ListN Up: John Daniel (July 22, 2022)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

John Daniel is a drummer and artist based in Chicago. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he released and performed as Forest Management from 2011 to 2022. His work is often influenced by themes from film and jazz history.

My name is John Daniel, I’m a musician and artist currently based in Chicago. I’m sharing nine songs that have uniquely influenced me over the years. It’s sort of in chronological order. I hope you enjoy and decide to check out some of these artists if you haven’t already. Thanks for listening!

“I Will Surround You” by Stars of The Lid

When I found SOTL’s music on the internet in 2010, I knew I wanted to make music like it. I got into electronic music through stuff like this, and other adjacent music that centered the use of guitars and a bit of synthesizer (though not full-on synth music yet, at that point). This was before I had gone to any shows or connected with the underground noise community in Cleveland, so it was this new awareness of textural music, pure sound. This album accompanied many late nights. I filed it away and kept digging.

“data.vortex” by Ryoji Ikeda

Ryoji Ikeda and the entire Raster-Noton label was an exciting discovery, and expanded my understanding of electronic music. They represented some of the earliest ‘laptop music’ artists pushing the bounds of experimentation at the turn of the 21st century. This is one of 20 tracks on Dataplex, an album made from raw computer data. It’s toward the end and was always this beautiful climax moment, to me. Anything can be music.

“Lasalle Walks Out” by Drainolith

When I started regularly going to local gigs in Cleveland in 2011/2012, I eventually got the chance to start playing my own music as Forest Management. My friend Sam Goldberg booked me to open for Drainolith one night. It was my first time getting asked to play a set. Alex Moskos was really cool and kind to me when I met him. He’s a prolific artist who has been holding it down in Montreal for years, through various forms and collaborations. I remember being very stoked that I had crossed paths with these artists. Everything I heard and saw during that time inspired (and challenged) me greatly.

“White Clouds Drift On And On (Intrusion Shape I)” by Brock Van Wey

While exploring sound through FM and taking in everything I heard and saw in my early 20s, dub music came along and never left. echospace [detroit], Chain Reaction, and Echocord are just a few of the channels I would regularly plug into. I never tire of hearing this kind of music, it helps me think. I chose Brock Van Wey (AKA  bvdub)’s “White Clouds Drift On And On” as I feel it embodies this corner of sound, or at least its atmosphere.

“The Hhmmmm” by Population One (Terrence Dixon)

Techno and other forms of dance music beyond dub didn’t enter the picture right away, but Terrence Dixon was one of my introductions to the history of the music, which is Detroit music. I really connected with Terrence’s particularly spaced out, measured, weird tones.

“Automatic Writing” by Robert Ashley

One of the strangest records and one of my absolute favorites. Robert Ashley was a legend and an incredible mind; shoutout to Lovely Music Ltd. “Automatic Writing” comes from sessions he recorded at Mills College, allowing his involuntary speech (from Tourette’s syndrome) to express while close-mic’d. The overall pace and presence of this record is something I think about/refer to often. You can hear Al Green playing faintly in the background, I always imagine it coming from the practice room next door.

“Wire Recorder Piece” by Halim El-Dabh

I have to mention Halim El-Dabh. Well before he hung in NYC with Cage or Varese or recorded at Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, he was doing his thing in Cairo, Egypt, with wire tape recorders in the early 1940s. He was also a hugely influential ethnomusicologist. Musique concrète as an artistic movement didn’t begin until four years after this piece came out. Not enough people know about El-Dabh, so I try to mention him when I can.

“Aho” by Jack DeJohnette & Lester Bowie

As a drummer, I’m a huge fan of Jack DeJohnette‘s style. I only recently dug deep into the history of the AACM in Chicago (via George Lewis) — a history that I’m still unpacking today. Zebra was an exciting find because it’s a rare collaboration with DeJohnette on synthesizer (a Siel DK600) and AACM member Lester Bowie on trumpet. Plenty of gorgeous, synth-derived sounds that you typically wouldn’t associate with a traditional idea of ‘jazz music’. Lester also plays beautifully on this one.

“Peace, Homage to John Coltrane” by Joe Gallivan & Charles Austin

Joe Gallivan and Charles Austin created some fascinating, tripped-out records in the 70s. Both based in Miami at the time, distant from what was happening in New York, they took a distinctive approach to the free jazz duo format. Joe Gallivan was an early beta-tester of the Moog drum synth, which he would trigger with sticks and mallets. There’s so much more of a story to be told here, I’ve actually been working with Joe on parsing through over 20 tape reels of unreleased jams from that time. Hoping they see the light of day soon. Regardless, Joe’s insight, perspective, and wisdom has been invaluable to me in 2022.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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