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A Dirty Dozen with DEREK DAY – February 2020

| 18 February 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Dynamic rock ‘n’ roll singer and guitarist Derek Day has released his new single “Another Day” along with its accompanying music video. On “Another Day,” a hummable riff gives way to a sinewy, screeching lead as Derek’s vocals build towards a cathartic chorus. Underpinned by raw soul and a subtle funk swagger, Day really sharpens his signature style on the new song, which first premiered via Pure Grain Audio. Mastering tradition only to buck it, Derek Day strikes a singular chord between guitar virtuosity, odd time signature wizardry, Motown-style release, and melodically manic vocalizations. In 2018, Day released his single “Social Kitten” and incited a buzz.”  We get Derek to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo Credit: Michael Eivaz

1. Tell us a little about your latest release, “Another Day.”  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

In the song itself: perhaps some overlook the fact that the guitar plays the melody of the vocal hook “ah, that’s ok, I’ll read about, I’ll read about it another day.” I enjoy “mirroring” in music. Another thing is that the instrumental chorus comes in on beat 2, which can be unconventional – and the lyrical content is quite laced with double meanings and can be deceptive. The title itself plays with my own name! Within the video, you would find all of my friends from the LA music scene in it. There’s an authentic newspaper from August 17, 1977 with the headline “Elvis Dies after heart attack.” The Gun is a replica from the Alamo in San Antonio. A lot of the funny little items I play with are things I’ve had since I was 9 years old, etc., etc…

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My mother would always be playing disco albums ever since I was born. My father would play more 70’s hard rock, Deep Purple, etc. That, for me, turned music into a THING. After experimenting with certain instruments, learning some songs on the guitar, I realized around age 12 that making music was highly cathartic and quite a successful performance on the streets of Santa Monica – that’s when I took it more seriously to make it a career.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I first wanted to pick up an instrument when I was about 8 when I heard the instrumental intro to the electric version of “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos, funny enough. I wasn’t even sure what it was making that noise, I just knew I had to make it myself. But my taste in music shifted and currently shifts all the time.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Tom Waits, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, and Nina Simone.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Tom Waits. I think I can learn a lot from him. I would love to interpret his storytelling with my chaotic style of execution.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would describe my music to be a highly saturated, juicy modern rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not too straightforward; you got your musical breaks, oddities, solos and vocal runs to really bring out the most in each player and song. But, there is no dillydallying with song structures. My goal is to make the most with hummable melodies and tasteful arrangement in the shortest time possible. On tour with Ted Nugent, I often heard I sounded a lot like Geddy Lee vocally. This doesn’t make me cringe, I just wonder how! Though we have similar ranges, our tones differ a lot.

7. When you and your band are hanging out together, who gets the drinks in and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Haha, I suppose that would depend on the mood of the day. Alan Toka (drummer) loves bringing out the conversational blues jams in us, but I usually bring in original material to try out with short notice just to keep us sharp on finding our sound.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I honestly become star struck by my own peers, I mentioned before my drummer Alan Toka as well as people I’ve recorded with like Stephen Lyons and Ben White. Debby Holiday, whom I’ve written music with as well as recorded with, just all Incredible musicians in Los Angeles whom I look up to greatly. Whenever I see them, I do get a “Fanboy” reaction to their presence. I also play in a band with Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Scott Paige (Pink Floyd), Roberta Freeman, Kenny Olson, Tony Franklin, Norwood Fisher, Blas Perez, Eric Mayron, etc., etc… all of these names are just GIANTS who show me love and respect and TEACH me how to become a GIANT. I stumble over my words and am in complete awe when with them, which is blessedly often!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

There is so much freedom in music. No matter what prison you may be locked into (spiritually, contractually , mentally, financially …), rest assured you can find a boisterous freedom in the art of music. This freedom presents solutions to you mysteriously and allows you to break free. I suppose if it wasn’t music, it would be acting or cooking. Both arts I consider to be as similarly devoting as music.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I think a question I’d like to answer is “What is one of the coolest performances you’ve seen, and why?“ And my answer to that question would be ever-changing, but the last one I remember very vividly was the artist Francis and the Lights. It was just him, one man, but he took over the El Rey Theater so easily, using up every square inch of that stage, playing keyboards and singing his ass off with great passion. There isn’t really a question I am tired of answering, but I suppose repeating how I “got into music” can get monotonous for me – but I do understand that it’s a very important thing to know where you came from. I am just more focused on where I am going.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I wouldn’t say there is a single moment I would like to “do over.” I would say almost every day I have a misstep. But I find that to be necessary for the process. With that said, I have wasted a lot of time in certain bands that I knew I didn’t want to be a part of when I was younger. I wish I would have just followed my heart more in those days.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Somehow, I would love to have worked on Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder. That is my favorite Stevie album. I do not feel that I am anywhere near as good as the musicians on that record, but if I could just have held a shaker and experienced their vibe, I think I would understand my purpose on this planet a lot more. That record really opened the doors of  music for me. It also encouraged me to explore my full range and potential in any sense or form. To explore far beyond the beyond, but have as much fun as you can while doing so.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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