In a remote village in PNG, Jason Daniels, acoustic guitar in hand, is doing what he does best. “Oh, man they can sing,” he smiles at the memory. The crowd harmonising perfectly, the kids surrounding him, giggling as he finger picks his guitar.
John Mayer eat your heart out. For Jason, this is what music is about
“I love that about music… If it doesn’t unite people then, you’re either not getting a very good message across or your PA isn’t loud enough it’s just what it does,” he says.
It’s the first video you see on his Facebook page and that’s no mistake. Recorded three years ago during a mission’s trip on a medical ship with YWAM (Youth With A Mission), it served as inspiration for his EP “For When I’m Lost”. Which peaked at 9 on the iTunes charts when it released in 2017.
“It was right between Michael Jackson and Pink. It was crazy,” he said.
In his tour of Byron Bay and Northern NSW he even had Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth at one of the gigs.
Humbled by the experience, having others join him in his music is the reason why he plays.
“It’s gotta be about people and something bigger than yourself…it’s bringing joy, it’s bringing hope to people.”
23-years-old, tall, surfer-like blond hair, easy going and quick with a smile it’s surprising that Jason’s not from the Sunshine Coast. Born in Megalong in the Blue Mountains, Jason’s music seems to have found a home by the shores.
Starting with piano at 4. Crafted by his father’s love for the Beach Boys and dancing on tables with his siblings as a child. To now living on the Coast for the past 2 and a half years, he’s found his calling.
“I think dad probably wanted me to be an AFL star or some sporting legend,” he says. “But at the end of the day, they were both like, ‘if that’s what you’re passionate about we’re there for you.’”
And he was glad that they were. Dropping out of school at 16 and getting his first taste of the “adult world” in JMC in Sydney. The youngest in the class by a good few years. Though it wasn’t the classroom that shaped his musical journey but the people he met.
“The best thing was being with the teachers after class and jamming with and talking with them,” Jason says.
But it was his time with Richard Grossman bass player for the Divinyls and Hoodoo Gurus and in the ARIA Hall of Fame that helped him learn about what it takes to make it.
“It’s really, really crazy, when you have someone like that’s played every type of gig that’s had every type of object thrown at them during a gig and taken every type of substance,” Jason says.
“He brought his bass guitar one time, and there’s like blood encrusted on it, and the smell of every pub in Australia,” he says.
“And you’re like ah okay this guy he’s done the hard yards he’s really done it and gone there and come back again and having someone like that just give you some advice about the industry.”
But the biggest tip he got, “just knowing why you do, what you do.” For Jason, it always comes down to meeting people, “I love meeting people through music, it’s one of my favourite things, I want to endeavour to be a good enough songwriter that when I write something that they connect with, it hits a note with them.
The impact of music is not lost on a crowd. He tells a story of a couple that lost contact with each other 31 years ago, now reunited and it was one of his songs that created a memory for them.
“It’s really, really humbling, I just play music just because it’s what I love to do… you work hard from something it pays not necessarily in money…but in connecting.”
But apparently, the gift of music making isn’t limited to one Jason Daniels, with others existing around the world, covering genres from country to electro.
Much to the confusion of the places he’s performed at. Getting gigs was sometimes a case of mistaken identity when Jason started. With his best announcer voice, he says,
“All the way from the States, country rock, Jason Daniels 45-year old man with a beard,” he laughs.
“It’s like nope sorry, hope you’re not feeling let down but it’s just a kid with a guitar from up the road.”
Published in Soul Magazine Australia