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Monday 19th of November 2018
Richard Lewington 1301 4th of January 2013 by editor 11th of January 2013
Daniel Minimalia
Success is instrumental

With a growing reputation, and having released his first album, musician and composer Daniel Minimalia plays Madrid this month. Richard Lewington speaks to him about the love and labour of creating music

He has been hailed as the Spanish Mike Oldfield, a considerable comparison for 28-year-old Vitoria-born guitarist Daniel Minimalia, who released his first studio album Cuentos sonoros last autumn. He will be performing in Madrid on 29 January at Sala Clamores, but how does he feel about his music being identified with such a famous English musician? “I can see a certain logic, although I don’t like the label,” he admits. “I think that the comparison comes from tracks such as “Páramos lejanos” or “Akainik”, which have clear connections with new age, but there are major differences between his work and mine, especially in my compositions such as “El vals del trapecista” or “Sonata para un día cualquiera.""

He is happy to extend this theme, and his views about how opinions can ebb and flow. “There’s a need on the part of the press to pigeon-hole an artist. At the moment, there are many critics and people in general who are paying attention to my music and appreciating my quality as a musician, but personally I don’t dwell on it. It’s a simple question of “cohesion”—there have already been occasions when people have doomed me to failure, or haven’t believed in me.”


The road to discovery

Daniel’s journey into music began at the tender age of eight. While most of his school peers kicked around during their lunch breaks, Daniel sat clutching his walkman with the album Rock and Ríos on a continuous loop. It was a moment that would change his life forever and by the age of 13, he had taught himself to play the electric guitar, influenced by such classic ‘70s bands as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Thin Lizzy. For national heroes, he looked towards Héroes del Silencio and Los Suaves; he never stopped listening to songs, and the desire pushed him to play by ear.

On reflection, he comments, “as a self-taught musician, I believe that the best way to understand music is to discover it for yourself; I never thought that the road started based on scores or tabulations. In my early days, I had a special predilection for groups or bands that were precursors of their time, from “Made in Japan” by Deep Purple to Beethoven’s “Moonlight”. It is very important to know and understand the beginning of all kinds of music.”


Catching the sensation

As Daniel continued down his musical path, he began to make a name for himself at school, then at University where he teamed up with three friends and formed the rock group Zirkus. It was their first serious project which led them to produce their first demos. However, wanting to find his own musical identity, Daniel began to study different musical styles, which prompted him to learn to play the piano, and to experiment with Galicia roots group PRAU. “It was four or five years ago when I began to combine other instruments in my recordings. I think that to be a good composer you have to know more than one instrument, each of which has a different way of transmitting the same melody. Sometimes it’s very complex to work with many elements, but if you get a balance you can achieve some very interesting results,” he reflects.

He is always looking to create in his music something that cannot be expressed in spoken form, but like a writer staring at a blank page, how does he begin? Is it the dreamy sound of folksy roots or the whirring riffs of an electric guitar that spur his creativity? “The starting point is the inspiration—sensations that cannot be transmitted with words. Those sensations are not always the same, and so I use them depending on whether I want to convey one kind of musical genre or another, either classical, symphonic rock, etc.,” he says. “I never approach the beginning of a track or theme in a particular musical style.”


Find the gap

His album Cuentos sonoros contains twelve songs, all of which he composed himself, with each one forming its own fantasy sound. The tracks are an amalgamation of electric, acoustic, Spanish, and electric bass guitars, alongside piano melodies that cover a range of genres, from classical to new age or symphonic pop rock. “Cuentos sonoros is the result of many years of work and sacrifice, in which I wanted to combine all my influences into their own style. It is a heterogeneous record, sincere and from the heart. I wanted to make an album to convey emotions to people through various instruments and melodies.”

Listening to the track "Páramos lejanos" it’s easy to close your eyes and escape from the world, but the stronger and more haunting retro spiritual “Akainik” takes the mantle as the album’s single release. It’s a strange title, not easily identifiable as belonging to any particular language. “‘Akainik’ is a word in Yámana, an ancient Central American language,” Daniel explains. “It means ‘rainbow’. It has always been said that there is treasure at the end of the rainbow, and I hope that choosing this theme will allow me to find mine. My journey so far has been very complicated, especially if you embark on a personal project, as in my case, for which I’ve sacrificed everything, using money from my own pocket and leaving stable jobs to one side.” His commitment is more than admirable, and his final comments suggest a strong philosophy and clear objective. “I want to fill a gap in music and to aim for the highest point, which is always a bigger risk to run. Many people have told me that I am crazy, but for me it’s crazy to let life pass by without having fought for what you believe.”

Daniel Minimalia is in concert on Tues, 29 Jan, 9.30pm, at Sala Clamores, C/Albuquerque, 14 (Metro: Bilbao). Tel:91 445 79 38.  See Tickets are €10 at the door, or €8 in advance Cuentossonoros is available on Zouma Records. See also

Win tickets to see Daniel live in concert at SalaClamores!

We have a lucky draw to provide two sets of two tickets to readers who can answer the following question:

In which Spanish city was Daniel Minimalia born?

Send your answers by email to: competitions [at] in-madrid [dot] com. Closing date: 20 Jan.

Further information & Map: Sala Clamores

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