Dan Mangan’s series of fortunate events

Justin Brake
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Songwriter’s next stop: St. John’s for Lawnya Vawnya festival

Dan Mangan

The pace of Dan Mangan’s life has gradually hastened over the past two years, so you’d think he’d be trying to take it easy.

But the 27-year-old songwriter from northern British Columbia is in a Vancouver studio wrapping up work on his next record. He takes a 15-minute break to talk to The Telegram about his music and his upcoming first trip to Newfoundland to perform at The Ship Pub in St. John’s as part of the Lawnya Vawnya art festival.

Mangan has been playing music since childhood, but it was in 2009 that his fortune took an unexpected turn. He was named Artist of the Year at The Verge Music Awards for his independent effort “Nice, Nice, Very Nice.”

That accolade set off a chain of events that drew an increasing amount of attention to the musician and his indie-folk songs.

Last year, Mangan was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and earned three nods at the Western Canadian Music Awards, including for Songwriter of the Year.

“It really was this kind of crazy period where it was hard to gain perspective on the momentum that we were acquiring because we were always in the epicenter of it,” he recalls.

Mangan pauses frequently during the phone interview to yawn unapologetically. A lot of interviewees play the interviewee role — Mangan is playing Mangan.

“Things that at one time would have seemed like crazy impossibilities became possibilities,” he continues, referring to venues and festivals he and his band have played, like The Fillmore in San Francisco and England’s giant Glastonbury festival.

Despite the success, Mangan maintains a cautious optimism with the as-yet untitled new album and his band’s already exciting agenda for 2011, which will include a slew of Canadian folk festival performances, an appearance at the Sasquatch Festival in Washington and a European tour.

“I think (the new material) is a real growth for me, but you cannot predict what other people are gonna like or not like,” he says.

“I’m just trying to, on a personal level, approach it with the same kind of amazement for anything that does come our way and just appreciate whatever happens. If, on the commercial side of things, it flops, whatever — move on and try again. I try and keep all expectations ground-level, and it doesn’t mean you don’t hope for big things — you just can’t be disappointed if the big things don’t happen.”

I ask Mangan what that growth will sound like, musically and lyrically.

“The last album was very much my musings about the world,” he says.

“I have a feeling that lyrically this next album is more fictional. It’s a little bit more getting inside the heads of characters and things like that.

“There’s just generally a lot more noise,” he adds. “It’s a slightly weirder album and a little bit more cinematic.”

Mangan and his band will make their Newfoundland debut on Saturday at The Ship in St. John’s. They will be joined by openers Say Fire and Pilot to Bombardier. Tickets are $20 at the door. Doors open at 10 p.m. and showtime is 10:30 p.m.

Organizations: The Ship Pub, Bombardier

Geographic location: Newfoundland, British Columbia, Vancouver San Francisco England Washington

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