Interview with Daniel Koren on

I re-acquainted myself with Daniel Koren’s work after watching a beautifully made short film that was dramatic and funny in the way I hope to find on my travels across Vimeo. The film was so good that it will also feature later this weekend on Weekend Watching. But I felt compelled to dig deeper, watch more of his work, and it turns out I had featured his film The Thing About Dogs on Weekend Watching almost two years ago.

So before we get into my interview with Daniel, check out Car Chase here:

How did you come up with the ideas for Car Chase and Walking Contest?
I enjoy exploring my feelings in certain situations. I also enjoy discovering that in certain situations, others feel the same as I do.  Car Chase and Walking Contest are two of these situations, and I was looking for formats to deliver this idea. Doing it through a song felt wrong. A comedy sketch wasn’t right also, and as I was searching, I said to myself, ‘Hey- how about you just simply talk about it, over a beat or something, and illustrate it with nice cinematography?’ and myself replied, ‘that’s a good idea, thanks Daniel.’

What comes first in a film like that: the soundtrack, or the filmmaking?
The text comes first. Then, most of the times, the soundtrack, and lastly the filmmaking.

How does your partnership with director Vania Heymann work on these films?
I bring him a polished, recorded idea. If it clicks we’d start working on it, and usually we tweak and finalize it as we go.

Will you be making more films like Car Chase and Walking Contest?
For sure! I hope you’ll be able to see the next one before this year ends.

If you had to pick three key events/experiences that influenced your musical style, what would they be?
In chronological order, the first event is watching the movie Man On The Moon, and getting to know the work of comedian Andy Kaufman. I learned that comedy can be more than just ‘funny’.  The second event is starting to play for Dance Classes. I’ve done it for good 6 years, starting in college, and it forced me to constantly improvise ‘classical’ compositions. It changed the way I approach piano, and taught me fearlessness. The third event is stop performing with my group, and start performing solo. A decision I made only because it was a hustle to find time and space for us to practice, ended up being a key moment in my career as an artist.

You are very prolific – how do you avoid/recover from writer’s block?
I don’t know what a writer’s block is. For me it’s a romantic name for different, less attractive attributes such as Laziness, Insecurity, Confusion and to treat it, I first need to identify which of these attributes blocks me, understand why I’m inactive. Once I know, it’s easy to beat it because it suddenly feels silly. Just like when you share your fears out loud, they sound less frightening as they were in your head.

How has the Internet as a platform affected the kind of work you make?
Personally, it’s like asking a journalist how the Newspaper affected his/her work. I make for the Internet. I didn’t get to live my adult life without it, so I’m not sure what my work would look like otherwise.

What equipment do you use for your live set?
It’s actually simpler than it looks. It’s just a set of .mov files, that I memorized well, in such a way that it feels interactive. But it’s not interactive in the pure sense, meaning the video doesn’t respond to any live signal from me. I’m sorry if that’s disappointing.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about being a musician?
Stravinsky once said something like: ‘if it sounds like a flute, I write it for the Tuba’. I like that. It helps keeping things fresh, and staying away from clichés.

Could you recommend three of your favourite artists/albums that you think other people should definitely check out?
Everybody should definitely check out: director Peter Huang. He’s as fresh as mint; Artist Roy Kafri is such a unique voice and electric persona; And lastly, an unknown rapper called Kendrick Lamar.

Additional Links:
Daniel’s official Website
Daniel on Instagram