Yamaha saxophone and Silverstein ligature artist, Daniel Chia is no stranger to delivering his brand of music to the world, thrilling audiences at the MIDEM Festival in France and the Sunburst International Festival in Malaysia.
With his signature brand of Disco Jazz, Daniel has performed at ZoukOut, Music Matters Festival, Mosaic Music Festival, Audi Fashion Festival and Earth Hour, amongst many others.
He has just completed his debut album, “In The Moment”, with two-time Grammy Award winning producer Paul Brown, and an all-star band of internationally recognised musicians, in Los Angeles. The album, due launch in March 2017 will take the listener on an unprecedented sonic adventure, as he hopes to bring his special brand of disco jazz to the world with a singular purpose of making music that just feels good.
The Band Post speaks to Daniel about his saxophone background, his debut album, as well as current projects that he is involved in.
What is your background as a saxophonist like? Did you come through a band program or you picked up the instrument on your own?
My first instrument was the piano. I picked up the saxophone as part of the Music Elective Programme in my secondary school. I was in my school band for a year and stopped to focus just on rugby, which I played all throughout school.
However I carried on private lessons on the saxophone and completed my ABRSM Grade 8 examination. Thereafter, I started practicing mainly on my own, transcribing music, improvising with play-along tracks and learning as much as I could about jazz improvisation from books, articles and YouTube.
Most people think of the saxophone as a classical or jazz instrument. What do you think of that? Do you think that a saxophone can go beyond this mindset, like being used in a pop or rock setting?
Yeah I feel that the saxophone is one of the most versatile instruments around. It has been used in many classic pop and rock songs, as well as almost every genre imaginable.
I would classify my own music as smooth jazz, and it’s a huge genre worldwide. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate very frequently with DJs as well. It’s becoming very popular to have a live saxophonist with a house DJ for example.
You recently launched your debut album to much success on Kickstarter, what have you got to say about this for a start? What did you intend to bring to your listeners through this album?
It was my first time using Kickstarter and I liked it because it allowed me to offer different tiers of limited edition items for the listeners. I was really fortunate to have many people who supported me so generously and it means a lot to me! I also have many surprises coming up exclusively for those who own the limited edition thumbdrives I offered!
Through my music, I hope that people can reconnect with themselves. Instrumental music allows for people to attribute their own meaning and unique experiences to the song. I feel that’s a very powerful tool of communication. I would love for people to enjoy and feel all that is great around them.
What saxophone setup do you use? How would you describe your saxophone sound?
I have a Yamaha Custom 82Z tenor and Custom 875EX soprano, both silver plated. I love the rich and warm sound I get on these saxophones. I also use a solid silver C1 neck on my tenor which I picked out in LA.
I use a Sakshama Guardala mouthpiece. It’s handmade in bronze and it’s really flexible and gives me a good balance of warmth and brightness. Also, I play on a Silverstein Cyro 4 Ligature and it allows my setup to be very freeblowing and allows me a lot of flexibility. An amazing product!
We understand that you have done a few community projects that introduces the saxophone to the general public, with an upcoming segment for Chingay 2017. Would you like to talk about it?
For Chingay 2017, there is a performance segment which consists of 100 saxophonists. I was tasked to be the musical director of this contingent and was assigned to recruit and train this group of players.
The contingent consists of primary and secondary school students, as well as hobbyists and professionals. It has been a great experience working with the group and the rehearsals has gone very smoothly and everyone is excited for the performance!
From this Chingay segment, it got me thinking about how to develop a more vibrant saxophone community. I decided to create a Singapore Saxophonist Facebook group that allowed members to share about upcoming performances, masterclasses, videos, lessons and even acts as a marketplace for equipment.
Apart from gigs and performances, what new projects will you be embarking on in 2017 and beyond? What are some of your short term and long term dreams for the future?
I’m looking to work with more artists through my label Soundgrove Records. I hope to be able to help them market and distribute their music globally and allow them to focus on just making good music.
I also have a bistro in Taiwan called Tame Moose with 2 other partners. It’s been doing well and we’re looking to expand the business, so that is very exciting for me as well!
My goal is to strive for the loftiest targets and make sure everything I do will live up to that standard. Every album that I make, I’ll ask myself, is this at a Grammy Award winning level? In my debut album, I surrounded myself with a Grammy winning producer and world class musicians and subsequent albums will be no different.
I strive to become a better performer and songwriter and we’ll see where it goes from there!
A contributing editor at TBP.