Eric Darius

NM: Your new disc, “Goin All Out,” from Blue Note Records reflects what about Eric Darius?

 ED: I feel like “Goin’ All Out” reflects my growth and maturity both as a musician and person. Throughout the past several years, I have immersed myself in different styles of music and cultures, and I wanted to create a new, distinctive sound that would transcend all music boundaries and reach every age demographic. I am the type of artist that wants to continue to evolve throughout the duration of my career, very similar to the way Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock did. They were always willing to push the envelope each time they released an album and try new things, musically. I always strive to challenge myself musically and to create music that is true to myself and to the people that listen to my music. When I first started working on this project, my initial approach was completely different this time around. I didn’t want to make a typical “smooth jazz” album. I wanted to create an album that would have more of a universal appeal. In my opinion, “Goin’ All Out” reflects me and my perspective on music and the way that I hear music. Being that I am coming from a younger generation, you can clearly hear some of those elements of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Pop on this album. “Goin All Out” is a statement of where I’m coming from and who I am.

NM: Listening to your music you have many strong influences! Who would you say influences your musical style the most?

ED: It is very difficult for me to say whom specifically influences my musical style the most because I have been influenced by so many different artists. Growing up, my parents exposed me to various styles of music, and I grew up listening to and appreciating all genres of music. My father would play a lot Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, David Sanborn, Al Green, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Marvin Gaye, George Benson, Bob Marley, and many others just around the house. Hearing all of those different styles of music around the house really opened up my ears. As I began studying music intently in high school, I began to listen to a lot of straight ahead jazz, such as music from John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Charlie Parker, Kenny Garrett, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, and Michael Brecker just to name a few. My style is a complete mixture of many elements of music, such as Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, Blues, Gospel, Reggae, and many other styles. All of those musical influences combined have made me the musician I am today.

NM: What are some of your challenges in the jazz music industry?

ED: There are many challenges that I face being in the jazz music industry. For one thing, breaking through into the jazz industry is extremely difficult. Being that the market is so over-saturated with talented saxophonists, it is very difficult to set yourself apart from the others and make a name for yourself. It is a constant challenge. Also, it is very difficult to get the type of exposure that a pop artist would get. From a media standpoint, jazz artists don’t have as many radio and tv stations to have their music played and have their albums promoted. Also, being in this industry, you don’t have the type of budgets to work with that a mainstream pop artist would have. From a musical perspective, being that I play the saxophone, there are many stereotypes that I have to deal with on a regular basis. Some “jazz” purists think that because I play R&B-oriented jazz, that I am selling out. However, they may not know that straight-ahead jazz is my foundation and that I can play that as well. These are just a few challenges that I have to deal with in the jazz industry.

NM: What is the perfect atmosphere for writing to you!

ED: The perfect atmosphere for writing to me is a very quiet, isolated place, where I am free of all distractions. When I am home, and I have time to myself, I like to clear my mind, get into a zone, and just reflect on my life and my experiences. Whether I am happy or sad at the moment, I try to capture that moment through my music. I want to convey to listeners the emotion that I felt when I wrote the song. I believe that our experiences define who we are as individuals, and in the same token, my personal experiences define the kind of music that I create. My songs are truly a direct reflection of who I am.

NM: What does being on Blue Note Records mean to you as an artist?

ED: Being an artist on a prestigious label such as Blue Note is both an incredible honor and privilege. Many of the most notable and legendary jazz musicians, such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington, were Blue Note recording artists. Just to be mentioned on the same label as them is both mind-blowing and humbling. Many timeless, classic jazz albums were released here, and I am very blessed just to be a part of the historic label. However, as much as an honor as it is for me to be on the label, I also take it as a very important responsibility. I feel that as a recording artist for the label, it is my responsibility to maintain the integrity of music, which Blue Note has been established, and to continue carrying on the Blue Note legacy and tradition.

NM: How has Eric Darius changed as an artist and a person?

