CHARLES DANEK

My name is Charles Danek, and I am a musician.

Recently, someone asked me: “How do you know when you have made it in LA?” As a kid growing up rural Northern Michigan, with MTV visions of Porsches and the Hollywood Hills in my mind, I could have answered this question pretty easily! But what comes with living in this city is the realization that “making it in LA” is not something tangible but entirely a matter of perspective. I know people here who are genuinely at peace with working in relative obscurity, and others who are miserable despite their astonishing accomplishments. So finally, the definition I came to embrace, is that you know you’ve “made it” in LA when the dream you came here with gives way to you knowing exactly where to draw the line between reality and fantasy.

When I first came to Los Angeles in 1996, my fantasy was the freedom I believed fame and fortune could afford me. As some of my peers became very famous, I saw the reality of how this life is the opposite of freedom. Being a celebrity is sort of like being an astronaut, for how you are the most visible face of an organization that is actually made up of hundreds of people, and you are under constant tremendous pressure to perform at your absolute best, or else the rocket-ship that is everyone's livelihood won't fly. Everyone is depending on you to keep doing "that you thing you do” so that the whole thing can keep going. I have heard more than one rock star refer to their most famous song an albatross they’d have to wear around their neck forever.

I grew up in the 1980s, living in a conservative home, in a conservative rural northern Michigan community. In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon putting anything on your door step in 24 hours, it is hard to convey how isolated this felt. It snowed a lot. I could not relate to the people around me. The music and movies we had were from a source that was remote and distant from where I was. I felt like an alien living on a desolate planet.

When a friend gave me a double cassette of the Beatles' Greatest Hits 1967-70, it hit my world like a bomb. This music made sense to me, and I reasoned that if the Beatles made sense, and the world loved the Beatles, that there was a place for me in the world somewhere. Goo Goo Ga Choo!

My first guitar was a red, 1960s Vox Super-Lynx Deluxe, which is basically an Italian-made knock-off of a Gibson 335, but with single-coil pickups, a bolt-on neck, and a thick polyester finish. For high school, I sought out nearby Interlochen Arts Academy, which was like an oasis of creativity in the frozen wilderness. Although my focus there was visual art, I carried that Vox with me everywhere I went, and I never turned down a chance to play with anyone. Although I did not receive any formal musical training, I gained an incredible musical-education collaborating with fellow students who included opera-singer Heather Dials, jazz-saxophinist Bill McHenry, producer Ryan Freeland, and future super-star Jewel.

It was music that led me to Los Angeles, but Los Angeles has a way of leading people to places they did not expect to find. As a way to make ends meet, I wandered into the world of commercial production, where I became a producer of film & still photography projects. Remember the Porsche I imagined as a kid? Well, that part came true for me, and for many years I edited a classic-Porsche magazine. For a time I worked with the United States Mint as a Master Coin Designer. Today I work as a Location Scout.

But amidst all of my other endeavors, I have always remained a musician.

In the 2000s, I performed with fellow-Interlochen-alumni Elizabeth Egan in her band Aurora. I was also a member of the super-group 'Operation Aloha', where members of Gomez, Maroon 5, and Phantom Planet, along with myself & a few other characters, traveled to Maui for a month of making experimental recordings that were commercially released in 2009.

In 2010, I recorded my first full-length solo album, "Ride What You Can't Change" which I released under the name COIN. I was inspired by the recession. I was inspired by the solitary desert drives I take in my '65 Porsche 912, wherein I encounter all manner of boarded-up mines, abandoned buildings, sun-bleached and wind-swept dreams. I was inspired to say that all the ruin unfolding around us, was somewhere we'd all been before, and we made it through then, and we would make it through again. Musically, I was inspired by my influences from Interlochen - writing story-telling songs in the woods with Jewel, listening to cool kids play jazz on Saturday nights, which is what we had instead of dances. COIN was a persona I assumed for this concept album, and it is a persona I may inspired to revisit again one day. For now it is chapter in my continuing musical journey that I remain proud of.

In the time since making "Ride What You Can't Change", many wonderful musical things have continued to happen. I reunited with my Interlochen-friend Heather Dials to write and record collection of new songs. My daughter embarked on her own musical journey as a classical violinist. I have also continued to write new music for myself. Today I am in the midst of recording a new double-album, which I would describe as a genre-ambiguous song cycle, exploring themes of love and letting go within a context of non-linear time.

Stay-tuned!

Onward -

 

 

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Past Musical Highlights:

 

2012 - Heather Dials & COIN:
>>Nighttimes (Get Me Through The Days)

2010 - COIN "Ride What You Can't Change:
>> Legacy Site

2009 - Operation Aloha performing on the Carson Daly Show:
>> Failure

2006 - An audience recording of an acoustic performance by Ian Ball from Gomez & myself:
>>No Reason

2002 - Performing with Aurora in a video directed by Jesse Griffith:
>> Question / Answer

2001 - An song I wrote & recorded with Tomasina Abate:
>>U.F.O.'s in Hollywood

2000 - Rocking out with the incomparable Shakira:
>> Inevitable

1997 - A song recorded in the late 1990s with Ryan Freeland:
>>Water Striking Dirt

1992 - A very informal recording of Jewel & I singing a song I wrote entitled:
>>Unpersuasive Words