Dan From Downingtown is a dark-alt singer-songwriter with a knack for combining live tracks with MIDI instruments in order to create a one-of-a-kind fusion sound. He is also quickly becoming known for his compelling video style, where hides his eyes with a black bar (What emotions might we find behind them if they weren’t covered?!). Dan From Downingtown has released two singles thus far (“Without You” and “Sunlight”) which have been extremely well-received. “One Step” is the last single to be released before the EP drops.
“One Step” utilizes black-and-white videography that has a charming DIY-graininess, adding to the melancholy. The song begins with epic synth keys and a harmonically-rich piano. “One Step” is immediately reflective, and apologetic; repeating the motif of being sorry and saying sorry. Yet this simple phrase is contrasted by more descriptive, reminiscent lyrics:
“We stared into our eyes
Dreamed blue and open skies”
There is a sense of longing, and yet also a sense of loss on a cosmic level. When Dan says “All things lost, there’s nothing saved” he applies it to everything in life. Time, objects, and people- are things we all lose eventually- But perhaps we are not as acutely aware of this authentic facet of the human experience as Dan From Downingtown is.
The haunting minor chords reiterate the bleakness of it all, the insinuations that it might not be worth it.
“Step outside and stare into the darkness”
As a flute enters, and another poetic line follows:
“And I look up at the streetlights
Like a moth above a flame”
As the video progresses, music begins physically spilling out of Dan, and the sounds transform into blaring agony- But only for a short sforzando of a time. Pretty soon, we are back to the gentle, clean piano. (But I won’t tell you what happens during that crescendo- You’ll have to watch the music video and find out).
The apathy of “One Step” is not separate from longing; Dan From Downingtown captures desire next to hopelessness. “One Step” is a letter, an adieu to life; the idea is that it only takes a single pace to start or end existence. This single is an example of the darkest part of the human experience captured in a raw, graceful manner of an artist.
“This new single I am releasing is the last song on the record, and the last single that I will be releasing before it drops. The name of this song is called “One Step,” and it’s the song that sort of ties everything on the EP together. As I said, the entire EP is a concept. And it’s actually pretty personal. I’ve been sort of neglecting to talk about it in other interviews because I wanted to wait until the last single was released before I get too far into the story.
COVID really shook up my life. The band that I was originally in was doing very well. We put out records, played at least a couple of shows a week, and regularly went on tour. I was also playing in multiple bands, and finally making money doing music after a couple of years of being out of high school. After a while, my band got noticed by a pretty reputable independent label. The day we were supposed to have a meeting with the label was March 16, 2020. The day before that, the world shut down, and the label pulled its offer. And shortly after, the tours, the shows, and my whole livelihood went away.
The band fell apart, a few of the people that I knew died, and that was it. At the time, my friends were busy collaborating and writing. I just stayed at home, drank, and did a bunch of illicit substances. I basically became completely miserable.
And then one day, it got so bad that I walked out to my fifth-floor balcony, and stood on the railing with my hand supporting me on the balcony above. I just stared at the ground for a good minute or two. For whatever reason, I said, “not today” and I stepped down and ate dinner. One day, one of my former bandmates hit me up, and asked if he wanted to jam out. So he came over, and not more than five minutes after he came in, I started complaining. Eventually, he stopped me and said, “Dude you got to lighten up, or you’re gonna find yourself in a straight jacket by the end of the summer.” And so I told him everything that was bothering me. And the first thing out of his mouth was, “Dude… that would make a cool concept EP”
After my confrontation with my bandmate, I found a new inspiration to write and create music, and I’m here to tell everyone about it. And basically, the whole EP is about that experience. It’s about being alone, isolated, depressed, and nostalgic. Every song is true to my story, except for the ending. “One Step,” is simply about the incident on the balcony. The only difference is that it ends with me walking off the other side.
The point of this song and the whole EP is not to glorify self-harm, or to provide any sort of shock value. I simply wrote what I was feeling at the time. What I want the most out of this and every other song on the EP, is for someone to hear it and realize that even in my darkest moment, I still found a way to be here.”