Dan Mangan is fond of summing up his whole approach to a creative life in music with a simple thought: “It’s cool to care.”
And he models that approach in everything he does. He started his own label, Madic Records, and co-founded community concert platform, Side Door Access. He’s a vocal advocate for the destigmatization of discussions around mental health. His countless live performances over the years are epic, and he has seven albums to date. It’s very clear that Dan cares, and he doesn’t mind who knows it.
Ever since he first burst out of the Vancouver scene with his debut album nearly two decades back, Dan’s been deeply interested in trying to involve people in not just his music, but what music can do; trying to draw people into that shared experience. Sometimes he’s bringing his dynamic ranger all the way down to whisper-quiet, making audiences lean in closer. Sometimes, as on the giant Going Somewhere tour which brought him to Alberta in Fall 2023, it’s sending out a phone number to fans and asking them to text him their song requests before the shows. The point is, he cares about those moments of real human connection, and he hopes that you think it’s cool to care, too.
Dan’s latest JUNO-nominated and Polaris Prize-shortlisted album Being Somewhere is kind of a distillation of his whole ethos. And this autumn, he brought some of that music to CKUA.
Amidst the stacks of vinyl and shellac in CKUA’s legendary music library, Dan shared an insightful and occasionally hilarious conversation, and performed beautiful, intimate, solo acoustic versions of two songs: “Fire Escape,” and his latest, a single called “Say When.”