We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Fears and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
There’s a great organization in Austin called SIMS Foundation that provides low-cost mental health services like counseling to musicians. It’s pretty incredible. Through that I met a therapist that introduced the book “A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. I spent about 5 months very slowly reading this book haha. I didn’t want it to end. It was like being reminded of something I’d known deep down, but had forgotten. Reading this book brought a level of awareness to the actions of my everyday life that I felt were missing. I realized that so much of my life had been lived in this state of what he calls “unconsciousness”– going through the motions of my day to day, seeing interactions with people as transactional, and playing into the roles I believe I belong in (musician, teacher, boyfriend, son, etc). Since reading A New Earth, I’ve made a point to be more present in my day to day actions. And to realize my primary purpose in any action I take is consciousness. Connecting with the people around me, staying in the present moment, and letting go of the idea of “roles” that define who I am. I just “am”, and that’s powerful. This is becoming a defining mindset in my life. We are so much bigger than the boxes we put ourselves and the people around us in. I’ve since finished the book, but I wrote a bunch of quotes down from it and remind myself of these principles often.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As an artist, I’m a singer, songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, and music teacher. Making art brings this level of joy and of aliveness that I don’t get anywhere else. It brings emotions up from way below the surface. Music brings together all the seemingly-disparate worlds I grew up in–being a black boy learning band and classical music, playing gospel and contemporary christian music in church, listening to hip-hop, RnB, and pop with my friends, and discovering musicians like the Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, and Frank Ocean as an adult. I love that, through music, I can bring all these different parts of me together, under one roof. My debut art project is my EP and Visual EP called Canopy. It came out just last year. I’m so proud of the work that was put in, and the end product. A lot of people believed in me and in what I had to say. They rallied together to create a piece of art I never envisioned I’d be able to make, but is so… me. Haha. I’ve been a student of music since I was a kid–a few years in piano lessons, learning drums at church, playing trombone in band class, humming to myself in the halls. I saw that music could be a legitimate career through my private lesson teacher–Brian Logan. He taught me trombone lessons, played with the Houston Symphony, contracted gigs for churches, for musicals, and for plays. Had (and has) a good relationship with his partner, and seemed to enjoy a comfortable life. Not famous, and not struggling to make ends meet, like I believed were your only options as an artist. Brian was (and still is!) doing what he loved, and on a really high level. I think that inspired me a lot. In my mind, fame and fortune are not markers of success. To me, success is doing what you love and sharing it. It’s being able to provide for yourself and your family. Keeping the process, the doing, the creating, the sharing a top priority. Giving freely, with the realization that everything you give comes back 10-fold. I believe that so strongly. I’ve seen it in my life over and over again.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Austin! When family visits I take them to what love most about Austin–the beautiful natural landscapes. We’d check out Pedernales State Park just outside the city. I’d take them mountain biking (if they’re into it!) We’d get the best tacos in town, Veracruz! Under normal circumstances we’d check out a show at some of Austin’s legendary venues–Antone’s, Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater, etc.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my mom! She has supported my decision (at 16) to become a musician. Drum lessons, trombone lessons, concerts, showcases, rehearsals, practicing the loudest acoustic instruments in the world in our home when I was a teenager. She and the rest of my family have shown so much support. My mom put the idea of songwriting into my head at an early age. It was many years later until I pursued it, but I don’t think I would’ve taken this path if it weren’t for her. When I started singing about 5 years ago, my mom was so encouraging. She would say–you have a gift–keep developing it. And that’s what I’ve been crafting since I was young. I’ve had several influential people in my journey since then, but truly my mom (and the rest of my family) gave me a safe place to explore, to fail, to grow, and to develop the gift of music that I’ve been given.
Live performance photos by Megan Buse Main photo and all remaining are by Moyo Oyelola (indoor shots are from my visual EP)