Daniel is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. A graduate in Composition and Music Technology, he has toured in many Australian bands and has composed music for film, television, theatre and dance. In film, Daniel composed the soundtrack to the 2013 feature film, William Yang: My Generation, numerous short films, and has worked as an assistant composer on several features. He has been a performer and musical director for theatre productions, including My Generation and Hansel and Gretel, as well as composing scores for numerous dance productions. In 2009, he and Aidan Roberts began to master playing the 40 minute instrumental opus Tubular Bells released by Oldfield in 1973, when neither was born yet, going on to become a worldwide musical phenomenon.
The Street talked to Daniel before the season of Tubular Bells for Two at The Street.
WHO IS DANIEL HOLDSWORTH?
I am a multi-instrumentalist and composer with a passion for music technology.
DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC.
I am fascinated by the relationship between art and technology. It is the ebb and flow between creativity and science that pushes art forward. In musical terms, the most rapid development of this was in the late 60s and early 70s, when studio technology was being propelled by creative experiments that pushed every new device to its limits. All of my music therefore has a reverence to this period in modern music history.
WHAT WAS THE IMPULSE TO TAKE ON MIKE OLDFIELD’S TUBULAR BELLS?
It came about by accident really. Aidan and I are both avid record collectors, and love music from the 70s. One night we had Tubular Bells on the record player and it sparked our interest. It’s such an unusual record to become a hit. It’s essentially an hour long non-stop piece of instrumental music. There’s no songs, there’s no single. It just beautifully flows between many different styles and emotions in a structured form.
WHY TUBULAR BELLS FOR TWO?
So we became fascinated with the album, started to deconstruct it while learning a few bits of it on a couple of guitars – purely as an exercise. Then there’s this bit during side one, where a master of ceremonies announces a procession of instruments, and then the theme is played on that instrument. It’s kind of dorky, but that’s ok. I like that naff 70s stuff. Anyhow, it starts with grand piano, then reed and pipe organ, and so on, until it gets to tubular bells. And we thought, wouldn’t it be fun to set up all these instruments in a circle, then run around and play them all. So that was the start of the project. It was a challenge: can we play the whole album, just as it sounds on the original record, with just the two of us.
HOW DID YOU AND AIDEN ROBERTS CONNECT FOR THIS PROJECT?
Aidan and I have grew up together. We’ve known each other for most of our lives.
WHAT DID EACH OF YOU BRING TO THIS MASSIVE MUSIC PROJECT.
Although we are both multi-instrumentalists. Aidan is stronger on keyboard instruments, and I am probably stronger on stringed instruments. So the balance between our individual skill sets worked really well for tackling this work.
YOU ARE LITERALLY RUSHED OFF YOUR FEET IN A SEA OF INSTRUMENTS WHEN PERFORMING. WHEN DID YOU FIRST PERFORM TUBULAR BELLS FOR TWO AND WHAT DID THAT FEEL LIKE?
This show is high-stakes performance. Things can go wrong at any moment. And that’s why I think it has been so successful all over the world. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard the original album or not. It is just a tense, edge-of-your-seat experience that celebrates music performance. Our first performance was back in 2009. We honestly though it would be the only show we would ever do with it. We were so nervous, the show was sold out, and we were standing backstage overwhelmed by the thought that we had bitten off more than we could chew. But we made it. And every night is like that. It’s still a huge challenge, and we just hold on for dear life and pray we get through it!
ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? IS THERE A PROCESS THAT YOU ALWAYS LIKE TO GO THROUGH BEFORE STEPPING OUT ON STAGE?
I’m not really superstitious. We usually just drink a small glass of wine.
WHAT ARE FIVE OF YOUR FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN RECORDS?
In no particular order: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues. You Am I’s Hourly Daily. Icehouse – Man of Colours. Crowded House – Woodface. Augie March – Sunset Studies. The Loved Ones – Magic Box.
WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?
The incredible world that has been created in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.
WHAT ARE YOU READING AND WATCHING CURRENTLY?
I’m reading David Byrne’s book, How Music Works. I’m watching about 10 different seasons concurrently across various streaming services. But really holding out for the next season of Better Call Saul.