With the fourth annual Island Reggae Festival just around the corner, TWID has chosen to sit with the man behind the music- the king of Rudebwoy Reggae- Danny Perez.
The Hawaiian grown, Samoan-Mexican infused businessman shares the perils and triumphs with TWID on what creating a lane for the contemporary Urban Island American music scene was like, and the work it takes to maintain a credible name in the music industry. The method to his madness? Culture. The reason for his vision? The young Urban Islander.
Read up on an exclusive TWID interview with the lion king himself!
TWID: You’ve been in this sector of the music industry since Polynesian reggae began merging as its own musical entity. You have played an integral part in creating this lane that has now widened to include many up and coming artists with different sounds as well as different demands. How do you deal with all these different types of artists who want to be on your show setlist and do you tolerate the negative energy?
Danny Perez: There is a lot of egos and negative energy that people – producers, promoters, hosts and artists – have to deal with in this industry but I don’t let it get to me. I mean, I used to but now I won’t let the negativity stop me from what I’m trying to accomplish and that’s to further widen this Polynesian music lane that I helped create. Polynesians have dipped and dabbed in other lanes of music – Hip Hop, Rap – but now that we have our own lane, there are so many people who try to dip and dab in what we got.
TWID: So you’re kinda like a conductor then behind the scenes, right?
Danny Perez: Exactly.
TWID: Did you choose to intentionally be behind the scenes or was it something that just worked out for you? Although you oversee the production of the big time concerts and festivals, like the Island Reggae Festival, would you have rather chosen to be more in the limelight?
Danny Perez: Being behind the scenes is definitely by choice. I mean, I work with at-risk youth everyday and do presentations in front of people but in terms of this type of work, I would rather have the MC take the mic and be the person on the side that makes sure everything runs smoothly.
TWID: Does your multi-ethnic background, being of both Samoan and Mexican heritage, impact the relationships you establish with artists and other Polynesian promoters?
Danny Perez: Initially, a lot of people think – because of my last name – that I’m just an ‘other’ trying to work in the Polynesian lane. I be catching some people speak Samoan in front of me and get so surprised when I can respond fluently to their conversation! I let them talk (laughs)! You know growing up in Oakland I had a lot of Tongan friends so I grew up with love for my [Samoan] people as well as my Tongan peoples, which was another reason why I chose to pursue this work. At every concert I do, I make sure that the MC preaches unity on that stage because we don’t need friction or issues.
TWID: So you also helped push the TokoUso movement on your stage?
Danny Perez: I didn’t create the TokoUso movement but of course I’m all about the unity. The more the merrier! It ain’t nothing but love at the end of the day.
TWID: Getting into the music scene is a popular path of profession for our Urban Islander youth. When you were my age – I’m 22 – did you know already that you wanted to do music?
Danny Perez: No, no no. When I was 22 I was in college trying to make the whole football thing work out. But with my size I knew that i wouldn’t have been able to make it to the professional level, so I had to figure out what else was there.
I always had a passion for music. I DJ’ed when I was in high school which became the foundation for what led me to what I’m doing now. And as I got older, my taste for music began to change and I began messing with reggae even more. As the Polynesian music lane began to get bigger I knew that it could actually turn into something.
TWID: So what advice would you give to the young Urban Islander who, like the 22 year old version of yourself, is a bit unaware of what he/she is passionate about? What words of wisdom could you impart unto this generation about chasing the passion?
Danny Perez: Use your culture as your asset. I know that we were all brought up differently, but what’s similar in all Islander cultures is the practice of being humble. Use that to your advantage. Do right to others first – I promise that if you do right to others and not give into the greed and the money, you will get far in life. Stay true to your roots and what our upbringing taught us – keeping God first, being respectful to your elders – these are essential to being successful!
Straight from the lion’s mouth, Danny Perez and his crew are preparing Northern California as well as visitors from all around the world, a taste of Urban Islander culture and the beauty behind it. The Island Reggae Festival is able to reach new heights of excellence and expansion because of the humble minds behind the wheels of operation. Both Rudebwoy and TWID hope to see you at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds on July 4th to celebrate our Urban Islander multiculturalism and that’s WHAT.IT.DO!