Catching Up With IAmDanielMoore
As we’ve read and seen over the years, the artists who attain longevity in the music industry have a obvious level of excellence in their work. IAmDanielMoore is such an artist. He has worked with several soul and gospel greats including Anita Baker, Jennifer Holliday and Richard Smallwood and he earned a Grammy nomination for his production work on Sheri Jones-Moffett’s album Renewed. You may also recognize him from two BET shows, as he appeared on Sunday Best and is the keyboardist for Big Jim’s Penthouse Playas on the Mo’Nique show. He also released his self-titled EP earlier this year. I’d say that’s enough to make the argument that whether he is producing, directing or making music, IAmDanielMoore knows what it takes to be successful.
IAmDanielMoore states in his bio that “people STILL like good music”. He is certainly delivering it because I enjoyed the songs on his EP (Say Something, Half Way Love and Imagine), so much that I had to request an interview. We had a great conversation about his musical influences and experiences.
Mimi Soul: I’m sure people tell you often about how your music makes them feel. Could you tell us about your songwriting process?
IAmDanielMoore: With my music, I always say it’s therapeutic for me. I take personal experiences and create them in a song. I think the realness aspect is what people relate to.
Mimi Soul: Since we’re talking about making music, in terms of a song recipe, what would you say are the main ingredients of a good one?
IAmDanielMoore: (laughing) Well, I don’t cook but it would probably be the flavor. I would be making sure everything sounded authentic. So, that would be the seasoning.
Mimi Soul: Is there one part of being an artist that you enjoy more than another? For example, being in the studio versus on stage?
IAmDanielMoore: Not really. The studio is what gets us to the stage, you know. I was fortunate enough to do what I like to do in the studio. For me, it was one and the same.
Mimi Soul: I must admit that when I saw you on the Mo’Nique show, I was slapping my forehead and asking myself “Have I been under a rock or something?” (laughing)
IAmDanielMoore: (laughing) You know, I get that alot. I’ve been in the industry a long time. This is my first time stepping from behind the keyboard and showing the artistic side. It’s about connecting the dots.
Mimi Soul: How did you choose the three songs on your EP as your introduction to us as an artist?
IAmDanielMoore: Well, I’m always working for the people. Those three songs were really what the people loved in the show. So, we just wanted to give it back to them so that they would have a piece of the live show to take home with them.
Mimi Soul: In one of your blog posts, you said that “the way to find success in the music industry is to craft your art to where the average consumer will purchase what you put out”. What would you say is your target audience?
IAmDanielMoore: My target audience is definitely the females and it’s a wide range of ages from 21 up to about 45. Some of them remember Stevie Wonder and El DeBarge but for others it’s an introduction to that sound and that feeling. With that particular quote, I just found that in my own career, at first I was just recording things that I liked to hear and that I wanted to do. I had all these complex chords and all that kinda stuff and I noticed that the people couldn’t sing along with me. When I started playing for Anita Baker, I realized how many songs she had. I mean, the songs had wonderful changes, wonderful lyrics and everybody would sing along with her for 90 minutes straight. So, I said to myself, “We have to bridge that gap.”
We get so upset with the industry for not playing our music and we allow that to affect our songwriting. That’s unfair to the consumer because they wanna hear it but they have no idea how to find out about it because we sometimes won’t make those small changes for people who may not be singers and musicians but are doctors, lawyers and teachers that just like to hear good music. So, I’m always thinking with that in mind.
Mimi Soul: Speaking of Anita Baker, I noticed that you mentioned her and Quincy Jones in your blog. Who are some of the other people that have had an influence on your career?
IAmDanielMoore: Definitely both of them as well as Jennifer Holliday, who I worked with for some time. Big Jim also because he has given me a lot of insight on the production side of things. Obviously Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Donny Hathaway in a very indirect manner. I was always amazed and mesmerized by how these people could entertain. One thing I’ve always appreciated about that generation is that they didn’t call it the music business. They called it show business. And I think that has been an immediate way to think about it. It’s not about us, it’s about the people. It’s about putting on that show. It’s about entertainment. It’s about making people feel good.
