Meet the Artist: Daniel Glen Monkman

Name: Daniel Glen Monkman aka BLOOM

City: Hamilton, Ont.

Genre: Moccasin gaze

A bit about myself:

I grew up in a small town just outside of Winnipeg called Selkirk, Manitoba, and also on the reserve (Brokenhead Ojibway Nation). Spending time on the reserve, I was influenced by bluegrass music, traditional folk and pow wow. After leaving the reserve, I was very embarrassed to tell people about my Indigenous background in fear of discrimination. A lot of my songwriting is fueled by all the hate, violence and abuse that I experienced as a young boy/man. I learned to channel all my anger through music; I’m truly blessed for that gift.

Selkirk was a very racist town, and oftentimes when I’d go to parties it would end in violence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. So for a long time I never wanted to tap into my roots to help with my songwriting. But as more and more songs came out, it was clear that it wasn’t just me writing the songs; I now understand that it was my ancestors writing with me, and they still are. I give all my thanks to them.

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The first album I bought:

First album I bought was Mellow Gold (Beck) when I was about 13 or 14. I picked it up for 50 cents from a local Selkirk thrift store. I remember going home, putting it on with my friend and staying up the rest of the night listening to it. After that night I knew I wanted to be a genre-crossing artist.

The first concert I went to:

The Hot Live Guys in Winnipeg, possibly 2005-ish? Great band and great city. It was an all ages show downtown at some venue that is probably a Starbucks now. I think they’ve broken up since, but I really hope not.

The last concert I went to:

The last concert that I was at was on tour, when BLOOM passed through Winnipeg. We had the chance to play with Mahogany Frog, and it was the best live show I’ve seen in years! It was so crazy. Jesse Warkentin (of Mahogany Frog) has always been local musical idol of mine. One of my first shows in Winnipeg was with the Frogs, but back then BLOOM was called The Blisters. I later had to make the change because Spencer Tweedy (son of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy) has a band called The Blisters and I was tired of people getting them mixed up (laughs). So eventually, after a move to Victoria B.C., I changed it officially to Bloom, which is way better and suits what I’m trying to create right now.

The last song I listened to:

Only Once Away My Son by Kevin Shields and Brian Eno. I love this song a lot, and it’s been the main song I’ve been listening to while editing my new experimental film, but also it’s so rad because just down the street is a studio that Brian Eno used to record at in the 80s. Whenever I jog by it, I get hit with a little wave of inspiration.

My favourite song of all time:

Hazy Jane I by Nick Drake. Nick’s beautiful, dreamy finger-picking captivated me as a young guitarist. At the time, I had a knack for finger-picking but I didn’t really know what I was doing. Once I heard Nick Drake I knew instantly this was the style I wanted to learn and add to my songwriting.

The one song I wish I’d written:

I Only Said by My Bloody Valentine. I remember the first time I listened to this song it felt like ecstasy. Euphoria kept going down my spine when the inspirational riff on the chorus came on; at that point I always assumed the chorus had to be vocals, but that song showed me that you don’t always need vocals to represent the chorus. I always thought that was so cool. Also the repetition at the end is so funny. I remember blasting it in my room and my mom banging on my door. “Daniel, I think your song is skipping. Can you fix it??” (Laughs) I’ll never forget that. Miigwech Kevin for writing such a beautiful song.

My dream gig:

I would love to play at the Burtons Cummings theatre in Winnipeg. I’ve always seen my friends play there and I feel like it’s my time to start making the right kinds of moves and get booked there.

Beatles or Rolling Stones:

Neither. John Lennon beat women, so I can’t support any of his work, and the Rolling Stones never really did the job for me. Well, I only liked the stuff with Brian Jones. He was super talented and played a ton of instruments. I am more or a Syd Barrett kind of person; his work with Pink Floyd on the records Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucer Full of Secrets was groundbreaking for me.

What I do to pay the bills:

I try to write for other artists as much as possible. Getting royalties from groups has always been a big help with bills, but like most musicians I do have a part-time job. I try to keep it 70/30, 70 percent art and 30 percent day job. But soon I will be phasing out the day job. I’d rather build my dream full time than slave for hours a day for someone else’s.

When I’m not making music, I’m …

Working on experimental films. That alone takes up a lot of time. That’s the direction I’d like my life to move towards. I try to fill the void mainly with art, music and laughter. I have a great partner that I love very much; we create art together, so when I’m not doing art just spending time laughing and eating great food with her is always amazing.

What I’m currently working on:

I currently have one full-length album called Bleached Wavves, but I’m also working on two other EPs: one with Hamilton producer Dan Edmonds and another one on my own.

If my life were a song, the title would be …

One Too Many Mornings (by Bob Dylan)

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