RISING STAR: Kwa Daniels

The founder of the Bounce music collective on culture shock, guilty pleasures and his plans for the future

Who/What/Where/Why/When is Kwa Daniels?

I was born in Bow, East London but originate from Ghana, west Africa. I came to Northern Ireland in 1997, originally to study Sound Engineering for one year at The Nerve Centre. I love playing and watching football when I’m not listening and searching for tunes. Oh, and I’m a Virgo!

Over the past 13 years, I have managed, programmed, promoted and performed at hundreds of Bounce events in a range of venues, locally, nationally and internationally involving DJs and live acts from around the world. I also facilitate many groups of young people in community programmes and accredited courses, using DJ technology as an instrument.

How did you get involved in music?

I’ve been surrounded by music since I can remember. I remember hearing a Donna Summer track aged 3. Soul, funk, disco and jazz were the only styles of music my father would 'liberate' from the Phillips vinyl pressing factory in London back in the 60's. Combine those influences with Hi-Life, (percussion driven music from Ghana, West Africa), my Mum’s obsession with Nat King Cole and Cliff Richard and my brothers and sisters listening to everything from The Police to Cameo and you’ve got quite a mix.

What is Bounce?

Bounce began as a 10 minute DJing favour at Sandino’s Bar in 1999 and has evolved into a 13-year project. The favour turned into a regular club night (which we named Bounce) that took over both floors of the bar and attracted 250 people every week.

A ‘one-off’ workshop in 2001 for a group of music teachers from across Northern Ireland developed into a series of sessions aimed at introducing young people on probation or community service to the world of DJing techniques, performance, music business and event promotion.

Participants gained a Duke Of Edinburgh Award and we enhanced our reputation amongst public and private sector bodies looking for a new means of engaging youth. Our club nights evolved into events. Our workshops became projects and Bounce Culture was formed.

We are a collective of DJs, musicians, designers, photographers, music lovers and teachers whose primary goal is to develop a positive environment to share our skills.

Who are some of the people involved in Bounce?

We have an Events Production team, a Board of Directors, PR and Finance personnel, all vital to our work, but these guys are some of the core team members.

Eamonn McCarron is a songwriter and drummer from Derry with a firm grounding in making music who studied at Skidmore Jazz Institute (New York) then later The Collective (New York). Julien Raux was born in France and his knowledge of the music industry stems from organising music events and festivals in Paris. His passion for afro-beat, latin and world music was a natural step from his reggae and hip-hop roots, and attracted the attention of a variety of festivals in the U.K and Ireland, including us!

Sandra Gourley has been in the music industry for 16 years and has project and event managed at some of the biggest festivals in the world including Planet Love, Live in Portrush, SxSW (Texas) and Midem (France). She uses her vast experience and knowledge to inspire young people to develop their personal skills.

Bounce's photographer and videographer Jonny Bell's CV includes exhibitions at The Void in Derry~Londonderry and Tate Modern, London. The epitome of the modern DJ, Leroy Grant brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the music industry, performing arts, IT and creative technologies to Bounce. He epitomises the modern DJ with music production, MCing and design experience and is currently working on a variety of projects which involve several creative disciplines.

Finally, Gareth McGrath is our music production tutor. His tries to demystify the whole production aspect of music to make making music more accessible to those who may not have that much experience in this field.

Why do you think Bounce is important?

Bounce is important because we use our workshops and events to communicate what we value within music and life. A quote we often use and stand by is 'If there’s truth in the music, who can refuse it?' We try to reflect the values we admire in music and live our lives accordingly. 

Everyone has a connection with music. We pride ourselves on unearthing that link and forming honest relationships with clients and participants. Our aim is to educate, create, develop and stimulate, regardless of age.

What is your 'guilty pleasure' song, the one that you are embarrassed to like?

'We’ve Only Just Begun' by The Carpenters. Man, those harmonies…and when it breaks into the tambourine-filled funk break? Fantastic!

What sort of 'bounce' do you prefer: trampoline or space hopper?

Trampoline…every time! Space hoppers are death traps. 

What are your plans for the future of Bounce?

Bounce Education will evolve into an international music and education exchange programme between Northern Ireland, southern Ireland, London and Ghana. We will have programmes, mentoring and events where participants gain creative, personal and social skills while acquiring alternative cultural experiences. There will also be a cultural exchange programme with music and education at its core. 

What was the biggest culture shock when you moved from London to Derry~Londonderry?

Everyone calling the 'afternoon' news the 'evening' news and the evening news 'night time'! As far as I’m concerned, it is night time when the 10 o’clock news begins.

Oh and the fact there were still armed patrols on the streets of Derry~Londonderry was a bit disconcerting!

What is your favourite TV show?

My favourite TV show ever is Frasier. My favourite at the moment, Homeland - (hurry up series 2 please!)

If you could have a gig with any musicians (living or dead) who would you pick?

Quincy Jones. He’s a true musician who had the people skills to manage Michael Jackson whilst producing the best pop album ever. Forget the multiple Grammy wins, he can still look good with an earring as he approaches his 80th birthday!

For further information on Bounce courses, workshops and events, please visit Bounce's website.