I love touring Uganda. I know this might sound like the worst way to open an article, but do read on…
I saw a poster on social media, a friend had shared it. The few details that stood out for me was, there would be a boat cruise, a musician from Australia in the country and Maurice Kirya and Bruno K would be performing with him. I was immediately curious. I wanted to know more. The musician in question was Daniel Aranda.
In my mind, the name Aranda had to be Ugandan. If not from the Western part of the country, then up North. Perhaps, as I continued entertaining the thought, he had Ugandan parents who moved to Australia. You know these things?
I discovered later, upon inquiring from a friend that Daniel Aranda is Australian from head to toe. I was disappointed! You know how we Ugandans love ‘tying on people,’ right? That disappointment, would be dealt away with, as soon as I realized that there would be a charity concert before the boat-cruise et cetera, et cetera…
Right about now, I would like to thank the internet which allowed me have a conversation with Daniel Aranda. The difference in time-zone almost made it impossible, but, upon discovering that the 20-year-old plays more than five instruments, nothing would stop me. I had numerous questions and I really love hearing, and telling people’s stories.
Born to Rodney Aranda and Lisa Rose, he is an only child. He turns 21 in December. His parents, who are now in their forties split up when he was around 5 years old. His father moved to another home soon after. He remained with his mother.
Daniel narrated this to me, saying, before his father moved, “He left behind a 1980s-era record player. One of the records he had owned was ‘Beach Boys Greatest Hits: 20 All Time Greats’. That record changed my life. It got me through some pretty tough times and saved me from what could have been a very lonely and boring childhood. Music meant as much to me back then as it does now. My Dad and I still play guitar together and sing classic songs from the 60s and 70s.”
When Daniel revealed this to me, I was compelled to share with him a bit of my personal story, but, we all know, today is not my day for telling mine, right? Daniel went on to say, “I remember sitting in my room alone and listening to that record. It blew my mind. The music of The Beach Boys will never cease to amaze and inspire me. Their music is timeless.”
If at this point you are wondering who The Beach Boys are, take heart my brother or sister. You are not alone. I was also caught off-guard here. Again, thanks to the internet, you will not be in the dark any longer than you desire.
If I were out on a movie date, I would have said that I had got my money’s worth from the story he had shared so far, but, there was more. I was the engrossed listener as Daniel Aranda told me about what he described as being a ‘very troubled kid at school.’ He was continuously suspended from school and even expelled twice in high school before he managed to graduate.
His is a story not so different from that of many people here in Uganda. The question I still needed to answer was, how he had managed to pull-through, pursue his passion, learn to play Guitar, Drums, Piano, Bass, Charango, Banjo, Mandolin and a Saxophone, as his main instruments and a couple of others?
Like many of us, music was to him that close friend who gave voice to feelings, thoughts and emotions that could not be easily expressed. He told me that, “Music was always there when not much else was. There’s a strange and almost indescribable healing power within music, I find.” Daniel Aranda also loved movies. They were to him, “a big escape from reality.”
He later ventured into short films between the ages of 11 and 18, wrote scripts and stories and filmed those with a small Canon digital camera that his grandmother had given him as a birthday present. “As I grew older, I got my hands on better cameras and friends to share this passion with. But, before others jumped onboard, I would usually play all of the characters in these crazy little movies!”
I hope you came here for the story, because I am taking you on a ride – a journey into how a 20-year-old Daniel Aranda became who he is and, what he will be doing while in Uganda.
From the moment he heard The Beach Boys’ song ‘Do It Again’ for the first time, a deep desire to create music was deposited in him. He wrote a song called “Safari Beach,” – a simple tune with three chords that pay homage to the 60’s surf-vocal music.
His desire to perform though, came a lot later. It was, according to him, when he saw The Beach Boys, live in Sydney, Australia with his uncle Peter – also a big fan of The Beach Boys. “I sat there for three hours … frozen. I was amazed and it brought me to tears. That was back on August 30th, 2012.”
Playing the different instruments helps Daniel have a better sound. It allows him have a fair grasp and understanding of how a successful band works and plays, both live and in the studio. Daniel Aranda is able to co-ordinate styles, phrases and idiosyncratic sounds to work together in ways that he feels best for his style of playing/writing. Apparently, he is very, very specific and focused with/on live sound.
In 2016, Daniel Aranda performed with The Beach Boys’ former touring drummer and recording artist Bobby Figueroa in Los Angeles, California (2016). It was to him, a situation of I-have-met-my-big-hero. According to him it was an honor to stand beside Bobby Figueroa and perform a few of his songs and some rockin’ classics. For that show, they had Jerry Vilicich on Bass Guitar; an extremely talented performer and player who toured with The Beach Boys in the late 1970s. Additionally, Jeremy Lappitt of the Brian Setzer Orchestra also joined-in and played the Saxophone.
I was beginning to feel jealous of his experience, when Daniel cemented the feeling with, “Gosh, we had a great sound together!”
What did he learn from that experience? He replied saying, “Foremost, I leant about professionalism. Bobby, Jerry and Jeremy are incredibly professional. Their rehearsal techniques and on-stage skill blew me away. They taught me a lot.” The concert was organized by an event management team at The Mint, Los Angeles – the venue that we played. He too was involved with putting this together.
Have you noticed that, up to now I have referred to Daniel Aranda as both musician and performing artiste, and not as a recording artiste? The reason is, as I discovered from our conversation, he is more comfortable with live audiences where he is in charge of his sound. This comes in handy, considering that from May 19th – May 21st, there will be a boat cruise through the source of the Nile at Jinja, Uganda. Here, he will be performing an acoustic set of his own original music, rarely heard covers and surprises! Bruno K, who is one of the more popular former Airtel Trace Music competition stars will be giving us an acoustic performance too. It is certainly true that, the 3-day cruise will be filled with music, fun and laughter as well as great food, camping and storytelling. My imaginations went wild here, especially concerning the food and music. Okay, even the storytelling! Let us just say, everything!
Back to the point I was making. He has a soon-to-be-released single titled, ‘Still Don’t Know You.’ He recorded songs in the past, and has written film scores for short films.
He told me that, ’Still Don’t Know You’ will be a standalone single that appeals to a younger audience. “I am in the process of planning a brand-new, original album to be released in early-mid 2018.”
Considering that, if you decide to come experience the beauty of Uganda, or attend the charity concert which will happen at Hotel Equatorial on May 27th from 4:00pm, you can meet and find out more from him, I will now tell you about the charity cause.
The proceeds from the 27th May, Charity concert which features Maurice Kirya, Bruno K among other opening, will go toward providing safe water to the community of Kyungu, Mukono. It is great that Daniel Aranda is sharing his gift with us, but it is even more encouraging that, together with MySpotGlobal Media, they are rallying us to give back to the community and help those less fortunate than ourselves.
You might wish to follow Daniel Aranda for more updates.