Dave Mullan Lands Down Under

Having been signed by a new Australian label, the travelling young troubadour is doing it himself from the North Coast to the Gold Coast

A Portrush business graduate who’s always had a passion for music has been snapped up by an independent Australian record label and is now set to record his first EP.

Dave Mullan, who completed Business Studies and Applied Management degrees at Ulster University, booked a one-way ticket to Sydney on his 24th birthday after finishing his studies. His plan was to travel with friends and pursue his singing in some form, so when he discovered an independent record label was holding open auditions, he decided to go along.

'After singing a verse and chorus from Biffy Clyro’s 'Many of Horror', and 'Photograph' by Ed Sheeran, I knew straight away it would be positive news.

The first thing they said was "wow", followed by - “We usually wait a few weeks to say this but - you’re signed.”

Unsure about the contract however, Mullan initially declined the offer.

'This was a big deal for me and my future, but I wasn’t certain it was right for me,' he says. 'But after discussion with the owner and my friends and family – as well as my overwhelming urge to take a major opportunity when presented - I signed for an initial year to the independent Sydney label.'

The label in question is currently rebranding and will relaunch itself sometime this month, so until then, Mullan can’t reveal their name. In the meantime, he’s been busy writing material for his upcoming three-track EP, which will be released later this year.

Indeed, production has already started on the first song, which will be released to all the major music distribution outlets worldwide as soon as it’s ready – which could be as early as August.

'My material will be entirely original, which admittedly does add pressure for a new artist, but I relish the challenge,' says Mullan. 'Hopefully, the EP will give me the exposure I need for the next step in my musical career. I’ll also be recording music videos, which is very exciting.

'Song number two is already written and ready for work, but I won’t write the third until after my van trip…'

The van in question is a 1981 Daihatsu Delta Motorhome called Ronnie, which Mullan and his three friends are using to tour Australia. Having already spent four months in Sydney, followed by Melbourne and Adelaide (where Mullan is based at the time of interview), the Outback is next on the young adventurer’s list.

'That will be followed by a very sunny and touristy drive down the east coast from Cairns,' he adds. 'Ideally, my main base will be in Sydney, but Melbourne really caught my eye and having the freedom of a backpacker means I can make anywhere home fairly swiftly.'

Although Australia wasn’t Mullan’s initial choice of travel destination – America and Canada were the original places he had in mind – he’s obviously glad with how things have turned out.

With a voice not dissimilar to Sheeran's, Mullan entered a singing competition to try to raise his profile after arriving in Sydney in February. Due to the format of the competition however, he declined to compete any further, despite impressing the crowd and even being invited to take part in the final.

'It was a little off-putting, as it asked you to bring friends to secure extra votes, which I didn’t think was very fair to the singers,' he says. 'People came up to me though, complementing my singing, so it was a fantastic response and well worth signing up for!' 

What’s more, the video recording of Mullan singing in the competition has already enjoyed more than 1,000 views on YouTube, although the perfectionist singer-songwriter doesn’t consider it to be his best vocals. 

Mullan also has previous competition experience with the UK X-Factor, where he completed three days of auditions – at one point singing to 2,000 people. On top of that he's performed the lead role in the musical Hairspray, as well as playing various gigs back on the North Coast. Having always loved singing and performing from a young age, it was only last year, however, that Mullan began pursuing his passion in earnest.

'At school, I dropped all acting and singing because I was scared I’d be bullied for it,' he says. 'But I said to myself that once I’d finished my masters, I was going to take singing up again.

There was no way I could live with the regret of not trying.

A fan of swing music and artists including Michael Bublé, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, Mullan’s songwriting has been inspired by the likes of Sheeran, Passenger, John Mayer and Duffy. He also has a diversity in his singing, and can tackle most styles.

'The indie pop genre is where I’ll be channelling my music, as it offers relatable lyrics that allow the audience to recount their own experiences of the same issues,' he says. 'I’m also passionate about musical theatre though, so to perform on stage at the West End or Broadway is a dream of mine - apart from the one I’m currently living in!' 

With his visa set until 2016, Mullan is realistic but hopeful in the pursuit of his musical dream in the land that's given us everything from Nick Cave, Kylie and AC/DC to Savage Garden and Jet.

'The market for this type of work is highly competitive and a lot of talented singers are being introduced every day, so I have to work hard and be prepared for tough times,' he says. 'I’ll just take each day as it comes, obviously not forgetting rule number one - rehearse… rehearse… and then rehearse!'