“[1 of ] The 5 Best Genre-Defying Albums Of 2010” -NPR // I can bring UNIQUE MAGIC to your track using my skills as a top line melody writer, co-writer, male singer or producer.
I've recorded for FAT CAT RECORDS, I've arranged + mixed for FRIGHTENED RABBIT and provided string, horn and choral arrangements for PENNY & SPARROW. My music has been used by SHOWTIME, THIS AMERICAN LIFE and several feature films, including a premiere at TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL. Radio-ready recordings heard on NPR, BBC, WNYC, KKXT, etc. My solo recordings are represented by BANK ROBBER MUSIC / ROUGH TRADE PUBLISHING. I am a valuable addition to your team as a top-liner, singer or producer.
“….a kind of junior Jim O’Rourke, a musical polymath whose records have the potential to spiral off in any or every direction” -The Wire
“...suddenly something startling was happening, and the audience noticed it.“ -New York Times
“Exuberant, messy and glorious” -NPR
"...lush production and recordings full of brilliant nuance.” -Tiny Mix Tapes
“With discreet orchestration worthy of Van Dyke Parks and poignant, quavering vocalizing, D.K. Daniels’ fourth release, Sharp Teeth, is a collection of musical dramas rife with ambiguity, wry understatement, and majesty.” -SF Weekly
“A beguiling example of the kind of risk taking that is sadly missing in most modern music” -The Music Fix
“Yes!“ -Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes)
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
9 Reviews - 2 Repeat ClientsEndorse David Karsten Daniels
David is an incredible producer, songwriter, and collaborator and he continues to be a real asset to our ongoing project. Stoked to see where this collaboration takes us, and to work on future projects together.
Had a wonderful time collaborating with David! I was already a fan of David's solo work and songwriting, so it was already a dream to co-write with him, but it's also worth mentioning that he's an incredible producer! He honed in on the exact sound that I've been trying to create and was incredibly patient as I worked through multiple iterations of lyrics. David also made my vocals sound consistently good even though I recorded half the song on low-quality equipment. Highly, highly recommend!
Very Creative, with such character and tone in his voice! Highly Recommend!
Usually I am the one that is fastidious about song structure and each thread evolving throughout but David has certainly outperformed me on this one. He delivered clear melody, clear narrative, & clear production. And all thoughtfully at that. Thank you David. Next time I shall compete. Best, Lyle
- check_circleVerified (Client)
A very, very talented songwriter! I really enjoyed working on David's song. He is top notch and created a beautiful track that was a joy to sing. Highly recommend!
David stays on task and delivers timely and quality work.
- check_circleVerified (Client)
David was a pleasure to work with. He supplied me with a great mix to master and his communication and decision-making were quick and assured.
Excellent standard of work from David maintained. This is my second project with him and I would do a 3rd, 4th and beyond.
David was very easy to work with, followed my instructions to the letter, and achieved exactly the sound I was after with his vocals. I would have no hesitation hiring him again.
Interview with David Karsten Daniels
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: For myself, mostly mid-tempo cinematic pop or folk music. But the requests I get lately are typically for pop, hip hop, edm, indie pop or folk.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Writing melodies/chord progressions and Arranging/overdubbing whatever is needed to bring bona fide MAGIC to a track. Coaching singers to give their best performances.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Send me SOMETHING to listen to when you first contact me. I love hearing about any genre, musical or thematic references you can give me. If you have FINAL lyrics send them as well. We can chat about what you're needing and then I'll get started on my end, recording and sending rough mixes back to you as we go to make sure we're on the same path together. At the end, I'll send you files however you need them (individual tracks, stems, mix, etc)! Bonus: if you tell me upfront HOW you'll want files back(wet/dry, stems/individual), it will inform how I track and buss them in the first place.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: A) Toplining / Co-Writing: (melodies and sometimes words too) B) Male Vocalist: my own singing (lead, backing, etc) C) Producing: typically taking the ideas of singer-songwriters and realizing them with full arrangements and a killer mix, often coaching the best performances out of singers - better melodies, the most emotive use of their vocal ranges, etc D) Film scores typically for documentaries and quiet indie films
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Check out my previous work. You can listen to all the work I reference above on Spotify
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: "Was there something specific about my work that gave you the feeling that I would help you meet your musical goal?"
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), Brian Eno, Wilco, David Bazan, Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), Thundercat, Finneas
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: In my own studio, I mix "in the box" (in Ableton typically) and record most everything with either a Audio-Technica AT4050 (very detailed) or a Beta SM 57A (great for airy vocals, especially female). If required, I typically record keys using soft synths. Guitars or Bass in real life. I can record my own drumming, but find myself usually programming drums or turning my drum takes into midi data to trigger drum samples
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: - "I have a the pieces of a song here, can you help me take it to the next level?" Yes, let's make sure the chords, melody and song structure are where they need to be. Then let's sure make the arrangement is putting the song in its best light. Finally let's mix it well. - "Can you bring that SHARP TEETH sound? (An arrangement-heavy album I made in 2007.)" Yes, we can do fairly realistic string and horn arrangements using samples, but if you want the real thing, we have to hire those players but I can absolutely write their parts - "Can you write a melody for this song" Yes, but first let me know what artists or songs you love. We want to make sure we're both working towards the same goal.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been making recordings since I was in 9th grade (1994). I have a Bachelors in Music Composition(2001). I started a record label in my 20s and was then signed to FAT CAT records in 2007 (Bjork, Sigur Ros, Animal Collective, Frightened Rabbit). I've recorded ALOT of music and toured the US, Canada and Europe.In my 30s I started collaborating with others more: rappers, singers from American Idol and the Voice. I got really interested in writing for female singers.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Impose a limit for a song and stick with it to the end. For example, "what would this vocal take like if we only allowed you to use falsetto and sing so quietly the notes barely came out"? Or "how would the arrangement change if we removed one "very important" instrumental element like the bass or the kick drum"?
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: A comprehensive left and right brained approach. A strong understanding of how all the different elements of a song work together to create the whole. An strong ear for melody and musical structure (how the different parts of the song fit together). Serious arranging chops.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: For myself its quiet, melancholic, imaginative psychedelic folk, for others it's more often very 'current' sounding Pop music. Also Soundtracks.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm doing a series of pop/hip hop influenced singles this year. Writing for and with several female songwriters at the moment.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Julian Lowe @ JML Mastering, London is a solid mastering engineer. Charlene (singer with sparkle) is an excellent female vocalist.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Bjork - She never repeats herself and approaches everything from a unique perspective. Julia Michaels - such an interesting songwriter, I'd love to be in the room with her. Kendrick Lamar, always pushing boundaries.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: iPhone + SHURE MV88 to always be ready to capture ideas. AT4050 mic + my laptop holding my neverending collection of synthesizers and samples.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I can't think of any. My profile is detailed and I find that communication between provider and client is quite clear over SoundBetter.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will help you make something unique!
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I wrote the music and recorded the soundtrack for the feature film HARVEST directed by S. Cagney Gentry. It was really exciting to work on something so tied to PLACE, in this case Appalachia.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. So easy to collaborate.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The freedom to try ANYTHING.