Danny Hughes (DCPA) is an electronic music producer and DJ from Aledo, Texas. His story began like many musicians’ growing up. Born into a family of musicians, he learned to play the piano, trumpet, guitar, and work with production software in academic music programs as a kid. Danny built a solid foundation in the craft, but eventually pursued an accounting degree in college while at Texas Tech. After graduating in 2011, he worked as a CPA for 9 years in Dallas. Electronic music grew exponentially in the US during this time, prompting him to re-visit his place in the music world. Building an artist career was not easy with a full-time corporate job, but his varied background in business and music allowed him to quickly navigate the modern music industry and connect with those who believed in him, including a production team at Nimble Agency all the way from Amsterdam. From 2016-2020 Danny allocated most of his free time to building his artist career as DCPA, distributed over twenty tracks with Symphonic, traveled the world to attend major festivals, and in 2020 he made the decision to go full time into the music business.
Bring us back to the days when you first came onto the music scene. What was the most exciting part of that move?
Thanks for taking this time to interview me about my music career as DCPA! The best part of my return to music has been the re-invention of myself (or maybe it’s just a return to my true form). I’ve been combining the aggregate of my experiences into one whole person, who I am meant to be. The point of the human experience becomes more apparent to me every day, and I’m increasingly fulfilled as I continue making music. I get to help other people through my interpretations of life through music and that’s something no one will ever take from me, it’s my “higher-self” and it’s awesome! I love to entertain people and I get so much fulfillment out of my shows. Life as a musician comes with a unique perspective, I feel truly honored any time I see my play counts going up, when I take the stage, or get to interact with fans.
I was a musician for my entire upbringing, starting off in piano classes at 5 years old, moving on to trumpet and guitar through middle and high school band, becoming fascinated with music production software…until I decided to direct my focus toward an accounting degree in college. While I was talented at my instruments and could write some simple songs off the top of my head, I never envisioned a long-term future in music at the time. Technology was still emerging, and the internet was very lacking – few resources for someone trying to learn at home let alone reach a global audience. Also, the music I wanted to make was not going to be mainstream any time soon, at least not in America, but that was in the early 2000’s where pop, rock and hip hop were center stage.
I believe by nature we are conditioned to grow in and out of roughly 3–5 year cycles. At that point, you really start to question what you want in life and if you are being self-serving in your current role. I hit this point again in 2015 after spending 5 years as a CPA working in an audit practice in Dallas TX (I would continue in that job for another 5 years while doing music part time through mid-2020). It was exciting when I realized that technology and culture had come around to a point where I could ‘back my way’ into music again.
I felt left out, like no one understood how much music truly lived inside of me. Even though I found great success in accounting and made good money, a huge part of my identity had faded, and I regretted not having better foresight in college. At that time though, the system for music education and career paths was antiquated and discouraging, so I try not to blame myself for putting it on the backburner.
What moves are you making daily to make sure you focus on your goals?
I’ve stepped out of certain logistic patterns from my prior career. Accounting isn’t nearly a creative discipline like music. While there are elements of my past-experience which help me network and maintain a structured life, I’ve learned to trust my creative and intuitive side. I tend to touch on a few different areas of my music career each day even if there is no deliverable output from them. Keeping up in music requires constant learning and a lot of research. For example, I might take time to reflect on my social media and keep up with trends even if I’m not posting that day. Or a new technology comes out and I need to see if it’s worth adopting. It’s a mindset of always seeking and accepting inspiration, going into a creative attack mode when the mood strikes, and then taking the logical steps to complete and distribute projects so others can share in your vision.
How are you applying yourself to make sure that your mental health is being checked on too?
I take a lot of breaks, long walks, and lately I study human behaviors. I’m always harnessing perspective on why things happened the way they did in my life. I’ve seen a lot in this world for a 33-year-old, and I’ve always tried to be a cultural sponge. I believe inner peace is something we must fight to discover, and then defend when necessary. It takes a lot of experience, perspective, and reflection to get to that point. What I’ve learned is that if you deflect toxicity, get away from materialism, acknowledge and act on your intuition, accept and treat others with respect, you end up in your real comfort zone.
With so much overabundance nowadays, shortsighted opinions from others, it’s easy to find yourself suffering and accepting that it’s just the human condition; we’ve all been brainwashed since birth on what constitutes success & fulfillment. Ever just strike up a conversation with the clerk at your local store? It’s far more gratifying to talk to a real person just going about their day than it is scrolling through celebrity social media. I believe it’s very important to ignore the inflammatory content online, knowing which issues are out of your control.
