Songwriter and composer Daniel Knox lives and works in Chicago, but it’s not the Chicago known by most. His is a different city, a city almost entirely his own, set in the small hours. Something of a nocturnal creature, Knox roams a city of dark corners and quiet beauty; a place unstuck by time where the lines between himself and the character driven personas of his music blur.
It’s in this setting that Knox’s unique sound was born. Upon discovery that most hotels downtown have a dilapidated old piano tucked away somewhere in their lobby, and that during the deepest hours of the night nobody is going to stop you strolling in and using them (mostly), Knox began to teach himself. Roaming around from hotel to hotel, on a different piano every night for as long as he could get away with Knox learned his own unconventional style – seeing Knox play the piano it’s apparent that he wasn’t taught traditionally but possesses a gift, he hops wildly around the keys and makes his own way. From there he began to craft the songs you’ll hear on both his self-titled record released in 2015 via Carrot Top and his new album, Chasescene.
These are songs rooted in tradition, stories of true love and loss. Murder ballads met by Shakespearean tragedy against a backdrop of Lynchian contemporary America. Knox grew up spending more time in movie theatres than most people do in their entire lives, currently he works (late shifts) as a projectionist at Chicago’s historic, beautiful Music Box Theatre – occasionally enlisted to play the dusty old organ that sits in the corner of the screen. Knox’s influences unsurprisingly stem from here too, the language and feel of movies are what shapes his music inside and out. Most prominently in the work of Wim Wenders, David Lynch, Errol Morris, Charlie Chaplin and Abel Gance. In terms of singing he cites Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier. Some more contemporary musical influences include Gavin Bryars, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paolo Conte, Roberta Flack, Scott Walker, Iris Dement, Randy Newman and Moondog.