Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Dan Styslinger
Dan Styslinger is a bit of a whiz. The multi-instrumentalist has been a staple in the Pittsburgh music scene for years, playing with bands like Delicious Pastries and Seedy Players. Now, Dan is ready to shine on his own with a new solo album. "Greetings From Holiday Park" is a journey into the mind of Dan Styslinger, complete with lots of what his fans call “pun rock.” Dan Styslinger recently spoke with Morning Mix host Joey Spehar about Neanderthal pop-stars, playing nice with others, and his love of Ben Folds.
This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.
What’s your musical history up to this point?
I’m a mostly self taught musician. I began taking trumpet lessons when I was 10 years old and from there taught myself how to play piano, then guitar, then drums, then a bunch of other instruments. I’ve played in a number of local bands, most notably Delicious Pastries and Seedy Players. During the pandemic I set out to record my first solo album – Greetings From Holiday Park – an allusion to a Bruce Springsteen album, but also the neighborhood in Plum Borough I grew up in. I recorded a lot of the instruments on the record myself but it also features members of The Moat Rats, Radiant Strings, and my good friend Dean Henry. The album also features a song written by my former Delicious Pastries bandmates Jesse Ley and Jonathan Chamberlain, who I consider two of the most creative songwriters around.
How do you describe your sound?
Shades of Ben Folds and Steely Dan with influences ranging from punk, soul, jazz and disco. Though some have labeled my music – Pun Rock.
Tell us more about the song “Roman Numerals.” What inspired you to write it?
I was sitting at my desk one day when I thought of a dumb joke: “Do you think Neanderthals had pop stars? I guess they’d be rock stars.” I thought to myself – “Hey, I can turn this into a song”. The music and the rest of the lyrics just flowed pretty naturally from there.
What was the first album that really changed your life?
The self-titled debut from Ben Folds Five. I had been playing piano for a few years when I first heard the song “Philosophy” and that’s when I realized I wanted to pursue music more seriously.
What’s the best part about making music in Pittsburgh?
The best part about Pittsburgh music is the sense of community. Many of my closest friends are a part of the Pittsburgh music community.
Any other super interesting things about you we should know?
Not many people in the music community know that I have a twin brother, Pat. He’s a talented musician and songwriter in his own right, but these days he mainly focuses on raising his daughter, Kenleigh, with his wife Emily.
Learn more about Dan Styslinger:
Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.