By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Three days after a return to the United States from grad school abroad, Darro was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
What followed was a journey that involved surgery and a rehabilitation process that forced him to learn how to speak, chew and sing all over again.
Inspired to share his immensely personal story the best way he knew how, the Asian-American alt-rock/emo/pop-punk songwriter/guitarist recently dropped his full-length album ‘Songs Of Recovery.’
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Darro about ‘Songs Of Recovery’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your album ‘Songs Of Recovery’?
Darro – The hardest part about putting the album together was getting the right songs on it. I’m not a very fast songwriter and I can’t really force songwriting, so sometimes it takes me months to write one song and other times, I can write three songs in one day. I wanted to include songs on the album that gave a full picture of the different things I went through as a result of my brain tumor. Sometimes, it was anger. Other times, it was relief and a lot of times, it was cynicism.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your type of music?
Darro – Playing the guitar and playing with a band. I just love playing the guitar so much and I don’t know if I could ever write music without it. There’s also a level of unity and excitement that you get from playing with a band that you can’t recreate with backing tracks or anything else. It feels purely momental and that makes it so special.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write or compose?
Darro – I think the hardest song was “Better Not Peak My Head” on this album. It’s not a technically hard or complicated song, but I had issues with the message of the song. I wanted it to sound fun and tongue-in-cheeky, but also have substance behind it. It’s supposed to be about how obnoxious people can be on the internet and how dismissive others can be about our real problems.
Music Bugle – Given its extremely personal backstory, are you proud of the way your album has come out?
Darro – I think so. I’m always going to have a level of self-consciousness when it comes to my own music. I think every artist does, but I am proud that I was able to put it together in spite of all the challenges I’ve faced.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory so far in your career?
Darro – Definitely in 2019 when my first music video “You’re Not Insane” landed on Billboard. I really don’t know how I’m ever going to top that one.
Music Bugle – How would you define the year 2020?
Darro – Pivotal.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Darro – At first, it was kind of nice to be home all day and have time to work on music. I wrote a lot of new songs in April when I was home. Some of them ended up on the album, but a lot of them still need work. Now, it’s just really stressful because it feels like people are taking the pandemic less seriously when in reality, it’s just as bad as it was before.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Darro – Physically? I love the feeling of leaving NYC. I love living here too, but sometimes, just escaping this concrete jungle just feels really nice. I think so far my favorite place to escape to is the mountains in Vermont. Tyler and I go snowboarding up there every winter. When I can’t escape physically, I like to escape mentally. I love watching fantasy movies, so sometimes, I will just watch a “Lord Of The Rings” marathon or a “Harry Potter” marathon over the course of an entire weekend.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Darro – “The impossible is only impossible until it’s been achieved.” I don’t know who said that, but I like it.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Darro – Dance Gavin Dance, Polyphia, CHON, Dirty Loops, Billie Eilish, Shrezzers, Anderson .Paak, Lianne La Havas and the “Hamilton” Soundtrack.