The Youngsters: Danny K
HowzitMSN spoke to Mandy Weiner last week, who edited the new book series, The Youngsters, written by talented youngsters of South Africa. In the second interview in the series, we talk to Danny K about his contribution.
Some love to hate him, but nobody can deny the hard work and ambition that brought Danny K his success. In his book, Take It From Me, the star explores the local music industry, fame in South Africa and his disastrous tour with Usher.
Why write a book? Did you always want to write a book?
No, I actually really didn't. When I heard about the concept behind it, I thought it was really something that could be potentially interesting. I was a bit scared, to be honest, because most of the things I write are three to four minutes in duration and they normally rhyme! So this was an opportunity for me to challenge myself. I think that was what this book was about. It was saying: can I reflect on what I have learned in my life over the past fifteen years in the entertainment industry? It was a chance to create a help guide for young musicians who want to get into the business, who've seen me there and wondered: "How did he do it?"
Is it very biographical in nature?
I feel I'm largely misunderstood - people have a perception of me based on seeing me in the media for many years. I'm largely governed by a journalist's interpretation of me. So this is my first opportunity to speak about myself, unedited. Apart from Mandy correcting my spelling, which is really bad, I could really tell my story in the way I wanted to. So it is totally about my life. I open up about things privately, professionally, and everything in between. It was actually fun for me. I'm not a guy who takes stock very well. So this book allowed me to reflect over my whole life. Especially when I put the photographs in the book - funnily enough my book is the only one with photographs in it. I had to beg the publisher to let me do that! And when I went into my early articles - things people wrote about me and photos, like me signing my first record deal and my first tour, with Usher, which went horribly wrong... I speak about that in the book. It was fun for me to reflect on that, because I haven't done that for many years.
How did that feel to take such stock? Did you sit back and think "Wow" or was it on to the next thing?
I'm not very good with patting myself on the back. Even now I feel there are a lot of musicians who could have potentially written a more interesting book than me. But my story is unique in its own way. Any creative person out there has made a plethora of mistakes to get where they are. I've got some interesting mistakes, which I speak quite candidly of in the book. I also know that when I began in the music business, I read a book called How To Succeed In The Music Business, which was written by a UK author. It was quite foreign to me as a South African youngster, as a guide or an insight into the business in SA. I've been one of those guys who have been part of the modern music industry since its inception. So I've been around post-94, songwriting and such. My first album came out in '99. So I have been a part of this new transition and seen how our music and the business had changed. That's what I focused on. People today who want to learn about the last fifteen years can read my book and see how you do things now. Every chapter ends with a couple of short bullet points - some things to consider if you want to be a musician. I've had to leverage off that because it's kind of the only thing I've known.
Books like yours are often the most interesting to read, as there is a lot going on that nobody sees.
You know, they say it takes a lifetime to be an overnight sensation and in everything you have to slave away. You have to put in your ten thousand hours to just get to the line. The tough thing about the entertainment industry is once you are there, the sustainability is so hard. To do one hit song is hard enough. To continuously try and do it again and again, album after album, to stay relevant and current - it's treading water all the time. If you don't tread hard enough, you drown. After being in this business for so long, to be selected as one of the authors is a big honour. It's great for me.
Those interested in the music industry, your fans and maybe even your detractors would get this book. But why should anyone else?
I think it's an interesting story about my personal journey. I've had some funny things that have happened to me, sort of at my detriment in the business. There are some stories about the wild side of the music business in South Africa and seeing some of my friends fall victim to it. There is a serious side to it about the loss of my brother, so there are very personal and sad moments... I hope it gives the reader a little bit of everything. An insight on what it's like to be famous in South Africa, what it's like to deal with fame and try keep your head. And there are some cool pictures!
Find Danny K on Twitter: @dannykmusic
Read our interview with Mandy Weiner here.