What do you think is an indicator for you that you need to slow down? Do you always make sure to listen to that?
I get overwhelmed by events; it leads to a mental paralysis sometimes; but, it’s part of being your own boss. In the past 2 years since leaving my corporate job, I’ve realized how much I was truly fighting day-to-day keeping up with client work, managing my staff, socializing, renewing my passion for music, being present for friends, family, etc.
I built up a fair number of resources working those long hours in accounting, but after a decade I just hit the mental wall, there was no way I could break into my higher consciousness while doing all these other things. During the “work from home” quarantine, I truly realized my inner sanctum was compromised and my life was overextended. The pandemic sucked but it did teach me at least one thing – if adaptation in your career or social life is causing you to suffer mentally, you’re probably on the wrong mission. I saw this as a catalyst, left my job in June 2020 and moved to Austin TX, and planted myself out here in an RV. I’ve cut ties with a lot of my possessions to live in nature and focus on my re-invention.
Change is happening everyday in this crazy industry! How are you keeping up with that?
Speaking of change, did you know the average attention span has dropped to just about 8 seconds or so, with much of that decline coming in recent years? It’s absolutely insane! The marketing side of the industry changes so much that I don’t always act quickly on the latest trends; but, I’ve learned since going into this full time there is so much more opportunity than ever before. With the rise of Tik Tok and Instagram, you’re always working against short attention spans. As crazy and distracting as social media seems sometimes, it’s albeit a direct, low-cost way to connect with the growing audience. Abundance is reciprocated, the more consistent content you put out, the more you get in return.
As a musician it’s hard to make a spiritual contribution to the world without also knowing how to materialize it. After materialization, you then commercialize the project. Nowadays it’s on the artist to create lots of consumable content, in addition to the music. We become semi-pro photographers, graphic artists, and are usually self-managed. We’re putting a lot of our personal lives on display. It’s daunting and time consuming, but it teaches you a lot about your brand and shaping your identity. You can be true to yourself and music and still play the marketing game.
What music are you jamming to right now that is giving you inspo for your music?
Check out my new playlist on Spotify called “Cosmic Summer” which fits the vibe of my upcoming release. I absolutely love the first song on the playlist by Jax Jones & MNEK – “Where Did You Go”. It’s got a positive summer sound but there is a feeling of longing inherent in the lyrics. My next track, “I Feel It Too” has similar messaging. It’s that feeling that you’re living a wonderful life, but a special person is missing from it, or maybe they already left. You wonder what the future would hold if they came and stuck around.
Let our audience know how they can support your music?
The biggest thing you can do is play DCPA music on Spotify or other platforms (don’t skip because the algorithms love a full play through!), and be sure to hit the ‘heart’ icon, or save the track to a playlist. Then follow DCPA on that same app so you’ll get my latest tracks on release day! These streaming platforms work like social media, they identify your following and then send the music out to a similar audience. Share DCPA with your EDM friends or repost to social media too!
What do they need to be listening to this summer!
As a DJ, I’m all about reviving old music. There are a lot of great cover and remix versions of music I grew up with, the fans in Austin love it at my gigs. Just look up some of your favorite songs and add “house remix” or “cover” to it, and head down the rabbit hole. You won’t get bored I promise. I’ll be putting out my own covers of 80’s-00’s tracks soon too! Definitely check out my “Cosmic Summer” playlist on Spotify!
Any important dates we need to know!?
I’m so close to finishing “I Feel It Too”, I’m hoping to push this out by the end of July! Then I’ll have several more original and cover tracks coming out through the end of the year.
What news is just BEYOND your wildest dreams right now that you want to share too?
I’m pumped to be returning to Europe for a vacation in August! My family and I will be in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland for a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to visit with my music colleagues over there on the trip, and I have a pretty good fanbase there which has grown over time. Who knows, maybe I’ll be recognized and can talk to some fans in person!
We are excited about watching you grow and evolve into the best artist you can be! ROCK ON ROCKSTAR!
I always appreciate the positive energy, thanks for that boost! I’ve found since getting into music full time that the best thing to do is just keep moving.
Leave the most fun ways to keep up with you!!!!
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End of Interview