SB: Tell us briefly about who you are and where you’re from.
AD: My name is Akil Dasan. I was born in Philly and I live in Harlem. I work as a self employed musician and poet.
SB: So how did everything start, at what age; did you learn guitar first, or did you start beat boxing on a corner in Philly, did you start singing first? Like break it all down for everyone.
AD: I learned guitar at a young age. The drums were my first instrument. I used to play the pots and pans. My mother and father got me one of those muppets drum sets for Xmas in the 80s… it had a picture of Animal on it. That eventually go too loud for everyone and I grew out of that kit… We had my grandfathers old player piano in the crib growing up and I messed around with that (he was a musician but I never got a chance to meet him).
When my father’s mother passed away she left us a nylon string guitar and I started playing from there. Taught myself a lot and asked anyone I could question about how to get better…. bought some books… took a few lessons. Started going to open mic blues jams at age 13 with my Pop. Started beatboxing and rapping in high school… afterschool sessions were the best… hung around with the bboys, bgirls and graffiti writers…. used to love to freestyle. As for combining everything, it just sort of happened. I continue to challenge myself and attempt to incorporate new skill sets…
SB: I know you love Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, and I feel that a true artist should listen to, know, and be influenced by all types of music. How would you categorize yourself, as an artist, and your music, both, if you had to?
AD: I don’t like to. I play music, period. I don’t think that there is a category that encompasses all that I play into one. I love classical, reggae, bossa nova, OPM and many other types of music as well… Maybe “World Music”? The only problem with that is “World Music” conjures up stereotypes of its own. I love and express it all.
SB: I know you’ve been doing this for over a decade, are you content as in independent artist?
AD: I am very grateful and content with all that I have though I make it a point to strive to improve myself and those around me daily.
SB: What do you think are the problems or issues that mainstream / label companies have that might stifle an artist?
AD: Corporate agendas… The prerogative of “The Owners”. Elitism… watered down, dumbed down material… lip synced, photoshopped fakery…. I’m more interested in the real. Real lyrics, real life, real musicians, real artists…..
SB: There is a very long list of artists, both independent and signed, that you have either worked with, performed with, opened up for, etc etc. What countries have you performed in? What country /stage/performance has been your favorite so far?
AD: I don’t have a favorite per say… Every country has its own flavor. I’ve been to the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Russia, China, Japan, the Philippines, Brazil, Czech Republic… Not to mention every major city in the U.S. (they are almost countries to themselves…) I’ll always have love for Philly, my hometown, for Harlem (where I lay my head) and for every other place that has shown me love…
SB: What artist would you like to work with?
AD: I like the guys in Maroon 5, that would be a cool record… The Roots are my heroes so they would have to be at the top of the list… Taylor McFerrin would make a good collabo with me… I would like to do something with my old Philly crew, LMmental… The Supa Lowery Brothers? Will.I.Am? DJ Premiere? There are too many…
SB: If there’s something you could change about the music industry, what would it be?
AD: Hmmm…. I guess I would make it so that there were more than 4 Majors… I’d like to see the Media outlets become more democratic and less plutocratic. Good music shouldn’t have to result to modern day payola to be heard.
SB: What would you tell someone who wants to be an artist like yourself, what advice would you give?
AD: Don’t be afraid to learn, to challenge yourself as an artist and to face every morning with love in your heart.
SB: What is your goal as an artist? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AD: Many more festivals, albums and styles!!!!!