Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Danny Ladwa, 33, from Crouch End. My parents were both born in East Africa (Uganda and Kenya) and I’m of Indian Heritage (from Gujarat to be exact).

Where did you grow up/go to school?

I grew up in Nottingham and went to Bramcote Hills Primary and Secondary School.

How did you get into music?

As a kid, writing lyrics and making up rhymes on the fly came naturally to me and I’d do it a lot. I remember at school on rainy days when all the kids would be inside playing games, I would often choose to sit on my own and just write. I noticed I was on my own. This was when I was around six years old. I used to listen to my favourite artists on my red ghetto blaster at home and record my voice on top of theirs on to cassettes. When I turned 11 I remember sitting down to write a song to sing and it came out in hip-hop form, so I got into rap. The first few lines of the first rap I ever wrote were something like: “People always say that there’s a time and a place, for each and every case that there’s blood on the face, of a white, black Puerto Rican, mixed race, people gettin’ beat when they don’t even want a taste”..

Beatboxing came to me around this time as well, still I was 11. I was singing the bass-lines, piano melodies and trying to replicate the drum patterns with my mouth, almost without realising I was doing it. A very annoying habit for my parents. One day my brother caught me beatboxing and was blown away by the sounds I could make and since seeing his reaction that day, I took it more seriously. But I still didn’t know anything about it, I didn’t know it was called ‘beatboxing’ and I’d not seen or heard anyone else do anything similar until I saw Michael Winslow’s character Jones in the Police Academy movies.

As I grew up my taste in music broadened from R’n’B & hip-hop, to include rock and reggae. I remember buying my first single, Wonderwall by Oasis, when I was around 13 (I only started venturing into electronic music in the last few years).

I studied popular music at college and decided to move to London when I was 17 to complete the course and to pursue my passion. I made amazing friends with the same love for creating music and we were pretty inseparable writing together almost daily whilst holding our various other jobs down. Music was our freedom, we would jam for hours writing songs about anything and everything.. it was around that time that I felt I could actually be addicted to making music.

I could go on.. but.. let’s move on to the other questions.

When did you start performing?

Apart from performing at every family event growing up, I did my first real performance in Nottingham when I was 16 as a backing singer for a female artist called Maxine Temptress. In my early 20a I travelled to Brazil for a music festival ‘Ecosystem’ (located near Manaus) and performed alongside MC TC Islam (Afrika Bambaataa’s son) for four days freestyling on drum & bass music. Soon after, while living in Brighton, I met Nou who was signed to One Little Indian Records (Bjork was signed to them too) and joined the band for their UK tour. The stage definitely felt like a kind of home. In 2006 I was introduced to Gaudi who was looking for a singer at the time for his live show and we connected instantly. Since then I started performing for his live shows and we also did some work in the studio. In 2011 I started the full international tour with Gaudi, playing all over: USA, Canada, Hawaii, Australia, all over Europe, Japan, India, you name it! We still tour together. In fact I’m in Ireland right now on the road to a festival for a gig tonight while I write this.

What do you sound like?

My debut solo album Unfolding was released in May 2015. The album crosses between reggae, hip-hop, electronica and soul. I’ve been told the album is somewhere between Damian Marley, Finlay Quaye, James Blake and Massive Attack.. no complaints with that definition. For my full live show I usually work with musicians, currently I’m working with a great Keys/Synth player Charlie San and a percussion genius Kofi Karikari who used to play with Jamiroquai. Improvisation is a big part of my performance where I’ll loop my voice to create the beat, bass-line, harmonies and then we’ll jam out a full tune created right in front of your very eyes.

Who or what has influenced your music?

I feel like the album encapsulates the winding journey of my life with the many powerful and influential events that have occurred along the way. Unfolding is about experiences, lessons and a strong positive vision for the future. I feel inspired by so many things on a day to day basis whether it’s a thought, a sound, a conversation or a song. I record any song ideas (melodies, bass-lines, lyrics etc) into the voice recorder on my phone and note down any conceptual ideas. I sifted through these regularly last year while writing the album and included many of the elements in the final recording. I was inspired recently when I went to see Lang Lang perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Also loving The Skints' new album FM.

What was your first gig like?

I can’t remember it in too much detail. I just remember being really excited and really nervous. It was at a venue called The Maltcross in Nottingham and it went down well. We had a pretty decent turnout as well.

Are you signed to a label?


When and where did you record the album?

I got my head down to write and record the album from February 2014 and the final recordings were completed in March 2015. Alongside producer and co-writer Gaudi we recorded at Steelgrass Recording Studio (Kauai, Hawaii), Blue Lotus Temple (Boulder Creek, California) and Metatron Studio, London. The female vocal on the chorus of Reflection of Innocence was recorded in a natural cave (The Blue Room) on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

What inspired the name?

The title was one of the more difficult things to get down actually. I know I wanted something that says something about not only the music but also about me in this period of my life. The word Unfolding actually came to me in a dream and I woke up with the word still echoing in my head.

Tell me about some of the tracks on the album and what inspired them.

I hitch-hiked through Israel and into Sinai a while ago. I did the night climb up what is believed to be Mount Sinai, got to the top before sunrise and there was a group of what sounded like 30 people chanting something I didn’t understand but felt immensely. The sound was coming from the very top of the mountain and I was one tier down. The sound increased in intensity over around 40 minutes, never letting up for a second, it just got louder and more intense. When I made the walk to the top, I was brought to tears when I saw three guys standing hand-in-hand performing this chant. Track 10 on the album That Sound is about that experience.

Favourite gig to date?

Playing in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt for The Great Convergence with Gaudi on 21st December 2012 (winter solstice) is up there at the moment.

Do you have a day job?

I’ve run a travel business Travelution with my brother for many years now and although I’m not involved in the day to day running, it’s still our baby. I’m an entrepreneur. I love pushing myself to see what is possible, what opportunities I can take advantage of. I can feel something brewing that will come to fruition in the near future, something off the back of my music career to provide some sort of aid to people in need. I know it’s coming, I just don’t know exactly what it is yet!

What’s the dream?

Be the best I can be!

Where can people hear your music?

My debut album Unfolding is available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Amazon and more. All the info can be found on my website www.dannyladwa.com