Darren Hanlon

Musician and globe trotter Darren Hanlon speaks with arts interview this week on couch surfing, writing every day and how to maintain creative inspiration on the road. Hanlon’s interview is the first of our last set of interviews for the year, focusing on the way we work.

Interview by Heather Jennings

Do you currently have a permanent base to call home? How would you compare the way you work when you have a permanent base to when you are touring?

I don’t have a base and in fact the closest I’ve had to anything solid in three years is a space for a couple of months out the back of a Melbourne bookshop. Being a musician, there’s two sides to your working life: introverted and extroverted.

When I’m on tour and out and about there’s no real stability apart from the network of friends and their houses throughout the world where I stay after the shows. It’s a wonderful thing to have this global community. But more and more I’m missing the comfort of just having a neighbourhood and group of people I see every day and grow with.

As for writing, as it requires solitude and silence, it’s difficult to do on the road with any great success. Although if you try hard enough, you can train your mind to switch off and find its own cave to retreat into. You get really good at sitting down in a cafe with a laptop/notebook and looking up again to find its gotten dark outside.

How do you incorporate the diverse scenarios you come across in day-to-day life into your song writing and creative projects?

They always make their own way in. I find that when I’m in writing mode I’m more sensitive and open and observant to things happening around me. I tune into dialogue more. Songs on the radio etc… I always carry a notebook.

Are you conscious of delivering a certain amount of daily creative output when you are on the road, or do you go with the flow?

I try to go with the flow but will inevitably feel a bit low if there’s been no output for a few days. I combat this by writing a daily diary – I have been doing it religiously for years now, plus more polished longhand stories that are easier than songs to accomplish. That way, at least the pen is still moving.

What have you done to work more effectively in changing environments?

As always I seek out places to go (that are cheap) to be alone, to sit in a room and wait (hopefully!) for the good thoughts and ideas to arrive. Outback pubs, caravan parks, Eastern European cities etc. I think another huge reason for low-productivity is internet addiction. I try to stay away from that as much as possible.

Darren Hanlon is currently touring through Europe, find dates here.

www.darrenhanlon.com

twitter.com/darrenhanlon

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