MELBOURNE singer/songwriter Daniel Shaw has mastered the art of the happy/sad pop song on his major label debut drunk high low. On the surface it’s a wildly catchy tune that is poised to lodge itself inside your head upon impact. Scratch just below the surface, however, and there’s a darker story that inspired it.
Daniel started writing drunk high low after he’d moved out of his family home and into a tiny apartment in the Melbourne CBD. “It was really small – a bed, a kitchen, a table and my keyboard,” Daniel recalls. Some (now resolved) good old family issues led to him overthinking – and over drinking.
“I wasn’t in a good place, I’d moved out fairly suddenly,” Daniel says, “I battle with self-expression sometimes, I’m not good with uncomfortable situations and conflict, I run away from them. In this song I point out how my coping mechanism was to drink, I felt that anxiety and depression went away, and I could handle it, I was fine”.
“But the reason the song is called drunk high low is because it was just that cycle of getting drunk, feeling alright – which is the high – and then I went right back to feeling low and the cycle would start again.”
While Daniel jokes “I’m down on myself a lot in my songs” he not only enjoys the juxtaposition of happiness and tension in the song (“it’s the fight between what I’m letting out and what I’m feeling”) but also the fact the bridge factors in some positivity and light. “It’s great to have some hope in there, and I love the fact that while this song is personal for me, when people listen to it, they will apply it to different relationships and scenarios. I think it’s awesome when they can personalize it.”
If Daniel Shaw’s face and voice sounds familiar, you may have seen him busking on the streets of Melbourne (he started out – incredibly – doing it as an eight-year-old) He’s now signed his own recording deal with Universal, after being an independent artist since he was a teenager. His DIY approach worked – Daniel has already had over six million streams of his own music/videos and has built a strong social media presence on all platforms.
“Even when I was busking, which I was doing for over 13 years, I was always hopeful someone would notice me and help me with my music. So having a major label deal is what I’ve always wanted, to get the right contacts, have a team behind you, all the things you hope for as a musician. It’s pretty crazy the way it’s panned out.”
While he couldn’t perform during the pandemic, Daniel found a new creative outlet – Tik Tok.
He studied the platform intensely, using the skills he had honed as a busker to get peoples’ attention straight away. Just as you would try and stop someone walking past you with your songs and instruments (Daniel played piano and stomp box simultaneously), he now tries to stop people scrolling on Tik Tok. He’s now got half a million followers, who see everything from musical challenges, footage of him performing as a kid to lyric quizzes.
Taking inspiration from Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, Daniel has spent the last year writing songs for his new EP and can’t wait to get back to the live music scene.
Daniel plans to start off with pop-up busker shows in line with the release of drunk high low, taking his music back right in front of fans, old and new.
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