Tour Diary: Life as an Indie Musician in Oz


Today marks 2-weeks into my first tour across Australia and my 8th day in the beautiful city of Melbourne (pronounced ‘Mel-bunn’ in Australian or “Mel-Born’ for my American friends haha)!  Culture, music, history, food, cocktails, art, more music, more culture, and so many sights fill the city and your senses!

17431045_10106337245201662_1721304234_o (1)It was last Wednesday night in our Uber headingto my show at Whole Lotta Love Bar in East Brunswick when the Uber driver looked to my mom and me and said “taking your mom to your show? You rarely see that.” We looked at each other, laughed and I replied “Take her to my show? Mate, she’s my roadie on tour with me!” In case you haven’t figure out yet, we’re not your traditional family, this is not your traditional tour, and I’m not your traditional musician.

For one, music has been something I always loved as a hobby but never had the balls to pursue as a career. I still remember all the times when I would write a song or play live and people would say “Wow your really good! You should go on one of those talent shows” which was always preferred to the “Man your good… but you need to be different or unique to make it. You’re too similar to everyone else, plus your too old to make it.” Or my favourite “it would be great if everyone could do what they love or want. But the reality is, you need to make a living and find a way to pay the bills. Being a musician and playing music is no way to make a living – unless you want to be a starving artist and struggle your whole life.”

17407851_10106337245166732_1554417269_oI listened to a lot of these limited voices for a while… I tried out for the Voice. Made it to the last audition before you actually go on the show, but they informed me that they needed someone who’s story was more interesting – or was younger (thank god though I didn’t get on it). I went to school for 7yrs to get two degrees, plunging myself into debt and busting my tail to secure the ‘dream job’ scoring a job with one of the Big-4 Consulting/Accounting firms. I was working double time, travelling 2hrs each way 5-days a week, and still gigging on the weekends here and there to keep my sanity. But a lot happened around the time and some major things pushed me and drove me to leave that life for the life of a musician… but that is a different story for another time.

Returning back to now and being on my current tour across Australia, I am half way through an 6-city tour from GC to Sydney, Melbourne, and a number of spots in-between, travelling with my mom from the USA (up until yesterday). Without a doubt this is not your traditional tour and I am not your traditional musician. I have no manager, no booking agents, no social media people, or other players (tried and will in the future). I have no gimmick (yet) aside from playing barefoot, don’t do crazy looping, or are super social media savvy (slowly getting there haha)… but what I do have is the mentality that I will be the last one standing.

17409894_10106337244537992_1249809201_nI’m doing this because I love it, because I know the power of music – and specifically my music – to help and inspire others. I do what I need to do to make a living and to get to where I want to go, my mentality now is I will be doing it my way but not alone! I once read that you should never take the worn path but instead, carve your own and leave a trail for others to follow. It’s my hope with this post that if there is anyone out there that reads this and can relate to know  -your not alone! Forget what anyone else has told you that you can’t or can’t do – follow your heart, don’t fall in line, because life is short and life is meant to be lived!

17430765-10106333362747132-614787235-oBob Dylan once said that a man is success if he can wake up in the morning and go to bed at night and in-between, do what he wants. Does that make me a success? It’s been 4yrs as a full-time musician making a living off just music. I play covers when needed and have learned how to do everything myself from booking shows to creating posters, running a weekly live music series, planning my career, branding, building my website and updating, writing lyrics, guitar, and bass for the album I’m in the process of figuring out how the hell I’m going release it (doing a short film split into 8 episodes btw, again best for another post) all while driving my car around Australia or a rental across the USA.

17430780_10106337244862342_1783989970_oAm I your traditional artists? HELL NO! And why should I want to be? I’ve learned that majority of the time the people who tell you what to do with your life or how to do something a certain way believe they are giving you advice, but many of times they are sharing their opinion or giving you the advice that works for someone else – or worst – projecting their own insecurities and false beliefs onto you. It’s your choice whether you listen, fall in line, or follow your heart and how you do it  and if you choose to do it your own way – I know I made my choice.

So as I write this from the house I am couch surfing in St. Kilda, in a city that was a stranger a week ago and no feels like home, I’m rushing to write this to make my show at the Vineyard to play a set at 12am before waking up at 7am to drive to Sydney for an 8pm meeting to plan my Sydney event in July… my parting advice is to do it! If you have an inspired idea, try it! If you have a passion, follow it! Work toward your dreams and don’t let anyone else tell you how to do it or why you cant, because it’s up to you to figure that out yourself….life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all!

I can’t wait to return to the Gold Coast to perform at the Surfrider event for Bleach fest on Saturday April 1st and the Cambus Wallace Sunday on the 2nd! Sending love & good vibes from your Ozzie-American brotha spreading the tunes across Australia and the world – Johan Danno


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