All Eyes on Derwin Daniels

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your musical journey and background?

I am and have been a musician as early as I can remember. I started on clarinet, moved to drums as my primary instrument for years and switched back to saxophone later in life. I do play some guitar when writing musical pieces, but saxophone is my primary now.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and how have they shaped your sound and style?

I’ll have to start with my dad who was a saxophone player in the Navy Band and came out to civilian life to play jazz in area clubs in Beaumont, Texas. My siblings were listening to the latest R&B, Jazz and or Rock music of the 60’s and 70’s. When I started to gig, that’s what I played. As an older teen I would sit-in with my dads jazz group for events. The pay was always better and I started to notice the complexity of the music. My Godfather Lynn Simon was a big influence. He plays clarinet, guitar, and bass. He introduced me to tons of music. Saxophone was Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, James Moody. Contemporary was Grover Washington Jr., Kirk Whalum and Wilton Felder.
My band directors had a huge influence and I’d like to mention them on this interview. William Goolsbye, Henry Williams and Dr. Jimmy Simmons.

Can you share a specific artist or album that has had a significant impact on your music?

I can’t name just one, but Winelight by Grover Washington Jr., Kirk Whalum’s Floppy Disc and any George Benson albums.

aWhat’s your creative process like when you’re composing or writing a new song?

I like to think that chords carry emotions. We all know about major/happy, minor/sad, but others carry some emotional weight also. When I write sometimes melodies come first or I may hear the music and create melody afterward.

Among all the songs you’ve created, do you have a personal favorite? If so, what makes it special to you?

I do have an original piece that will be among others on my EP. It’s Going Home.
b. Can you share the story or inspiration behind that particular song? Going Home was inspired by the swing-out, two step, or stepping that takes place in my hometown. You actually grab your partners hand and dance. The tempo and mood of the song keeps you swinging.

Let’s talk about your latest song. What’s the title, and what’s the story or message behind it?

“Brighter Than This” is my new single. Produced by Felton Pilate in collaboration with JEG MultimediaI. I didn’t write Brighter Than This, but performing this song I must say is right up top with my own creative pieces. It is a song that can change your outlook of the day with an upbeat and memorable melody.

Share a memorable or unique experience from one of your live performances.

My first performance with Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players was in Atlanta, I can remember doing the bump at the YMCA in my hometown of Beaumont, Texas to the tune of Skintight when I was a teen. Now I was on stage performing that song with Sugarfoot from the Ohio Players. That was a bit sobering.

Beyond music, do you have any hobbies or interests that you’re passionate about? How do they influence your music?

I love reading. As I delve into a book, I can sometimes hear a soundtrack in the background. I do get out and play golf too. Another passion of mine is to fire up the grill and smoke something.

Is there a dream collaboration you’d like to pursue in the future?

The dream collaboration would be with the great Quincy Jones. I admire the work that he has done in the past. Just having his input and creativity on a song would be a cool experience.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting their journey in the music industry?

Learning music should be a lifelong journey. Study and learn as much as you can about your craft. It will pay off in the long run.

Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or new music you have in the works? What can your fans and listeners look forward to from you in the near future?

I have more to come with the release of an EP to go along with my single release. Be on the lookout!-