I first met Dan when he worked for a company called Backing Tracks Au. His dad, Alan Skeed, fortunately gave me some of my very first paying singing gigs after winning a few talent quests in the Sydney circuit.
It’s such an honour to connect with Dan after all these years and he sure has come a long way. Now a full time writer and producer at Oxygen Music he shares his journey in the music industry.
I love the heart and passion he has for his family, music and life.
Most of all I love the way he is grateful for what he has in his life… truly living and owning his greatness!
Enjoy this blog post as Dan shares his life as a working musician and the top 5 Mistakes that Songwriters can make.
Tell us about what you do. Your band, your role with Oxygen Music and what inspires you keep growing in terms of music?
I was born & raised in Sydney. Started playing music at age 9. I have studied in depth, guitar, drums & dabbled in horns & keys. My voice I began to explore about 5 years ago & found it to be one of my favourite instruments to use of all.
I have played in stacks of bands over the past 15 years. I began playing in clubs at age 13 with my father’s bands & associates all around Sydney & from there developed my true love for ‘live music’.
I found a homely existence with my best friends somewhat 10 years ago when we formed the band Urban Stone. We are still gigging a couple of times a week & do it for both the love & the coin (music can pay the bills & more if you cherish & harness the craft with all your might & know the right people who believe in you & are willing to support & promote you).
My parents, Alan & Trish Skeed, had always been the driving force behind my career & helped me open every door to date. Such support is priceless. I’m forever thankful.
Up until 2 years ago, music was my passion. I gave every lasting ‘spare’ minute I had to my craft & my friends who shared the same muse. However, I always had a corporate/sales career in the balance & wore a collar by day which was very consuming in itself. Until finally, an opportunity presented itself at Oxygen Music Group. My band Urban Stone recorded an EP at Oxygen & developed friendships in the midst with some of my best friends & colleagues today. Post recording our EP, I was poached from my daily grind by David Simon (Managing Director at Oxygen) & offered the exciting role of Writer/Producer. Since then, we have achieved some amazing things together.
My full time job, finally at age 30, is a musician wearing a coat of many colours. Life is good.
You come from a musical family and your dad has given many budding singers a foot in the door, including myself, which I am forever grateful for. Tell us, what it was like growing up in your household, when did you start singing and playing the guitar.
My Dad was a gun muzo himself. He came through an era of about 3-4 decades where musicians were hot property, live music was thriving in Sydney & he was at the top of the tree on a local scale. He was doing up to 6-7 gigs a week & much like myself, couldn’t ever really sit still. He had many other jobs throughout his career as a musician. A great example & role model for myself (as was my mother who was a very successful business woman across numerous industries & a loving mother & wife who always took great interest in our passions).
I grew up in a household where food was always on the table, love was evergreen, ethics, morals & discipline was always in the balance, & music was always the great escape & a common passion. My sister Kim kinda taught me to Rock! She is a very talented singer & was in a pretty hot band whilst I came through my adolescence. Sister Green they were called. I was really into grunge & the Seattle vibe at that point in time so to me she was god (& forever will be). Kim & I are very close & you know I still listen to Sister Green records today.
Mum & Dad eventually ended up running a business of their own when they bought a successful entertainment agency off Ian Clifton & Dad hung up the microphone & put his every effort into exploring, nurturing & exposing some of the most talented singers, musicians & entertainers who are household names & Australian Icons today.
Obviously, being constantly surrounded by this environment, the music ‘business’ rubbed off on me as well as the passion & talent for the craft itself that was unmistakably within our 4 walls. I started singing on my father’s & grandfather’s laps at age 3 & sang as a kid in numerous lights, but I wasn’t really that great I don’t think haha.
However, I really only started to discover & develop my own voice singing along side my rockin’ powerhouse sister in crime Tina Garufi (lead singer of Urban Stone). A bar raised that high by my side, was only ever going to improve me. Her infectious ability & euphoric talent made me wanna sing a little & I’m glad I did. Tina is vocal dynamite, & my biggest vocal influence by far. Tina also after establishing a strong presence in the music scene herself already, came through my Dad’s stables which caused our paths to cross, so I’ve him to thank for that also.
When did you know you wanted to create a business from music and how did it come about for you?
When I saw just how possible it was. It’s pretty simple. Work hard at your craft, establish yourself in the right company of people & always surround yourself with people that you admire & deem to be ‘better than you’… You can only grow from there.
The music business is a tough one. The toughest of them all if you ask me.
Turning your craft into a successful career or venture is hard on your own. Never close an open door where it could potentially see you progress. Never say I can’t.
When I was offered the role at Oxygen Music Group, it was a little overwhelming. I’d produced electronic music for about 4 years out of school for a backing tracks company & studied & practiced the organic side of music for somewhat 20 years. I had a lot under my belt & a lot of support & contacts etc. However, walking away from the corporate world & jumping in the deep end & taking control of people’s creations & turning them into gold comes with great expectations & obligation.
