“I believe in music as the great communicator of ideas and ideals, as a thumpin spark of life and still a resting place, a stormy night and sunkissed day, as the sweetest lover that could ever wash all over you and a remedy for your soul. Where does it come from? You cannot touch it or see it, it passes through walls and under the ground – it can make a person jump up and dance and it can bring a person to their weepin knees. How is it that it can be pulled out of thin air and transform a dark room into a rump shakin party, a ceremony into celebration, your headphones into your own personalized universe.”
— Darius Lux
When singer/songwriter Darius Lux left the confines of New York City to travel the globe for a year, he didn’t fully comprehend the life changing pilgrimage he was about to embark upon.
A multi-instrumentalist, a producer, and a performer came back as a free-thinker, a philosopher, and an inspirational lyricist. Combining his appreciation of 60s songwriting, 70s soul, 80s pop and 90s hip-hop into a current mix of soulful, rock-edged pop tunes, Darius Lux found his voice on his debut record “Arise”.
The CD is a statement describing in detail how we can take control of our lives. “For each one of us, life can be full of different fears, but we have to remember that fear is a choice. When we decide we don’t want fear and we have chosen to believe in ourselves instead, we find that we begin to receive the things in life we’ve hoped for.”
Darius is currently gigging in Southern California with his band and living his life against the grain – with every spirited note he plays; he urges us to do the same.
Darius, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I was happily surprised by your music. I was interested on what had started this journey you are now on. Could you give us a little of your journey? …personal and musical influences?
Growing up in England I was aware of it’s rich musical heritage and always loved the music of The Rolling Stones, U2 and Radiohead etc. However, I was always drawn to American R&B, Rock and Hip Hop from Prince to Jeff Buckley to Dr Dre. I never grew up with much pop music around me and always had to seek it out beyond my household – what was particularly transformative as a child was finding an unmarked cassette in a rental car – I listened to it over and over again without knowing who or what it was. Over time I discovered that cassette to be Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life” – I couldn’t have prayed for a better teacher thru time and space;) Later, I transferred schools from London to NYC where I set about doing everything I could to be part of the business. My dream was always to follow my own muse but the reality of moving solo across the Atlantic meant taking what I was given, initially it was production and a publishing deal. I learned a great deal writing for major label artists and seeing how the industry works, however, I eventually hit a wall with the way things are run and had a backlash in terms of wanting to get away from music – completely. Back-packing around the world for a year, I hoped to find a new path in life – I knew I wanted to do something positive and real compared to the record industry I had been caught up in. The global journey proved to be a great inspiration with my first album just leaping out of me when I got back to the US again. I had just decided to move ahead, come what may.
The first thing I noted in your bio was the ‘positive’ message you impart. What had you decide to create that platform as a songwriter/performer?
During the time I was writing songs for other artists, I saw how formulaic a lot of them are, the same subjects, the constant use of ‘buzz’ words etc, so when it came time to make my own songs I knew I wanted to say something meaningful. Beyond the meaning of the song, I just feel it’s a time in our culture when we need to hold on to the positive cos there’s so much else bringing us down – for me, that is one of the roles of music – to elevate!
As a songwriter, the thing I enjoyed about your music is that the clear philosophic message isn’t written or delivered in a preachy manner – a cerebral interface in a musical conversation. Would you mind giving us a little workshop of one of your songs from writing to the finished CD ?
Thanks, I appreciate you noticing that subtlety – yes, I would hope the words don’t come across as preachy, they’re not meant to be. All of these songs were written from real experience. “Human Race” is the most biographical song of the world journey I took – on the one hand I was escaping New York and all the terrorist alerts and fear and traveling to the remotest places I could find, like Pokhara – a little mountain village in the Himalayas, and yet, even up there we had Nepalese military stationed to stop the incoming Tibetan revolutionaries – I was struck by how, wherever you go, life is always staring back at you and that the condition we all face as being part of the human race is universal, whether you’re at ground zero, Manhattan or half way up Everest. Aside from that, the guitar riff just wouldn’t leave my hands every time I picked up a guitar so the words and the groove merged very naturally. I also consciously pushed myself to not ‘pull any punches’ lyrically, and write as honestly as I could about what I saw. From acoustic groove to final track on the CD was just a process of playing it live with the band a million times before recording it.
Your stage persona is very friendly and accessible. Do you have to work at that, or does it come naturally?
Again, with respect to the time I spent in the industry in New York, I got tired of the facade of fame, the idea that stars are unreachable and superior – for me its all about unity and that starts with human connection. If I can’t get onstage and be the person who would have a drink at the bar with you then I’m not interested in it – life’s too short. It’s so much easier to just be yourself.
The existential theme throughout all your songs – delivered with some fine musicianship is I think rewarding to the listener – I can see that there may well be fans that are ‘made better ‘ from listening to your music. A good thing that – how important to you is the message?
