You may not be familiar with the name Daniel Rossen but you’ll know his voice immediately. As the lead singer of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, his dulcet tones are an inherent part of both bands’ sounds. These days, the multi-instrumentalist is making a name for himself as a solo artist and he is touring Australia this week.
Rossen’s moody sound and the gifted guitar work on his 2012 EP Silent Hour/Golden Mile echoes his previous work. But it’s pared back – a little more raw than the airtight sound of Grizzly Bear. Rossen sounds relaxed and confident, honing in on the sound he’s been working on in the last 10 years.
Rossen’s first solo tour is not only a bold step in his career but it also represents a personal challenge. “The solo shows are a way to keep myself engaged. I do really enjoy it and I think it’s important to play the music I’ve never performed before. But I also think solo shows keep me anchored to playing music to stop me from stopping entirely.”
In contrast to his previous tours with Grizzly Bear, Rossen’s solo shows are stripped back and personal. “I think smaller venues are more enjoyable for the performer because it feels much more natural and casual. You get to have more of a relationship with the audience,” he says.
Rossen finds it more demanding than his other bands’ larger-scale performances, though. “When you’re a solo artist you don’t have anything to distract you. It’s forced me to be more invested, to do a really good job and be really present,” he says.
The musician has enjoyed taking a breather from creating music to spend more time with his girlfriend and their dog in upstate New York’s countryside. “While we’ve had time off as a band I’ve been pretty quiet and it’s been interesting and inspiring to just have nothing to do with that. I’ve been slowly coming back to producing music.”
The musician most recently provided the score for upcoming film Valedictorian, a film directed by Matthew Yeager that centres on a young man who walks away from a life in NYC to become a Brooklyn vagabond.
On Rossen’s Australian tour, he’ll be playing new solo material as well as work from Silent Hour/Golden Mile, and selected songs from his other bands. “There was a lot of material I never played [prior to performing solo] because it didn’t relate to the band and I have all these songs from over the years that I never played live. So it’s really cool to finally be able to perform them,” he says.
“People have been asking why I don’t play more Grizzly Bear stuff in my sets and the truth is they don’t really work well with my other material and they obviously involve the whole band. I’m hoping that by the time I get [to Australia] I’ll have something interesting to play, something new.”
Daniel Rossen is playing Northcote Social Club on February 14 and 15 with Jasia. Tickets are now sold out.