Dan Mangan is eager to admit he's in flux. After touring for four years on the strength of his debut LP, Postcards and Daydreaming, he has recently released critically acclaimed follow up, Nice, Nice, Very Nice and the differences between the two are remarkable.
"I'd get calls from journalists and the first question they'd ask would be: 'How does it feel to make depressing music?' " Mangan recounts on the phone from Vancouver. "My first CD was a kind of dark, sombre experience, and I think as a human being, I mean, four years passed between the two releases. I think I grew up a lot and got a lot more comfortable in my own shoes."
His latest release is remarkably more upbeat, but doesn't depart from the introspection that has made him such a versatile songwriter. A lot of the inspiration behind Very Nice derives from the significant amount of time Mangan spent on the road and the ups and downs of being a touring musician.
"In the last four years, I spent 40 to 50 per cent of my time touring and I think that's definitely affected it," says Mangan. "The idea of coming home, and the idea of leaving home, the people you meet on the road and the people you miss, that you aren't seeing because you are on the road -- there's an interesting dynamism there, and I would say that's definitely affected this record quite a bit."
It's not just his songwriting that makes Mangan a capable musician. His knowledge of the changing nature of music affords him the opportunity to offer his music to fans over the globe. After streaming his first album off his website, you can now listen to many of the songs from the new album on his MySpace account and his music can be purchased on iTunes. He recognizes the important role the internet can have in shaping a musical career and how it has changed the music industry for the better.
"I think with the Internet, it equals the playing field and it's allowing people, who maybe, 10 years ago, would have had a hard time having a viable career in this industry, all of a sudden they are paying their rent," explains Mangan. "They may not be a superstar, they may not be filling huge stadiums, but I think most of those people never really wanted that anyway. A nice result of the Internet is that more good music is happening than ever before, and it's because more of that ground level good music is being supported that used to not get supported."
Despite the rise of piracy and illegal downloading, Mangan remains optimistic about the current state of the music industry. A good plan for such an exciting young musician.
"It's a really exciting time for music in general," Mangan concludes. "I think that right now what we're getting is a real sonic innovation happening in music, but at the same time a return to an appreciation for lyricism and a kind of song writing in it's more traditional form."