Luckily, I had a team of very successful & competent engineers & producers around me. People like Rick Will, who has more feathers in his cap than anyone I have ever met in this game. He has produced some of my favourite artists’ records. Diesel, Chisel, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Incubus, the list goes on. Greg Stace on a technical level is one of our nations greatest. He has won awards from his craft & made a living out of music since he can remember.
These key influences had a lot of faith in me also. So I decided to take the leap & bite off what could have been more than I could ever chew. I haven’t looked back since. I always say that this life we lead has it’s stresses, deadlines, budgets & constraints from time to time. But in contrast, we have the best jobs in the world.
You recently completed a songwriting project. Can you tell us about who you worked with and what was the outcome.
I just completed a workshop/camp called 50 songs in 5 days.
It was created, managed & poached by the major labels & administered by Studio 301 & Oxygen Music Group.
It’s possibly the greatest creative stint of my life. I was in presence of the country’s greatest writers, producers & artists. My task was to collaborate with the above mentioned & as head producer for my daily assigned team create one song per day. Write it, track it, mix it & submit it to the majors. I got to work with some amazing artists. Some of which I’ve already worked with one way or another (Anya Nissen, Reigan Derry, Morgan Evans, Chance Waters, Elen Levon).
I got to hang with Tina Arena. I got to witness some of the greatest production I have ever heard in it’s early stages by hanging with some of the other producers in the camp. It was a blast.
The outcome is basically that the tracks we created, go into the catalogues of the major artists & labels. Meaning that if the songs are on the mark, within the brief & loved by the powers that be, your songs will be heard. They will be placed, they will be released & on the airways. Most of all, the contacts I made, the memories we made, the songs we birthed were awesome.
What is your process when you co-write with someone?
I have no real particular equation or rule book. I like to adapt to the writer. Sometimes it starts with a beat. Sometimes it starts with a reference artist & a brief from the artist’s management or label. Sometimes it starts with an acoustic guitar or piano. I do like the old school approach. As they say in the song city that is Nashville, “3 chords & the truth” & you can’t go wrong… Unfortunately there is a little more involved nowadays lol. But fortunately for me perhaps, because if the world of music in all it’s glory has become something, it’s interesting.
What are the 5 mistakes people make with songwriting/co-writing?
Ok so I guess there are a few do’s & don’ts lol…
1. Copycats (lacking any sort of authentic, original creativity).
2. Not actually collaborating, contributing or respecting & inviting ideas in a co-write situation. Co-writing definitely requires an open mind, an opinion & no ego. The right combination of these qualities will see a good session through & something special at the back end.
3. Lyrical content that is too hard to digest or break down for the listener. You want the listener to connect with your song. Not baffle them lol.
4. Writing melodies & vocal parts that they simply can not sing. Writing vocals for an artist, within their ‘quality’ vocal range, & age/genre appropriate lyrical content is a must I believe.
5. Over producing something that sounds, feels & sells to the listener in a more organic/raw state. Whilst I respect that we live in an era where technology has taken our craft to new heights, some things are best left untouched in my mind. Even where given a retro review, I love how music reflects memories, decades & times of past present & future.
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Believe in yourself. Never stop learning. Always surround yourself with the best. “Dress where you wanna be” (Quote: Mum) lol.
Who are your mentors and why?
My folks. They always know best lol, it’s true. They have a knack for pointing me in the right direction. I admire the people they are & forever grow to be.
My best friends & band. They are the best bunch of cats & seriously amaze me time & time again with the way they play, party & keep my feet solid to the earth beneath me.
David Simon. Dave’s the reason I do what I love full time. He’s also a great guy with passion unparalleled. He’s the one guy in the game that does more hours than me lol.
My early private music teachers (Gino Pengue, Russell Nelson, Peter Drummond, Jess Zappia) etc. They taught me everything needed to know to further explore the wonderful world of music.
There are more. I could go on for hours.
What’s in the pipeline for you?
I’m not sure, & I think that’s a wonderful thing.
I know that I aim to be among the best at what I do. I want to further study music, production & at some point experience first hand, the world around me that I only see on television, post cards & the internet.
I want to share music with my friends & family till the day I die.
There you have it folks! Inspiring answers from the heart!
If you want to know more about Daniel’s work you can visit him at www.oxygenmusicgroup.com
Connect with his band Urban Stone on Facebook.
Now do you have any questions that you are burning to ask about Songwriting?
What are your challenges? Please write them below to we can help you or point you in the right direction.
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P.S. I will be Launching a New Online Course in March where I will help mentor you into making your very own EP/Single or Album. Want to know more? Click here!
If you would like to get started with your Album creation download the “5 steps to start creating your Album PDF” – it’s free!