Interview : Daniel Koek
Daniel is firmly established as one of musical theatre’s leading men and has had leading roles in shows including Les Misérables in the West End, Chess and West Side Story. We chat to Daniel about his new album, new single with Charlotte Jaconelli and upcoming tour.
It seems to be a very busy time for you at the moment?
Yes, no rest for the wicked it seems. I was just saying to Charlotte (Jaconelli) that I didn’t know what time zone we were on. I was in Berlin last week for a corporate Les Misérables gig then I was in Athens for another one then two days later I was in Dubai and now I’m in London.
How do you manage to balance all of your different projects?
Sometimes there isn’t a balance. Unfortunately in this industry when it’s all going, all systems go, you have to just go with it – in terms of press opportunities, corporate gigs and all that kind of thing.
When you come out of a long running show like I have, I’ve kind of made a choice this year that after a year in Les Mis and subsequently to that five years in a row appearing in long running shows that I’d start and do more things on a solo level. So you’ve got to take things as they come.
How was it recording ‘All I Ask Of You’ with the incredibly talented Charlotte Jaconelli?
When Charlotte came to me and said she wanted me to collaborate with her on her album and then again with the single, I was delighted. The genre of Charlotte’s album is very similar to that of mine. The more strings you have to your bow, so to speak, the better I think. In this industry I think it’s all about collaboration and cross-pollination if you will, and all that kind of thing. She’s a joy to work with and as soon as I heard and saw her I knew I wanted to work with her on her project. It’s been wonderful.
It’s a song from Phantom of the Opera that is a show I haven’t appeared in yet. Playing the Phantom is a dream of mine so hopefully that’ll happen one day. Historically lots of people who’ve played Jean Valjean in Les Mis have gone on to play the Phantom so fingers crossed that continues to be the trend.
What about you and Charlotte recording a full album together?
Yeah, I’d absolutely be up for that – never say never. I think the focus on the single is gaining lots of momentum for her album and my own album ‘High’ that’s released on 4th May. We’ll see where we go. Albums don’t just happen overnight and there’s lots of blood, sweat and tears that goes it to them. I think we’ll ride the single and tour out and see how it goes. Maybe a conversation about an album together is one we need to have with Sony records.
We’d love to know more about your new album High
It’s my second album and I’ve kind of gone a bit more mainstream with this one. The lead single is called ‘High’ and it’s also the title track of the album. ‘High’ probably isn’t that well known which is why I chose the song to lead the album. It’s got a great message and a great euro-beat kind of feel to it. I’m really pleased with how that number came out.
I’ve also become an Arts Ambassador for Qantas airlines this year and they’re helping with promoting the album and from 4th May, when the album comes out, they’ll be playing the album on the inflight entertainment across their worldwide flights. It’s great promotion and exposure for me so that’s awesome.
“I think if you can just be the best person that you can be in the career you’ve chosen and people reflect on that and aspire to be like you – I think that’s an amazing feeling.”
The album also includes tracks by Adele and Josh Groban so it’s a lot more commercial to my previous album ‘Self Titled Tenor’. There’s some musical theatre on the album too and I had to include ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis. The last song on the album is a lovely song and was written by a guy called Brendan Graham and he wrote ‘You Raise Me Up’ for Josh Groban (later recorded by Westlife) and it’s an original song that has never been released before so that’s a real honour. The album is a great collaboration of music and some of the songs really represent times and experiences I’ve had over the last fives years.
Is there a song on the new album that’s more personal to you?
I guess ‘Bring Him Home’ is quite personal to me as I spent so much time working on Les Mis – the musical the song is from. I’ve actually recorded the song as a duet with Jonathan Ansell so there’s a different spin on the track. We’ve turned lots of the tracks on the album upside down and I thought ‘Bring Him Home’ would work beautifully with two male voices.
Are there any other collaborations on the album?
Yes, there’s one other duet on the album and it’s with a young lady called Carrie Hope Fletcher. Carrie was a colleague of mine is Les Mis and she played Eponine. She has a stunning voice. Her voice has more of a pop sound and we’ve recorded a duet to the song ‘Remember Me’. The song was a song Josh Groban recorded for the motion picture Troy and the music was produced by James Horner, but I’ve turned it in to a duet to hone in on Carries amazing vocals.
‘High’ and ‘Remember Me’ have a kind of middle-eastern feel and sound to them. I had to hunt high and low for a particular sounding instrument called a Duduk when we were recording the album. I’ve thought outside the box when recording this album.
Video : Watch Charlotte Jaconelli and Daniel Koek perform ‘All I Ask Of You’. The single is available to download now.
What are your hopes for the album?
Obviously I’m hoping it flies out the door as soon as it’s released. But more so as I’m trying to establish myself more as a mainstream solo artist I’m hoping more and more people are introduced to my music and my sound and hopefully become fans of it. Every musician hopes people fall in love with their music and I guess that’s mine.
Did you have any role models in the entertainment industry when you were growing up?
I had a couple actually but both were Australian so I’m not sure if they’ll be known to anyone outside of Australia.
There’s a guy called Anthony Waller who made the role of the Phantom of the Opera famous in Australia and he’s a baritone with such a warm and rich sound. He’s an amazing guy too and he had a long battle with Leukemia that he came out the other side of. I found him quite inspirational.
There’s another guy call John Farnham who’s more of a rock legend back home in Australia. My mum and dad used to take me to all of his concerts when I was growing up.
I’ve got an eclectic taste in music and those two were definitely role models for me growing up.
How does it feel knowing lots of people now think of you as their role model?
It feels amazing. I mean, I think if you can just be the best person that you can be in the career you’ve chosen and people reflect on that and aspire to be like you – I think that’s an amazing feeling.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I especially enjoy getting up each day and not really knowing what the day will bring. Things can change each day. I really enjoy the travel aspect of my job and I’ve been doing lots of travelling lately. I love getting out there and meeting new people, I guess schmoozing – there you go, I’ve said it (laughs).
Is musical theatre taking a back seat at the moment?
For the time being it’s all album promotion and promoting and preparing for the ‘Light up the Night’ tour, as well as a number of corporate gigs so it’s all really busy. I’ll be going back to Australia in June to perform in Adelaide at a Cabaret festival too. Until then it’s all systems go so there’s no time between now and August for anything else.
I always say never say never and you never know what comes up when you don’t expect it.
“I’m trying to establish myself more as a mainstream solo artist I’m hoping more and more people are introduced to my music and my sound and hopefully become fans of it. Every musician hopes people fall in love with their music and I guess that’s mine.”
New album :
Daniel’s new album, ‘High’ featuring the songs ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ is released on 4th May. It’s available to pre-order from his website and from iTunes now.