Listening to Daniel Wilson, you’d never believe he’s 24. There just aren’t many young people creating gospel-inspired soul music. Daniel’s most recent single “Sinner Of The Week,” from the upcoming EP of the same name, fuses those heavenly sounds with a deliciously danceable beat and some pretty impressive vocals.
ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to trade a few emails with Daniel, so keep reading to find out what he thinks of Detroit, Christian music, and Domino’s Pizza.
For people who have never been to Detroit, the city can sometimes be seen as a sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland due to all the photos of abandoned buildings on the internet. What is Detroit like for someone who’s actually been there?
It has improved a lot. It’s really nice down there right now and seems like it will only get better in the near future. The neighborhoods need more work, hopefully the neighborhoods nor the people in them will be forgotten while the fancy buildings are being built. Like almost any city, watch where you’re going. You’ll be fine.
What venues near your hometown of Ypsilanti are your favorite for seeing live music?
Haha. I have never been to a venue for live music in Ypsi. I hardly leave the house. I need to work on that. I’m a bad music fan.
Are there any local bands or musicians you feel deserve more recognition?
Because I am a bad music fan, I don’t know of any bands in town. Although my former songwriting teacher Spencer Michaud is a very talented guy. Check him out. He makes cool music.
Are you still based in Michigan? If so, do you feel like you’re more cut off from possible opportunities in New York or Los Angeles, or do you feel like location doesn’t matter since most business can be done over the internet?
I am still in Michigan and do feel pretty cut off most of the time. It’s hard for me to find other musicians around here…but I also don’t leave the house much because I don’t drive. Conundrums. I’d like to move. Maybe not to NYC or LA exactly. But who knows, maybe. I’d surely enjoy the opportunity to choose haha.
You’re signed to Zap Records (based in London) and seem to work predominantly in the UK. Is working in the UK something you were aiming for, or is that just how things worked out?
Working in London just sort of happened. I have worked in a few big cities—London has probably been the most productive for me. I never imagined being able to go to London, it’s been quite the dream come true. I’ve met great people down there. Talented, nice people.
In addition to your early influences of gospel and Christian music, you were also interested in musicals and 90’s MTV. Did the more religious aspects of your life ever clash with your interest in pop culture, or are each of those components more alike than people may give them credit for?
They clashed. Took me awhile to realize I could enjoy both. But my family was also fairly loose about it—maybe they weren’t aware how much influence MTV had on us, or television in general. We were glued to it. I’d say that at the end of the day these things have a lot in common with each other. Whether it was MTV, musicals on AMC, or gospel on Sunday—it was all passion. Passion is fascinating. It was a blessing getting to observe so much of it.
Do you consider yourself a religious person? Do your beliefs dictate the way you write or do business as an artist and producer?
I consider myself more of a spiritual person than religious, but sometimes I can’t help being a bit religious. I lived in it for years. Honestly though, it tends to cause me pain more than anything else these days; the structure of it all and how stubborn it can be. It’s reluctance to change.
Though we disagree on a few things, my beliefs are connected to my parent’s beliefs. Their souls were a gift from God. How loving and giving they are, the belief that you must be good to people. Selflessness. I try to give those things to the people I meet when collaborating. You don’t have to believe in God to know kindness, but those two have always been connected in my life.
Can you recommend any gospel or Christian albums for people who may not be very familiar with the genres? I think Christian music in particular tends to not have a great reputation in mainstream music.
I don’t really care for the gospel or Christian music I hear now. I could think of a few older albums or collections BUT BeBe & CeCe Winans Greatest Hits album from 1996 was life-changing for me. Just about every song on there is MAGIC. They’re just really good pop songs that happened to be gospel. Ageless. AND THE VOCALS are just. Ugh. INCREDIBLE. Listening to it right now haha.
How do you feel about Domino’s Pizza (founded in Ypsilanti)?
The best Domino’s Pizza I have ever had was while I was in London, it was delicious. Its deliciousness caught me WAY off guard…that’s all I have to say about that…
What can your fans expect from you in the near future? Are you planning to tour?
No tour that I know of (yet). Musically, hopefully more of it.