Mimi Soul: You also said in your blog that when you first started, you “always gave the same energy and attention to everything you did because one gig might lead to the next”. In addition to giving the same energy, what other advice do you have for aspiring artists?
IAmDanielMoore: Always give people something that’s worth their money whether you’re performing at your local church, musical or bar. When I was doing that, I brought in a couple keyboards, a sound system and sometimes we may have rented a smoke machine; whatever it took to entertain the people. At the end of the night, it might have landed you 50 bucks but the person who came to that club or to that musical is the one that is gonna remember you. They’re the ones that are gonna go home and get on Google and by the time you put out your cd, they’re gonna be the ones who say “I remember when” and then later on, like I’ve seen with Anita Baker, when you don’t have a hit on the radio, they’re gonna come back to your show 30 years later. You always take that approach when it comes to your music. You never say “Oh well, this is just a gig or this is just whatever” because that next step may never happen if you don’t take the small steps seriously.
Mimi Soul: Very good advice. I hope you’re not saying everyone should buy a smoke machine. (laughing)
IAmDanielMoore: (laughing) No, but even now, it’s whatever it takes.
Mimi Soul: What influenced your decision to release your music independently?
IAmDanielMoore: Well, for me I think there’s a new movement happening. I talked about that on the Mo’Nique show. On iTunes you can pick a song that you like and just download that versus downloading an entire cd and record stores just don’t exist anymore.
Mimi Soul: As a music enthusiast, I think this is a great time because I can purchase music from both radio artists and independent artists on iTunes. I’m excited about it.
IAmDanielMoore: Absolutely. The key to independent success is getting the word out to as many people as you can and not negating local media, press, and television appearances. When you build that base and you have that following at home, they’re gonna push you out to do the next thing.
Mimi Soul: Which three words would you use to describe your independent experience thus far?
IAmDanielMoore: The first word is expensive. (laughing)
Mimi Soul: (laughing)
IAmDanielMoore: but also determined and passion
Mimi Soul: In your blog post titled Get Started, you said “personally I feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of my dream but I’m proud to say that I’ve graduated to becoming a starter”. What are some of the other parts of your musical dream?
IAmDanielMoore: I hope to continue to create an avenue for artists like me, who still enjoy the live aspect of things and just wanna get on stage and do the music they love to do. I think there’s an avenue for urban music. I think there’s an avenue for pop music, rock and country. The R&B avenue is closing. I think neo-soul was the last movement that we had and that avenue kinda shut down for the last ten years. So, now the neo-soul artists are forced into this pigeonholed underground scene. My thing is that we don’t have to accept that. So, it’s my goal to create that avenue.
Mimi Soul: That’s a cool answer because not alot of people would put their dream in terms of helping someone else.
IAmDanielMoore: There’s no greater reward than when someone takes the baton and keeps rolling. There’s no success without a successor. If you just personalize it and keep it to yourself, then we haven’t served our purpose.
Mimi Soul: Your EP is wonderful but when can we expect more? You’re teasing us with those three songs.
IAmDanielMoore: (laughing) That’s the magic question. The answer is we don’t know. We have people that love the EP and are waiting on something else. We’re gonna give them something else but we don’t know what that something else is gonna be yet because every day we get ready to do that, 500 more people show up that have just heard about it. So, I would just ask that everybody who has the EP tell 5 or 10 people about it. That way, we can have that base to say ok, now we can give you something else.
Mimi Soul: I have a fun question. If you had to part with all of your music except three albums, which three would you have to keep?
IAmDanielMoore: Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Bad by Michael Jackson. Everyone likes Thriller but my album was Bad (laughing)
Mimi Soul: (laughing) I’m a Thriller person.
IAmDanielMoore: And probably Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.
Mimi Soul: As a follow up to that, what’s one b-side track you would recommend to someone else?
IAmDanielMoore: Oh, for me it would definitely be Mr. Paganini by Ella Fitzgerald. I play that song everyday.
Thanks IAmDanielMoore for a great interview! Please join me in supporting his music by purchasing his EP. I guarantee that it’s an excellent project and definitely worth your money. Those of you in New York City and D.C. can see him live on the dates below. For those of you who are farther away, here’s a clip of him performing Half Way Love.