With thousands of fans creatively conjuring the latest fashion trends while wearing as little as possible, Dan Mangan sat backstage at the Keloha festival discussing the vapid prospects of cool.
A musical risk-taker who claims he’s painstakingly slow at writing new songs, Mangan is one to stay informed about the world around him—politics, social trends and the like.
He’s very interested in food security, the slow food movement and urban farming, for example, and while it’s certainly trendy, that hasn’t stopped him from spreading word of interesting events on his website or bringing the topic up in interview from time to time.
“I think there’s this constant pressure to not be excited about things you’re interested in because you’re not being cool. I really dislike that about our culture,” he said. “As soon as people feel excited about anything they have this need to castrate that…And yet, the people who aren’t concerned are really just the coolest people I know—the people who are able to glow and be positive and not have their guard up about things all the time.”
Not one hour later, of course, Mangan proved the definition of cool as the first artist to remove himself from the stage to sign autographs before the crowd. He got the entire audience on their feet to sing Robots as he crowd-surfed among the audience.
Lyrically, the song is a goofy approach to the breakneck pace of technology and the songwriter does have a few thoughts on the topic.
“I’m not afraid of technology,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear that we’re getting less personal with one another because of technology. I don’t feel that. I use technology all the time, but I don’t feel less connected to my friends.”
A self-professed globetrotter, Mangan nevertheless is concerned by the extent to which human beings commodify and discard everything within grasp and said he thinks staying in one place for too long is bad for the psyche and one’s ability to develop and contribute to the world.
Based out of Vancouver, Mangan served as the local hero in the final lineup of the Keloha event.
Mangan claims a very diverse fan base, owing in no small part to a close relationship with the national broadcaster.
“I’m a big appreciator of the CBC; I’ve listened to CBC my whole life,” he said. “Miraculously somehow the records that we’ve made seem to fit Radio One, Two and Three, so we’ve just kind of hit a place where we’re just accessible enough for this, but just edgy enough for that.”
Mangan is known for his musical diversity, working in everything from folk to electronic genres. Sunday evening’s set included a string accompaniment and plenty of heavy beats.
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