Interview: Derwin Daniels


Interview: Derwin Daniels

What inspired you to create “Brighter Than This,” and how does it differ from your previous work?

Actual writers are: Edward W. Sealey, Lea L. Low and Felton C. Pilate. 

Producer Felton C. Pilate introduced me to the song and thought it was a good fit for my sound on the saxophone.

Can you describe the collaborative process with producer Felton Pilate and how it influenced the final sound of the single?

 Felton and I worked together on the “Masters of Funk Tour.” Him with ConFunkShun and me with Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players. We performed for several years in that setting. I also knew of him as a great producer. Sonically the sound is great and the song has such a catchy phrase that people hear it and tend to hum the phrase. 

Given your background as a saxophonist, how did you approach incorporating your signature style into “Brighter Than This”?

After hearing the track and the instrumentation, we decided on the tenor saxophone. We thought the male tenor voice would work well with the supporting horn licks. 

You’ve mentioned that “Brighter Than This” holds a special significance for you. Could you elaborate on the personal connection you have with this track?

I believe music has healing qualities. Listening to the melody and chorus along with the title lifted my spirits. We all have some downturns and I felt this song could be inspirational for the listening audience.  

How do you believe your upbringing in Beaumont, Texas, and your family’s musical background have influenced your musical journey and the creation of this single?

Music was not just for listening in my home growing up. It was also a way of life for our survival. My dad was a professional musician. We counted on his gigs as a provider. The motto from my high school there was “Whatever we do must be the best.” I think of that phrase on every song I perform. “Brighter Than This” is no different. 

Having toured with iconic musicians like Barbara Lynn and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, how have those experiences shaped your approach to creating music as a solo artist?

In bands growing up we always performed what was hot on the radio or popular. Barbara as well as Sugarfoot always performed their original material. I got to see that we all have a voice that the world needs to hear. 

In what ways do you feel “Brighter Than This” reflects your growth and evolution as an artist since your collaborations with renowned bands such as the Ohio Players?

I think the production of Felton and co-writer Gerard Winslow with JEG Multimedia Group, and their career advice has moved me more into the artistry of the business of music.

The press release mentions the synergy between musicians during the recording process. Could you share a memorable moment or anecdote from the studio session?

Yes! I go into the studio with soprano, alto and tenor saxes. I listen to what Pilate has tracked. I immediately said, I hear a male tenor voice on this (sax is the closest instrument to the human voice). Also, he advises ” think Jr. Walker.” You can hear that Jr. Walker texture during the song.

How do you envision “Brighter Than This” resonating with listeners, and what message or emotion do you hope it conveys to your audience?

This song is in the major chord category. Happiness and joy is the message I want listeners to take from the song. 

As an artist known for captivating live performances, how do you plan to translate the energy and spirit of “Brighter Than This” to the stage for your upcoming shows and festivals?

All of the nuanced sounds you hear from the studio will be in any live performance. I want audiences to have that sonic experience. 

Brighter Than This will be released on March 29

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