We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriel Duran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriel, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Over the years it has become very clear to me that the success of my music and brand is the result of staying consistent with my sound and representing my community in a positive way. In some ways the two coincide because I firmly believe that my sound reflects the culture of my neighborhood. Several of the genres, instruments, and voices that inspired me to create have played a role in many of our lives, which allows my music to feel familiar, yet new, for those in my neighborhood or someone from a community similar to ours here in Southwest Detroit.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Arts & Culture have always played a role in my life. My grandfather was a well known artist in Chile and always emphasized the importance of sustaining the culture of our people within the communities our families have now immigrated to. This instilled in me a huge amount of respect for the generations before us and allowed me to recognize that true progress will come when we uplift one another rather than focus entirely on individual desires. Although I have personal goals and several desires for my music, I also understand that my platform may be my best contribution to elevating my community to a higher place. The journey itself of finding my sound has been a strenuous one, but now in 2022 as I approach the release of my sophomore album, I do feel as though we have found the sound and path that I started to envision when I was fourteen years old. I was fortunate enough to be able to do the halftime show for the Detroit Pistons back in March of this year and since then this path has felt all the more real. We’re performing at Mo Pop in July and then running the second edition of SW Fest at the end of August, so theres still so much more work to do, but I am really happy with where my career is at right now. The release of this next album genuinely feels like another shift in momentum is on the horizon.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As soon as my friend touches down in the city, we’re going straight to a taqueria here in Southwest. There’s definitely a tiered list of taco spots here in the neighborhood, but for the sake of every restaurant and taco truck owner here in Southwest, we’re just going to say that ALL of them would leave you more than satisfied. After lunch we’d most likely go for a cruise throughout the neighborhood, stopping at several of the murals painted by local artists and many international artists too. There’s so much street art in the neighborhood now and we should be uplifting these creatives so much more rather than trying to crack down on their form of expression. At some point throughout the week we’d probably end up at a community event being organized by centers like MCSDA, Garage Cultural, or UNI or maybe we’d even catch a show over at El Club (Shoutout to the homie Drew for maintaining a solid relationship between one of the cities most active concert venues and the community it resides in). I also love going for walks throughout the neighborhood and I usually find my way over to the river walk, so my friend would definitely have to join me for one of those walks. These walks are usually where I recharge my inspiration. After our long walk, we’d probably order a pizza from Sicilys (Hands down the best pizza in Southwest, shoutout to the homie Ali!) and maybe catch the sunset over in Clark Park. The day before my friend leaves, we’d for sure go have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and arguably the best restaurant in the neighborhood, Flowers of Vietnam. The homie George Azar is a well respected chef on an international level and he just so happens to have been born and raised in Southwest Detroit. Before taking my friend to the airport, I’d make sure we send them off with some treats from one of our bakeries. I guess the point i’m trying to make is if I have a friend visiting, we might end up going downtown for a bit or even taking the time to visit Belle Isle, but for the most part Southwest is a vacation in of itself.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I always have to let it be known that I would not be where I am today without the inspiration, love, and support that I am given from my neighborhood in Southwest Detroit. I am only a small reflection of the culture, persistency, and pride that we all carry within us when you come from this community. My only hope is that I am able to make this journey easier for the next generation of creatives from Southwest so they can take it even further than the heights I plan on taking my career to. I also come from a single-parent home, so the obvious answer would have to be my mother (Amelia Duran). I spent my entire childhood admiring her resiliency to push through challenging moments and desperate times, all while putting my necessities and desires first. The values my mother instilled in me were the same values my grandfather (Ismael Duran) passed down to her through his music, these are the same values that showed us to appreciate and nurture community.
“Si no se abren las puertas, el pueblo las sabe abrir.” – Daniel Viglietti
“If the doors do not open, the village will know how to open them”
Facebook: Gabriel Duran
Renato Pecina Xavier Cuevas Leandro Lara Jacob Mulka