By Nicholas Jason Lopez
When Living Colour’s Vernon Reid invited vocalist/guitarist Derek Day to play some tour dates with the band, they hit it off and it became an indication that history truly does repeat itself.
Much like Mick Jagger did for Living Colour in the late 1980’s, Reid took Day under his own wing and co-wrote, arranged and produced Day’s hit single “Click On Me.”
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Day about “Click On Me” and more.
Music Bugle – What was it like getting to work with Living Colour’s Vernon Reid?
Derek Day – Completely surreal. I had developed quite a bit of verve in my writing/recording/ performing throughout the years before meeting Vernon, but it was a challenge to break through some of the walls I hadn’t noticed obstructing me when we started to collaborate. V.R. showed me a truthful conceptuality behind the lyric, the wistful necessity to the right melody and music, the urgency to the execution. I was Luke in the Degobah system. He was – and is – also very kind, patient and all love.
Music Bugle – What do you love the most about being a guitarist/vocalist?
Derek Day – One of my favorite things is the fluidity. I feel at a liquid state when singing and playing the guitar, whether it be writing, recording or performing. It’s loose and unpredictable like water, but all together, somehow. An example would be singing some form of melody and translating it to the guitar and vice versa. Its a beautiful schizoid pair of dice. The mind works differently to create through the fingers than it would with vocal cords, yet the outcome creates a oneness. A oneness within the music, the product, the vibe, the tone, the note and a oneness within one’s self.
Music Bugle – Of all the shows you’ve played, what are some moments that stick out the most to you?
Derek Day – Truly, every show is just mind-blowing. There is so much communication and revelation that occurs, but there are those moments, special or downright weird… like, feeling the heaviness on the Palladium stage. It was real time slow-motion and I knew that energy came from antecedent performances of monumentally important bands. Living Colour inviting me on stage to perform a Cream song and then their own original from the latest album whilst on tour felt insane. Will Calhoun is a whole type of powerhouse. Corey Glover still stands as one of the greatest singers – in any genre – of all time. You feel it on stage. Same with performing with Steve Vai and Moby. We did a Led Zeppelin tune and the atmosphere just felt cool. Finally, performing for about 60,000 human lives in Budapest, Hungary in 2019 felt correct. It was the most I’ve ever performed for. There was nowhere else I needed to be at that moment and that felt religious to me.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Derek Day – Griffith Park in Los Angeles with Stella and Hollywood – my two dogs. I read a couple chapters in the forest. It’s near my house, so I escape frequently.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Derek Day – I’m currently very “in to” creating my own music, so I try not to listen to anyone for the sake of pure experimentation, but there are a couple of artists that are capturing my attention right at this very moment: St. Vincent, Tom Waits, Ween, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder and Czesław Niemen. The last name is a childhood favorite of mine, a Polish genius way ahead of his time.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Derek Day – So many ways, but for the most part, positively. I am grateful beyond the next galaxy to have my and my family’s health in good shape. Money has been a slight issue, but there has been plenty of space for creating, trying out ideas, old and new. It’s been therapeutic and I feel a strong need to slow down and do things correctly, whether it be how I treat others or how I create my music.
Music Bugle – How would you define the year 2020?
Derek Day – I would call it a “Priority Check.” Cash it in as soon as you are ready. The year screamed, “Stop” to so many of us during our daily routine at least 52 times. Every week was another urgent plea for humanity to take a solid look into itself. 2020 vision is as clear as it gets.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Derek Day – I reference this often, but it’s still doing it for me – “Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure, that of being Salvador Dalí and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dalí,” by Salvador Dalí. It’s playful, it’s confident, it’s the right mindset. Be excited that you are doing something exciting, excitedly!
Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in today’s music industry?
Derek Day – Easy – originality. If major labels, radio stations, influencers and all other “Powers That Be” gave more “weirdos” a chance, this world might be colorful again – and I mean, vibrantly explosive color. As of now, to me, there are plenty shades of one color. These original acts are out there, they are just badly lit. They need a good chance. I’m tired of the excuse of how short the attention spans of the masses are, how small their vocabulary may be, etc.. The “Powers” are just apprehensive because it’s a business. It makes sense to make cents, but hear me this – every human being is living art already. They’ll love a bit more complexity to compliment their already strange lives.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Derek Day – Social media can only help musicians, despite the excess of product pouring out of it. If worked correctly, a musician can truly develop and showcase their identity and purpose whilst learning – in real time – what about them makes audiences tick. Not to mention promotion of business. With that said, social media hurts the artist. There is a large disconnect from truth in social media. A lack of honesty, understandably, is present in order to clime the influential chain of command to gain the trust and focus of many. Art is all about truth. The musician is all about work. Social media is all about the show, so yes, very helpful for musicians, but don’t let other’s P.O.V. influence your art.
*Photo credit – David Simchock Photography*