Get to know the Los Angeles-based dynamic rock ‘n’ roll singer and guitarist Derek Day!
He recently released his newest single “Another Day” along with its accompanying music video. On this track, a hummable riff gives way to a sinewy, screeching lead as Derek’s vocals build towards a cathartic chorus. Underpinned by raw soul and a subtle funk swagger, Day really sharpens his signature style on the new song, which first premiered via Pure Grain Audio, who raved, “With a bright future ahead, Derek Day is undoubtedly destined to become one of the most talked-about guitarists and musicians of 2020.”
“It’s almost like my theme song, because it plays with the name ‘Derek Day’,” he says. “Lyrically, it’s about being wrongfully criticized, judged, or reviewed. No one can describe anyone in a few sentences, let alone fully understand someone that way. Every day is a different day, and we’re always changing and moving forward.”
Mastering tradition only to buck it, Derek Day strikes a singular chord between guitar virtuosity, odd time signature wizardry, Motown-style release, and melodically manic vocalizations. In 2018, Day released his single “Social Kitten” and incited a buzz. Welcomed on stage by everyone from Steve Vai and Moby to Ted Nugent, Slash and Living Colour and christened by taste-maker Eddie Trunk as “very impressive and a promising, great player,” he breaks and bends boundaries of all kinds with each show and song.
“I want people to feel a chemical reaction from my music like I do when I hear an incredible song,” Day shares. “I get really energized and super happy from music. Within this melting pot, I want people to feel the same reaction. It’s got to be cathartic.”
Learn more about Derek Day in the following All Access interview:
Happy New Year! When it comes to your music, what are you most excited about for 2020?
What I’m most excited about for 2020 is creating new things! I feel a surge of creativity in all aspects of my life.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician?
I was just about 8 years old, I heard the intro lick to the electric version of “Layla“ by Derek and the Dominos. I wasn’t even sure what instrument it was making that noise, I just knew I had to try it myself.
What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
I think philosophy motivates me most. I feel as though every event has some sort of philosophical outlook to it, which gives me perspective which can lead to fuel to act on my own life and career.
How do you think growing up in Los Angeles influenced the kind of music that you make?
I believe that Los Angeles itself has a very specific sound – especially from people who were born here. I attended schools in the LA USD school district, it was heavily Latino. There are certain crowds, cliques and parties I would go to that affected the way I grew up. Certain slang words and rhythms that I put in my songs to this very day that have a certain vibe of LA.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Were your family and friends supportive of this career choice?
Despite my mother having a hard time at first, my family was very supportive of me chasing this dream. My father would take me out every weekend to the Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade as my legal Guardian to watch over me as I performed rock ‘n’ roll hits on the street. But it wasn’t until the end of high school that I found people/peers that I could relate to musically. Everyone was into some odd sort of scene and thought of musicians to be…strange. But that sort of thing fueled my creative weirdness.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I would think maybe something like cooking or acting. I feel they have a very similar discipline and devotion to their craft such as music.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
Such a surprise to me are the incredible human beings I have been blessed to meet and work with. Such kind, spiritual giants who teach me to improve my creativity and overall life were placed there as if it has been written in the stars. People like Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Debby Holiday (Rod Stewart), Scott Paige (Pink Floyd), Alan Toka and Stephen Lyons (who’ve been on tours and recorded with me) and the list goes on and on.
The unexpected challenge that I welcome with open arms is the expectation to really improve my musicality. And I mean theoretically and spiritually. I have learned that I must be very present in my improvisation as well as extremely disciplined in my preparation.
The best part of it all: I cannot describe it other than a complete natural high when performing. As well as achieving what I set out to do in the studio, which interestingly enough is quite rare.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Another Day”! What was the inspiration for this track? Why do you consider it your theme song?
The song was inspired by certain attitudes I picked up on, attending certain parties here in LA. I wrote it when I was exhausted one afternoon and I felt like I couldn’t do anything else but be honest. There are just some contradicting characters you meet in life: highly political, yet too lazy to make a difference. Grungy and poor looking, yet so posh with a parental trust fund. Absolutely enveloped in “cancel culture,” preaching freedom and individuality YET so quick to judge that they can only form a fist with an index finger sticking straight out.
I suppose I consider this my theme song because I am promoting true oblivious individuality – to just be your weird self and ignore all the fingers pointing at you. But if anyone has a critique about you, they should put it down on paper and publish it, that way you can read about it sometime. But not today, today is your day. Read about it another day, if that day will ever even come, perhaps it’s a made up day. The play-on-words with my last name states that no one will ever really correctly judge another being. It’s impossible to fully understand someone.
How creatively involved with the making of the music video for “Another Day” were you?
I was quite involved with the artistic direction of filming the video – but I have to hand it off to John Humphreys, the director, and his crew for really bringing it to life. John is very artistic and quite chaotic. He has great vision. I loved hearing what he had to say and he was very cool with listening to what I wanted to represent.
How does this song compare to your other music?
The song is a little bit more retro. It was written pretty quickly and more of a “stream of consciousness” than my other tunes, which are a little bit more planned out. I just wanted to write something laid-back, sludgy but not lazy. Something to cool off to for the summer time. My other musical endeavors are a little tighter, I suppose. Thought out, punchier.
Do you have any tour dates scheduled for this year yet?
There are definitely things in the works, but I wouldn’t want to disclose anything until it’s official! You can keep yourself updated through social media and www.derekdaymusic.com
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
My younger self would wince happily at the exponential growth older Derek had to go through. Because growing is not all accomplishments, for real. I believe I have learned great patience. Also adaptation with collaboration. I have also developed great open mindedness to all musical elements. But most importantly, and I am nowhere near mastering this, the art of discipline. It is so important to respect your peers and more importantly yourself by being on time, well prepared, and constantly feeding your creative and technical well-being.
What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
You know, I ask myself that question often because I try, as an occasional practice, to tap into a creativity only my younger self could find. I do this for comparative reasons as well as keeping true to my musical verve. I would say that a certain freedom has stuck to the way I write my melodies. The “channel” is still left open to receive transcendental information.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
Some would call it a “necessary evil,” but I would call it a “fun n’ funny evil.” I would say the greatest benefit I’ve received from social media is a pretty genuine connection with my audience who I consider all to be my friends. It’s cool to see what people like and what they respond to.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I would love to work with Miley Cyrus, Francis and the Lights, Kendrick Lamar, Tom Waits and Kanye West. I just think the experience is completely undefinable until it happens.
If you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
To start, it would be very, very clear. The objects in the video would look as if they were in the same room, right in front of you. The colors would be ridiculous. Bright colors, twinkly lights, and massive (truly terrifying) physical ideas. As far as for subject matter, that depends on the song. But most likely, it would be funny. Life is a laugh. It would also be urgent, whatever the messages – it would make you feel excited, somehow.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Everywhere. Target. Radio. The gym. The taco truck across the street from my house. The taco truck in front of my old middle school. The taco truck next to the 84 bus stop on Eagle Rock Boulevard. Super A foods grocery store. And, of course, out of the mouths of other human beings, whether it be 1 or 1 million.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people feel excited from my music. Not necessarily positive or negative, just some increase of heart rate. I don’t care how old you are, I want your blood pumping through your veins like waters in a mountain river.