By way of Miami to Israel to Boston, Daniel Blue is a media artist that has been apart of the production backdrop of the film, music video and TV industry for the last 15 years, a true musician that not only performs, listens but genuinely immerses himself in the sound, and a photographer that beautifully captures images, then composites every single defined element into electric, still-waking moments of reality.
Recently, Daniel Blue kindly contributed his time to share an interview and playlist with MIA. Enjoy!
|Daniel Blue’s Top Eleven Playlist
(“…music to create to…”)
Music Is Art: Tell me about your earliest memory revolving around being creative?
Daniel Blue: It’s interesting as my earliest memories are filled with sports, playing basketball. Creating art would have to be around the age of 12, I started getting into a little bit of graffiti. Mostly doing it on notebook paper and pencil.
Music Is Art: What was growing up for you like?
Daniel Blue: Growing up for me was hectic with three younger brothers, but it was fun. My father raised us and while he was at work, we were taken care of by our nanny who was a Jamaican lady named Cynthia. “Clean ya room man, me not ya slave!” I really liked bands like Primus, Nirvana, and Tool growing up. When I was even younger I’d come home from school and obsess over U2. My first cassette tape was U2’s Zooropa. I loved it, and still do.
Music Is Art: How was your academic background, did you study formally or through your own experiences?
Daniel Blue: I dropped out of High School, moved to Israel for 3 years, came back, got my GED, went to a college for a little bit and realized it wasn’t for me. Then I started getting into more music, and production. Just recently within the past year I graduated from Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging with a Cert. in Photography and where I teach Pre-Production in the film department.
Music Is Art: What past experiences do you carry with you?
Daniel Blue: I was 16 when I moved to Israel. My father is from there and shipped my brothers and I via crate. ;) That’s where I got really heavy into electronic music. Jerusalem specifically. Started MCing a drum and bass night and before you knew it, was playing with labels like Metalheadz and Ganja Crew (UK). I use to run a Drum & Bass night called Steel City Jungle; the guy who started was originally from Pittsburgh, PA. We ran it in Jerusalem in the Russian Compound at a bar called the Vibe. Drum & Bass was very popular in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem back then. You’d be surprised.
When I was 18, I was involved in bringing Run DMC and the Chemical Brothers to Israel on October 3, 1998. I was one of the 3 guys that put on this festival, “Prophecy” and brought it all together through promotion. Two nights before the show was supposed to happen in Northern Israel, the venue decided to cancel on us. We had to quickly find another place. A show that we had planned for 25,000 people, got to only be about 8,000 people. So a lot of money was lost, and luckily it wasn’t mine!
Two weeks prior to the festival, I was in Jerusalem passing out flyers. I handed a flyer to this random guy and he asked about the festival. The guy turned out to be Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, and invited himself to my house down the street. We hung out, he liked our turntables, and ended up deciding to play our festival. He performed only one song called “Happy Birthday Jubilee” and I was fortunate enough to share the stage, introduce him as well as do a little backup harmony for him. He was such a cool guy, wasn’t on the flyer or scheduled for the show at all, he just liked what we were doing and wanted to be involved. A nice surprise for all that attended.
Music Is Art: Did you get more involved with music when you came back to live in Miami?
Daniel Blue: I got back to Miami early November 1998. Then a year later, I moved to Pittsburgh where I was involved in music festivals and the rave scene. Then I went back to Miami where I started bartending and DJing at South Beach nightclubs like Buck 15. I opened for Pete Rock, and DJ’d parties with Black Eyed Peas and numerous other acts.
Later I started a band with a friend of mine called The Junkies, and we became pretty successful. Our music is currently on SITV, and Discovery World. We collaborated together for 4 years, played Ultra Music festival a couple times and had a small tour up the East coast.
Music Is Art: From there, how did you begin assisting on commercials and music video productions?
Daniel Blue: My friend Cosmo that I started the band with, his mom owned a company that supplied production vehicles and motor homes for celebrities and production staff called Mirikesh out of Miami. I got involved in working film gigs through that. I drove the star coaches and got to know a lot of these people by driving their motor homes. As a motor coach driver, you show up, set up, sit there and do absolutely nothing. You’re in the motor homes with these big people like Cash Money, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West. Really surreal. But I’m not a star struck dude.
I started assisting, worked my way up doing a lot of big network television gig’s, print shoots, and began learning the more technical side on my own. Back then I was behind the scenes, and creative production takes a lot of manpower. I have worked in just about every department from camera, gripping, assistant direction, production assistance, and the art department. All and all from music to film, it’s been over 15 years in production.
Music Is Art: What began your passion for photography?
