Danny Hughes (DCPA) shares his input and insights on his journey through music.
Please share a story that includes a happy memory as an artist and has made a huge impact on your artistry.
After releasing music for a few years, in 2019 I went on a trip with my best friend Matt to the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), and then on to Stockholm, Sweden. It was my second trip to Europe as a music producer but was the first where I really focused on carrying and portraying myself as DCPA. I got to meet collaborators for the first time in person, although we’d released many tracks together. What I experienced was an overwhelming sense of global acceptance. It’s easy as an artist to be impacted by our local scene, our closest friends and family. This influences us in the beginning, but we forget how many people there actually are in the world listening to us, finding clarity in their life through our stories, and relating to our songs. It’s inspiring how people react when they find out you’re a published artist, a DJ, etc. I shared my music with everyone I met overseas, whether in a taxi or just networking at the festival or bars. On that trip, I realized not just how much my music meant to me, but more importantly my growing global audience. It refreshed my perspective on music as a career, ultimately instilling the confidence to leave my full-time job as an accountant the following year and see just how big of an impact DCPA can have on the world.
How do you choose to lead a Happy Healthy life as an artist?
I’ve realized time and time again that fighting through systematic goals will put me ahead by most societal measurements, but it does not make me truly happy. I’m glad to have these experiences in my past, and to have taken advantage of opportunities when they arose. I’m grateful to have career options, whether it’s a return to accounting for the sake of stability, or to keep building on my career as DCPA. Everything has been a learning experience, and I’ve returned to my core self. I’m a renegade who seeks greater wisdom and purpose in my life, and I needed my own set of rules. To remain confined to a system was never my long-term goal. I believe anyone feeling trapped in life should stand back and assess whether they are being self-serving enough. Honor your commitments, but know when it’s time to walk away, and the proper way to do so. This isn’t selfish, rather it allows you to become the best person to benefit those around you.
Who did you learn from to instill those values?
My parents instilled existential wisdom in me from an early age. I was always encouraged and trusted to do things I felt were right for my future under the circumstances but to always explore my creativity. My family always found ways to surpass monetary and other barriers to attain fulfillment. Over time, observing other people, whether in a company, school, or other environment, and experiencing many things for myself, have led me to an understanding of what fulfillment is. We are capable of a lot as people, but that doesn’t mean we need to fight whichever battle results in the highest level of immediate comfort.
Was it hard work to make sure that you focused on your well-being and not only your art?
Yes, artistry is often a series of running through tunnels with no light. You might get so caught up in an idea that it consumes you and can even tear you down mentally/emotionally until it’s complete. We must embrace the hurt but sometimes you don’t realize the adverse effects a career is having on your mental and physical self. I often look back on my 10 years working in a company environment, making sure that clients are meeting deadlines, managing other people, and guiding projects forward. It’s a different sacrifice than what I go through now, but still rewarding and oddly similar to the work-satisfaction I get as a musician. Ultimately, I realized that I can achieve much of the same working goals by stepping out of the controlled environment, and also bring existential value to others. I do this through the music.
Was there a turning point of how you decided to put yourself first?
The pandemic, the resulting work from home culture, the realization that we all become confused and broken after spending too long in a system, only to have it change on us. I require love and attention from people just like anyone else, but what I realized is that when given the tools and ability to interfere, some people can’t help but overstay each other’s welcome. I saw this as an opportunity to put my guard up fully, to let my introspection manifest into something greater. My impact on the world was happening on a micro-level because it was made up of brief moments of teaching and learning. Eventually, I couldn’t offer the full extent of myself to anything, and I felt myself being perceived as something I wasn’t. You can be the right person for many jobs, test the waters, but eventually you should pick the one that feeds your soul.
How do you like to promote a healthy lifestyle?
I like staying connected with nature and mostly away from crowds of people until a celebration is imminent, perhaps a gig, or when someone close to me needs support. We must be able to remain at peace with ourselves before we can truly serve others. Nevertheless, I still think it’s important to draw in external influences day to day. I’ve also found that over time, the things we put in our bodies really start to matter more and more, so I focus on eating healthy. Performing live is a heavily physical and mental task too, so regular exercise and sleep are paramount.
In what ways are you connecting with fans to check in on each other?
I’ve learned to be very open and honest about my experiences, my struggles, and successes. People will reach out to me on social media and suddenly you realize that you are the person they chose to consult on a life issue. Maybe we don’t know each other, but I understand their pain and can relate my own story. I would encourage anyone to keep an open mind when seeking advice. Every person has something great to offer, we are all the product of our experience. Sometimes it’s better to ask a stranger for advice than someone very close to you.
Who checks in on YOU when you need it most?
My family is always there day to day, and there are close friends who always seem to reach out at the right time. I try to do the same for them, it’s interesting since we all have moved cities and jobs in the past few years resulting in substantial life changes. When you focus your energy internally and step out of your comfort zone, you recognize the symbiosis and channeling of energy between yourself and important people in your life. Intuition is very powerful when reading human connections.
Changing habits can be hard. Which was the habit that you had to change and how it's changed your life now?
Being too available has sometimes been problematic for me. I’m prone to helping others at the sacrifice of my own time. My reliability and openness had led to great relationships, and a lot of self-satisfaction. By detaching myself physically from old environments, I’ve found it easier to progress on my long-term purpose and serve a greater number of people.
Is there a song, book, movie, show or anything that always gives you the motivation you need?
I’ve always loved “Could You Believe” by ATB. He’s my biggest inspiration and favorite artist. The song is super energetic, and the vibe is blissful. One of my favorite lyrical phrases from the song is “just around the corner everything's shining gold, a new kind of soldier looking for a lost soul”.
What is the mantra of 2022?!
Follow your heart, let your intuition guide you in the right direction. Even if the result is unexpected, we compel ourselves to do many things for the sake of growth or learning experiences. Be a transcendent human being and make the most of life at any moment.
Give all the inside scoop of your latest project!
I’m working on several new projects, including a collaborative cover with Pelican Dock of the 80’s song “Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz; also a few trance/progressive tracks, nodding to my biggest past influences and roots as a producer. Also, I found sudden inspiration for a track that I’ve named “I Feel It Too”. I started writing the song during the night of a recent blood moon, a time in which the universe speaks to us. The melody came to me suddenly, as they often do, but this one makes me feel a deep soul connection burning. It’s hard to explain the full meaning of the song, but for now I’ll say that it feels like the right one at the right time.
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