Does the song Summer Breeze ring a bell? We featured it here on LTTB not too long ago and today we’ve got the opportunity to present you an interview with singer Darja.
Hey Darja, let’s hit this Q&A off! Do you want to introduce yourself?
I am a singer songwriter as well as a trained actress. I was born in a small country called Latvia, was raised in Germany and the UK and now living in NYC, my absolute dream city.
When did you start singing?
I was enrolled in Rhythmic Gymnastics at the age of 4, which is when I started performing on stage to the most beautiful music. It inspired my love and obsession to create music myself. It became my emotional outlet. I would write songs with lyrics based on anything that moved me. But it wasn’t until my parents heard me sing “I can’t live” by Mariah Carey, that my singing was taken seriously and I started working with a vocal coach and piano teacher. To this day I am beyond grateful that my parents saw how much I loved music and singing and gave me the opportunity to grow as a musician and artist.
How was your experience with casting shows? Did you learn any valuable lessons?
Yes absolutely. I have participated in the German Popstars casting as well as the UK Pop Idol casting. Both experiences were vastly different for me. When I entered Popstars I was still a baby and retrospectively I don’t think I was fully developed as an artist yet, I hadn’t found my voice yet and I went into it with a very naïve and idealistic perception of the music industry as a whole. The Popstars Casting proved to be a big revelation to me in both positive and sadly a few negative ways. Out of 11,000 contestants I had made it into the final 8 and 6 were chosen for the band…I wasn’t part of it and my world came crumbling down on me. It was very tough for me to handle, but other offers came streaming in and I got lost in a whirlwind of different producers and execs trying to figure out what to do with me. It was an exciting and at the same time confusing time for me, and was ultimately the reason why I ended up making the choice to receive a college education, while continuing to work on music, to figure out who I am as a person and who I am as an artist.
The Pop Idol Experience was a completely different experience because I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose this time around and I was less naïve about the entertainment industry. For me Pop Idol was a step back towards the music, towards what I truly love doing. It was also an experiment for me – how far could I get – I was curious. And I am so glad I did it because I made it into the last 50, and Simon Cowell gave me a great review, and given how harsh he can be with his criticism, I took it as a sign to continue working on my craft, no matter what the outcome might be.
Looking back, was it the right decision to refuse a record deal and to focus on your education?
It was the absolute best decision I could have taken at the time and I don’t regret it for a second. Music has always been and always will be part of my journey and at LSE I have met some of the most brilliant and talented people, made friends for life who are an integral part of my support system to this day, learned a lot about the world we live in, and have had incredible life experiences that have been feeding my lyrics.
You’ve been in contact with the music business for quite some time. Any “behind the scenes” stories you would like to share?
Haha, I cannot reveal too much, but generally speaking I can say that some of the most talented people (aka Biggest Stars) happen to be the most down to earth people I have met. Without naming names I guess my favorite story to tell is when I was at one of the biggest music industry events in Germany, and a famous actor came up to me to ask me if we knew each other. To this day I am left wondering if he was trying to hit on me or whether he actually thought we knew each other lol … but I am very proud that I was able to keep it together despite being completely star struck.
Do you have any big gigs coming up for you?
A few performances are coming up for me at exclusive private events as well as performances for charity, but I am mainly focusing on my first album release and other collaborations with amazing producers from all around the world, so I am in and out of the studio, writing writing writing…Stay tuned!
How did the collaboration with Zilos happen?
I met Zilos through Amathus Music, a label that was founded by DJ Chris Panaghi, who in terms was introduced to me by Doug Laurent, an amazing German Producer whom I have known since my Popstars days. Doug is a close friend and mentor and it is him who kept me on track with my music. DJ Chris Panaghi has an incredible track record and has worked with greats such as Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, it is through Amathus Music that we released “Summer Breeze” and Zilos is one of the most talented producers I have worked with, 2 songs of his were listed in the Top 50 of the iTunes Dance Charts, which is a massive achievement, considering the amazing competition out there. And having said that, I am very proud that “Summer Breeze” has made it to #1 of the Kings of Spins Charts here in the US.
What’s the next milestone you have in sight for your career?
My first independent Album Release will be a massive milestone for me so please wish me luck! Also together with Amathus Music and Zilos we are working on several more tracks, with the goal to start approaching the big Labels as a team, which I am very excited about out! Other than that I am working with incredible producers all over the world, with several amazing tracks in production as we speak.
Cat or dog person?
DOG! CAT! HORSE! ALL OF THEM! I am the proud owner of a beautiful Shiba Inu, named Kenji. He is all white and loves to cuddle and play and he is probably the most polite little dog I know. I love all animals and am currently looking to get involved in Charity Work for animals. Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatest of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. One of my aspirations is to help stop animal cruelty, no matter what animal.
Speaking of Charities…
So far I had the immense pleasure to contribute to two wonderful Charities here in NYC. The Songs of Love Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing personalized songs for children and teens currently facing tough medical, physical or emotional challenges, free of charge. Creating a personalized song for an ailing child is by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute.
Les Couleurs NYC is dedicating its time and talent to educate, heal and inspire children who come from extremely low socio-economic backgrounds and have experienced various forms of abuse, helping them to express their creative potential. I have had the pleasure to contribute to Les Couleurs fundraising effort on multiple occasions.
I have also started a dialogue with Rock & Rawhide, an amazing organization that
aims to increase adoptions and quality of life for dogs and cats in shelters, by providing distraction therapy and noise/stress reduction.
What’s your song of the year so far?
Favorite track to sing while you’re in the shower?
Summer Breeze by Zilos feat. Darja haha – it’s just so catchy I can’t help it! After we recorded the acoustic version I kept waking up and going to bed with it in my head for two weeks straight.
How would you describe the sound of your music?
I think there are so many different facets to the sound of my music. I am working on my first album, which spans my life experience to date. So there is a lot going on, a lot to process. I am quite a romantic and idealistic person oftentimes haunted by nostalgia, but at the same time I am wild, sensual and carefree. So my music will reflect that. Despite the nostalgic notions I want people to get turned on by my music, to feel excited and alive.
Do you have anything else that you want to say to your fans and our readers?
I would just like to say THANK YOU SO MUCH! for all your support and for believing in me. And thank you for welcoming me into the LTTB Family! Visit my website www.darjasmusic.com and follow me on Twitter @dschabad and IG @darjasmusic for more info and stay tuned for more song releases!
Thanks for the interview and we’re looking forward to more new music!