For this first record, the message was all important – thinking back to growing up on music, I definitely felt I wanted to make a record that some kid whoever they are, wherever they are would be better for listening to it. In some ways, I was making a record that ideally I could send back thru time to myself at age 11 or so – it would have made life a bit easier to deal with I think.
I hear the best of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s influences in you music – tell us what moves you in a song.
Ultimately it’s energy, it could be slow or fast, a downer or an upper but the passion of the players, the singer and the writer and producer all need to resonate together – I guess it is the “x-factor’’ that when you hear it you cant quite pinpoint it, but it’s the power in the moment. Either the recording was successful in capturing it or it wasn’t, there’s not much in between. There are a lot of singers who are given ‘hit’ songs to perform, and they sound good – the song is usually ‘well-written’ – but I always hear more involvement when a real artist sings their own song – I am moved by that integrity and connection.
You are certainly an unabashedly honest and authentic songwriter/performer – this philosophy of personal power and authorship of our lives was expounded upon throughout the human potential movement in the 80s and 90s. It seems you have had some personal epiphany that had you step on this road. Would you be willing to share it?
Quite frankly, it was 9/11. I was in NYC at the time and it changed everything, I woke up a different person the next day, fully aware of my mortality, the temporary nature of life and questioning what I was doing and where it was leading me. Then I got into Yoga and personal empowerment and I guess once you look under the rug, you start to find all kinds of things!
You left New York and went on a walkabout around the world what did you learn?
That happiness is inside of us.
I felt as if I had happily done a rockin’ ‘life’ workshop after listening to your songs. How good does it get?
‘Best Day’ – personal responsibility for how my life goes.
‘Listen’ – choose self- awareness and look at the artificiality of the world.
‘Xtraordinary’ – stop and smell the roses
‘Human Race’ – who are we?
‘No Problem’ – need to look how we sabotage ourselves.
Did I get it right? (correct me if I didn’t) Could you expand a bit more on what you wrote ?
Yes, really good interpretation. No Problem took a while to feel complete about. I knew I wanted to say something that wasn’t fully rational, like kinda a complex subject matter (the duality of life often does that!), which is indeed our psyche and persona and the ego’s need to have an issue with anything possible and thereby sabotage the moment – you nailed it and I’m glad it translated.
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It’s a difficult thing for many songwriters to write to a specific idea, or message and still keep it fresh and natural – not an issue for you. How does a song come to you?
It’s different every time. It may start as a feeling that comes out as a bassline or humming a backing vocal part or seeing a word that I want to write about such that the words start coming together like a mental puzzle while I’m goin about my day. Or I might be moved by a story or event or book and want to contribute to its message and ideas. Inspiration normally comes randomly and never when I have a recorder or notepad on me LOL
You are a songwriter, multi-instrumental musician, singer, producer – do you control all the elements in the creation of a song? Do you ever collaborate?
Yes and yes. There were many great aspects to songwriting in NYC – one was the incredible pace at which I worked with different people on a daily basis, you get real good at connecting fast with people and seeing what comes out between you. I enjoy bouncing back and forth – my 1st album was all solo, my follow-up EP was made with my band which helped me grow a lot and discover new things, and now I think I’m ready to make another totally solo record;)
Our readers can have a listen to your original music and the terrific covers you and your band perform on YouTube. I was particularity impressed with your live arrangements, great riffs and rhythms – who does the arrangements? Can you introduce us to your live band?
Those are collaborations with the players. Miklos Malek (keys/synth bass) is an incredible musician at many levels and we instantly start arranging a cover as soon as we start playing thru for the 1st time – I worked with him a lot in New York at the same publishing house so our musical brotherhood is deep. Keith Williams is an awesome instinctual drummer so we just let him do whatever he wants which normally is golden. I just started working with Andy Meixner, a guitarist, who can just be left to do something awesome. Having spent so much time as a musician in the background, I know that its best to leave it to each player to make their own mark rather than forcing anything, so far its worked out well.
There is no doubt that music can be important to us all as a soundtrack for our lives – with such a great deal of today’s music being negative, cynical, or mundane, it was refreshing to hear your music. I hear the potential for some good storytelling in the future. How do see your music evolving?
Yes, more storytelling is where I’d like to go next. Looking back on my first 2 records, I’d like to go a little more specific lyrically than I have been so far. There are truly great writers like Tom Waits, Paul Simon and Ben Harper who weave such rich tales, I’d like to explore that more – I think in some ways it will become more personal.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
The world of music is shifting so fast that any expectations I had even just 2 years ago have changed fast. A global hit and tour would be awesome but I’ll take whatever else comes along. It’s all good and all paths lead to the same place eventually. It is challenging being an independent musician but the creative control is very rewarding and worth the ride.
Darius Lux — Best Day
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