Daniel Paik sits center stage at a beautiful black piano, eyes closed, entranced with the music that flows through his fingers. The melody ends and the crowd cheers, and as he begins to make his way to the dressing room, he ponders his past successes and his future at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He throws on faded slacks, an oversized shirt, ripped vans and a pink beanie, and heads for an empty parking lot, board clutched under his arm. He jumps on his board, jazz blaring through his headphones, and lands a No Comply. Two passions intermingle into one through the music in his ears and the board underneath his feet.
What do you play?
I play jazz music, swing music, community music, music that makes people feel good.
What instruments do you play?
I play jazz piano and jazz vibraphone.
How did you start music?
Around kindergarten my mom made me play classical piano. I like classical piano but I didn't really like taking lessons.
Why didn't you like lessons?
I like learning by myself but I stuck with it and I'm glad I did because I was able to develop a better technique which allowed me to improvise better when I started playing jazz.
What's your favorite thing to play?
I like ballads because it gives you a lot of time to think about what your playing and really take it in.
How would you describe your sound?
Very unpredictable. It's very exhilarating and exhausting knowing you have control over someone's emotions with what your playing. I'm still developing my sound but I'd describe it as a lot of tension and release.
What do you see with music in your future?
I picture myself at a jazz club with a bass player and a drummer and maybe a horn player in my combo.
What's your biggest dream with music?
When I die and people hear my music, I want them to know it's me without anyone telling them.
If you could choose any venue in the world to sell out, what would it be?
Do you write your own music?
Yeah, I wrote a ballad for my friend Kyra once.
Who are your main influences?
Bill Evans, Bobby Hutcherson, Keith Jarret and Dwayne Burno.
Outside of other artists, what inspires you to create music?
I play music for sentimental reasons. Whenever I play or listen to jazz I become nostalgic about a time I wasn't even born in.
Is there a specific song you play that means a lot to you?
I like the song, "I Love You", by Cole Porter. It has a lot of interesting intervals. I really like the chords in that song.
What advice would you give to beginners?
Don't lie to yourself. You know when you're not practicing. Just know that when you're not practicing there's a cat that is. Somewhere on the planet, there's a cat your age that's practicing and getting better than you.
What does music mean to you?
Honestly, if jazz didn't exist I wouldn't be here right now without a doubt. There will never be another truth. Jazz is the only music that deserves to be called music. It is the purest form of music. So little is known about it. This beautiful [thing] called jazz is forever lost in time but I will carry on its beautiful legacy. Jazz truly means the world to me.