Danny has managed to combine his love for music and made it into a business which gives local musicians a platform to perform. His love for music has also brought him and his band, The Souls of Singapore, to different parts of the world. In this episode, Danny shares on his love for the blues, and the adventures that music has taken him on.
In this episode:
Being in the band, The Souls of Singapore“I'm one of the members of the band. It is a very big band, sometimes we are eight, nine, even 10-piece, and we celebrate soul music. It all started with tributes, all the favourite soul and Motown songs; songs by Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, all the real good stuff from that era. Daniel, who's our band leader got all us together. After a while Daniel just told us, ‘I think maybe it's time for us to do some original music,’ which got me excited. I think at the end of the day that's what you want to do. Do some original songs, songs you can call your own. That's how it all started, really.”
How did you fall in love with music?“I've always been in music – classical music. I mean my parents, as (with) a lot of Singaporean parents [laughs], put us into playing classical music and it's a good thing. It's a good basic thing to learn. But I was watching the World Cup, I don't even remember what year, and they used to have a music interlude, it’s about 15 minutes. I saw these two African American guys playing the piano, it was Boogie Woogie style. I was just so drawn to it. These two guys jamming together, and they were not reading notes, as I'm used to reading notes. But these two guys were just enjoying the music and I felt there's so much freedom when they were performing, and it just got me so interested. I actually went to the vinyl store. I collect vinyls from then till now. I didn't even know what the music was called. I just basically told a guy I’d like to buy some African American music and they pointed the gospel blues and all those Boogie Woogie style, and then from there on I kind of taught myself how to play Boogie Woogie. Then, years after that I started to really like the guitar, picked up the guitar from my teacher at the time, Bee's, he taught me for about three to six months. But he also got me to listen to the song by Eric Clapton, it’s called Have you ever loved a woman? It was actually the song that he did with Derek and the Dominoes, and that song stuck with me. That was one that got me really deep into the blues.”
Connection with blues music “Initially when I first heard it, I didn't really fully understand the history of it, only years after (did I understand). But initially when I first heard it, I couldn't explain it but the powerful vocals, the deep expressions that they had in the music, just felt there's something really deep in the music that I felt. Years after, when I studied in Australia, I had a few experience(s) of, and this is 1996, so it was four years after meeting BB King, I was in Perth studying in Murdoch. That was the years of the politician by the name of Pauline Hanson. When she spoke in parliament, there were incidences of racial abuse and few incidents against Asian students at a time. When I experienced that, it really got me even deeper into the music. But what's fascinating about it is that the African American people – very sad history in way. But when they get on stage to play, they put on their suit, and they stand up straight and they sing with that voice. They claim that space. For them to be able to stand up and sing that song and inspire other people, especially young men from Britain, I mean, people from Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin to Eric Clapton to the Beatles even, they were all listening to blues and rock and roll and they were inspired by them. There’s something about that music.”
Most memorable gig“The most memorable gig we did was the one we did in one of the homes of the blues, Memphis. I'm wearing my Sun Studios T-shirt today. I will never forget that trip. We had the opportunity to represent Singapore in the International Blues Challenge, which was held in Memphis, Tennessee. We had an album full of originals, so we did that, and we also did a few covers. The whole trip was the most amazing one. We played Memphis, we got into the semi-finals – we didn't get into the finals, unfortunately – but that day, when we were in the semi-finals, something really amazing happened. The bar owner liked us so much and asked us whether we were doing anything the next day. He said, ‘You guys didn't make it to the finals, right?’ So, I thought he was taking a piss (at us) so I said, ‘No, we didn't we didn't make it.’ He said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’, I said, ‘Nothing,’ you know [laughs]. We are just in Memphis, we could probably go check out some things, some museum, Graceland. He said, ‘Well, how about you guys do a gig here?’ And, and I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ and he said ‘How much do you charge for a gig?’ So that was a negotiation [laughs]. I don't even know what I said, ‘Oh 600 US,’ you know, I just counted in Singapore dollars. ‘600 US and you got us’ and he said, ‘Oh, that's a bit high.’ I said that's how much – I was actually negotiating with this guy [laughs] and then I said, ‘I'll talk to my business partner’. Five minutes after, he said, ‘Okay, you guys are on, you got a gig.’ And we came back the next day and we had our first gig in the US and then after that, we went to Chicago, we met Buddy Guy at his bar. Then we went to New Orleans.”
Remembering what made you fall in love “I want to thank you actually. Since we met for coffee, it was really nice coffee, and doing the show. You know, sometimes you just need remember why – when do you first fall in love your music, when you first fall in love you travel? You got me thinking, you know, you're really inspiring me. I've got to really write it all down and do some more new songs. So, thank you, actually.”