Name: Dan Weiss

Nationality: American
Occupation: Composer , drummer
Current Release: The Dan Weiss Trio's Dedication, featuring Jacob Sacks on piano and Thomas Morgan on bass, is out via Cygnus.
Recommendations: Crescent by John Coltrane and Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor.

If you enjoyed this interview with Dan Weiss and would like to stay up to date with his music, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

For an interview with one of his collaborators, check out our Trevor Dunn interview and our conversation with Trevor about improvisation.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing the drums when I saw six. I started messing around at the piano at that same age. My first influence was Led Zeppelin IV. Then I got into Rush, Metallica, and jazz and Western classical and Indian music later on.

The rhythm, harmony and melody drew me into it.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I just focus on the sound and I listen to the music actively. The more I hear it, the more it influences me and comes through in my writing and playing.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

The musicians that I loved always had a personal voice. That was something I knew I wanted to pursue. So everything from the music that I love to my sense of humor to my favorite movies contributes to my personal voice.

Breakthroughs come for me when I least expect them. As long as I put the work in, the breakthroughs come. So I just have to be patient.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I’m a hard worker. If I work hard the ideas will come. They might not come every day, or every month, but if I keep at it the creativity will flourish.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

I try to keep an open mind and stay positive, which is the way I try to live my life.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I don’t really think about any of that stuff. I think about when I’m playing knowing the tradition I’m coming out of and respecting it. I’m trying to make the best music I can.

When I practice, I try to stay as focused as possible, and I’m just being true to what’s inside.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Drums, tabla, piano, and electric bass have been the tools, and learning about them and practicing them has been the strategy.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

I’ll drop my daughter off at school, drink coffee, practice the table, practice the drums, exercise like running every other day, listen to music.

At bedtime I listen to interviews with the great jazz artists like Max Roach, Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

Something I’m proud of is this record called Sixteen: Drummer’s Suite. I worked on writing it every night.

It was about putting together ideas from drummers I love: Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Tony Williams, Philly Joe Jones and Ed Blackwell. I wrote pieces either based on eight measures or 16 measures.

It was crazy, but when I listen to it I really like it.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I like to mix it up. I like to do things solitary and also communally. I like to listen to music by myself and with friends.

I like to practice and make music by myself and also with friends and collaborators.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I try to make a positive impact on my community and myself and maybe that can do something for society.

Music can be a healing force, and it certainly has been one for me.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Sometimes if I’m going through a tough time I’ll write music to channel the pain and grief.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I like to make coffee and I work hard at it.

Music is a different language than making coffee or changing the sheets or running.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I just believe in the power of music. I see that people’s lives have been changed by it.