Singer/songwriter Dan Estok took the sadness of a childhood surrounded by family drug addictions to build strength and faith in himself and his music. He prides himself on the complexity and diversity of his music which he says is pop/rock with acoustic influence “that can make you dance like a little girl but can make you think like an academic during finals week”, he said.
Who were your early musical influences?
During my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine played Weezer’s “El Scorcho”. I listened to it, but thought the song seemed a bit childish. Thanks to my friend, Weezer was played nonstop, especially the Blue Album. After hearing more songs, especially “Say It Aint So”, I was hooked for life. I fell in love with Rivers Cuomo’s style, lyrics and the way he maintained his fame. His writing was very systematic, but at the same time, it was filled with so much of his own style- something that I have tried to harness in my own writing. At about this same time I pledged allegiance to Weezer, Fall Out Boy was starting to get some attention with their album “Take This To Your Grave”. I saw them play in small venues and enjoyed watching them grow and become a huge mainstream success. Patrick Stump’s vocals have definitely had an influence on mine. I dig his range and the fact that he sometimes can sound like a big black woman adds icing to the cake.
What do you want listeners to get from your music?
I want listeners to appreciate the art of my music. Whether it is a pop song that tastes like sugar or a moody song that makes you contemplate life, every note and every sound is supporting a story the song is telling. I want my listeners to not only listen to the music, but to listen to the story the music is trying to tell. The beautiful thing about music and other art is that it tells the story of the artist, but it can also tell a story for the listener as well.
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Tell me about your CDs and any other projects you have going on?
I recently released a self-titled EP. There are seven songs telling the story of love and frustration. One song, “Semiautomatic Kind of Love” has the imagery of love shooting out like a spray of bullets. I made a fun music video for the song with my dog, Harrison, so it’s definitely something that should be checked out, for my dog’s sake!
Another song, “What Gets Me Stoned” plays off the idea that love is the only thing that can get me stoned. I grew up around drugs and think it’s a tragedy that many musicians and rappers have not only fallen victim to drugs, but exalt them through their music. Drugs fill the void that love should. So, the song is an expression of just that — getting stoned the right way.
I have an older record called “Soul Talking” that is extremely raw and not as produced as my current EP, but it nags at the soul in weird ways. Lyrically, that project is my favorite as it explores some pretty meaningful aspects of life and the soul.
What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
If my music is wine, I want it to get better with age. I want to be successful like everyone else, but what is success? Money? Tours? Record deals? Placements? I’m not sure yet, but all I know is that I want me and my music to be a fine wine in a sexy bottle — nothing boxed.