We had the good fortune of connecting with Misha Danilov and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Misha, why did you pursue a creative career?
Pisces are known for being artistic and creative. Growing up, I could not separate my life from music. It was with me since my earliest childhood memories. There was a lot of things I was interested in – stars and planets, wild animals, psychology. As somebody said – “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. It wasn’t a hard decision to become a professional musician. I am a bass player, jazz composer, I teach different instruments and I enjoy every single moment doing it
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to think about music as a form of art and not a tool for making money. I wouldn’t mind if my music had a commercial success, but I don’t want to think about it while I’m composing. I’m happy that with this approach I was a finalist at ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s competition with my very first big band composition Brainwash. At the same time, this approach brings challenges. Living in LA and not trying to make money with what I do the best brings one question – “how to survive?” There were some really hard times. Not being a US citizen, there are strict rules what you can and cannot do for living. At some point, I was not allowed to do any kind of work for money, even music. I’m so thankful to California Jazz Foundation and Music Cares who helped me to pay the bills saved me from becoming homeless.
I guess, I can say that I found a balance now with composing for the sake of art and having music gigs that bring money. And if I treat my commercial gigs the same way I treat my own music I don’t have to compromise.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I think, LA is a great place to be. There are so many things you can do, so many parks and hike trails nearby, so many great restaurants. I am a huge fan of asian cuisine – Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese… just thinking about it makes me hungry. There’s a big choice in a price range and distance. Yelp is a great tool to find the perfect place for you
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Life is a journey, and we start this journey with our family. My parents have always given me the biggest support they could and I thank them for that. My brother, who is also a musician, inspired me to play bass
Sometimes in our journey we meet complete strangers, who change our life forever. I am a lucky person, I met some incredible people, whose support helped me to become who I am now.
Angie Cairns and Kuschel Family, Zafar Khashimov, Jonathan Knaus. Without their help I would not be able to come to the US and study at Berklee College of Music.
Barbara Chen, Jammie and WenChyi Hook, who were very kind to me and my wife in our time in Boston.
I got a great experience with sound and light while I was working at Berklee’s stage crew, while studying there. Ryan Jones and Alejo Planchart became more than managers for me. I always felt their care and support.
Alan Chan – composer and a big band leader motivated me to move to LA from Boston. He included one of my big band arrangements to his concert programs.
And, of course, my wife Yunyun Huang Danilova, who is not just my life partner and a soulmate, but also my producer. All my music goes through her hands. Yunyun’s great taste and judgment brings something special to my music.
Unfortunately, some of the people that gave me huge help and support are not with us anymore. David Neubauer – amazing musician and a magician. He was a leader of two amazing big bands I’ve been lucky enough to play bass with. They played my music and took my composition Come Closer to their book. Michael Parlett is leading David’s “Psych! – The Unexpected Big Band” now.