I like smart people. They make life easier, conversations more meaningful, movies less boring and music that you actually want to listen to. You will definitely want to listen to Dan Waldman‘s (aka Made Of Wood) album The Chill/Funk Trip (as well as his other works) after reading this interview. And you definitely should, because it’s so good it’s “made of wood”. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Just read (and listen), you’ll understand.
tipkin – I have to start with the name. Are you willing to disclose its origins or do you prefer the listener’s imagination run wild?
Dan Waldman – Imaginations running wild is generally a great thing for my music. There is a story though…Somehow I went through this phase where I was saying that everything that was really well made was “Made of Wood.” Kind of like it was lovingly crafted in an old-school way. Not mass produced. It got a little ridiculous, at some point I started telling people my dog was so great he was “made of wood.” Around then I needed a name for my music, and there it was.
t. – You began playing the piano when you were 5. When did you start writing music? How did Made Of Wood come about?
D.W. – Apparently I carved the melody to the Star Wars theme into our family heirloom piano when I was about 6, so maybe then? I began actually writing stuff when I was around 16, then went to a music conservatory when I was 18 – it got really serious and structured then. String quartets, etc.
Made Of Wood specifically came about after I made an album of crazy funk organ for some of my closest friends a few years ago. It was fun, and really lighthearted. It had track titles like “The AA Meeting Took all the Parking Spots.” I liked the sound of some of the stuff, and it got me thinking more about pairing old-school electronic piano sounds with newer downtempo vibes. That was the beginning of Made Of Wood and trying to come up with some new sounds.
t. – You name Thievery Corporation and Massive Attack among your main influences. Where does funk come from? How was this unique style of yours developed?
D.W. – I think a lot of musicians (non top 40 types) are trying to find their own sound, and great groups like Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation draw on all the sounds that influenced them as musicians- jazz, classical, soul, electronica, etc. Thievery Corporation probably has more overt funk than Massive Attack (tunes like “Hare Krishna,” “The Numbers Game,” and of course “Web Of Deception”)- but you’re right, my love of funk isn’t just from them. I also always loved groups like Parliament, Maceo Parker, Deep Banana Blackout, etc. As for how I develop the sound – it’s always evolving. I’m trying to create some kind of sonic landscape – like a little contained world that you want to visit and come back to. Like one of your favorite movies or paintings. Sometimes that place is really funky, sometimes less so.