Junto Profile: Daniel Díaz

From Paris, France: working in film, making space, keeping a notebook

This Junto Profile is part of a new series of short Q&As that provide some background on various individuals who participate regularly in the online Disquiet Junto music community.

Where Are You Located? I was born in Argentina of Spanish parents, so I also have their nationality. After spending some time between NYC and Buenos Aires in the 1990s I moved to Paris, France, where I live now.

What Is Your Musical Activity? For decades I made my living with different combinations of: session musician (bassist mostly but I’ve been a multi-instrumentalist from the beginning) both in the studio and live, working as a copyist (handwriting in the late 1980s and then using Finale 1.0 and 2.0 and Encore 1), and giving music lessons (composition, improvisation, bass, guitar).

But the common thread of my musical life is composing and recording my own ideas. I started with a custom tweaked double cassette Sharp boombox, then a Tascam Porta One, then a Porta Two. Later it got serious with a Fostex 8 track open reel, then one ADAT (8 track digital), later 2 ADAT in sync (16 track digital) and finally digital DAW. 

I’m happy that, since 2005 approximately, I make my living as a film/TV composer and arranger-producer for other projects, so I can do for 12 hours a day what I always loved the most and, I think, it’s my greatest strength: composing, recording and playing many instruments in the studio.

Disquiet Junto member Daniel Diaz, aka Dede

What Is One Good Musical Habit? I see my creative process as a two-part thing: there’s the idea and the actual creation process itself. My habit is to always keep “ideas” in stock. I have a notebook (music notation paper) that I carry with me all the time and there’s also a folder on my PC with snippets of audio. So I try to keep a log of “ideas” to be used as a spark for a creative process. Sometimes using an idea that’s 15+ years old (and I can’t quite recall where that came from) takes me to unexpected places. I guess this habit made me avoid the “Blank Page Syndrome” for ages…

What Are Your Online Locations? I’m pretty bad at online “social” activity, so I mostly use social media for promoting stuff, I’m afraid. I do enjoy following the Lines Junto thread when I participate, reading everything but not writing as much as I would like. I participate on a couple of private forums (audio, composition) but I can be absent for months. I guess Instagram is the only one I do use regularly, and I respond to messages and interact a bit more. There’s a section “Socials” with all my links here: lnk.bio/ddiaz and on the left side bar of my website, dedeland.com.

What Was a Particularly Meaningful Junto Project? Hands down; the collaborative Juntos like 0270, 0316/0317, 0368/0369, 0430/0431, and 0526/0527. It’s all about what I was mentioning earlier about finding an outside or unexpected “spark” to take you places — something that sets in motion the creative process. I listen to those shared creations and they still surprise me.

And there are a couple of tracks inspired totally by a Junto prompt, things I started from scratch a certain Friday morning and finished before the end of the day, and looking back, I consider it as good as other personal stuff I composed and recorded with much more effort and time. For example this is one I’m particularly fond on and that would never have existed without the challenge:

Has your work composing music to accompany film influenced your own original music compositions, and if so how? My work for film and TV taught me to address other people’s requests, like those of producers, directors, and supervisors. Previously my personal work was always, by definition, just for me, so it only had to pass my own “quality control.” Even if I’d submitted the finished product to a label, it was my call.

Film and TV work introduces a different dynamic and you have to adapt to it: somebody asking you to change a particular instrument, or song structure, or removing eight measures, and not being mad about it, just do it, it will be ok. Your track will still be yours without those eight bars. Most of the time, the people I work with and for are extremely professional, anyway; they know what they are talking about, so they won’t make “un-musical” requests.

Another thing: my music used to be quite dense, and I learned to make the sound — and sometimes the arrangement — more spacious, or “transparent.” Music for visual media requires a bit more space. If you leave as much “room” as possible, the re-recording mixer will be happy — and your music will be louder on the final cut! This attention to density and aim for “clearness” influenced my own personal work a lot.