MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you Darren, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
Darren Parry: Absolute pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to do the interview.
I was a child of the 80’s, there was something very tangible and diverse about the music of the 80’s, a great time for a burgeoning music fanatic like me! I remember buying albums/singles from about 1983 on vinyl/tape and was quickly caught up in where music would take me emotionally. It was pure escapism for me. I listened to lots of 80’s long haired rock from around 1985/86/87, Bon-Jovi, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Europe, Thunder etc. and was quickly hooked on music. I’d also grown up listening to my parents (and especially my mother) playing old Motown (Four Tops, Diana Ross, Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin etc.) records, and lots of Free, Carpenters, Kenny Rogers and so on and thought, “hmmmm… I’d like to sing and write songs like that”. I started writing songs seriously at around the age of 18 while still in school; I learnt a few chords on my friend’s guitar and started to play some basic piano. I was learning to express my own music, now that I could play some simple chords and had a better understanding of what I’d been listening too as a child… I’ve been writing ever since! There’s a great saying by Ray Charles who said… “I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water”. Ray kinda sums it up for me.
MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
Darren Parry: I was always a fan of the big sorta raspy voices, e.g. Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Joe Lynn Turner, Dio, David Coverdale, Bonnie Tyler and especially Michael Bolton. I was always amazed (and still am) by the power and emotion that the human voice can express…what an instrument when used effectively! In addition to the bands named above in the previous question; AC/DC, Heart, Rainbow, Al Green, Paul Rodgers, Van Halen were also notable favourites of mine and all rubbed off on me. Listening to lots of my mother’s Motown definitely influenced my love for melodic, catchy, straight to the point songs. The songwriters Diane Warren and Desmond Child are also big heroes of mine.
MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
Darren Parry: With my music I’ve always just wanted to communicate emotion. There’s a saying that says something like ‘music is what feelings would sound like’. I love the process of that little idea of a song title, a melody, a few words of a verse/chorus or whatever it may be evolving from words/music on paper to something you can actually listen to, especially being played on the radio for all to hear. That is the best feeling in the world and still excites me. I want to be able to write the ‘perfect song’. Maybe it’s not achievable, as this is very subjective, but… I’ll keep on going and will have fun trying!
MuzicNotez: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
Darren Parry: I have lots of favourite concerts I’ve seen but I think my absolute favourite is Michael McDonald in the Albert Hall, London in around 2003. Michael is in my top 5 male singers ever and it was just a great, great night; world class venue and just incredible performances from Michael and his band. There was something magically intangible about the vibe that night, something you can’t quite put into words, but it was special. Favourite concert I’ve performed at… ooohhh tough one, but I’ve performed on The Millennium Stadium pitch in Cardiff, Wales a few times (for Welsh Rugby matches) in front of 70,000 fans or so with The Black Mountain Chorus, that was very special with everyone singing along with you. I also performed in The Hong Kong City Hall once in front of 2000 people plus and that was very special also.
MuzicNotez: You have been really busy over the past year musically, can you go in to more detail on what you have been up to?
Darren Parry: Yes, the last year or two has been very busy. I was fortunate to perform on a hugely successful charity single called “A Miner’s Song” (to raise money for a monument for fallen Miners in Wales) with a whole host of stars including Michael Sheen (Hollywood actor), Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four), Jonathan Pryce (ex Bond villain), Paul Potts, Matthew Rhys (The Americans) among others. I performed on the official Cardiff City Football Club anthem song and have been busy writing new material, including releasing a few single’s for commercial release and working on a new album and EP. I’ve been doing radio appearances, live gigs and generally spreading the news about my music. Also been very busy performing with a fantastic 9 piece band I sing for called ‘Sounds Familiar’. I’m currently working on some potential new, original songs with a fantastic German singer/songwriter called Lauryn Mark.
MuzicNotez: What is your writing style like? Do you write all of your songs?
