Bungalow East // Austin, TX
Words + Photos by Erica Tello
Lady Dan is new to Austin. Shortly after moving to a new city from Birmingham, the singer released her EP titled, 'Songs for the Soulless' on March 1st. Infusing Americana with elements of indie-folk, Tyler Dozier of Lady Dan captivates listeners with stories of her past. The future seems bright too, as she just performed a release show and has a few upcoming SXSW showcases.
ET: Let’s go back to your roots. What inspired the name ‘Lady Dan’? Tell us also more about the ‘melancholic cowboy vibes’ sounds?
LD: Lady Dan was born in a conversation in which I was grumbling about my mom refusing to name me after my dad [Daniel]. The other person in dialogue said, “If your name was Dan, I’d call you Lady Dan.” And I immediately knew that was going to be the name I used for whatever music I ended up making.
Melancholic Cowboy Vibes was a clever phrase coined by my sister. I love Cowboy shit, and I always will. So making an album where I got to tap into that sound was really exciting. As far as the melancholy, I think that will always be present in my art. It’s just my temperament haha.
ET: What also brought you here to Austin? Is this your first big move from Alabama? How has the city treated you so far?
LD: I was beginning to feel so jaded and bored within Birmingham. I was outgrowing it; I knew I wanted to make a big move, I just wasn’t sure where. There were a lot of things that helped me decide on Austin - I had stability and it just seemed like the right place to release this album. However, I had never been to Texas before and I didn’t know a single person out here ha! You could call me counter-phobic. But yeah, It’s daily solidified that this is where I am supposed to be right now. Austin is a dream and so are the people in it.
ET: You also have an alter alter ego ‘uncle beercan’ on Instagram? Why are you everyone’s favorite uncle?
LD: Uncle Beercan was just something I overheard my cousins saying one night and I fell in love with the nickname. I took it for myself with their permission and it has become this like inner character. I really love making characters up that have their own personalities and catchphrases. Uncle Beercan is just one of the many, but my friends love calling me by the name. It’s like this Grade-A redneck alter-ego. If I get comfortable enough, he comes out, and he has little shame (but he’s not racist or sexist or homophobic, he’s a good dude). Everyone’s got a favorite uncle, and if they don’t I’ll be their fave uncle.
ET: You are a freelance artist and photographer as well? What type of art do you convey and create?
LD: I dabble in a handful of mediums. I’ve got a background in graphic design that benefits me on a daily basis, and a background in photography that gets me sweet gigs from time to time. I love conveying similar themes that I write in my music: Boredom, melancholy, anger, frustration, spite, restlessness. But visual, you dig? I’m big on color and sass. Gotta have sass.
ET: What does ‘Songs for Soulless’ mean for you? What do you hope others take away from the EP?
LD: ‘Songs for the Soulless’ was chosen because that’s the way I felt when I was writing and recording these songs. More like a monster than a person. I think it was necessary to write with such harsh feelings, though; it was therapeutic for me. In my day-to-day life, I do too much emotional labor for people and kind of lose myself in making everyone around me happy or at least satisfied. I’m too agreeable. This is my outlet for all those not-so-agreeable feelings. But even then, my album ends with “I’m probably wrong.” I’m a slave to my own empathy.
My hope in anything I do, this album included, is to give people a sense of community in their doubts and frustrations. I use music as a tool to not feel so alone in my soulless, or heavy thoughts. So I want to give that to others, too.
ET: Were there any significant events that inspired any of your songs?
LD: Deciding to move to Texas out of nowhere was where Ten Weeks came from. However, the other songs on this album are more of a build up of events that inspired me to write. Hell Bent was written during a time that I was suddenly unemployed and couldn’t even afford a 25 cent pack of ramen. Songs like Better Than Hell came from episodes of depression, anxiety, numbness, and intense fear of missing out. I write because I feel like I’m losing my mind.
ET: What did your creative process look like for this EP? Did you collaborate with other musicians or producers?
LD: The creative process was heavily collaborative. I brought in Seth Brown (of the band Lady Legs) to play multiple instruments and write parts that I couldn’t. He has a gift of hearing things that aren’t there yet - something I’m trying to get better at. I also had Ramy Noureddini join us in the studio. He laid down all the pedal steel and most of the electric guitar. The dude is good at what he does.
My producer was Brandon Snipes. He also owns Four Birds Studio, where we recorded. Brandon did all of the drums on this album, too! I’m telling you these guys are all multi-talents, and they really know how to have fun. I just provided beer and watched them make magic. 10/10 would do again. I also had strings on one song in this album. Lori Cheng played the cello and Jeanette Hightower played the violin. They play together on a lot of different projects, so they just got in the studio and totally nailed it. Mastering was completed by Jeremy Clark out of Nashville, TN. I’d recommend Jeremy Clark for pretty much anything.
ET: How did you put yourself into a mindset for writing your songs?
LD: I barely have control over that. You could say my mind puts me in the setting to write a song.
ET: What can we expect from Lady Dan this year?
LD: Oh gosh. Hopefully some small tours! Hopefully a big tour! I’m just saying yes to all this and seeing where it takes me. Of course, I’m ambitious as hell. So if I can get in the studio and make a lot more music, I will!! I’ve got a lot up my sleeves and it’s all just a matter of time before it manifests itself.
Keep up with Lady Dan on Instagram.
Give ‘Songs for the Soulless’ a listen here too.