Cousin Dan: Outer Space Dance Odyssey
Cousin Dan puts on an unmistakable live show filled with smoke wafting in the air, laser beams penetrating your mind and unearthly feats of cosmic strength. His live shows are an outer space dance rock odyssey, whether there are five or five hundred people in the audience. He brings his own hand made dance floor that is equipped with lights reminiscent of the disco era, a smoke machine and enough balloons to drown the crowd. All of this has made Cousin Dan into the local Atlanta legend that we know today.
Since meeting Dan earlier this year I have spent many hours working on music, talking philosophy, politics, culture, the rise of his alter ego Cousin Dan and planning this year’s Plasma Fest. One of the most notable things about him is how down to Earth he is once he steps off stage. Dan’s personality isn’t as intense as his stage persona but, that energy is channeled into his work ethic. Cousin Dan doesn’t do anything half-assed.
Daniel Scoggins, also known as Cousin Dan, is a transplant from Dallas, Texas, who moved here to attend S.C.A.D. in 2008 to study art and design. Dan moved to Atlanta at the height of the indie rock scene and right before EDM had made its resurgence in the form of dubstep. Cousin Dan started out as a response to Atlanta’s lackluster live music scene. “I had been 21 for enough years to start seeing bands and stuff and thought man this shit is boring..,” he told me over beers in his basement turned home studio. Thus Cousin Dan was born. It didn’t take long for Scoggins to develop his onstage persona. “I don’t think I went for more than a year without having what Cousin Dan is now.” Some of Dan’s stage props have changed throughout the years but the energy is still the same. “I knew that being on stage as one guy I had to be entertaining.” PHRASING.
Dan started doing open mics around the city but his online video “Already Home” garnered him his first taste of notoriety in late 2010. After that, he won the Java Lords open mic contest and started performing at the Laser Beam Kitty parties. Then, local Atlanta artist, Carl Janes took him to perform at an art show in Charleston, South Carolina with his largest crowd yet, thirteen hundred people. If you’ve ever seen Cousin Dan live you know this is where he thrives. Holding the crowd in the palm of his hand and getting everyone pumped up to dance. “People come up to me and say I don’t know how you have the balls to get up there all by yourself!” That’s just it, Cousin Dan goes where you don’t have the guts to and that’s what makes his live show so dynamic. “Some people like it, but some people fucking love it, and some people hate it,” he says with a grin,” and that’s just how it goes.” This latter sentiment seems like it might be creeping its way into Dan’s psyche as well.
After playing this character for nearly seven years Dan seems to be having a harder time relating to his early work and his notoriety around the Atlanta scene doesn’t seem as novel as it once was. “I’ve played Counterpoint Festival, been in Creative Loafing, flown out to Vegas, [and] Puerto Rico. I’ve played sold out shows at Variety Place and Georgia Theatre in Athens.” Scoggins knows he’s made a name for himself in Atlanta and said,”...having achieved whatever I have, it has made me more self-conscious about being a humble person for whatever accolade I do get…” Getting shot after a show at Estoria in 2012 seems to be what kickstarted this reevaluation. “I didn’t have a message I was just kind of sexual and dancey and fun and 80’s now after getting shot and getting older now I’m thinking about what am I saying with my art.”
This soul-searching seems to have had an effect on his songwriting. Newer songs like “Hands Up” deal with the recent string of police shootings. “Something in the Water” talks about finding out what you love to do and pursuing it. While these newer tunes deal with heavier subject matter they still hold true to Cousin Dan’s sound and aesthetic. Dan’s next project since finishing the music video for “Something in the Water”, which was three years in the making, is to put the final touches on his debut album. He has chosen to not release the name but it should be coming out early 2017. Dan laughs at the thought of how much success he has had with only a live show and posting videos to Youtube. When asked if we would be seeing the death of Cousin Dan any time soon he said,” No, more of an evolution.” We at Plasma are excited to see Dan’s next phase in evolution.
Written by: Stephen Wilkins (@damngladtomeetcha)