There was something different about R&B singer Adrian Daniel from the first time I heard his music. The thing is, It’s actually incorrect to classify him as a R&B singer. In an interview Highlark did almost a year ago, Adrian himself had this to say;
I’m trying to push this Soul, R&B music or whatever they want to call it. I’m trying to push this as much as I can.
His intent to push the boundaries are clear, but I was never a fan of people trying to be different for the sake of being different. That’s not true intent. That’s not going to change the game. Thankfully, what Adrian is doing is not that.
He’s not trying to be different. He is simply being himself, and It’s not so much that he is pushing the boundaries either. To him, there really are no boundaries to begin with, because the road to greatness has no limits.
This is the reason Adrian Daniel wakes up every morning. To be great.
That’s the type of person I like to be around, so I decided to follow Adrian around for a day during our coverage of SXSW Music Festival.
MARCH 17TH, 2017 – AUSTIN, TEXAS
I was originally scheduled to meet with Adrian on Wednesday the 15th. A major snow storm hit New York City Tuesday morning, pushing his flight back to Thursday night. Luckily, the Highlark team headed out to Austin on Monday missing the whole snow disaster.
We had been corresponding with Adrian’s manager Toni Nelson on this project and she was extremely professional and prompt in keeping us updated with his schedule. We decided it would be best to meet on Friday.
// 12:00PM – ARTIST GIFTING LOUNGE AT AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
I met Adrian at the Artist Gifting Lounge located in the “Home Base” of SXSW, Austin Convention Center. It was an area for official showcasing artists only, where they can receive some swag and enjoy some amenities provided by sponsors. Adrian was just finishing up getting a fresh cut from celebrity hair stylist Brian Steven Banks.
// 12:10PM – INTERVIEW WITH SOUND EXCHANGE
He had an interview with Sound Exchange shortly after, right outside of the lounge in the hallway of the Convention Center.
I took some shots and got acquainted with the rest of Adrian’s band and team. They were all very welcoming and I felt very comfortable with everyone right away. They reminded me of the whole Entourage crew, where the team is comprised of friends and family.
I reintroduced myself more properly to Adrian afterwards, and waited for everyone to regroup.
I followed him into the next room which was the International Day Stage. He had followed his ears to where the music was, checking out the French live Hip-Hop group that was performing.
This may seem insignificant, but this is the type of thing an artist looking to better their craft would do. Most people won’t care to listen to music in a language they don’t understand, but Adrian had his mind open. Boundary-less.
The group decided to go and check out to the Spotify Artist Lounge next.
I started talking about music to Adrian and he wondered why it’s not a big part of our culture to listen to foreign music. He was referencing the band we just saw, and how he wouldn’t mind hearing them in a supermarket or wherever.
It was certainly an interesting point. It is true that it’s commonplace for most countries to play American music, but in general the opposite is not true.
I did hold myself back a little at this point, but I knew that he was someone I can talk to about a lot of thing for hours.
We made our way outside, and Adrian ran into some friends. SXSW is said to be a great place to network which it is, since nearly everyone in the industry comes out to this event.
Shortly after, a little debate began on whether or not to get the truck out to drive there, or to walk. To add to the dilemma, a Mazda rep was pitching their free car service.
By signing up, they give you a wrist band which allows you to flag down any of the 30 (ish) cars they had dedicated for this initiative for a free ride. It sounds great, but it would require every person to sign up and we were a crew of 9.
There was some bickering, but the type of bickering that happen between good friends and family members. It was funny to see the dynamic and personality of the group. You can tell they were all good people. Many of them would check on me throughout the day to make sure I was good.
// 1:30PM – THE SPOTIFY ARTIST LOUNGE
One of the great things about being an official showcasing artist at SXSW is that you get a bunch of free shit and access to some great amenities and experiences.
Similar to the Artist Gifting Lounge back in the Austin Convention Center, The Spotify Artist Lounge was a house dedicated to providing free drinks, snacks and concierge services to the artists.
I followed Adrian as he checked out the house, and the cool thing was, you can literally take whatever you wanted with you, except the furniture.
There were music accessories like drum sticks and capos, a video game room, even a massage room and someone giving tattoos. The massages were fully booked for the day, but Adrian did pick up a vinyl, a book and few other items. Again, my kind of guy.
While the gang enjoyed some down time, someone approached Adrian and asked if he can take the open seat next to him.
Of course he said yes, and they began to chat. Adrian has that great energy and a way of making everyone around him feel comfortable and welcome.
The man’s name was Ross and he was not an artist but worked for The Austin Winery, who provided the wine for this house. I spoke about SXSW and how it’s amazing for networking earlier, and now Ross and his company are part of this editorial!
