Many incredible singer-songwriters come from the streets. Multi-talented Daniel Docherty (born in June 1992) from Glasgow is one of those. We’re not talking about being streetwise but about growing up in public, mastering your skills while busking in the streets, parks and shopping arcades. Docherty has ‘seen it all’ and has earned his stripes.
If it would still be the sixties now, you would have encountered him in the coffee houses at MacDougal Street in New York, where Dylan and his peers learned their craft. But he’s no longer a rough diamond. He’s ready to take the next step. Docherty is clearly experienced performing live to crowds of all sizes. He is equally happy to play for a small crowd or a packed Carré Theatre in Amsterdam, where he is signed to the [PIAS] label. [PIAS] discovered him at the annual Eurosonic international showcase festival in the Netherlands and instantly recognized his enormous potential. The lowlands have quite a reputation as a test market. It has served as launching platform for singer-songwriters like Gavin James and Ben Howard before.
‘I do still love to busk, but haven't busked much at all this year,’ Docherty says. ‘For me, it's one of the most comfortable and enjoyable places to perform! I always want to busk in every new city I play in. For me, it's a great way to write songs and immediately try them out in public. I get an idea and start improvising. Having the freedom to be so creative and spontaneous is something I love. Meeting people like this, is one of the most rewarding experiences.’ Hold Me, the first single from the EP Life Is What We Make Of It is a prime example of this method. ‘It began as an idea I had while busking, and developed from there,' he confirms enthusiastically.
This Holy Fire - EP
And it’s certainly not the only track with that history of origin… Garden In The Snow which was featured on his 2015 self-released 4 track EP This Holy Fire is another example. As a full-blooded storyteller Docherty shares the history of that particular track: ‘It was written about a woman I met busking, who had lost her husband. She had come over to thank me for playing the song Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton, and explained that the song meant something to her and her late husband.’ Music as consolation, isn’t that wonderful? Well, isn’t that what artists are for, to give us a little bit of hope and inspiration in our lives?
Life Is What We Make Of It - EP
Docherty likes to talk us through his new EP Life Is What We Make Of It, track by track. Relationships are the main topic. He kicks off with Hold Me, the lead-off single. ‘The protagonist of the song doesn’t want the other person to leave. So, he holds her. It’s not a sad song, it’s still upbeat.’ What about the title track? ‘It started off with the idea of an old man who suffered from dementia, who was waiting for his wife to return. However, it gradually became about a difficult, but necessary break-up. At that time, coincidentally, my best friend and his girlfriend who is also a close friend, where breaking up and this gave me a new understanding in ways of how difficult this can be.’
‘The Weather is about a somewhat messy part,’ he continues. ‘It’s about a drastic change in the relationship. One moment everything is fine, the next there’s an argument like a heavy storm.’ The final track Imagining Love he wrote when he was twenty. ‘It was the first time I had given lyrics this amount of thought and consideration of the impact of words,’ he remembers. ‘I thought about every word and its impact. I was wondering, what it would be like to meet someone and spend your whole life with them? It’s a story about two people. It was more like a fear then. I never intended to put it on the EP, but it fit so well with the mood of the other tracks.’ His style is not unlike fellow Brit Passenger’s. The two know each other well, of course from their days on the streets.
New Forthcoming EP
Once more teaming up with producer Ian Grimble (Bears Den, Daughter et al) I Don’t Want To Grow Up is Docherty’s new single since Only Time Will Help Us EP and sees this talented singer extending his writing from both a personal and wider perspective from childhood, formative years through to adulthood and all that the journey entails - fears, awe, emotions and heartache .
Written from the perspective of both a child’s wonder and adult’s experience he explains, “the lyrics express the fears that accompany growing up and particularly the loss of love. The song’s other thread is about the reality of adulthood and at times the raw and unbridled emotions that come to the fore during heartache.” The result is an uplifting paean to life’s tribulations, something that appears pertinent to the times we live in…
After releasing I Don’t Want To Grow Up in May 2020, Docherty shared a new track Broken Bird in August 2020.
“Broken bird is about the end of a relationship that is somewhat anticipated. It’s about reflecting on the relationship and coming to the painful truth that it is not what it once was. Trying to do this in a way that was as painless and considerate as possible, inspired the idea of a bird landing safely. The song became a much more personal experience years after writing.”
Broken Bird is the second single of the forthcoming EP which will be released later this year.
Apart from his songs and his great vocal delivery, Docherty also deserves credit as a great instrumentalist. He has one extra ‘weapon’, his guitar. He is not just a singer-songwriter, he’s also a mean fingerpicker, a true virtuoso on his guitar. By his songwriting and guitar playing, it is obvious he’s a big fan of the late John Martyn and Australia’s Tommy Emmanuel. His breathtaking percussive guitar style is reminiscent of US guitarist Andy McKee.
In the Netherlands, the profile of Docherty is quickly rising, having supported popular local and international bands like Racoon, HAEVN, Calum Scott and Matt Simons.