Darren Parry: I write in a variety of styles. I’ve written Pop songs, Country songs, R&B, Soul, Rock, Christmas songs, Gospel, Bluesy songs. There’s not much I haven’t tried and not much that I’m not influenced by. The only genres that have never really appealed to me too much are Ska and Reggae! I suppose my main style would be classed as Pop or maybe Adult Contemporary (AC) or Adult Orientated Rock (AOR). I mainly write alone but I have collaborated with some great people over the years including Juan Lozano, ‘Dazzle Music’ (who’s written for Charlotte Church) and Dan/Laura Curtis (who’ve had songs recorded by Ramin Karimloo, Lea Salonga etc.).
MuzicNotez: You have toured all over the world including 40 of the 50 US states, that’s really impressive! What’s your favorite story or most memorable moment out of all that touring? Any pre-show rituals before getting on stage?
Darren Parry: There’s been many memorable moments and lots of great people who I’ve fortunately got to meet/perform with along the way including; Michael Ball, Bryn Terfel, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Michael Bolton, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Scouting for Girls, The Story’s, The Sweet Inspirations (Elvis’ female backing singers), D.J. Fontana (Elvis’ original drummer), John Barrowman, Peter Karrie, Dave Sharp (The Alarm) and Henry Priestman (The Christians). An old band I was part of fortunately got to play with D.J. Fontana once and we had to re-teach him the song “Hound Dog”, even though he had played on the original Elvis record many years before! That was funny for us but what a gentleman he was. On one American tour the group I was a part of was invited to sing in Michael Douglas’ and Catherine Zeta Jones’ wedding in New York and to perform at Dollywood with Dolly Parton. Sadly we couldn’t do either because of commitments….can you believe it!!! Gutted was an understatement! I also did a gig once sharing the bill with The Crazy Frog (British folk of a certain age will know who I’m talking about)!
Pre-show ritual? Hmmm… Always warm up the voice with some vocal exercises or some Brandy (the drink I mean, not the singer!).
MuzicNotez: You have a new EP coming out in early 2015 entitled ‘Learning The Hard Way’, what was the motivation behind this release, and what else can you tell us about it?
Darren Parry: “Learning The Hard Way” will be a new collection of 4/5 original songs that I’m very excited about. It will be a mixture of songs about different aspects of life; love, disappointment, happiness, sadness, heartache, sexual chemistry and so on. The title of the EP comes from the fact that very often in my life…I have learnt the hard way and these songs express some of those emotions!
MuzicNotez: You have won numerous awards for your music and songwriting, how does it feel to have your talents appreciated like this, and what awards are you most proud of?
Darren Parry: I’m probably most proud of my 2004 UK Songwriting Contest win for my Pop song “Reality”. I was very proud of this as I beat around 6000 entries from around the world from both amateur and professional songwriters to win. The contest was judged by a top music industry panel including people from The Brit Trust, of ‘Brit Award’ fame. The song then became Published by ‘Scamp Music Publishing’. I’m also very proud of my recent ‘Runner Up’ position in the 2014 USA ‘Song Of The Year’ awards for my song “So Into You” (from the forthcoming EP). It was very exciting to find out the judges included Gwen Stefani, Phil Collins, Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Don Henley! Phil and Don were also a big influence on me musically growing up (I’m still trying to resist the growing up part) so it’s crazy to think they have heard a song of mine.
MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
Darren Parry: Thanks to everyone who supported me with the last single “So Into You”. I was honored that so many radio stations (especially in the US) decided to play it, including indie radio all over the world, community radio, commercial radio here in Wales and some BBC Radio shows; also great that so many people shared it, viewed it and some even bought it… so thank you.
Feel free to follow me on social media (I do follow back where possible) for the latest news or look me up on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify etc. Look out for my newest song… “Could’ve Had The Best Of Me” (it’s currently on my Facebook, YouTube page) and for a brand new Pop/R&B song I’ve co-written called “Never Let You Go”. It’s sung by a very talented, young 17 yr. old girl called Nina Jones from Newport, Wales; she’s fantastic and the song is hopefully coming to a radio near you… SOON!