March 11, 2010
Daniel Durrett Interview
Today we check out another Bay-area artist involved in RTFM Records, Daniel Durrett. He’s got a diverse musical background — including a stint at Shure — that helped inspire the diverse music you hear from Daniel today.
Check him out below:
1. You spent most of your teen years in Wiesbaden, Germany. How would you say exposure to the music scene there shaped what you are doing today?
Living in Germany had a delayed response on shaping my music – when I left there for the U.S., I was very big into grunge/rock music and my songs reflected that. But in the nineties in Germany, like today, electronic music was huge. Listening to the radio, watching MTV Europe, and going out to clubs/bars, I was exposed to all genres of electronic music – and this influence came out a few years after I moved back to the United States.
2. From a young age you were exposed to and trained in classical music. Is that training something you still draw from today?
Yes, definitely. I teach young children entry-level piano and basic music concepts. Although, when it comes to composing my own music I rely on my ear and feeling more than any musical theory or practice. I never sit down to write a song and think about keys, time signatures and such – it is always about mood for me. Obviously, it has to all fit together, but I mess around until it sounds the way I want – and sometimes that is outside the rules of keys and time signatures.
3. Some of your songs are guitar driven like Pins and Needles, but in others, like Animus, you seem to be doing something entirely different. What is it that’s pulling you in such different musical directions?
Like I said before, composing music is all about my mood. I drift into different genres and soundscapes – even in the course of a song I will do this. I don’t like to put myself into a category. I simply love music of all sorts. I don’t think there is a genre that I won’t dabble in.
4. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Everything. Seriously, I take ideas from every piece of music I come across. I think that every song or composition has some sort of value.
5. You’ve released a lot of music under the alias Jimmy 2 Sticks. How is that work different from what you are doing today?
Well, in a way it is quite similar to what I am doing today. Jimmy 2 Sticks was a transitional phase for me. I went from writing rock/grunge music to messing with knobs and tweaking sounds. It was an alias where I wasn’t bound to a certain genre or style. It allowed me to just be creative and not worry about what people will think of all those crazy noises. Today, I am still tweaking sounds and making crazy noises but I have the confidence to do it under my given name.
6. Your connection with Shure is really interesting. A recording artist who developed digital microphones for one of the biggest names in audio is kind of like meeting a sculptor who was once an accomplished surgeon. Is it safe to say that you understand the recording process from the inside out? How has your time at sure influenced your music?
Working at Shure was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Not only is it one of the biggest names in audio, but the people who work there are also amazing. I met so many talented engineers and learned about the inner workings of microphones. It created an intimate relationship with audio for me. Before that, I used microphones daily in making music, but I had no idea about the under-the-hood magic that goes into creating a microphone. Once I got deep into my job there I started to understand the physics of sound and how that all adds up and works with music.
I wouldn’t go as far to say I understand the process inside and out, but it did get me a bit closer to achieving that goal. Working there helped me understand which instruments to choose for certain parts, and why certain things clash with one and other in a mix. It also helped me prepare my stage rig and choose the best microphones for certain applications.
7. What was the thought process behind leaving Shure for San Francisco? That sounds like a pretty big leap?
The whole reason I went to work at Shure initially was because of my desire to create music. I reached a point where I had to decide if wanted more responsibility within the company. When I stepped back and examined the situation, I knew that I wasn’t ready to give up my dreams for work. After I made that decision, I needed to do something drastic to reconnect with composition and creativity while utilizing the technological education I received from Shure. San Francisco has always been an attractive city to me – the vibe is amazing and the music is always free to be what you want it to be. It just felt right.
8. We’ve interviewed other RTFM artists and there seems to be really good energy within the community. How would you describe what’s going on there in San Francisco?
It is exciting. So many great artists doing their own creative thing, but we are also a big family. They welcomed me in as if I had been here all along. I am both influenced and humbled by the people I am working with right now.
9. Is there anything about what you guys are doing in San Francisco that you really wish the rest of the music industry would pick up on?
We are really embracing the new model of the industry and not dwelling on the the fact that a lot of people don’t pay for music. So be it – people can have my music. But we are also making sure that we aren’t giving everything away. We are taking our future into our on hands and not just uploading tracks to myspace and hoping some label hears it and picks us up. We have the ability to make our own careers now. If more people realize that, the more unrestricted indie music we will see surface.
10. Given your wide musical range, what do your live shows tend to be like?
My live shows differ just as much as my music does – I have played shows where I just sing and play guitar, but I have also played shows where I didn’t sing at all and rocked the dance music with my electronic toys. And of course, the merging of those two worlds happens, too. It all depends on the venue and what the promoter is looking to do with the night. I try to adapt and bring my material that matches the mood/setting.
11. Where should people go for information about your music or where to see you play live?
www.danieldurrett.com is the best place to stay up-to-date. And of course, twitter, facebook, myspace, etc.
If you want to hear more from this dynamic musical community, take a look at our interviews with Artemis and Divasonic. And stay tuned to the SendMe Stage *hint hint*
Posted by A. Sogal at 6:58 am