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5 minutes with musician Dan Cook

Multi-instrumentalist Dan Cook has played in the indie rock bands The Verna Cannon and Lay Quiet Awhile. His latest project, A Spot on the Hill, recently released it’s second album, “A Need that Runs Too Deep.”
Multi-instrumentalist Dan Cook has played in the indie rock bands The Verna Cannon and Lay Quiet Awhile. His latest project, A Spot on the Hill, recently released it’s second album, “A Need that Runs Too Deep.” Submitted

Dan Cook has been a fixture in the Columbia scene for a while. Known mostly for being an editor for the Free-Times, he’s also pursued another passion: Music.

A multi-instrumentalist, Cook previously played in the indie rock bands The Verna Cannon and Lay Quiet Awhile. His latest project, A Spot on the Hill, falls somewhere between ambient, postrock and classical minimalism. A Spot on the Hill’s 2018 debut album, “The Tenth Wave,” marked Cook’s first musical release in 18 years. Now Cook returns with his latest album release, “A Need that Runs Too Deep.”

Q. Tell us about your latest album. What was the process and where did you record it?

A. My new album, “A Need that Runs Too Deep,” is 10 songs, all instrumental. It’s meditative, hypnotic music.

Before I make a record, I record short sketches on my phone and then gradually develop those until I have a basic structure for a song. After I have 10 or 15 ideas pretty well sketched out, then it’s time to make a record.

I do that all with a computer, one microphone and Logic software. Most of the songs start with a basic framework of piano. A handful start with guitar or violin. Then I add other instruments — it could be as many as four or five piano parts, six violin parts, a few virtual instruments, etc. One track, “When all things were possible,” is built from multiple layered bass parts.

This is my second Spot on the Hill record. With the first one, I had no idea what I was doing recording-wise. I gained at least some competence and confidence this time around.

Q. How do you feel about the current music scene in Columbia? What has changed since you’ve started making music?

A. There are a lot of talented people in Columbia making good music. In comparison to the 1990s, the music scene doesn’t feel as cohesive. But, people have a pretty decent idea of what they’re doing now — back then, a lot of us were flying blind. And there are specialized pockets of support for lots of different genres — experimental, jazz, singer-songwriter, etc.

Everything has changed since I started making music — here and everywhere else. The whole model of recording and distribution has changed. And yet, it’s still all about making the best music you can and trying to find an audience that will appreciate it.

Q. Do you have any plans to tour for your new album?

A. No. A Spot on the Hill has yet to perform live, let alone tour. I might figure out how to present this music live at some point, but these days you can have listeners anywhere even without touring.

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