Daniel Blue: I’m just an artistic guy. I’m not artistic in the idea of Picasso. I don’t paint, I don’t draw, but I love the audio and visual medium. It really grabs me. The side of photography that I really enjoy is retouching. Anyone can take a picture but not everyone is a photographer. I like the post portion of photography a lot. I like manipulating images, and I like compositing. I love shooting weddings, I love the spin I put on weddings. I have a certain kind of clientele; people who are a little bit more artsy and eclectic because that’s who I am. At the same time, still life photography grabs me. I like the slowness, tediousness, and the thought that goes into it. I like to spend my time on photography; painting with pixels, as to me… that’s art.
Music Is Art: When you’re working, are you fully involved or is your mind already planning ahead?
Daniel Blue: I get a simple idea and I work on it for 5 or 6 hours. Always making sure to walk away periodically. From the moment I become interested in the project to the end result, it changes. The end result is nothing like how it begins, it never is. And the small inspiration I have from whatever small idea it is, takes on a life of its own. I put on tunes, and I go.
Music Is Art: On average, how long does it take you to finish one of your pieces?
Daniel Blue: From shooting to concept to final edit, it usually takes me anywhere from 8 to 10 hours because I may do a couple different renditions per picture. I’ll do one that I really like, I’ll play on that and I may not like that one, and then I’ll go to another one. I like to build. If you look at my workflow, a lot of my stuff has 4 or 5 different versions. Then I go from there, pick which one I like the most and fine-tune it. It’s just how I work; it’s my own process. My process is redundancy, obsessiveness, and not settling. I like everything, the shooting, the capturing, and the editing. I like it all, and enjoy the entire process. Even waiting for shit to render, I like it all, it’s weird.
Music Is Art: What is your favorite thing that you have created?
Daniel Blue: Recently I shot Artist and Performer Jason Escape. I worked on a piece with him and a pendulum that I shot, in studio, then composited. I’m really, really psyched about the final result.
Music Is Art: What does being creative mean to you?
Daniel Blue: Doing what you love, and loving what you do is creative in its own right. When someone takes the time to do something creative, it is expressing him or her in the most tangible form. Through dance, it’s tangible. If you paint, it’s tangible.
Music Is Art: If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do so?
Daniel Blue: I work in the media arts. I photograph, I edit. I film, I edit. I work the production level of commercials, music videos, films and TV shows.
Music Is Art: Where do you draw most of your inspiration?
Daniel Blue: Music. Anytime I get in the mood to work, it’s usually after I hear a really great tune that inspires me. All I do is listen to music. I love downtempo, ambient, and trip-hop genres. There are so many artists I could mention, I could start going but it would get ridiculous. I’m a big Boards of Canada fan as well as Aphex Twin, which originally got me into electronic music. Ethereal grooves, and laid back sounds really inspire me.
Music Is Art: Name a few photographers you admire – past and/or present.
Daniel Blue: I’m a big fan of Mike Powell, sports photographer extraordinaire. He shoots world-class athletes competing in world-class events. Number 2? Mark Seliger. Chief Rolling Stones photographer, from 1992-2002. He’s doing a lot of big commercial work these days for Hollywood that looks stunning. I’ve been following him since I was young, and I got to work with him recently as an assistant, which was really cool! Also Annie Leibovitz. Her work speaks for itself. And I have to throw in a fourth. I really love Imagix Studio composite work. He’s based out of Boston, like myself, and his work is on another level. You’ll be seeing more of him on a national level soon I assume.
Music Is Art: What do you hope people take from seeing your work?
Daniel Blue: I’m not a run of the mill photographer, even in my wedding photography. I want my images to be theatrical even. I like color, vibrancy, fun shots, and dark lines. I want people to take away a feeling of originality with my work. We live in such a media saturated world. Tougher then it sounds.
Music Is Art: Tell me what turns you on, turns you off?
Daniel Blue: What turns me on? Hmmm. Artistic ability and the curious. What turns me off? Hake fish. Mind you I eat everything. And people who know what type of fish that is, will understand why. What also turns me off? Ego. People who don’t have the ability to be humble.
Music Is Art: Is there something that few people know about you?
Daniel Blue: I love Michael Jackson.
Music Is Art: What is your favorite experience of your life?
Daniel Blue: My favorite experience of my life by far was living in Israel. It’s just a different culture of people; my people. The experiences there are far different from here. It really opened my eyes to what else is out there. We human beings tend to live in a bubble, and until you burst that bubble you don’t really know what’s out there.
Music Is Art: Any famous words to live by?
Daniel Blue: Here is something profound, “the killer and the chicken.”
Daniel Blue Photographey specializes in
Still Life / Portraiture / Fashion / Weddings / Events
Be sure to see more of Daniel Blue Photography at:
Website :: www.danielbluephotography.com
Facebook :: http://www.facebook.com/danielbluephotography