We reached out to Daniel for an interview, and he kindly accepted.
1. How did you get the idea to start Pop Danthology?
I used to be a very active singer/songwriter who would do a lot of covers of popular songs. There were a lot of other YouTube musicians making their own soulful renditions of songs who sang and played guitar much better than I did, so I figured I had to do something else in order to differentiate myself. I decided to make my covers in the genre of electronic dance music. Since producing this kind of music with so many layers would take a lot of time, I decided to sing a medley of multiple pop songs into one video. Three songs in one arrangement then turned into ten in one. My subscribers were really enjoying it. Some requested “Hey, I own a bar/club and would love to play your mix… not that you’re a bad singer, but I know my patrons would love to hear a mix like this with the original singers. Would you think about making a mix like that?” These requests kept on coming, so I decided to listen and I made my first Pop Danthology in 2010.
2. Has being a minority in America helped or hindered your path to success in any way?
I believe all of humankind needs one another to reach their highest potential. And, as humans, we happen to naturally enjoy finding community with like-minded, relatable people. Being a minority has given me the opportunity to connect with so many more people, many people who perceive me to be more relatable simply because of my ethnicity and cultural upbringing.
3. Asians are often contained within a rigid stereotype about who they can be in society, so it’s rare to find them in media and entertainment. As an artist on YouTube, how do you feel about breaking this stereotype?
Compared to other Asians, I think I care much less about breaking Asian stereotypes. I live my life doing what I want to do, love to do, and try my best to make things happen, no matter the obstacles that lie ahead of me (including unfavorable stereotypes), not because I care to change people's minds, but because I simply love excellence. The way I live, though, does happen to surprise a lot of people, change their minds about humans in general, and, yes, change their minds about Asians in general too. But humankind's inevitable, uncontrollable, unpredictable tendency to make generalizations is not really a big concern of mine. And for that reason, I dont exactly celebrate when generalizations are temporarily fixed.
4. Young Asian-Americans often feel lots of pressure to pursue “success.” What is your definition of success? Do you have any advice for today’s Asian-American youth?
I personally believe that, before we were even born, a good God designed each and every one of us in an amazing way with powerful intrinsic gifts that can positively change the world (make "heaven" a reality on earth). I personally believe that all the difficulties and pains of life though, causes many to fall far from their original design and lose their effectiveness in using their gifts. I define success as having fought through our inner obstacles, living out our original design, and making a positive change in the world.
Here at Declarasian, we couldn't agree more with Daniel's advice. Follow your passions and do what you want because that is the only way to live life to it's fullest. Not only does he inspire us to following our dreams, his success is a reminder that if you put in the effort, anything is possible.
Thanks again to Daniel for his insightful and inspirational comments!
Authors: Carina Sun and Claire Cao
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