Around Noon yesterday, in a lowly lit bar area inside the beautiful lobby of the Ace Hotel I met up with Dannis Winston who was grabbing a quick bite to eat. His styling was simple yet noticeable & was rocking a dope pair of Chucks I personally have been thinking of picking up. During our convo, learning about Dannis, I was immediately drawn in.
“This year is my first time working on my solo career but for the past five years my “day job”, which is a great day job, is that I’m a band leader. I own nine bands in the country; we do private events all over the world every weekend.
Huffington Post actually released an article today about my new EP “Masterclass” and the single “4BlackMen”. I feel great about it. There is just a lot going on right now. With everything that’s happening right now I am so glad i am getting attention for it now. The thing about my EP is that I really wanted to put things on their for every type of person. I think us Millennials and I’m assuming you’re a Millennial, really depends on the day, what we are doing, listening to different artist. I just think that it is kind of old fashion to be like, “I am just an R&B artist or just…” and it’s like no, I listen to everything and influenced by everything. Why not put it out?
Right now I’m actually reading Jay Z’s Decoded. There are some cool stories about building an empire. One thing I respect about Jay Z is what he did. I am kind of like secretly trying to do what he did, in a totally different way. Him and P. Diddy hustled and stuff like that back then but that’s what they had to do. Me, I’m kind of hustling in the wedding and private event world. I am getting up there, in the top venues in the world with these events. But I did all that so I can do this, the solo career. Looking at what Jay Z did, in this industry, you have to have money to make things happen. I started thinking, what can i do? I can sing & write music. I know business so that what I did to get here.
Being for Jamaica, Queens, there is a lot of people that are into Hip-hop. I’m not really a Hip-hop head. I’m getting more into learning the backgrounds and histories and things like that. But Biggie’s “Ready to Die” album was playing consistently in my house. That’s what I grew up on. My uncle played that all the time as well as Barry White. He is the man. Talk about people that did it as a bandleader for me, Barry & Isaac Hayes are the people I want to model my career on. From arrangers, orchestrators, full bands behind them, they have their own solo thing, style. That’s what I love.
Like many other artist in NY, I was trying my best to make it. I was working at a bar, paying musicians. I am never going to make money like this. I decided to audition for Bar Mitzvah dancing randomly. After dancing for awhile, I began also MCing. After a while, I just moved up and started auditioning for different mitzvah and wedding companies. Eventually one of the biggest wedding companies in New York called Hank Lane Music reached out to me and asked to take over one of their bands. I told them I can take over a band as long as I can bring in my own band also. They agreed. From there, I kind of branched out on my own and working with other people, I developed nine different bands. This year alone my band was the backing band for Frenchie Davis during EssenceFest. Another one of my bands opened up for Talib Kweli this summer. I took my 15 piece band to France to do the President of Denmark’s daughter’s wedding. We also performed on a top of a mountain in Aspen, it was amazing. This year has been a great year for all the bands.
Outside of my “day job”, I just released a new music video for my single. I have a radio promo tour to about 46 different radio stations in the country coming up. A bunch of different interviews are lined up also. It’s really about getting the word out there on my music and my Masterclass EP. I always plug my bands when I can because all the instrumentals are my bands. It’s all in the family. I have been with these guys for years. On the road, I don’t have to worry if they can read my signals. I don’t have to worry about someone stabbing me in the back. It’s the same thing we always do. They are all great people doing their own amazing things.”
Follow Dannis on Instagram: @DannisWinston
Check out his website here: Danniswinston.com