Date: 06-01-2021 / interview via email
Due to the current difficulties with the global spread of the COVID–19, I could not meet Dan Reeder in person to talk about his life and artistic career. Instead I did a lot of internet research and went through my notes from his art exhibitions that I have visited. It’s a strange feeling to approach someone for an interview whom you have never met before. It also feels entirely appropriate as one thing quickly becomes clear to me – Dan Reeder seems to be rather a quiet, reserved, self-ironic and taciturn person. My first Google results came up with the following, which amazed and surprised me:
- Dan Reeder has a contract with the very exquisite record label, “Oh Boy Records”, and any that he will release will be through Oh Boy.
- His song “Born a Worm” is his most popular song on the internet. It has over a billion streams and is kind of a hit on Spotify, TikTok and YouTube.
- Referred to as “one of the foremost outsider artists in modern folk” by New Yorker Magazine’s editor Ben Greenman, he was featured on the Emmy award-winning show Weeds (“Work Song”). But despite these successes, he has remained a publicity-shy artist.
- He published an art book and overview of his work entitled Art Pussies Fear this Book in 2011 (now out of print and only available second hand).
- His second living room (pre-lockdown) was the legendary artist’s pub “Gregor Samsa” close to the city park in the north of Nuremberg.
I concluded that this is all very impressive, but at the same time, it seems to reflect only a small fraction of his life and personality. However, it was more than enough to arouse my curiosity and desire to find out who this guy is and get in touch with Dan. On the first Sunday of January 2021, I decided to visit the current exhibition of Dan Reeder at the Gallerie Bernsteinzimmer, two days later I wrote him an email requesting an interview for English Post. And here we are. I am pleased to present you this interview with Dan Reeder.
- Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Dan Reeder: I’m kind of a middle thing. I get up when I have to and go to bed when I’m tired.
- Where do you get your inspiration for your art from?
Dan Reeder: I get my inspiration from regular life.
- Do you have any artistic role models?
Dan Reeder: Lots of them…Uh, I am a fan of David Schrigley. He does sort of what I do, only better. I also like Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Jeff Coons, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Pink, Marvin Gaye, Dolly Parton, Jeff Beck and Aretha Franklin…and the list keeps getting longer.
- Do you get angry about criticism?
Dan Reeder: No. I pretend like I didn’t even hear it, and then I think about it.
- What are you proud of?
Dan Reeder: Sometimes, I look at what I’ve done and think it was a waste of a life. Other times I look at what I’ve done and think it was exactly what this world needed.
- Where would you like to be exhibited once in your lifetime?
Dan Reeder: Any national magazine, for example Time Magazine or The New York Times newspaper. Something big, important…to be taken seriously, I think that would be good.
- What is your favourite place and your favourite part of town in Nuremberg?
Dan Reeder: My favorite place in Nürnberg is my studio. Other than that, the Stadtpark.
- What is your favourite dish?
Dan Reeder: My favourite dish depends on the day. My mother-in-law’s baked goose, maybe. Bratwurst with mashed potatoes. Swordfish….but the belly part. Ribeye steak. Pinto beans with cornbread. There’s a place in Orange, California on Tustin Ave. that makes a fantastic pork burrito. That must be on the list. Chicken flautas with guacamole. Guacamole period.
- What do you always have at home in the fridge?
Dan Reeder: Milk.
- Who would you definitely not want to sit at a table with?
Dan Reeder: Anybody related to Donald Trump.
- What character traits do you appreciate or value in others?
Dan Reeder: I like easy-going people.
- How do you relax?
Dan Reeder: I binge TV series. I think it started with “The Sopranos” and then moved on to “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” stuff like that. I think we’ve watched “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” completely….twice. “King of Queens” at least twice. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Seinfeld” partly twice. “Designated Survivor,” “Scandal,” “Bridgerton”…really everything.
- Where is your next trip going to be?
Dan Reeder: Probably Holland. That was our plan before COVID-19 hit.
- What dream do you want to fulfil yourself?
Dan Reeder: I want to make a record that I like EVERY song on.
- Life is too short to…
Dan Reeder: Waste on things that aren’t really “you.”
Additional info about Dan Reeder
Dan Reeder was born 1954 in Lafayette, Louisiana. He moved to California at six, where he would eventually study art. He began his creative career at Chapman College, eventually progressing to California State Fullerton, where he studied fine arts from 1980 to 1985 and met his German-born wife. Because of love and to be with his wife, he relocated to Nuremberg in 1986. Besides his native language English, he also speaks quite fluent German. He began his artistic career as a painter with the help and support of his no lesser known friends Peter Angermann and Harri Schemm. His paintings are colourful, ambiguous, humorous, and ironic. He likes to give his famous artist figures names such as “Burning Car” or “Happy Dog”. His pictures are represented in numerous collections in Germany and abroad, for example the Bayerischen Staats-Gemäldesammlung in Munich, Neues Museum Nürnberg or the Fränkischen Galerie Nürnberg. He has also exhibited at 9. Triennale Kleinplastik, Fellbach (2004); Kunsthaus, Nürnberg (2008); Galerie Bernsteinzimmer, Nürnberg (2008/2020); Kunstgalerie Fürth (2009); E.T.A.-Hoffmann-Theater, Bamberg (2016); and in the group exhibition entitled “Nürnberg Schule” at the Kunstvilla (10/2019 – 0./2020), just to name a few.
He has twice received the Kunstförderpreis der Stadt Nürnberg (the award for the advancement of arts from the city of Nuremberg). He first received the award in 1994 as a painter and invested the prize money to buy wood and tools to build his own musical instruments. In 2010 he received the award a second time; for his music.
Music is his second career. He is known as an excellent singer-songwriter, writing texts and composing melodies are an important means of expression for him besides painting. His music is influenced by blues, country gospel and traditional American folk music. His creativity knows no bounds: he often creates his own instruments, for example by turning a simple can of ravioli into a guitar.
Dan Reeder discography: Dan Reeder (2004), Sweetheart (2006), This New Century (2010) and Every Which Way (2020).
More about Dan Reeder’s work at: https://www.danreeder.com
You can follow his social media feeds on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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