In recent years, Santa Fe musician Daniel Murphy has steadily built his own musical identity as guitarist for metal act Fields of Elysium and a teacher at The Candyman Strings & Things. He's also dabbled in the solo songwriter realm, playing with some of Santa Fe's favorite session musicians and always striving to expand his musical vocabulary. Murphy takes over Boxcar this Saturday Aug. 11 (10 pm. Free. 530 S Guadalupe St., 988-7222) with originals and covers.
The solo route. What's that like?
For certain venues and situations, I show up and play acoustic guitar and run through originals and covers. The majority of the time I have a drummer or bassist. It was a set crew for awhile—generally I have Case Tanner playing bass. I have another project that's more of an instrumental acid jazz thing. I play with Fields of Elysium and still a lot of the side man stuff. It is really satisfying [to collaborate]. It's less about me requesting and receiving a certain type of sound and more about picking musicians who I trust to input their sound. I'm kind of a control freak when it comes to the player and the personality that comes out in the sound, but I'd rather defer to somebody's better judgement. I find that's kind of the fun thing about what I get from the sound—it's that satisfaction, but it's less about me saying, 'Oh, you achieved that thing I was going for!' And more saying, 'That's why I wanted you on the gig.' I'm definitely more of a collaborator. I'm definitely more about letting people be themselves and have their own sound.
Are you trained? Self-taught?
I started playing guitar a long time ago—for the record, 20 years ago, and I self-taught for a long time. My dad was a musician but we had really different approaches. I went through a long period of learning by ear for four or five years. You have things and terminology you pick up; I knew enough to get by, but I'd go home and read books about theory and learn how to read charts and understand drummers. Then there was a big learning curve in my 20s when I went from a decent to pretty advanced ear player, to rounding out that side of being a musician. Now I teach music theory at the Candyman, and it's pretty interesting. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I'm the only self-taught teacher there.
What's in the future? Albums? Touring?
I'm actively working on a YouTube model for that. I've been practicing doing some blogging stuff. I've felt like, over the years, YouTube has become a lot more important to me, musically—the people who are on that center stage, they mean a lot more to me than the usual in-your-face idea of who's the best or most successful musician. I've found for a lot of people who do well with YouTube, it allows them to have an outlet for being prolific, which I feel I've always been. But I hoard everything I do. I would say I have confidence issues. If you've ever met me, I'm very personable and gregarious, but when it comes to actually releasing stuff, I'm really timid. I felt like if there were a less-pressure environment, somewhere where this can live, I don't need anyone to hear it unless they find it.
Find Murphy's YouTube channel here.