INTERVIEW: Daniel Keane and Tone Blakesley Chat About ‘Lonely Days’

Daniel Keane has joined forces with multi-award winning radio presenter Tone Blakesley to release a charity single titled “Lonely Day.”

The single is to help raise money for the Born Free Foundation and PRS Foundation. It’s a wonderful, unique track that has a collaboration of twelve musicians worldwide and was recorded during lockdown. We wanted to know more about this project so got in touch with Daniel and Tone to discuss it further:

So, you’ve just released your most recent single “Lonely Days,” which you’ve released as a COVID charity single. That’s great! Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about it? 

Daniel Keane: Lonely Days was a track formed when Lockdown began back in March. I was feeling fairly isolated and anxious about everyone around me and kept seeing how it was affecting the music community. I wanted to create a track in collaboration

You mentioned that it’s currently going viral on Facebook. How have you been finding the response? 

Dan: The song has picked up attention from magazines and donations, it’s a different kind of energy to my previous releases, so I am very humbled and excited by it. It has inspired me to release more socially-focused music. 

The single is to help raise money for the Born Free Foundation and PRS Foundation. What can you tell us about these charities? Why did you choose them?

Tone Blakesley: The Born Free Foundation is a wonderful charity who campaign for the freedom and protection of wild animals from captive environments. This is something I believe should be addressed alongside taking action against human-induced climate change. 

You’ve collaborated with 12 musicians worldwide to create this single. Can you explain how this worked? What was the creative process like?

Tone: I composed the tune of Lonely Days initially from demos I recorded over the last five years. After Daniel had the idea of working on a charity track involving many musicians, I decided to use this particular tune for the project as I was keen to work with additional musicians. The musicians who played on Lonely Days were a mix of our contacts.

For me, the creative process was very intensive! It involved several hours a day, and months of listening to the same pieces of audio over and over again, at times spending as much as a week making subtle adjustments to my keyboard parts and vocal tracks that were contributed. Having listened to a lot of progressive rock and jazz fusion music, I wanted this track to carry a unique and immersive vintage sound, with listeners discovering new nuances and layers on repeated listens, something which modern chart music fails at. I played a Farfisa Soundmaker string synth on the track, which carries a flavour of late 70s jazz fusion, which I’ve never heard in modern music, and mixed this with the ethereal 3-violin Mellotron sound and a smooth 80s synth which was saved from a skip, to create a dynamic synth orchestra! 

I also got advice along the way from professional musicians I had interviewed for my show Take 2, including Chris White (The Zombies). Steve Hackett (Genesis) praised the track saying ‘Good vocal, nice instrumentation and well produced. I wish you luck with the project.’  

By reaching out to these talented musicians across the world, from San Diego to Edinburgh, artists of the likes of Craig Barden from The Gallerys, or Kelly Thompson from the Scottish band Hainley and the Baird, I was able to advise them through email exchanges on how I envisaged their parts to be played and any changes that needed to be made. Given the circumstances, this is the next best thing to preferably bringing musicians together in a studio. I really enjoyed bringing together these artists as they allowed me to create something I could only dream of five years ago! I have produced tracks before, but nothing as grand as this! 

It was also created during the lockdown. How did you find this? How were you able to keep motivated?

Tone: With the lockdown in place, I only had the equipment and sounds around me to work with. At the start of the lockdown, I found myself with a huge amount of free time. This allowed me to experiment with additional instruments including electric guitar, which I play at the start of the track. I spent a long time writing the verses to the song while Daniel wrote the chorus. All the free time allowed me to slow down and reflect on things. It’s very difficult to find the motivation to carry on because of the poor handling of the situation and climate change. The solution to getting myself motivated has been to stay at home and only go to quiet places, reconnect with nature, and actually properly appreciate and respect our wildlife, well what’s left of it. I’ve found this valuable as it’s helped me think specific things over properly, as well as themes and musical ideas for the track. 

Let’s talk a bit more about you personally, Daniel. In general, how would you describe your unique sound to our readers? 

Dan: I create warm happy nostalgia-like tunes, inspired by 80’s new wave and summer pop music. I like talking about my anxieties in life, as well as the struggles of those around me.

Finally, can you tell us of any future plans? What are you currently working on? 

Dan: Certainly! I am planning to release ‘ICANTCHANGE’ as my next single in September. After that, I plan to focus on the promotion of my first childrens’ book ‘Foxes with Boxes’, which can be found currently in Waterstones.

Massive thanks to Tone Blakesley and Daniel Keane for taking time out to answer our questions! Be sure to get behind “Lonely Days” – it’s for two amazing charities. You can now stream it here. For more updates on Daniel Keane, be sure to follow his Facebook and Instagram.

What did you think of “Lonely Days”? Let us know over on Twitter – @aboutthe_noise.