In-Flight solo

Danny Ledwell, of In-Flight Safety, brings his own material to a new album

Diana Ross. Michael Jackson. Gwen Stefani. They're all artists who achieved success within a group and then leveraged that success to catapult themselves to superstardom.

In-Flight Safety's Daniel Ledwell is about to join the ranks of these performers. He drops his first solo record, Two Over Seven, on January 29, with a show the next night as part of In the Dead of Winter festival. But where the above artists made conscious decisions to step out of the shadows and into the limelight, Ledwell is taking a more casual approach to his solo career. Call it the back-asswards, Phil Collins route to fame and fortune.

"It's weird because over Christmas, I had to basically fabricate my solo career," he says. "So basically right now all my press shots were taken by my brother, and my sister wrote my bio. It's a big family affair."

Ledwell had only played on his own a few times prior to documenting his compositions. "I decided to record the songs I was doing at home, and it's turned into this." He sent a secret internet link to mp3s of his songs to friends. One of them was singer Emm Gryner, who quickly saw the potential in the understated folk-country tunes and convinced him to release the songs on her label, Dead Daisy Records.

It might come as a surprise to some people that Ledwell is a formidable songwriting force. In-Flight Safety has always come across as the sum of its parts, with no one member standing out as the creative centre. This probably comes from the band's rather all-inclusive writing style, in which members bring riffs and ideas to the group that are then worked out and arranged by the members. Lead singer John Mullane is really the only one who breaks this pattern when he pens lyrics and melodies to go with the music that's already written.

Ledwell's songs stand in marked contrast to the outward-looking, grandiose nature of In-Flight Safety's work. "My songs are about simpler things than In-Flight Safety. They're little heartbreak songs," he says. "They're written in a simpler way, more in my closed bedroom with my acoustic guitar."

The seven-song EP is all Ledwell. He played every instrument on the record and, like with In-Flight Safety's The Coast is Clear, designed the cover himself. "Unless it's Rose Cousins singing, it's me," he says. All the songs are embellished stories from his own life, with the exception of "I Have Made You a Mixed Tape." The stand-out track---which feels like a lost song from the Beautiful Girls soundtrack---examines themes of past glory and the sense of aimlessness many men have in their late 20s. "It's just a story that I created about a broken-hearted guy who's still living in the high school world," says Ledwell. "His first girlfriend, he's still chasing after her, even after all these years." Ledwell seems somewhat apprehensive to discuss the more personal origins of his other songs.

So with all focus squarely on him, is Ledwell worried about striking out on his own?

"It was weird because I didn't really plan on having it as a big release. I just wanted to make it. And now that there are interviews and things going on around it, I am kind of freaked out," says Ledwell, adding that after playing in a group for the past two years, there is a sense of being musically naked while on stage alone.

"It is weird because even when you're up on stage you do feel more out there on your own and you do have to call all the shots. There's no sort of support system." Despite his fears, Ledwell is positive. "I think it will be a fun change."

While Ledwell's solo career is just taking off, he's already got his sights set on his next project. In-Flight Safety are getting ready to leave The Coast is Clear behind them. They're currently working on new material for their next album, though Ledwell refuses to give any timeline. Hopefully returning to the fold will quash any diva-like behaviour Ledwell picks up while out on his own.

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