Megan Megremis conducted this interview on February 18th with Daniel Huston, a musician from Indianapolis now studying at Belmont University in Tennessee.
MM: Describe your role in the music business and any current projects you are working on.
DH: Since moving to Nashville three years ago, I’m happy to say that I’ve found my way into many different areas of the music business. Since April of last year, I have been touring with country music artist Austin Burke. I play keys and sing BGV’s (background vocals) for our live shows and help co-write some of his new original music. Austin has had tremendous success on streaming platforms, racking up over 25+ million streams on Spotify alone. We are in the process of negotiating a record and publishing deal that will take his songs to radio and put us on a nationwide tour. For the past two years I have served as Music Director and accompanist for Off The Square Theatre Company in Franklin, TN. We have produced shows such as Peter Pan, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Marry Poppins, Oliver, and the Wizard of Oz. I am a certified accompanist at Belmont University. I work closely with the Musical Theater program playing for private lessons, seminars, recitals, and showcases. I also accompany commercial voice students in their private lessons/seminars etc, and have accompanied University Singers, our freshman mixed choir. I regularly perform, co-write, and play recording sessions with local artists in Nashville. I particularly enjoy band leading for various artists and arranging music for live shows. I’m usually too busy during the year, but I teach piano and voice over the summers. I’m also the keyboard player for a Belmont School of Music ensemble called Company. This ensemble consists of about 14 upperclassmen commercial voice majors and a six piece band. We perform a variety of songs from various genres. We have up to a two hour fully choreographed show which we perform a few times per semester. Right now we’re preparing for an east coast tour this upcoming March. Finally I am a full time student at Belmont studying commercial piano performance. In my private lessons I study jazz and essentially all other contemporary styles. I take a lot of music courses in addition to liberal arts general education courses.
MM: How did you get into the business you are in? What do you like most about it?
DH: I started studying classical piano at the age of five and never stopped. In junior high and high school I started to develop a love of improvising and commercial styles. This was the main contributing factor that led me to Belmont. I knew I wanted to play piano, but I did not want to be a classical pianist. After I came to Belmont I slowly began to develop my skills and connections. What I like most about what I do now is that I get to work with great people and make amazing music. Being paid to travel the country with some of my best buddies AND play music is unreal. It’s a dream come true.
MM: What are you good at? How do you use your skills?
DH: I have hard skills, and soft skills. My hard skills are things like my technical facility on the piano, sight reading, improvisation, knowledge of different contemporary styles, etc. My soft skills to me, however, are almost more important than any of those other things. My people skills, personality, and character are the reason why I have seen some level of success in the music industry. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you’re a horrible person. The business is not in music— it’s in relationships. If you want the gig, show up on time, know your stuff, and most importantly, be a good person. Give it your all ALL THE TIME. You never know who is watching, or what might happen as a result.
MM: What are some of your greatest achievements?
DH: I would say my greatest achievement is moving to Nashville not knowing a single person, to being where I am today. It’s hard work every day. Nothing about it is easy. But to me it’s totally worth it.
MM: What’s the most challenging thing about being a musician?
DH: The most challenging part about being a musician for me is time management and prioritization. Too many good things can be a bad thing. I’ve had to learn to say no. I’ve had to learn what too much looks like for me (the hard way). I’ve had to learn my limits and how to balance my day to day so I don’t literally go crazy. But at the end of the day, I like to remind myself that I am so blessed to be able to pursue this crazy career. If you have a dream work your butt off to make it happen. Set yourself up for success and go for it!
MM: Thank you so much for your time, Daniel. Good luck with all of your endeavors!
DH: My pleasure, thank you for this opportunity.