By Nicholas Jason Lopez
DARKMINDS – a collaborative pop/hip-hop duo comprised of Daniel Ellsworth (Chaos Emeralds) and Christopher “C4” Umana (Big Sean, Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland) – have dropped their second full-length album of 2021 entitled ‘Monument,’ which focuses more on love and overcoming adversity, as opposed to the feel-good summertime vibes of first album ‘Good News.’
After a series of singles was released in 2020, the eclectic outfit have found their music featured in ads for Apple, PGA Tour, VH1, as well as in shows on Netflix, Disney+, CBS, ABC and more. Ellsworth has described their music as “a little bit of everything all at once” and with no signs of stoppage, ‘Monument’ should hopefully stand on the foundation of many playlists worldwide.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with them about their latest music and more.
Music Bugle – How did you decide on the name “DARKMINDS”?
Daniel Ellsworth – The first time we talked about needing to give ourselves a name, it was just something that C4 said without really thinking and immediately, we were like, “That’s it.” It was really that simple. There were no other options on the table. It had to be DARKMINDS.
Christopher “C4” Umana – We needed something captivating and memorable and it just felt right.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your newest album?
Daniel Ellsworth – To continue to put new DARKMINDS music into the world and to showcase a different side of what we do. Where ‘Good News’ was a more feel-good, summertime vibe, Monument is a bit darker and more brooding. Still big hooks and overwhelmingly optimistic lyrically, but showcasing a different side of what DARKMINDS can be.
Christopher “C4” Umana – I can just echo what Daniel said here. Daniel and I really wanted our audience to see another side of what we do.
Music Bugle – What do you find is the biggest challenge in being a musical duo?
Daniel Ellsworth – Fortunately, we haven’t hit any roadblocks yet. It’s all smooth sailing with DARKMINDS.
Christopher “C4” Umana – Nothing and that is rare! I absolutely love working with Daniel. We have such great chemistry and a flow that started from day one.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Daniel Ellsworth – I love how diverse we’re able to be within DARKMINDS. It’s exciting how we both pull from our different backgrounds and when it comes together, it just works. I think we’ve managed to find a sound that is one-hundred percent us.
Christopher “C4” Umana – The fact that we can truly be ourselves and explore different sounds and textures, all while being positive and uplifting.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Daniel Ellsworth – It shifted how I wrote and worked with people. Most writing was done all via Zoom in 2020 and then some things, like touring, had to be put on pause. Beyond that, it’s made me realize how awful and self-serving so many people can be and on the flipside, it’s made me appreciate the wonderful people in my life so much more.
Christopher “C4” Umana – At the start of the pandemic, it was very difficult to have recording sessions. We moved to working remotely and that was a difficult adjustment. From file sharing to just not having that energy and flow in the same room, I feel like a lot of those magical moments got left out of the music.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Daniel Ellsworth – To a record store. Or a bookstore. Or to the mountains. Or a beach.
Christopher “C4” Umana – Spa. Beach. Take the scenic route through the Hollywood Hills.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Daniel Ellsworth – My current rotation is this Ethiopian jazz artist Hailu Mergia’s album ‘Tezeta,’ the new Leon Bridges album, the new Kings Of Convenience album, the new Still Woozy album and – after watching her new concert special on Disney+ – Billie Eilish.
Christopher “C4” Umana – Nas and Kanye.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Daniel Ellsworth – There’s a quote from Henry Miller’s “The Angel Is My Watermark” essay that always sticks with me. It says, “One doesn’t sing because he hopes one day to appear in an opera. One sings because one’s lungs are full of joy. It’s wonderful to listen to a great performance, but it’s even more wonderful to encounter in the street a happy vagabond who can’t stop singing because his heart is full of joy.” A good reminder to myself that the reason I started doing music in the first place is because I love it and, at the end of the day, that is the most important thing.
Christopher “C4″ Umana – Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses,” by Kobe Bryant. It’s really that simple. You have to be disciplined and be dedicated to your craft.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to become a musician?
Daniel Ellsworth – Being a piano player, I’d say the Ben Folds Five album ‘Whatever And Ever Amen’ was a big turning point for me. I was a musician as far back as I can remember, but that was one of the big albums that really made me feel like I want to do it as a career. That one and Wilco’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.’
Christopher “C4” Umana – Growing up playing the piano and the organ in church is when I knew that this is what I wanted to be and do for the rest of my life.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Daniel Ellsworth – Depends on how you use it, but mostly it’s a help. A necessary evil. It allows you to reach people and communicate with fans, but it also is such a time-waster. Important to find the balance.
Christopher “C4” Umana – I think it depends on how you use it as well. It can be a great marketing tool and an awesome way to connect with others in the music community.