Daniel Howie Returns As Mouth Sounds
Updated: Dec 24, 2018
Five years since Sugar Glyder and Daniel Howie is making the music the world has only hoped for.
Daniel Howie: some might remember him as the front man for the alternative rock band Sugar Glyder, opening up for bands like Neon Trees, Silversun Pickups, Manchester Orchestra and many more. Now, people know him as Mouth Sounds and for his newest EP, Sing or Swim, which was released by Coast Records. The lead single, “In The Night,” (originally premiering via Huffington Post) is an indie pop world you’ll find yourself coming back to quite frequently.
It’s been five years since his Sugar Glyder days and now Howie has partnered up with producer Mark Eckert for a seven song EP titled, Sing or Swim. This is Howie’s transition to writing solo, and in a recent interview he spoke about what it’s like not writing with a band anymore. “Now I'm the decision-maker. If the song doesn't work, it's on me. This effort has forced me to become more of an artist than I ever was with Sugar Glyder. Starting over was difficult but only because I was letting go of something that was very special to me. But endings mean beginnings too.” Check out the full interview below!
Howie has truly grown since his Sugar Glyder days. Sing or Swim is a clear indication of Howie's indie pop chops and songwriting abilities. On the horizon is an album Howie says, so be on the look out!
(Full Interview Below)
What is your listening background?
To be honest I'm a terrible listener when it comes to other artists. While I do have some go to's, I don't consume a lot of new music regularly. In a way, I feel like that makes me a better songwriter. I look at the songwriting process as my opportunity create the music I wish already existed. It's tough to enjoy listening to your own music, but be aware that people might think it's because you're in-love with yourself or your talents. The music I create and myself as a listener are two different people as I think they should be. My musical tastes vary a bit but are focused on a few common themes. I'm a big fan of minor tonalities in chord structures. This leads me to favor a lot of UK Pop/Rock bands over the more fist pumping, upbeat rock music that's ruled the genre in the U.S. I fell in love with bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Athlete, Muse, Doves, Elbow to name a few due, to the dynamic nature of their music. Bands like this take it down to the bare bones of a song with beautifully moving instrumentation, and then pump it up with arena filling grandiosity. All of this with a more reflective and metaphoric approach to songwriting.
Why did you decide to start this project?
I started this project as an outlet for the songs I had been creating all along. I write and record a lot of stuff for myself and always have. Traditionally most of that would end up on the cutting room floor and the rest would become the beginnings to songs or parts of songs for previous bands. The only thing better than creating the music you want is sharing it with the world. Like I said before, these songs didn't exist before and now they do. Once I record and release a song I really feel like it's no longer just mine. I feel like it becomes ours, the listener's.
Today, I find pop music is doing really well. There's some really great talent out there. Why did the you choose this particular"pop feel" for the band? Was it a conscious effort to create the vibe Mouth Sounds is or was it stumbled upon and then realized you had something?
All creativity is conscious effort. I like the style of pop music as there's nothing wrong with a song sounding familiar or "catchy". You don't have to choose between avant-garde and bubble gum pop. There are many gradations and layers between. I think of my music as pop music for people who don't like pop music. That describes myself as a listener to a tee.
What's it like going from Sugar Glyder, touring with some big names, and really understanding how a band could get to a certain level and then starting over? What's the approach with Mouth Sounds now that you have all this experience?
It's certainly very different. Sugar Glyder was very intentionally collaborative. I wrote and a steered a lot more of that material than I ever gave myself credit for so I think my approach with Mouth Sounds is my effort to change that. Owning my creativity and my efforts bring its challenges though. It was a lot easier to build part of an idea or song with SG and then pass it off to another member for completion or for them to add a part which would allow me to complete the idea. Now I'm the decision-maker. If the song doesn't work it's on me. This effort has forced me to become more of an artist than I ever was with SG. Starting over was difficult but only because I was letting go of something that was very special to me. But endings mean beginnings too.
How did getting Mark Eckert to help produce this EP end up happening?
Mark was someone who believed in me a lot from the beginning. I needed that. I believed in him too. When we first connected he was in the early stages of building a name for himself and I happen to be a fan of tinkering with sounds and taking my time. This worked out well for both of us. I believe I approached Mark online when I began my inquiries into how to bring this stuff to life. We spent about 1 day a week for 1.5 years between production, recording, mixing, etc. Mark's a very connected guy. This helped me take care of a lot of the other business aspects of putting out a release as well, like press shots, placements etc.
So, what's the word on the album? Is there a tour in the near future? What can we expect? What's on the horizon?
The album is what it's going to be. As I mentioned before, once I put something out it's really just as much mine as it is anyone else's. I think of it like having kids. They're your kids but they're their own thing now and they belong to the rest of the world too. You have to give them space and let them go.
That being said, I plan to put out more music soon. Mark and I will be getting back together soon once he's done jet setting around the world and in Charlotte for a while. I have a lot more music in me. If you get a chance to come to a show I'd make sure to plan ahead. I won't likely play too many live performances of any songs. I think it's more special that way.
Give us the inside scoop on producers, engineers, studios, and anybody else who helped out with this album.
Mark produced the record with my help. We crafted a unique sound blending my bedroom arena-rock vision with his indie pop sensibility. You end up with swirls of real drums and guitars clashing with synth tones and bit-crushed beats. It's an ocean underneath but frozen over with a layer of sprinkles. Everyone likes sprinkles.
There are a lot of people that helped make this a thing. I'm scared to try and name them all, for fear of leaving one out but here goes. I had a number of musicians play on the record. Sam Enright (bass guitar), Mark Eckert (live drums), Ryan Saranich (Saxophone: "In The Night", "Slow DiMaggio"), Brodie Cole and Elliot Simpson (Backup Vocals on "9084"). Coast Records lent a ton of support helping me shoot and record some video and audio to help promote the record. Sepehr Mokhtarzadeh took great photos for me. I get by with a little help from my friends.