Interview: Derwin Daniels

Could you share the story behind your latest song and what inspired its creation?

“Brighter Than This” is my latest single release. I received a call from producer/musician Felton Pilate about a song that he had been working on. I heard it and wanted to be a part of this. I performed the song on tenor sax and it worked out great with that joyful melody.

How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there any specific themes or emotions you tend to explore in your music?

I’m writing music I sometimes get a phrase or develop chord progressions. I feel that different chords evoke emotion.

As an indie musician, how do you navigate the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal?

I think it’s up to the listening audience to decide if a song that I wrote or played is to their liking. Being independent really helps to develop creativity in and outside any boxes.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist in today’s music industry?
The challenging thing is that the music door is not cracked open, but wide open to anyone with a computer as a recording studio. That makes it challenging to be heard amongst all the other music being released. The good stuff will still break through.

Can you talk about your experiences collaborating with other artists or musicians? How does it influence your creative process?

I happen to be a collaborator when it comes to writing and performing music. The latest single “Brighter Than This” was produced and written by Felton, Sealy and Low. The collaboration has worked well with this song. I have worked with several others on different songs and the input is good.

What role does technology and social media play in promoting your music and connecting with your audience?

Social media helps us artists engage with friends and fans all over the world. The technology opens up the independent artist to stay in touch with their audience.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have had a significant impact on your musical style?

I have to go my roots growing up and my parents were jazz fans as well as my dad being a musician. Influences with the Motown artists, funk bands, blues, rock all played a part. Zydeco music was a part of that also. The part of Texas where I grew up was right on the Louisiana border and we heard a lot of Zydeco. When I got to perform with Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, the funk was all in me then.

Indie musicians often have a close relationship with their fanbase. How do you engage with your fans and build a dedicated community around your music?

I’m getting better at communicating with social media. That is the way here lately I’ve been able to connect. Facebook, Instagram and sometimes texting.

Could you describe a memorable live performance experience or tour that has had a lasting impact on you and your music?

When with Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, I performed on the Tom Joyner Cruise. We were mixing up with all of these musicians and acts. Also, performing out of the US has been a blast to share our gifts to crowds all over.

In an era of streaming platforms, how do you feel about the changing landscape of music consumption and its impact on independent musicians?

I notice that when I play my original music, I get a good response. That is one of the most rewarding things as an artist. With streaming, it’s tuff to get folks to purchase your music but it does broaden your audience. I’d like to see the day when streaming platforms pay better to musicians and artist.