Six Questions with a Successful Indie Artist and Music Entrepreneur
Authors: Igor Len and Jim Bybee
Today’s music creators often diversify their talents among several creative endeavors and business opportunities at once, and Dan Silver is a shining example of the modern-day musician/entrepreneur. In addition to leading his band MOON, he oversees creative operations and marketing as Vice President of Creative for Riptide Music Group, a music licensing company. But he doesn’t stop there—Dan is also the co-founder, executive producer, and talent curator for Quantum Collective and their Southwest Invasion during SXSW in Austin, and somehow finds enough time left over to produce records and remixes for various artists and bands.
1. How do you find the time to balance it all?
I have a passion for music that drives me to do all these things. I can’t spend one day without playing some music or tweaking in the studio or else I might just fade away. It takes some discipline, careful planning, and most important, a drive to keep it all going. It’s important to have a work/life balance and making time for all things that matter to you. But when your passion is part of what you do every day, it makes it easier to make all things happen.
2. You formed MOON with Chelsea Davis. How did you meet each other, and what were the qualities that attracted you to write and perform together?
Chelsea and I met during my last band, and she filled in on bass for a few shows. Instantly, we clicked and found a groove and had a blast on stage together. Over time we kept jamming, and one day I needed a female singer to work on an assignment with me. I actually hadn’t heard Chelsea sing yet, but when she did my jaw dropped, and I said, “We’re starting this band right now!” We wrote a song all in one night, and we kept writing songs together for the next year and created MOON. We’re very fortunate to have found our drummer Tony Cupito, who completes the lineup in MOON.
3. You must get a good level of creative satisfaction with the wide range of projects at Riptide and your other musical endeavors. Why start a new band?
At heart, I’m a music producer and performer and absolutely love being on stage with my band. I’ve been in bands my whole life, playing in bars since I was 15. I’m fortunate to have the variety of projects I work on, and I always remember that no matter how tough or hard things can be in this business, all my endeavors create a very complete musical life.
4. While MOON’s music isn’t necessarily electronic, you’ve integrated Roland’s AIRA products quite organically into the band’s repertoire. In particular, the MX-1 Mix Performer is used in a number of creative ways during your live performances. What is your experience with the MX-1, and AIRA gear in general?
I was fascinated the minute I saw the AIRA products. It’s like a Voltron synth that you can assemble and unite for different purposes. Initially, I spent a lot of time with AIRA gear in the studio learning the ins and outs and finding cool tones to play with, which are infinite. Once I started interweaving them into the MOON live experience, I realized the MX-1 was as exciting as the rest of them.
I assume most musicians are using this like a DJ tool, but I find it more of an instrument. You can plug your synths in via USB, keeping the clock unified and controlled by the MX-1 as the central [hub]. You can mix each synth as you perform, add effects, tweak stutters and delays, etc. It’s a ton of fun live and takes everything to the next level. I’m also loving the SYSTEM-1 synth and the JD-Xi, but I won’t lie—I’m still a massive fan of the GAIA and V-Synth GT!
5. What was your original expectation of the JD-Xi upon seeing its small size? And did it change after using it in the studio and live?
At first, I thought it looked like a perfect small synth to carry to gigs, but once I started playing on it I was a bit nervous about the size of the keys. They’re tiny! [Laughs.] Although once I got used to the size, it was no big deal. I love the versatility and the analog synth capabilities. Also, the fact that you can sing or plug an instrument in to perform the tones inside is completely amazing. Sometimes you just want to hum an idea or bend a note on the guitar, and [to do that] with synth tones is genius.
6. What excites you about today’s music, and what’s next for MOON?
There’s so much to look forward to in music today. Yes, the industry has changed. And yes, it’s harder than ever. But now we’ve broken down the barriers back to the original concept, and more music is accessible than ever. This means we get to rebuild and try again—it’s an open playing field and a chance to influence more ears. When I started, we didn’t have free social sites to promote our digital content; we just jumped in a van and started touring. Now you have everything at your fingertips. Also, vinyl is back! First thing for MOON is to start releasing our first singles, and definitely on vinyl. Look out for our next shows and records to come!
To learn more MOON and their music, visit MOONtransmissions.com.