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Dan Croll Wants His Fans To Be Less Lonely

Music

Try calling his “Dial Dan” hotline

From the outside, Dan Croll seemed to be on the fast rise to success following his breakout record Sweet Disarray. He wrote with Paul McCartney and even traveled to South Africa to record with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. But behind the scenes, Croll was dealing with crushing depression and anxiety. He ended up losing himself, being fearful of letting people down that he was working with; his label abandoned him. Croll wasn’t sure how he’d move forward, but he felt the pressure to keep his career going. He ended up crafting his sophomore LP, Emerging Adulthood, on his own, even recording every instrument alone. Influenced by everything from Brian Wilson and ABBA to Tame Impala and Foals, Emerging Adulthood is a culmination of everything from the classics to indie psych-pop.

But more than that, Croll used Emerging Adulthood to foster a campaign normalizing anxiety and depression. So, he started a “Dial Dan,” a hotline using a burner phone where fans could call him if they felt lonely—which was something he felt, too.

Following the album’s release, we caught up with Croll to talk about isolation and anxiety, helping his fans, and his “Dial Dan” experiences.

How was this record different than your first?
The first album had a very DIY approach, even though we didn’t intend for it to be. I just finished uni and was begging and borrowing equipment. We recorded it in an old primary school gym. It was fun, but it took a while. We had 10 songs that were written four years prior to that moment, so there were old songs on there. Those songs have been recorded so many times and been written for so long. Whereas this second album, I wanted to be tougher on myself, and I set out with some clear reins. Like, I’m going to write this album in five to six months, I’m going to record it outside of the U.K., and I’m gonna play all the instruments on it. In a way, it’s the polar opposite.

How did having anxiety affect you making this record?
My feelings with anxiety happened prior to the record. That’s what the songs were really about. There was a common thread of what was happening on the album because of what was going on at the time. Some songs are more expressive than others. Even when I was recording the record, it wasn’t so much the anxiety but the isolation that was tough. I put the pressure on myself to record and write it all and be alone through most of the process. That had a big impact on my mental health. I wanted to put a positive spin on the album, as much as the topics can be a bit down.

Were you self-isolating?
I was in a weird relationship with a previous manager, and it got quite messy, so I just wanted to isolate myself away from the industry. So that whole writing period was very solitary. I was in this room with no windows. I didn’t want to burden my friends with what I was going through. So, I guess it was self-isolation. It was five or six months of isolation. Then, with the album, there were more people around me who helped pick me up out of a lull. I probably wouldn’t go that direction with an album again. 

How did your anxiety manifest itself?
My anxiety stems from embarrassing myself in public or potentially spoiling something for someone else. A lot of the time it was linked to public transport, going places or flying. This sounds daft, but I had this fear of being sick in public. I wondered how it would affect people around me and the consequences of embarrassing myself and doing something wrong. I was quite scared of collaborating because I was anxious about wasting anyone’s time and letting any team member down. 

What songs speak to your anxiety?
Different elements are in tracks. “One of Us” shows the paranoia side of anxiety and the paranoia that comes with not conforming to the music industry and pop world. Songs like “Away From Today” are about being your own worst enemy and trying to escape from yourself. “January” is about the loneliness of spending the whole year working in solitary, touring, and doing promo. You spend the whole year not being able to have a relationship, see friends or family. You get to December, and you have that time off, but then it’s January again, and you have that anxiety, paranoia, and loneliness again.

How did you come up with the “Dial Dan”? 
It came with my struggle with social media. You’re told you need to connect with your fans on social media when you have a single coming. I spent a lot of time just replying to tweets, Instagram messages, and posting things on Facebook. It really took it out of me; it was a bit depressing. It was burning me out quite a bit. I was finding it tough to leave the house. I told my manager and label that I needed to do something different because I didn’t feel like I was connecting. We went for a beer and joked about the idea of giving [my fans] a number. They were like, “Why don’t we do that?” A week later, we bought a burner phone, a SIM card, and gave it out to everyone. The first week, I took 248 phone calls. It felt special, and it felt like I actually engaged with people. We talked about everything. If people had struggles, we talked about them. It feels rewarding to me.

What’s the most poignant story someone has told you?
The stuff that people are sharing with you is so personal, but I guess some topics [have to do with] younger fans who are realizing things about their true identity or sexuality. They want to just get a lot of stuff off their chests because they can’t talk to their family. There are a lot of cultural differences, too. There was a girl who was secretly doing music in Saudi Arabia. She said that in Saudi Arabia, it’s looked down upon for women to play music and be in that scene, so I was learning a lot about that other culture. 

Has your anxiety subsided now that your album has come to fruition?
In a way. I think [fear of] embarrassing myself in public and transportation has subsided, but I want to please everyone. I guess I’m still kind of nervous about the reception of the album. If it does well, I get to tour. Then if I get to tour, I get to bring my band friends. If I bring my band, I have to pay their wages and therefore their lives are good. If their lives are good and the shows are good, then the people who manage me and look after me at the label are happy. I still feel very responsible for quite a lot of people. I think for the rest of the year, I’ll still have that feeling of being nervous, but it’s subsided a little bit. 

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.

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Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.

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