Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2018 (1129 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
This month marks the end of a year-long creative project for Wolseley resident Darek Dawda.
By Dec. 31, Dawda will have recorded and released 52 original songs in 52 weeks in an effort to improve as a musician.
"Taking on a project like this really focuses you and forces you to practise as much as possible and to get as good as possible in the shortest possible time," he said. "It’s a very compressed sort of way of learning — that’s a really good thing."
To say Dawda has led an eclectic life would be an understatement.
Originally from Poland, he immigrated to Canada in 1990 when he was 27 years old and settled in Winnipeg a decade later to complete a PhD in psychology. He is an award-winning slam poet, former radio columnist and founder of West Broadway’s now-shuttered underground music venue, the Cyrk. Today, he runs a private psychology practice with two local clinics.
Despite his professional success, Dawda had an unfulfilled desire to play music and write songs.
"I just have an urge to create all the time, I just never stop," he said. "I tried a bunch of things and I always wanted to sing but I couldn’t."
To remedy this, he started playing guitar and taking singing lessons in his 40s — something he describes as a slow and painful process — and in his 50s he has endeavoured to take his interest in music more seriously.
"I don’t think it’s an easy world for musicians to do anything commercial and being 50-some-odd years old the chances for it are minimal, but I haven’t quite given up," he said.
Dawda, who performs as Ael after his daughter’s name, transformed his living room into a live recording studio for the project and has been releasing one new song a week online for all of 2018.
His wife, Jessica Gonzalez, and their children regularly appear in the homemade music videos along with a slew of local musicians.
"It’s been a lot of fun," Gonzalez said. "When he first started talking about it he thought he would just catalogue his songs… It morphed into something bigger and more exciting."
Aside from improving as a singer, Dawda says he’s learned a lot about the technical side of audio recording and building a public persona from the ground up.
"Songwriting is something I love doing, that’s pretty straightforward. I don’t necessarily like all the technical stuff, but it’s not the worst, but promotions is what turns me off completely," he said.
To add to the complexity of the project, all of Dawda’s songs were recorded live in one take with just a few hours of practising for the musicians involved.
"We’re doing a one live take, no cheating kind of an idea," he said. "It’s really hard to do, but it forces you and it prepares you way better for live shows."
With the year-long project coming to a close, Dawda plans on performing his demos to live audiences in the new year, including a concert at his Canora Street home on Jan. 12.
Visit aelmusic.com for more information.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.