Adrian had an invite to Fader Fort, so he wanted to go check that out.
It was an invite only event, and he needed to go pickup the wristbands for it in a different location.
We headed back out but this time the crew decided they wanted to get in the truck. I was totally fine with that decision. The heat and the endless walking that takes place at SXSW can drain you pretty quick.
I hopped out with Adrian and Toni even though I didn’t have an invite to Fader Fort. I figured I can link backup with them later if anything.
The wristband pickup was in this giant warehouse, and there was a wooden board on the floor where a painted car (forgot what brand) was being displayed. Adrian left his mark there before getting his credentials.
Of course there was an issue of me getting a wristband since I didn’t have an invite, but Adrian really pushed for me. I really appreciated that.
The girl didn’t seem to have proper authority so she sent me to another person to try my luck with. Thankfully she hooked it up.
// 3:30PM – FADER FORT
We made our way in to Fader Fort, and checked out the inside part.
Adrian wanted to check out some artists so we headed to the outside area where the stage was.
It seemed to be a recurring theme, Adrian running into someone he knew. Here, it was fellow artist Topaz Jones who was set to perform the same showcase as Adrian the next day.
We hung out for a bit but decided to head out since Adrian wanted to catch Maggie Rogers perform.
The day provided great insight into what an artist does on their day off at SXSW. Because of the flight problems from the weather back in New York, he had missed 2 full days here so he had a lot of catching up to do.
Of course, I didn’t mind.
By the time we got to the venue, the show had already started. Regardless, the line was insane anyway even with our credentials it was at capacity.
We parted ways for day one, scheduling where to meet the next day when he had his showcase.
MARCH 18TH, 2017 – AUSTIN, TEXAS
// 5:30PM – HOUSE OF VANS GIFTING SUITE
We met right outside the venue where Adrian was set to perform, and headed over to the House Of Vans across the street where he had an interview with Nashville publication 2L’s On A Cloud.
Afterwards we all relaxed for a bit until load in. Adrian enjoyed the hammock that was outside, calling his name.
All of a sudden, there was a little scurry. I wasn’t sure what it was all about, but apparently there was a snake somewhere close. We all laughed about how us New Yorkers absolutely DO NOT fuck with snakes. Raccoons, rats, we can deal with but not snakes.
It seemed to be a common phobia among us, and we all jumped and got on our toes.
The staff told us it’s common in Austin and it was just a garden snake. Whatever type of snake it was, the thing was way too big for comfort.
// 7:00PM – THE MOHAWK
It was time to load in at The Mohawk where Adrian was set to perform the ICM showcase.
Up in the green room, he was cool, calm and collected. He was ready to perform. I was eating some sour worms the venue had provided and Adrian said how much he wanted some but how he was going to wait till after he sang so he can keep his throat in the best shape for the show.
He also caught up with his agent Zach Iser, the man responsible for Adrian’s showcase at this year’s SXSW. Zach had to run out, but after her left Adrian told me the story of how they met.
Several agencies were in touch with Adrian but Zach clearly showed his interest in Adrian. Zach would pause a conversation he was having to make sure he got to talk to Adrian. Adrian took notice and appreciated that. In the music industry, signing to big companies does not mean automatic success.
You always want to work with people who genuinely believe in your music. It seemed Adrian had found that, and I felt happy for him.
// 8:50PM – SHOWTIME
The stage was ready for Adrian. His team gathered for a quick prayer before they hit the stage. It was a really cool moment and for a second I wasn’t sure whether to join them or to capture it
No matter how great someone is, one can never reach the highest levels of success without the help of others. Another indication that Adrian was ready for the journey.
Adrian was a performer. He exuded confidence, interacting with the crowd most of whom had never heard his music. He puts on a type of show that grabs people attention, starting with the his voice and the band who was rock solid.
For me, a great live performance is one of the most important things when it comes to musicians. It’s hard to say I really like an artist if I don’t feel like I want to keep seeing them again and again.
People are gonna spend money on artists that put in the work, artists that want to be great. I think that’s what it is. Only a few people want to be great anymore, everybody kind of just wants to fit in or get on, nobody wants to change the game.
There is a lot of talk about the youth of today and whole millennial thing. Whatever your opinion is on that, Adrian Daniel and his whole team displayed all the great characteristics we all hope to have as a person.
Humble, intelligent, caring, respectful, responsible and of course fun loving.
They really made me feel like I was part of their family, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
In many ways Adrian Daniel is already great, but he doesn’t need me to tell him that in order to be the best, you are always a student, always learning, always working hard to be a better version of you than you were the day before, and he already does these things.
The road to greatness is often lonely and treacherous, but Adrian is up for the challenge. He will be one of the greats.