Danny G Felix on the genesis of new album ‘Konpazouka’

Danny G Felix is ​​on a mission to spread joy through music, and he more than achieved the feat with ‘Konpazouka’

Released in March, the seven-track project sees the Australian pianist, trumpeter and composer span the reaches of jazz, soul and hip-hop, sustaining his genre-hopping through the sheer force of his talent.

It’s a technicoloured sonic joyride courtesy of an artist with a decade of experience to his name, and one “that draws inspiration from the world of sensual dance,” Danny G Felix tells us.

Danny G Felix interview

Below, the musician pops into Happy to reflect on the creation of ‘Konpazouka’, the influence of his hometown, and how much of his artistry “usually starts on the dance floor.”

Catch the full interview with Danny G Felix below, and scroll down to listen to his new album ‘Konpazouka’.

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

DANNY: Today I’ll be teaching kids, nurturing their musical talents through small ensemble sessions. I’ll guide an enthusiastic group in Cecil Hills and then later in Canterbury.

HAPPY: Tell us a little about where you live, what do you love about it?

DANNY: Living in Rockdale is humble but enjoyable. The mix of cultures is awesome – you get to hear all sorts of languages ​​being spoken, and the food scene is tasty and diverse.

It’s a bit like taking a trip around the world without leaving the neighborhood!

HAPPY: What sparked your interest in music, and how did you begin your journey as a musician?

DANNY: Music has been an integral part of my life since childhood, a passion that has grown and evolved over the years. From a young age, I found myself drawn to the power of melody and rhythm.

My parents used to play me records and cassette tapes. I absolutely adored The Beatles as a young child, and then got heavily into grunge and funk rock as a teenager and then I heard Miles Davis and that changed everything.

I’ve been leading bands since I was a kid.

HAPPY: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest record ‘Konpazouka’?

DANNY: ‘Konpazouka’ is an album that draws inspiration from the world of sensual dance.

Through embarking on a journey to learn Kizomba, Urban Kiz, and Zouk dance styles, I developed a profound appreciation for the musical genres that gave birth to these dances.

Currently, my favorite genre, aside from Jazz, is the Haitian musical style known as Konpa Gouyad. In this album, I aimed to capture some of the essence of Konpa Gouyad and Zouk while infusing other elements that come from RnB and Jazz.

Danny G Felix interview

HAPPY: Can you walk us through your creative process? Can you describe a typical day in the studio or when you’re working on new music?

DANNY: It usually starts on the dance floor. I’ll hear a part of the music that inspires me to move a certain way with my partner, and I’ll try to remember that moment and then emulate it when I get into the studio.

As a keys player, I’ll often start with a harmonic idea first, let that sit, then add drums, percussion, guitars, bass, and then my trumpet.

HAPPY: How do you approach collaborations, such as with Mana on ‘Dignity’? What do you look for in a collaborator?

DANNY: It varies, I often meet cool vocalists at the jam sessions that I run, and if I like their sound and think our styles could blend well together, I might suggest collaborating.

Mana and I worked on several tracks together; we found that we could flow really easily together in the studio. I loved her warm vocal tone from the start, so I invited her to come jam. She came up with some really beautiful lyrics and hooks over my beats.

Danny G Felix interview

HAPPY: Could you share any influences or experiences that contributed to the albums unique sound?

DANNY: I think it’s many different life experiences and working as a musician in different countries, taking in all the music around me.

Also, really honey in on the musical styles that speaks to my heart, such as Jazz-soul, Kompa, Kizomba and different kinds of African and Latin music.

HAPPY: How did you approach sequencing the album?

DANNY: Let’s be real here – producing and mixing an album by yourself is no walk in the park. It’s a pain-taking process at times.

In this case, the dance floor experience was a central focus. The aim was to create a narrative through the music, one that not only sustains energy but also flows with a sense of sensuality and smoothness.

HAPPY: The use of samples adds depth and texture to your music. Could you share insights into your sampling process and how you integrate them into your compositions?

DANNY: I’ve been having a lot of fun with samples lately with apps like Splice the world is your oyster. However, I try to keep it subtle, because I feel that too much sampling can sometimes get a bit jarring to the ear.

But with the technology available now, there is so much you can do! It’s hard not to get carried away sometimes.

HAPPY: ‘Fruits (Zouk Remix)’ featuring Hausm8s offers a different flavor to close the album. What motivated this remix, and how does it contribute to the overall narrative of ‘Konpazouka’?

DANNY: Fruits was originally a freestyle jam that the Hausm8s and I busted out together. I definitely had Kizomba and Zouk in mind when I tapped out the beat.

The original version has more of a lo-fi Latin influenced jazzy hip-hop feel to it. With this remix, I wanted to make it more danceable in the context of Zouk and Kizomba.

So all I did was add some subtle layers of percussion to highlight underlying Caribbean Zouk flavor. Hence why I think it fits in with the concept of “Konpazouka.”

HAPPY: What are some of your favorite music venues or festivals to perform at, and why?

DANNY: I love playing at Marble Bar on Mondays. I run an event there every week called The Monday Jam. It’s a hit, and it’s a great way of meeting and jamming with different musicians all the time!

HAPPY: As far as festivals go my favorites to play at have been the Byron Bay Blues fest and the Feria de Cali in Colombia. So completely different, but both amazing!

DANNY: Looking ahead, what themes or sonic explorations are you excited to delve into in your future projects? More of this vibe – Kompa, Kizomba and Zouk inspired Jazz.

This album is just the beginning, a taste tester if you will. I also love to let loose and experiment with other genres. I love avant guard free jazz, sounds from life!

Also have been getting back into more traditional jazz and the old standards from the 20s, 30s, 40s. The great American songbook.

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

DANNY: Good music, good company, good food, the sun, beach, nature, lots of dancing and just being me!