DJ SETS | PERSONAL APPEARANCES
A classically-trained multi-instrumentalist, the British R & B artist Dan Caplen offers something refreshingly different to the contemporary London music scene. It’s a skillset enhanced by his accomplished and eclectic songwriting and unique gravelly vocal tones, which spans everything from instantaneous life-affirming pop to yearning confessional ballads.
A rewind to the 90s takes us to the beginning of Caplen’s story. Born to a mother from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and an English father, he started playing cello and piano as a child, and subsequently earned a scholarship to develop his musical talents at a university in Portland.
Jazz, gospel and the sensual sound of Sade was the soundtrack to Caplen’s childhood, but it was his older brother’s influence that had the most impact. Mixtapes from DJ Clue and DJ Envy presented an insight into a whole other world, but it was John Legend who most captured his imagination as an R&B artist with the confidence to craft brutally honest lyrics. Now you can also hear traces of Kanye West, Gregory Porter, Chance The Rapper and James Blake in Caplen’s inimitable style.
After graduating, Caplen uploaded his cello-based take on SBTRKT’s ‘Wildfire’ to YouTube which immediately sparked a vast array of opportunities. He soon found himself touring with the likes of Honne, Anne-Marie, Jay Prince and his friend Rag‘n’Bone Man – the latter of whom picked Caplen to perform at his personally curated showcase at the Jamm in Brixton in 2015, and then invited him to return for his recent tour in support of his #1 album ‘Human’.
Such experiences have helped Caplen’s live show to continually evolve, with his use of the cello providing an element that’s memorable, engaging and emotionally resonant. “I walk on stage in an Adidas tracksuit and a cap, pick up my cello and people are like, ‘What is this?!’” he chuckles. “That juxtaposition of R&B with classical always takes people by surprise.” His ability to meld those two disparate cultures was also evident in his reinvention of ‘The Streets’ classic ‘Blinded By The Lights’, which was bold enough to earn the respect of Mike Skinner.
And Skinner certainly isn’t the only notable artist to appreciate Caplen’s ever-growing talent. He has collaborated with like-minded fellow Londoners Rudimental on a track that’s due to be released later this year, while Macklemore was sufficiently dazzled by Caplen’s vocal gift to invite him to Seattle to co-write a handful of tracks together during a flying 46-hour visit.
First, however, comes the biggest moment of Caplen’s career in the shape of his new single ‘Flat Champagne’. In contrast to the reflective ‘Badman’ EP, ‘Flat Champagne’ shimmers with a rhythmic funk-fuelled groove and boasts a guest feature from one of the UK’s hottest new talents, RAY BLK.
Lyrically the track explores the experiences of young people who are lured to the bright lights of the capital by the prospect of a bigger future. “You move to the big city thinking that things are going to happen instantly, but it rarely turns out like that,” he explains. “You’ve got to keep plugging away until someone listens. And in the meantime, you can still have fun without any money!”
‘Flat Champagne’ is the start of Dan Caplen’s rise. Watch this exciting newcomer soar to bold new heights.
Coalition Agency act as DJ / PA booking agent for Dan Caplen.