital mixer and picked up his guitar again last summer. “It started the ball rolling for what I’m doing now but it’s been quite frightening”, he added “it’s almost been like learning my trade again”.

I wanted to know about his musical influences and he reeled off a whole list of who he likes and the people he draws influence from. “My tastes have changed over they years” he said. “Originally bands like Nirvana and Metallica but now its more chilled acoustic stuff from Radiohead, Tom Mcrae and Joseph Arthur” he added.

“So where do you get your song ideas from?” I asked. “It’s quite interesting that the basic ideas come from my experiences” he said, “but they sit in the back of my mind and ferment and grow into something much bigger and more intense”.

I know that creative process well. Being a photographer I have an idea for a shot then it just sits in my mind growing bigger and bigger until I have a fully fledged plan of action. With Dan this process may take months, but one day it just pops out and demands to be written.

“I have to admit that I probably think about things too much” he said sheepishly “but that’s why I get such solid ideas for my music … it just churns and churns until its ready to be written” he added.

“You’re music is a bit dark” I said. Dan smiled and said “Yeah, I get that a lot, even to the point of people asking if I’m feeling ok about life”. I used his song “Blade” as an example of this darkness. The lyrics point to someone holding a knife and in my mind, at least, it sounded as though the end was nigh for that particular individual.

“But what are they going to do with the knife?” he smiled “it doesn’t mention what’s actually going to happen. It could be revenge or it could be suicide”. He shrugged his shoulders and smiling he added, “it’s a very simple song based on four chords and six lines of repeated lyrics ... and yet everyone thinks the same thing about it”.

“All of my songs are based in part on my own experiences, but remember that the churn process exaggerates the sentiment so I’m not intending to do myself in!” He was very adamant about that.

His sound is very dark, but it is very beautiful at the same time. Simple in its construction, and created purely to allow this artist to express his deepest thoughts via music.

I was wondering about the future for Dan and the I by self project. “I’m just gigging as much as I can right now,” he said. “I’m looking to record an album soon and I’m happy to just get out there and play and develop my ideas”.

He is sure that his future will always have music in it. “I may play, but I do want to help others out and so promotion may be the way forward for me” he said. He’s been working with Joe (from local band Device) to promote the UNpluggedMK open mic nights and he finds it very satisfying. “I always have to do something musically” he added “I work a nine-til-five every day and my head would explode if I wasn’t part of the music scene. It keeps me sane”.

Dan has a very relaxed manner to his music and admires those artists who play with intensity. “I have every respect for musicians who are totally driven and passionate about their art” he said “but with me, I’m a lot more relaxed and if something goes wrong on stage I’ll just laugh about it and joke with the audience while I sort it out”.

We talked about future gigs and I light-heartedly mentioned that Monsters of Rock is coming to Milton Keynes in June. “What if someone rang you up and asked you if you wanted to play in front of thirty thousand people?” I asked. “Wow … I’d do it, but it would be totally mind blowing” he said “it would be the biggest buzz in the world and I wouldn’t stop smiling for months!” He was actually grinning just thinking about an opportunity like that.

I always like to know about high points and low points in my interviewees career so far and he said a project run by Northampton Council was fun. “There were acts booked to play all over the place” he said. “Forests, churchyards, anywhere that was just plain strange and you wouldn't expect to hear music”.

I wondered where he played and he said “In the doorway of a record store and at the train station. I just stood there and played with a sign at the side of me saying ‘music in strange places’ and it was really funny because although I was meant to be there, I got lots of strange looks”.

Currently listening to bands as diverse as The Eels, Alanis Morrisette and Metallica, he said his favourite music is System of a Down although his fiancée switches it off whenever she can.

He’s also resolute about getting your start in music. “If you’re into guitar, just play and play whenever you can, if you’re a singer, sing everywhere from the shower to the bus stop”. His eyes lit up when he said “and never, ever turn down a gig however small it may be”. Worthy advice for all budding musicians in the city.

The sun came out and I figured it was time to get some photographs. We found some canal boats and a small bridge and pottered around for a while taking some shots to drop into this interview.

I thoroughly enjoyed our walk together. There’s an incredible honesty about his work and you can see that he is passionate about music, however much he claims to be Mr Relaxed! Although his lyrics are sometimes dark and foreboding you have to realise that he’s put an incredible amount of thought and effort into them and they perfectly compliment his acoustic guitar sound.

Dan knows music will always be part of his life, whether he is playing, promoting or producing, and I look forward to hearing his album later in the year and seeing him perform regularly at venues around our fair city.

- Steffi Lewis


EP - The man that was, coming soon


Feeling a bit camera shy


Once music has taken hold of your life, you can't turn your back on it. i by self creator Dan Patmore tried it, after getting frustrated with a limited sound and without the like-minded musicians he so desperately craved. He gave up on his old acoustic persona, disillusioned with music.

But, within two years he was back, writing, playing and performing with more lust for music than ever before, a middle finger raised to personal doubts and a professional DIY attitude somewhat lacking in his earlier endeavours.

The sound of i by self is simple tunes, with sometimes McCabe and more often than not melancholy melodies that fit a powerful and wide ranging voice. With influence and likeness to musicians like Joseph Arthur and Tom Mcrae and with a raw passion like PJ Harvey - this is alternative acoustic music at it's finest.

Look out for debut EP 'The man that was' being released with the help of The Cardigan Suite, sometime in late spring 2006.