There aren’t that many Asian American singers and songwriters in the media these days. Actually, I don’t think Asian Americans get all the much recognition because they’re considered the underdogs of music.
As I was sitting at The Coffee Garden in Sacramento on a Friday night, I stumbled into a live show by an Asian American acoustic musician from New Mexico named Daniel Park. I sat, listened and was blown away at his talent. A one man band who records his instruments and loops them, using no additional band members other than himself. The singer humored the audience with jokes about his life in New Mexico and his inspirations for his songs. If records were sold based on raw talent alone, Park would be in platinum status; however, the industry does not work that way. I felt compelled by his voice and his natural talent on stage.
One song in particular stood out called “Sparks Fly”. I imagined sitting by a train station watching the fireworks go off in the summer sky.
Throughout the night, Park did top 40 covers and interacted with the crowd like they were guests in his home. After the show, I went up and introduced myself and asked for an interview via email. Find out what Daniel Park had to say after the cut.
At your show at the Coffee Garden, I got a sense of a Jason Mraz feel and David Choi, Who are your influences?
When I started learning and playing the guitar i was really influenced by Dave Matthews and John Mayer, So I definitely still am influenced by their style of playing but put my own twist on it also. Oh and my hair is influenced by Dragonball Z.
I read a little about you on your website, you were backing vocals for a few bands in college, what inspired you to get into music?
Well, I always have loved to sing so being in a band seemed to be the right step when I went to college. I played violin and sang backup in two bands… But like in a lot of bands they had a lot of drama. So I decided to go on my own.
How long have you been playing the violin? You seem to be a master at it!
I started playing the violin when I was 6, along with 3 of my siblings. My parents decided they wanted us to have lessons, because they never had them when they were younger.
You do a lot of covers, what are your top five covers to do of all time?
Ha ha! This is fun…. hmmm…
- Heartless – Kanye West (one of my favorites)
- Viva la Vida – Coldplay
- Friday – Rebecca Black
- This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
- Lollipop – Lil Wayne
How was growing up in New Mexico?
Well it was interesting for sure. I was adopted from South Korea when i was about 4 and a half. My adopted parents lived there and I remember it being an adventure, flying on a plane to a new world and a new life. I grew up not really connected to my Asian roots. But I now have a lot more Asian friends than I did in the past.
Was it hard trying to play shows there and get recognition?
Yes. New Mexico is a hard place for music. When I travel to places like California, or Colorado. People there are very in tune to listening and really soaking in the music and the emotion behind the music. The feeling I get from a New Mexico crowd is usually way different. The music is more in the background and it’s really hard to keep the attention of the crowd.
How old are you? I’d imagine for someone so young, touring must be a lot of fun.
I’m 29 years young and touring has been the most exciting time of my life. I love meeting new people, seeing new sights, and of course playing shows.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes! I’d say to anyone that wants to follow their dreams to go out and do it! But make sure you have a plan and you work hard towards it. I went to college, got my engineering degree, worked in the engineering field for a few years, and then decided that there is more to life then slaving away at a 9 to 5. But during that whole time I was focused on performing and playing a lot, and it worked out for the better. You can do it!
[Photo courtesy of Reverbnation.com]