Daniel Bondaczuk Interview on His Debut Album “One Name”
Music City Review had the opportunity to interview local artist Daniel Bondaczuk on his debut solo album “One Name,” an ambitious album that integrates elements from many different musical genres, from gospel hymns to jazz and classical.
To start off, can you give us a little background on yourself? Where you’re from, education, etc.?
I am originally from Brazil. In 2014 I left a thriving career in the music industry in São Paulo and came to Nashville to explore new possibilities and pursue other opportunities. I went to MTSU and got a Master’s degree in composition and ever since I’ve been working with church music and music production here in Nashville.
How about a little background on your career? Major high points, turning points, things you’re most proud of?
I’ve always been a little bit of a chameleon. I had a genuine passion for recording and working with people in the studio, but I also enjoyed practicing pipe organ for countless hours confined to the balcony of a centuries-old church.
In 2012 I was invited by the producer Thiago Marques Luiz to do music direction for a joint venture between the radio era singers Cauby Peixoto and Angela Maria. They were these iconic artists that had had very successful 60-year plus careers each, and I was the youngest guy in the band arranging, directing, and playing the piano. We recorded the album “Reencontro” that earned several awards, including best album, in the 2014 edition of the “Prêmio da Música Brasileira” (sort of an industry award like the Grammy). In following editions, two other albums I collaborated on were nominated for the award, and one of them actually won in its category: “Edith” by the Franco-Brazilian singer Fabio Jorge that I co-produced, and “Cauby Sings Nat King Cole” that I arranged, directed, recorded and mixed.
On the other side of things, in 2015 I wrote a classical piece for the recently restored two pipe organs of the Clerigos Church in Oporto, Portugal and it won the “Joaquim Simões da Hora” award. The work was recorded and is available on the album “Organs in Dialogue” by Arcké Music.
Tell us who your influences are, both as a player and performer, and as a composer, specifically as it relates to the material on this album.
I guess if I tried to list it all, we would stay here for a long time. I’m better saying that I have gone through different musical phases in my life and each left its own mark in my own musical vocabulary. I listen to almost anything from classical to pop and try to find something cool that I could incorporate into my music. As far as the album goes, it was really hard for me in the beginning to frame it within a definition. I guess I ended up on jazz because it allows more cross-talks than other genres. I can say there’s a good amount of contemporary jazz like George Duke, David Benoit, Chick Corea, or more recently Snarky Puppy. There’s a little bit of Piano pop like the Piano Guys, and there’s a considerable amount of funk and R&B influences. I wanted to keep it, above all, very accessible to the average listener. All ten tracks are based on gospel hymns that have been twisted with a little bit of humor. If you grew up in church like me, you can recognize the tunes in a blink, but it’s still something that can go unnoticed if you’re not familiar. To use the hymns as a base brought familiarity to the tunes, and then all of a sudden it’s not music just for musicians, a lot more people can enjoy it.
What was the inspiration for this album? Why make it now? What is the story behind the name?
I was privileged to be involved in the production of over 100 records, and I wore many hats in the production process. It wasn’t until not so long ago that it hit me that I’ve never worn the artist’s hat. I’m not the type of person who wants to be in the spotlight all the time, but as a producer, my role is to dream my client’s dream, and sometimes that doesn’t leave much room for me to explore my own artistic voice.
The name is actually a pun. Because I arranged, played keys and produced, if feels like my name was on everything, but I’m also a religious person and the tracks are based on Christian hymns, so I’d rather believe that The Name that should really shine in this record is not mine.
As this is your debut solo album, do you have any general thoughts about it or things you have learned, looking back retrospectively?
Making the album was a great experimentation. Of course I applied my previous experiences, but somehow it feels very different when it is your own project. I heard once that “you never really finish a record, you give up” and I believe that’s very true. At some point you submit the master and don’t think about it anymore. If I were to do it all again today, I’m sure there would be things that I would do differently, but I guess that’s just a normal evolutionary process for everyone.
So what’s next for you? Any major projects or events coming up you’d like to share?
We’re still negotiating to have the first live performance of One Name in April. I will promote it through my website and social media when all details get confirmed.
Other than that, I’ve been really excited about a few choir arrangements and orchestrations I did for Brentwood Benson and Lifeway over the last couple months that are about to be released.
Finally, every year I direct a concert of the Messiah on Easter at Madison Campus Church. This year it will be on April 20. More details will be available on their website soon.
Finally, as a more general question, having had a pretty successful and varied career, what are your thoughts about the state of the industry today?
Today it is easier than ever for anyone to create, release and promote music. The Indie market is responsible for over 40% of all revenue in the industry. That creates a lot of opportunities, but also a lot of noise. I’ve seen extraordinarily talented people fail and others not so gifted succeed. I think it all comes down to being flexible, constantly prepared, defining your audience and strategy, and most importantly, sticking to it for as long as it takes.
You can find all of Bondaczuk’s music and social media here: