Daniel Padden is a musician and composer living in Edinburgh. He mostly makes music for theatre, film and live performance. His first orchestral score is being performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at this year’s Tectonics Festival in May. Here he reveals his career progression.
Music wasn’t a career I had planned. It was more of a hobby that started to elbow its way into my life more and more until I quit doing proper jobs.
In my late teens I hitch-hiked to France with a guitar and a notion of artistic and romantic revelations. I met a homeless alcoholic outside the Pompidou Centre and for a 50/50 split he would go round with a hat whilst I played and sung. He threw me onto packed Metro carriages with no option but to start playing Simon & Garfunkel songs in front of bored commuters, whilst he danced up and down the carriage collecting centimes.
A few years later I hitch-hiked across America. Again this sounds romantic, but as most Americans will tell you it’s really very stupid and dangerous, which is why nobody does it anymore. When me and my travelling companion got to L.A. we got jobs as rickshaw drivers picking up and driving tourists and drunk students around the Hollywood area. The rickshaws were all pedal-power and there’s a lot of hills in Hollywood.
A brief mention for the romantic summer I spent working in a fish factory in Hull.
I worked in bookshops for years, first in Leicester, then in Glasgow. I liked working in bookshops, but like most booksellers I preferred it when there weren’t many customers. I often made compilations to play in the shop, and then got really sick of the music I had put together as no-one ever got round to changing the tape. A similar thing happens in theatre projects – you hear the same bit of music so many times during rehearsals that you never want to hear it again. In Glasgow I was a children’s book specialist which I enjoyed. It was a really big dynamic department and I’d occasionally be required to dress in an enormous character costume.
For a short time in Glasgow I was a flower delivery driver. I drove a pink van. Some of the stuff was dull corporate locations that wanted expensive displays in big vases, and some of it was more personal and special. Weddings and funerals too. Every once in a while if the person wasn’t at home I’d ask the neighbour to look after the flowers – the look on their faces when I told them they weren’t the intended recipient… Once I delivered them to someone on Kirsty Wark’s street. She saw me and shouted “Are they for me?” and I had to shout “No” back. I never got to appear on Newsnight Review.
After deciding to try and make a go of music, I searched for interesting people to send CDs to. One of them was filmmaker Matt Hulse, who got in touch and we’ve been friends ever since. In a way this was my first job in the creative industries. He used some of my music for a short film he was working on – and then that led to another filmmaker Zam Salim getting in touch, and so on… I’ve worked with them both a lot over the years. My band The One Ensemble made the music for Matt’s extraordinary film Dummy Jim.
Tectonics Glasgow takes place from 1-3 May 2015 at City Halls, Glasgow. Tickets are available from www.bbc.co.uk/bbcsso and on 0141 353 8000. For more about Tectonics on Central Station, go here. Daniel Padden’s Glass Hundreds has been specially written for the Old Fruitmarket and is performed as part of the Closing Concert at 9pm on Sunday 3 May.
We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.