Daniel Allan: "Music NFTs gave me the freedom to make the most honest music I've ever made"
Web3's rising star helps usher in a new era of music with the release of his freshly minted Glass House EP
Daniel Allan celebrated a milestone achievement in July when he successfully minted his new Glass House EP. The Los Angeles-based electronic artist and producer sold an impressive 1000 EP collectibles in less than 24 hours. “We just made history,” he celebrated on Twitter. Allan’s sophomore EP follows the equally successful mint of 2021’s Overstimulated that first got him noticed in the Web3 space. Both efforts have firmly put Allan on the map as one of the poster children of successful music artists in Web3 who are pushing the boundaries of the music industry.
Inspired by fan-funded writing sessions in Malibu, CA, Glass House is a genre-bending effort that showcases Allan’s love for electronic music while also incorporating his interest in hip-hop, pop, and alternative music. The tightly curated EP is solid proof of that. From the alt-pop stylings of “Chasing Paradise” (featuring Slender Bodies) to the poppy “Gorgeous” (featuring Reo Cragun) to the percussion-happy “Cool Water” with its distorted vocals and thick synth stabs, the entire EP demonstrates Allan’s production savvy and forward-looking aesthetic.
Much has been written about Allan’s groundbreaking Web3 journey, but with his momentum building, it’s time to shift the focus to the artist, his music, and the native Web3 culture he’s shaping with his art.
I recently chatted with Web3’s rising star to understand what shaped his love for music, his immigrant upbringing, his childhood friendship with Jack Harlow, and how Music NFTs have unlocked his creativity.
Arjan: You’re known to many as ‘The Music NFT Guy,’ but who is Daniel Allan, the artist? Tell me more about where you grew up and how you developed your love for music.
Daniel: That’s a very refreshing question! I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. I grew up in an immigrant household. Both of my parents immigrated from Ukraine. They are both very musical. My mom has a Ph.D. in musicology and my dad played in bands throughout his life. My brother always had a love for music too and my interest in music really started to flourish when he gave me his iPod and I discovered rap music. Hearing artists like Biggie, LL Cool J, and Tupac started my love for music.
Coming from such a musical family, did you play music growing up?
You really don’t have much of a choice as a Russian immigrant kid. You have to play an instrument. Other Russian kids did as well, and we all played together. I started playing the piano when I was five years old. I hated it though, to be honest. I was decent at it, but I remember when I was doing piano recitals, I never really knew how to read music. I’d ask my mom to read the music for me, and then I would just memorize how my mom played it. When it came time for the recital, I would add sections or skip parts, or not know when to flip the page. That’s when I started getting a little tired of playing other people’s music and in hindsight that may have been the moment that I was creatively triggered to make my own music.
What was it like to grow up as a young artist in Louisville, KY?
Louisville is not considered a cool town, but I’m really thankful for growing up there. I wasn’t much of a social kid and my family didn’t have a lot of money, but there are values that I learned growing up there that I don’t take for granted, especially living in Los Angeles. Music was not an automatic career choice for me. I also had a love for playing tennis. Not a lot of people know this, but I actually played tennis very competitively. I played Division 1 College tennis at Boston University. Tennis was something that I was taking really, really seriously. Music was something that I had on the side. It's really funny how it worked out that music is my main gig now.
After playing the piano as a young kid and discovering hip-hop later, how did you end up producing music?
Louisville presented me with a lot of opportunities to work on music at a young age. I remember when I was in middle school, I met a lot of rappers who were freestyling up and down the halls in between classes. They had no place to record so I figured I could probably help out. I saved up some money and I bought some studio gear. I set up shop in my closet at home and I started inviting people over to record. That was really my first foray into production.
When did you start getting interested in electronic music?
I ended up stumbling into my first music festival when I was 16 years old. It was Lollapalooza where I saw Above & Beyond that really got me interested in electronic music. I came back home and I started making EDM while doing beats with rappers in my studio closet.
While on the topic of Louisville and local rappers, did you ever cross paths with Jack Harlow?
Of course! He was in the first session I ever did! I was 13 at the time, and he was 12. I went to Manual High School and Jack went to Atherton High School, but all of his friends went to Manual High School as well. When Jack recorded new music, his friends would be running around with his CDs at my school. We had a mutual tennis friend who introduced me to Jack and his friend Eli who had a downstairs basement where they would record. He invited me over and it was just my first time sitting in and seeing what happened during a session.
Let’s talk more about Glass House. It’s a 4-track EP that’s the follow-up to Overstimulated. What was your sonic vision for this new project?
Glass House is the most honest project that I've ever made. Being a creator in Web3 really helped unlock things for me as an artist. I felt creatively blocked for a long time after moving to Los Angeles. I signed a few short-term record deals and I was writing pop-electronic style of music that I kind of just had a formula for and was decent at. But I have always been curious about stepping into other lanes of music and music production. Web3 and Music NFTs encouraged me to experiment more musically. Music NFTs gave me the freedom to fully dive in and make the most honest music I’ve ever made. I just want to make the music that I'm most proud of.
What was the experience of having the two-week writing camp in Malibu and letting your creative mind just wander?
There’s a ton of music that came from the camp. I think I ended up with 64 demos. I selected only four for the EP because I wanted to specifically curate the four best. There’s not one track that necessarily stands out as a single. I wanted them to all feel they were created in the same place. Sonically, the songs touch an alternative side of my influence, which is something I've gotten into in the past few years, like using a little bit more live drums and guitar but finding a way to still make it feel electronic. What I'm trying to do with Glasshouse is to blend styles. Take “Chasing Paradise” for example. It incorporates a guitar riff so it sounds like an alternative record, but it gradually morphs into a production that’s more electronic.
How do you hope people will experience the music?
That’s an awesome question. I wanted every song to feel like the view from that house in Malibu, like a drive down the PCH. I wanted to capture that moment when you’re taking a drive and you’re by yourself, and you’re hit with reflection and melancholy. Like you’re looking onto the water at sunset.
The EP is available to collect as a Music NFT now, but are you releasing it via traditional streaming platforms as well to broaden your reach?
Yes. I did get a distributor for the project. Following “Chasing Paradise,” I will release another track as a single early September and then the entire project will be available to stream everywhere on September 30.
Learn more about Daniel Allan’s Glass House
Follow Daniel Allan on Twitter
Preview Glass House on OpenSea