1) You just released some new mash-ups. What’s your creative process? Also, any chance we can get you to guest DJ a Punk Rope mash-up class?
I keep my ears open for interesting tunes, from any genre. I’ll scan through radio stations when I’m driving, or listen to the music playing in restaurants. I keep a folder of potential mashup tunes on my laptop, and I play through those when I’m working on something. There’s even a few songs in there that I heard in Punk Rope class – I’m still trying to do something with “All The Young Dudes.” And I would love to be a guest DJ for Punk Rope!
2) You’ve played bass for high profile musicians such as Ray Charles and Barry Manilow. What was it like to tour with those guys? Any good gossip?
Ray was very demanding, with an amazing ear. He could hear if the 2nd trombone player was out of tune, and he would call him out for it, on stage. The first couple months of the tour were really challenging – I was still figuring out what he wanted. After that, it was easier. It was a great way to see the world and learn from one of the greats. Barry’s tour was smoother – the music wasn’t as difficult from a bass-playing perspective, and the touring wasn’t as brutal. He’s a truly nice guy, super-smart too. He would get the Sunday NY Times in whatever city we were in, and do the crossword puzzle in half an hour. He told me that several times he’s been one of the clues.
3) You’ve been an avid Punk Roper for around a year. What attracted you to the class in the first place and why to you keep coming?
I read about the class on the blog for the Hype Machine, one of my favorite music web sites. It sounded fun, and different than anything I tried before. I have a terrible track record of unused gym memberships, so I was hoping to find something I could stick with. Once I came, I was hooked immediately by your welcoming attitude, the friendly vibe in the class, and the music, which is not the usual stuff I listen to. I consider that a plus!
4) You work as a composer of music for TV commercials. What are some of your favorite ads you’ve worked on?
It was really fun writing the music for the MnM’s commercial “Nothing Rhymes With Orange”. The song had to change genres every few bars, which was a good challenge. And it gave me the chance to work with Megan Mullally, who’s amazing. I’m also proud of “Buried Treasure” for SSGA. I like writing in retro styles. I tried to make it sound like an authentic French tune from the 60’s.
5) We had the pleasure of jumping one evening with your two boys. They’re great kids, which made it clear that you’re a great dad. How do you balance all the competing demands in your life to be the best dad possible?
Awww, thanks. When I’m with them, I really try to be present, which is not always easy with all the distractions available for both kids and grown-ups. One thing that helps is that they share some of my geeky interests. We’ll be at Comic Con and Maker Faire this year, for example.
6) If you could only jump rope to one song from here on out what would it be?
This may be an unlikely choice, but I remember during a Broadway-themed class, you played “Age of Aquarius”. Something about the tempo, and the cowbell playing on the quarter notes really kept me going. If I can pick an alternate, it would be Clapstero by Pilchard, an odd but very groovy mashup of The Clapping Song, Ravel’s Bolero, and Toxic.
7) Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
Well, I’m starting a new project, and I really need a soulful, gospel-influenced female singer – Jennifer Hudson-ish. Know anyone?
Learn more about Darren at www.darrensolomon.com