ED: As an artist and person, throughout the years, I believe that I have changed tremendously. For one thing, I feel that I have definitely grown and matured as a musician. I feel that I am constantly evolving as I artist, and that I have established my own identity, voice, and sound. Music is the freedom of expression, and I have reached a point in my life where I can truly allow people to see who I am through my music. As a person, I’ve been through a lot over the past several years, such as dealing with deaths, family issues, and personal struggles. However, mentally and emotionally, I feel like all of these things have made me a stronger person. Life is a journey, and I am constantly learning things about myself as time passes. As much as I have changed as a musician and person over the years though, one thing has remained constant, and that is my undying passion and love for music. That will never change.

NM: Do you like the way technology has changed the music business or are you just changing with the times?

ED: I think that technology has changed the music business both for the good and the bad. It is definitely a double-edged sword! For one thing, I think that it is great that there are more outlets like myspace, facebook, youtube, and other places on the internet where artists can market and promote their own albums and build their fan base now. However, illegal downloading has definitely hurt the music business, as we have seen a huge decrease in CD sales over the years. As an artist in today’s society, I think that you just have to change with the times and adapt. You just have to take the good with the bad. In the end, it is all about making good music and touching people’s lives.

NM: How has jazz changed since your first CD?

ED: It’s funny because I really don’t think jazz has changed that much since I released my first album several years ago. There have been new artists that have come on the jazz scene and brought their own original style and flavor. Artists such as Christian Scott and many others are starting to change the game up a little bit. It is very refreshing to see that! My goal is also to try to make a difference throughout the jazz community. I want to bring something new to listeners with each album I release. Overall though, I think that many aspects of jazz have remained the same.

NM: What would you like to see jazz do?

ED: I would really like to see jazz become more commercially acceptable. I hope that that we will see a resurgence in jazz throughout the next several years and that it can come back to the forefront and become popular music again, as it was in the early 1900’s.

NM: You are considered a contemporary jazz artist, Do you feel artists like yourself have enough places to have your music heard?

ED: I honestly feel that as a contemporary jazz artist, there really aren’t enough places for our music to be heard. Being that jazz isn’t as popular as genres like R&B, Hip-Hop, or Pop, to the masses, jazz does not get the attention that it deserves. There are many talented contemporary jazz artists out there right now, that will never get the exposure and opportunity that many Pop artists will. To me, it’s very unfortunate and unfair. When was the last time you saw or heard jazz on MTV or VH1? I honestly can’t remember the last time! There are very few outlets today for our music to be heard, and I really do hope that that will change soon.

NM: Living or dead, if you could work with any artist who would they be?

ED: Wow, I have a very long list of artists that I would love to work with. Just to name a few though, I would really like to work with Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Alicia Keys. If I had to choose one though, I think I would have to say, Stevie Wonder. In my opinion, he is one of the most talented singer/songwriters ever in the history of music. His music is celebrated by people of all ages, and he has made one of the most significant contributions to the music industry. One thing that I also admire about him is that his music has a universal appeal and that there is a positive message throughout all of his songs. His music reflects hope through all of the social, political, and economic issues in today’s society that he addresses. Stevie’s music has changed a lot of people’s lives, and I can honestly say that I am one of them too. It would be a dream come true to have the opportunity to perform with him.

NM: What can we expect from you?

ED: You can expect me to continue making music for many years to come. I would also love to record a gospel album one day. Gospel music is another passion of mine, which I hope to pursue in the near future. I am also in the works of starting my own music foundation, which will be geared towards inner-city kids who cannot afford musical instruments. I would like to see good, positive music back in the schools. I would also love to see younger people listening to and appreciating jazz.

NM: If we were riding in you car, what would you be listening to?  

ED: If you were riding in my car with me, I would either be listening to Michael Brecker, Kanye West, Kenny Garrett, Alicia Keys, or Jill Scott. Those are all loaded into the CD player in my car at the moment. Right now, I am listening to Michael Brecker’s “Pilgrimage” album. That is a great album, by the way.

Be Sociable, Share!