Back in February, Dan Kiernan and Chase Stephen faced off in one of the most prolific rounds of Glassetonbury to date. After a back-and-forth round with hundreds and hundreds of votes, Chase Stephen ultimately advanced to the Final Four, but Kiernan was given another chance when the Glassetonbury All-Stars bracket was announced in September. He took full advantage of the opportunity, fending off some of the most talented and popular artists in Glassetonbury history en route to claiming victory in the tournament. We recently caught up with him to discuss his Glassetonbury journey, his musical background and influences, and much more.
Read our full interview below.
GLASSE: How did you first get started in music? Who were some of your early influences, and how have those changed as your artistry has progressed?
Dan Kiernan: Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My band teacher back in elementary school heard me singing along with a piece we were working on one day and the rest was history. I grew up listening to everything from The Spice Girls to The Eagles, so my influences definitely run the gamut. They have definitely changed as I’ve explored different genres and styles but some constants are The Eurythmics, Whitney Houston, Shoshana Bean, and The Rolling Stones.
Where are you originally from, and how has your environment informed your musical vocabulary?
I am originally from Long Island, New York. Amityville to be exact, like the horror house. Being from New York, I’ve been really fortunate to grow up around so much music and art, especially growing up so close to Manhattan. I spent many years of my life performing and training in theater so that definitely evoked my emotional connection to music.
How would you describe your style to somebody who is not familiar with your work?
I always say at my shows, I want you to feel good but I really want you to feel everything. My style is definitely pop but infused with classic rock and 2000s pop & pop punk. Someone once said my live shows are “raw and electric” & that is definitely the goal.
You first came onto our radar with your song “The Other Side,” which released in March 2020. What can you tell us about the creation of the song? How long did it take to write, and how did it come together in the studio?
“The Other Side” is probably the most meaningful piece I’ve ever, and maybe will ever, write. I wrote it with my co-writer & collaborator, Rocky Paterra, 6 months after the sudden and tragic loss of my father. Whenever I go through anything big in life, whether it’s good or bad, I go to music. When I first lost my dad, I couldn’t find a song about grief that felt real, that wasn’t all rainbows, butterflies, and beautiful metaphors about life and death. I wanted to write something that was real and raw. It was probably counter productive to my healing at the time, but I really forced myself to tap back into what I felt those first dark days. I could never have taken this on without Rocky, having someone to do this with was really profound and meant so much to me. My producer, Michael Wuerth, made the studio environment super supportive & safe, this was a different kind of project and I’m so grateful for the team I had to make it with. Ultimately it’s a song about hope and the response has truly been life changing. Working with Rocky & Michael is truly a dream team, from original writing sessions to the release day was less than 2 months.
The song made it to the Elite Eight of Glassetonbury, Vol. 5. What do you remember about your first experience in the tournament?
This competition was wild & my people showed UP. I am, by nature, a pretty uncompetitive person but the climax of my final round was thrilling. I had family members hitting up old college & high school alumni groups to get those final votes in, it was crazy. Everyone involved that round was really incredibly talented and it was such a high, especially in the middle of the pandemic.
Due to your strong support in your first effort, you were able to earn a second chance in our Glassetonbury All-Stars bracket with “Cutting Ties.” How is this song different from “The Other Side,” and what’s the story behind it?
Yes! This song is probably the polar opposite of “The Other Side” but it’s been such a blessing. Cutting Ties is written by Rocky Paterra and it’s the pop summer bop that I’ve always dreamed of. Rocky sent me a demo of it just as the world was starting to open again and I knew instantly I wanted to record and release this song. Cutting Ties is an anthem of self love, when you truly love yourself & your life, it becomes abundantly clear what is no longer serving you. This song is about cutting toxic people, things, etc. out of your life. It definitely has a bit of a “cutting” edge to it but ultimately it’s a celebration of self love and growth.
What was your experience like in the All-Star bracket, and how did it differ from your first tournament?
First off, it felt incredible to be a Glassetonbury All Star! I have to say it felt more chill, I kept putting the new brackets out on social media and my people came through for me. When my first tournament got so heated at the end, it was definitely a bit of a bummer to then not make it to the end but this felt like total redemption. I’m so grateful to Glasse Factory and everyone who voted for the support on these 2 songs.
How were you able to rally such strong support in both brackets? Do you have any tips for future artists who participate?
I call my friends, family, fans, supporters, etc. my tribe. I have a fiercely loyal group of incredible humans that have shown up for me in so many ways over the years. I don’t have a massive social media following, but what I may lack in quantity, I have more than enough of in quality. I have to give a special shout out to my family, especially my aunts and uncles, cause I may not be competitive, but they are and they really rallied for me on social media. My biggest tip is be good to the people who support you and support other artists. People need people and independent artists definitely need other independent artists. I believe in abundance and supporting the people who you believe in and they’ll do the same for you.
Which round made you the most nervous? Was it the Championship, or was there another matchup that made you sweat a little bit?
I definitely felt pressure with the All Star Championship just because by the end, I really wanted the win for “Cutting Ties” but nothing will compare to my final round with “The Other SIde”. I remember PACING my apartment in those final hours of that matchup, my social media was blowing up with support, & the amount of votes were insane. That final matchup was the definition of nail-biting & regardless of outcomes, it was such a welcome thrill and a joy in such difficult times.
What are some of your favorite artists and songs that you’ve discovered in the tournament? Have you been able to network with any other Glassetonbury artist?
Yes! I’ve gotten to meet some incredible artists from all over the world. Stevie Stubborn and I connected from the Glassetonbury Spotify Playlist and have chatted about working together in the future. I’m also a massive fan of Arlana from the All Stars Championship Round, her voice is incredible.
What’s next for Dan Kiernan? Do you have any major musical plans or goals for the end of this year and 2022?
I have a new song coming out in the beginning of December, it’s a collab with DJ Canetis called “Home” that I’m really excited about. It’s been a bucket list goal of mine to be featured on a club/dance track like this so definitely looking forward to that! I have a few more live shows in New York coming up before the years over, all the information is on my social media. In 2022, I hope to continue to put out music that I love and perform with my incredible band. I would love to play some more festivals and hopefully get out on tour in the new year.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers or your fans to know?
Life is Beautiful & Be Good to Each Other!
Thank you Dan for your time and for this interview. Where can we find you on social media?