Adrian Daniel: Reviving a generation with sad songs

By Kevan Olsen

Last Friday, rising R&B artist Adrian Daniel performed for the University Program Board spotlight series at Taylor Down Under. This young singer draws his inspiration from the world around him as well as from his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. He looks to evoke emotion and remembrance in his audience through his music. He grew up with music - his godfather introduced him to the xylophone at a young age, and his craft took off from that point. Recently, he has expanded on his fan base with his connection to Spotify and an article that appeared on MTV’s “The Wrap Up.” His latest album “Disillusions” features one of his latest hits “Devoted,” a song about heartbreak and lost love. His music flows with the percussion on the track, filling you with sound and an intense rhythm.  

His sound is electric yet classic - it’s no wonder why he was noted as being one of the most influential up and coming talents at the 2017 Northside Festival. His performance consisted of “sad songs” but that didn’t stop TDU from getting loose. This was Adrian’s first time to JMU and hopefully not his last. R&B has been reawakened, and WXJM writer Kevan Olsen was privileged enough to sit down with him and ask him some questions before the show.

Kevan: How do you like the city so far?

Adrian: It reminds me a lot of North Carolina, it’s pretty familiar to me. We went to Oregon, it’s pretty similar to the Oregon state vibe. I like it though so far, it’s pretty cool.

Kevan: I know you’re from Brooklyn - how does that tie into your music?

Adrian: Brooklyn is like one of the most important aspects of my music. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Brooklyn, but it’s such a multicultural environment, and so diverse, and it’s a lot like my music. It takes on whatever mood I may be in. You know, growing up there …  it’s not easy growing up in Brooklyn, where I grew up wasn’t the nicest neighborhood. But there is a realness that it gives you, you have to be honest, you know, because people will notice that very quickly in New York if you aren’t true and real they will pick it up and eat you alive. You have to be very strong and honest and confident in yourself.  I feel like that really comes up a lot in my music.

Kevan: What do you like to do in your free time when you aren’t singing?

Adrian: I’m into anime a lot, like I love playing Destiny 2, we just got it.  I was playing it all day and whooping a** in Crucible. I’m into comics, I’m really like a big kid. We went by Marvel the other day and I loved it. I was zoned out, geeked out, I’m into all that. But when I’m not doing that, I’m a big movie buff. I love regular normal stuff, like I skate, I love girls. Yeah, really love girls.

Kevan: What does R&B represent to you?

Adrian: Really, just emotion. You know rhythm and blues, like I said, it’s a lot about emotion and talking it has a rhythm to it so that’s really all it is. It’s being as open and honest as possible while making people believe you, that’s the thing about R&B music - when you say certain things, you don’t question whether or not they are lying about it, like if they actually experienced it before. You have to really believe them. 

Kevan: So how did you find your voice what brought you to singing?

Adrian: Well, I was always singing - just badly though. I was singing a lot when I was a kid. My godfather was a great jazz musician. He played the xylophone, so when I was like 6 we would go to his house. He had money and a limo so we would think, oh yeah we’re going to play games and watch TV, but nah - we would go there and he would say ‘lesson time.’ I didn’t want no lesson at 6, like I want to play. But you know, he forced us to learn to play the xylophone so that was my first real introduction to music. My mom used to play nothing but like Michael Jackson, Queen and Journey in my house when I was a kid so you know that just rubs off on you after a while. You start to sing the songs, you learn about who it is, and as you get older you really find out about who made those songs like, oh that’s who wrote that song, I didn’t know that. I think that for me it was a lot of Michael that rubbed off on why I sing the way that I do, a lot of Michael and Prince and Stevie - all of that. I always used to want to sing like Greg Mercury. He had this voice that was just like, I don’t know, it just commanded your attention, you know, when he sang. Listening to people like that, you know, that’s who I wanted to sing like, still badly at first, but you know.

Kevan: So, what does the future hold?

Adrian: I don’t know man, but I’m just going to be awesome though -  just be super awesome at all times, you know what I mean? No matter where you go or what you do, just being awesome. Like you know Michael Jackson wore a jetpack on stage, that’s it - like I want to be on Michael’s level. Once I get there, then I'll figure it out from there.



Photo courtesy of Ryan Jay