This week, we chatted with multitalented artist, Daniel Bayot to talk about his musical journey and the latest single Like You Love Me. Born and raised in Hawai'i, music ran in the family. Daniel is a vocalist, songwriter, producer, and classically trained multi-instrumentalist known for his soulful sound and catchy melodies. Like You Love Me showcases a sophisticated pop arrangement that will definitely get stuck in your head.
Lets get to know Daniel a little better!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Could you tell us more about yourself and how you got into music?
DANIEL: My trajectory was a little weird. I went from singing pop songs as a kid with my dad, to lots of formal classical training, to a masters degree in film scoring, to ultimately doing this interview for the pop single I wrote and produced.
I was first on stage singing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” with my father when I was two years old. It was such a rush. Then I started taking piano lessons before my feet could reach the pedals. My parents also didn't buy video games for my brother and me growing up, but my dad always has had a home studio, so there wasn't much else to do but make music. My elementary school also freely gave me excused absence slips to sing with my dad around the island.
When I was eleven years old, I jumped into playing the cello and fell in love with classical music and the orchestra. I was a huge nerd. Still am. I moved to the mainland US after high school and got two music composition degrees. After spending my undergrad neck-deep in classical music, my dad got me and my brother a bar gig for some extra cash. It was then I rediscovered my love for pop music. I started experimenting with electronic music production, started producing pop music for myself, and here we are!
Where did you grow up in Hawai'i and what's the music scene like on the island from your experience?
DANIEL: I grew up on Oahu. Music is a vital part of the local culture. I think it’s unusual for a Hawaii family gathering not to include singing and dancing. Hawaii is home to a lot of talent, and the dense Filipino population definitely doesn’t hurt.
You have collabs with your dad and brother, what was it like growing up in a musical family?
DANIEL: Well, the house was pretty loud. We had to learn how to tune each other out. My brother would play heavy metal drums while my dad played jazz guitar and I played cello all in separate rooms (while my poor mother tried to work in her home office). We actually play together way more often now when I visit Hawaii than we ever did when I was growing up. Our tastes were too different then.
I love singing with my dad, and I love collaborating with my brother. He’s a great percussionist and producer himself. We put out a cover not too long ago of Banks' Contaminated.
How would you describe your sound?
DANIEL: Unapologetically pop with marks of my classical roots. I grew up loving the symphony orchestra. Orchestral music tends to be very dynamic, continually thickening and thinning, expanding and collapsing. Whether I'm writing in a classical idiom, using orchestral instruments, or not, I love playing with a symphonic sort of range of energy.
Your latest track, Like You Love Me is so catchy! I hear the pop and electronic influence. What's the story behind the song?
DANIEL: Thank you! The bass-line came to me first, and I drafted a melody and some lyrics. It sat in the notes app of my phone for a while. While visiting Hawaii, I got a surge of inspiration, borrowed one of my dad's microphones, produced the whole thing on my laptop. My dad also recorded all the guitar licks.
The lyrics are inspired by my experience trying to date in West Hollywood. I was struck by a particular experience with a particularly beautiful man.
What's your creative process like? Your music training was primarily in composition. Do you start with lyrics or the melody when creating music?
DANIEL: Lyrics, melody, and chords all tend to come to me at roughly the same time. I then like to sketch out a rough energy map to blueprint the music's peaks and troughs. I draw out what sounds I think should appear. It's the process I was taught as a classical composer. I usually veer from my original plans, but it at least gives me a great starting point.
You also play lots of instruments. Which one do you tend to pick up first?
DANIEL: These days, I play the piano the most as it's the most useful to accompany myself. I've tried singing and playing the cello at the same time, and it's tough.
You've won an Emmy for composing the score on the Bigger Than Basketball video for LeBron James's I Promise School. What was it like working on that project?
DANIEL: My good friend Alex Berko called me in the middle of the night about this LeBron James project he was hired to do. Alex is an incredibly talented, highly educated musician. Over-educated.
He was stuck and panicking. I calmed him down, helped him realize he was way over-thinking, and offered some more straightforward ideas. We finished the whole thing right there on FaceTime, then he brought me on board to help orchestrate and produce it. LeBron James did such a fantastic thing for these kids. Alex and I freaked out when he retweeted our music.
I see you're also a vocal coach, what's your #1 piece of advice when singing?
DANIEL: You can't drive the car with the hood open! Self-judgment isn't useful while onstage. Save the analysis for practice sessions. When you perform onstage, shut your brain off, turn your heart on, and let it out. Flow through each moment. Go, go, go. Don’t look back.
To close, we have a few rapid-fire questions for you:
Filipino families love their karaoke, what's your go-to song?
DANIEL: George Michael, I Can’t Make You Love Me.
Favorite Filipino artist?
DANIEL: KZ Tandingan and Nicole Scherzinger.
Favorite lyric you wished you wrote?
DANIEL: "It's Britney, bitch." Pure poetry. One of our favorite answers yet!
Who's an artist that you'd love to collaborate with and produce for?
Did you know you always wanted to be a musician?
Without a doubt.
3 songs or artists you currently have on repeat.
DANIEL: Jacob Collier ft. Tori Kelly, Running Outta Love.
Nao ft. Lianne La Havas, Woman.
Best piece of advice you've received?
DANIEL: I asked a Tony-winning composer for advice on entering this industry.
"If you can do anything else with your life, do it.
If you can't do anything else with your life, save your money, find a good life partner, and find a good therapist."
I live and breathe music, and I don’t think I could stomach doing anything else with my life, so again, here we are!
Mahalo Daniel! It was great to chat with him and we're looking forward to hearing more music in the future! Don't forget to stream Like You Love Me and tell us what you think!
Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Bayot & Ruben Tomas