March 16, 2012 · Success Stories

INTERVIEW: Ori Dagan, Canada’s Next Top Crooner



Right now, Indiegogo’s got that rhythm, with the sweet beat that can only be jazz. Today we got a chance to catch up with Ori Dagan, jazz vocalist and winner of the “Canada’s Next Top Crooner” competition. A fresh talent on the jazz scene, Ori’s unique take brings a new voice to such classic artists as Frank Sinatra and… Lady Gaga!

Right now, Ori is blazing a new path with his second album “Less Than Three” and you could help him to add the finishing touches.

With that in mind, enter Ori:

Q1: At this point, jazz is a genre with a long and storied history, yet using crowdfunding is very forward-thinking. How do you balance tradition vs. innovation in your career?

Certain elements of the jazz tradition, from standard repertoire to old-school instrumentation, have always been tops in my book. That said, the word jazz to me means music that relies on improvisation, on spontaneity, on an artist taking risks and on an audience responding. Within the context of the jazz tradition, the ability to innovate what is musically familiar has always inspired me. Come to think of it, this is precisely what I admire about my greatest musical idols, from singers like Anita O’Day and Ella Fitzgerald to instrumentalists like Charlie Parker and Lester Young. So I guess for me, innovation is in fact a key element of the jazz tradition, and being forward-thinking is definitely something I strive for.

Q2: A lot of musicians have trouble promoting themselves, yet you seem to have had success without “selling out.” Why do you think that is?

The challenge with promotion is that you have to just get out there, no two ways about it. I’m very grateful to my audience, often taking a moment at my live shows to thank them for showing up, because “It’s far more meaningful for us musicians to play for a living, breathing audience as opposed to an imaginary one!” I have spent quite a few years building an audience in Toronto and Montreal in a very grass-roots fashion. I attend jam sessions on a regular basis—especially where you can find me just about every week – and this allows me to build my network and more importantly, to hone my chops! Being in this business is very challenging, but the great thing is, I love doing what I do.  In terms of promotion, for this particular project I am very blessed to be working with two very savvy digital media producers who cross over into music, new media, television and film: Ana Serrano and Leonardo Dell’Anno, as well as photographer Juan Camilo Palacio and filmmaker Luisa Valencia who have helped shape the look and feel of this project.

Q3: You are “Canada’s Next Top Crooner.” How were you able to parlay this publicity into actual contributions?

Well, I’m not exactly sure how many people donated because of this, but I can tell you that “Canada’s Next Top Crooner” is a title that I won by way of a live-to-air radio competition in June of 2010. Fellow vocalists Shannon Butcher, Raoul Bhaneja and I were each asked to sing a traditional crooner song and an Eighties song done in a crooner style—for the latter I chose Like a Virgin, which won judge Matt Dusk over, and he selected me as the winner. This was an amazing experience for me and one of the highlights in my career so far. In a big way it also inspired me to try the jazz approach with pop repertoire,which is central to my new album, featuring jazz arrangements of songs made famous by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Madonna, as well as a scat take on Lady Gaga! I must give a shout-out here to my musical director Mark Kieswetter, who has brought my ideas to life, no matter how crazy they initially seemed.

Q4: Indiegogo is a site with international presence. Does that play into your plans to make an impact outside of Canada?

Absolutely! I have enjoyed playing in Canada, but I am very eager to play abroad, particularly in Europe and Asia, where jazz seems to have a loyal following. As far as Indiegogo goes, I think it is a brilliant way of raising not only funds but also awareness. And like jazz music, I love the potential that it has to bring individuals together, no matter where they come from.

Q5: “S’Cat Got My Tongue” is a hilarious name for a jazz album. Can we expect more humor on the new album?

Funny you should ask that! Humor has been good to me so far. More than half of the hits on my Youtube channel are thanks to a video of me scatting in a Super Mario costume! The new album features a mix of material but there’s one song in particular that I expect will get some laughs, an original song that I wrote while on a train. The internet wasn’t working and I got really pissed. I couldn’t believe how mad I got over this, so I wrote a song about it! The tune is called “Googleable” – look for the video, coming in April! The album “Less Than Three” will be launched with a CD Release Concert at the Al Green Theatre in Toronto on April 28. Can’t wait!

Help ‘Canada’s Next Top Crooner’ Finish His New CD!
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