Creator Spotlight: Daniel Bazán Jr.

The Latin music maven chats with Amp.

Daniel Bazán Jr. Headshot

CRIOYO Radio with Daniel Bazán Jr. — @danielbazanjr

Born in Jamaica, Queens, then raised in the Dominican Republic until he was 14 years old, Daniel Bazán Jr. is no stranger to music.

Walk by any party in the Dominican Republic that’s playing music, and they’ll offer you food. That’s a pro tip,” laughs Bazán, 31. “And that kind of hospitality is what I try to bring in my music and my shows.

A graduate of New York University but forever a student of music, Bazán has been singing, tinkering, and tapping since he was a kid in the Dominican Republic. But for the better part of the last decade, he’s been producing, promoting, and developing into a talented, hyper-mindful musician with tracks that pay homage to his Afro-Peruvian heritage.

Finding his sound

Bazán released his first single in 2013, titled “Never Let You Go,” during what he describes as his “R&B phase” in his early-20s.

“You know, I have a bone to pick with that song,” he says with a laugh. “If you want to hear what I sounded like through an identity crisis in my 20s, by all means go listen to that one when I’m not around.”

Like any artist who sticks with it for long enough, he’s outgrown his early material. A song entirely in English, “Never Let You Go” sounds enough like a Jermaine Dupri or Chris Brown record that you might mistake it if you heard it played in a dance club. Frankly, it’s not bad. Bazán doesn’t make “bad.” But it’s a vibe and direction that didn’t speak to him, and he took several years to re-imagine and refine his musical scope.

Play “Quema,” an ominous yet snappy ode to his journey as a new artist blazing his own path, and you’ll hear Bazán’s impressive vocal range and his ability to weave traditional cumbia with orchestral string accompaniment. Queue up “Te Lo Doy” afterwards as a salve. Bazán calls it “lo-fi,” but that does it a little disservice. Try working to this music — you won’t sit still.

On one of his favorites, “Mirame”:

“Unfortunately, it was inspired by the George Floyd murder and the protests. I was in China at the time during the pandemic, and I wrote a song essentially about what it feels like to be in a space where you don’t feel safe by those who are supposed to protect you.”

Developing his identity

Bazán’s father hails from Peru, and he feels an enormous sense of duty to bring the sounds of his father’s homeland into the mainstream, inspiration he used when making “Mirame.” But he’s also looking to carve a niche for artists like himself — a native son of the United States but deeply tied to Latin diaspora.

“I was born in the States, I’ve thought a lot about where I fit in, because I’m not from Colombia like J. Balvin, and I don’t have a 30-year career behind me,” said Bazán. When looking up new artists for his Amp show “Crioyo Radio,” he discovered Riela, an up-and-coming artist from Miami with parents from Cuba and Panama. She described herself as a first-generation Latin musician, and Bazán felt immediate kinship to the idea.

How do I present myself and how do I build my art around that? When I heard the term ‘first-generation Latin artist,’ everything clicked for me, like that’s who I am. And I wouldn’t have found that if I wasn’t doing my homework for an Amp show.

It’s easy to appreciate the “big break” artists, the ones who burst on the scene with an uber-popular track and then sizzle for a few months. But to listen to Bazán talk about his journey is to understand the grind and sacrifices of the artist en-route to the big time, arrival not guaranteed.

“Do I spend this money I just made on living life and being young, or do I spend it on mixing my next single? These are decisions that I’m facing every single day,” he says. He describes spending time away in China, working a regular job from his room during the pandemic, as a trade-off he wasn’t willing to keep making.

“I realized that whatever I’m doing here [in China] is not my purpose in life. I was making great money and I’m stable, but I know in my heart this is not what I’m meant to be doing. This is just a phantom career,” Bazán says of his few years in Chonqing.

He came back to the States and dove back in, creating several tracks and smoothing out his niche as an artist.

Catch him on Amp

On his Amp show, “Crioyo Radio,” Bazán endeavors to find genre-bending, almost avant-garde versions of Latin music. While he admits that “if it’s dope, I’ll play it,” he’s always on the hunt for songs that challenge traditional notions of Latin music and the perceptions that come along.

“I try to choose music and artists that are in the pursuit of moving things forward,” he says. “One of my passions in life is to import great music. I want to turn people on to what I think is dope in the Latin space.”

While his schedule varies from week to week, you can usually find Bazán on Amp, playing new tracks on “Crioyo Radio” on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Follow Daniel on Amp here.

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