Four years ago, Daniel Victor, a twenty-one-year-old aspiring musician from Windsor, Ontario, hatched an idea to cold-call his favorite artists and somehow convince them to work with him. By the time he was done, musicians from 311, Our Lady Peace, Switchfoot, Mogwai and Shudder to Think were among those who took part in the project, dubbed Neverending White Lights.
“I e-mailed whoever I had to — their Web master, their manager, sometimes their fans site,” says Victor, who produced and played all the instruments on the resulting record. For all his efforts, Victor was shocked when he began getting responses.
311 singer-guitarist Nick Hexum called his cell phone when he was in line at a movie theater one day. “He was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do with this song,’ and he was trying to sing to me over the phone,'” Victor recounts. “I knew right there that I had something.” Soon after, he was invited to Los Angeles to work with Switchfoot singer-guitarist Jonathan Foreman, with whom he wrote material for NWL as well as “On Fire,” a track on Switchfoot’s 2003 breakthrough, The Beautiful Letdown. Others who have since contributed to NWL include Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, Finger Eleven’s Scott Anderson, Mogwai, Shudder to Think’s Nathan Larson, Velvet Teen’s Judah Nagler, Hum’s Matt Talbot and Creeper Lagoon’s Sharky Laguana.
“I was intrigued when Daniel first approached me because we had similar taste — I have always been attracted to darker-sounding music,” says Maida, whose management now handles Victor. “NWL provides a soundtrack for the days when your stars just don’t line up.” Maida has since emerged from the studio to perform with Victor at Toronto’s Mod Club.
Scott Anderson, who had performed with Victor before, did the same. “Dan writes pretty sad stuff,” he says. “When I listened to the track he sent me, I fell in love with it pretty quick. I used what I had around me to [add to] the song: depressing long-distance calls, homesickness and a Chicago winter. Dan wrote a soundtrack to my surroundings, and I wrote him back.”
The resulting album is titled Neverending White Lights: Act 1 – Goodbye, Friends of the Heavenly Bodies, and is slated for release sometime in 2005. Hopefully, Victor confesses, it will serve as a platform for a solo album: “I wanted NWL to be an introduction to who I am on a bigger scale, rather than put out something that would go unnoticed.”