Student’s one-man band takes flight
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 17:10
Inspiration comes in many forms.
For 21-year-old junior Daniel Perez, the singer/songwriter behind the solo indie music project know as Avions, it came in the form of Michael J. Fox playing guitar in the famous school dance scene from Back to the Future.
"I was 10 years old when I saw Marty McFly playing the guitar on a stage, and I was just like ‘I have to do that. I want to do that,'" Perez said.
And so he did. Now, 11 years later, the self-taught musician has two albums under the alias of his self-fronted one-man band, Avions. His first album, Double Entendre, came out this past April on iTunes and has received much praise from friends, family and fans alike.
"I've known Daniel since fifth grade," Perez's longtime friend and fellow musician Mark Baker said. "He's always been talented. All of the instruments in his songs are played by him, the music is written by him and the singing is done by him. It's impressive."
Perez's Facebook page for Avions has gathered more than 200 followers, and he often plays live at Natura Coffee and Tea. He was also recently included in the final round of a high-profile songwriting contest, Show Me the Music Songwriting Competition, that got him and his music even more positive attention.
But though the English and history double major has spent many years working on his guitar and songwriting skills, his real passion is for his faith. A devout Christian who recently stepped down from his position as president for the UCF club Students for Life, an on-campus pro-life organization, Perez hopes to attend seminary school after graduating.
"I really want to get into ministry or working in a church. I don't know if that means becoming a pastor, but seminary school is what I want to pursue," Perez said. "This [music] is a hobby."
Perez's other musical hobbies include playing piano, drums and bass. As mentioned by Baker, Perez plays and records all of the instruments heard in his songs. He finds that the skills for multiple instruments greatly influence his musical process.
"When I'm trying to make a song, it doesn't start like ‘Oh, I want to play today.' It starts like ‘I've been thinking about this instrument lately,'" Perez said. "I'll have this thought or this thing I want to explore, and that's what makes the best songs."
However, the name Avions did not come from any sort of exploration — it came much easier to Perez than the music.
"I was in a classroom … thinking to myself whether I wanted a band name or just my name, and there was a French poster of military airplanes that said ‘Avions Militaire,' and I looked at that and said, ‘I just like the way that sounds,'" Perez said.
Avions initially started out as a full band with Perez backed by a bass player and a drummer, but the folk/indie group quickly turned into a solo project that gave birth to Perez's most popular songs "I Jump the Gun," off of Double Entendre, and "St. Pete," the title track off of his new album. Both songs are, as Perez says, simple; but even so, his catchy, effective finger picking and genuine lyrics show off his talent.
"He's a talented person and a passionate person," said Daniel Rivera, Perez's childhood friend of almost 16 years. "He's passionate about music and passionate about ministry. When he goes after something with his heart, he means it. And that's what he does with music. That's why his music is so good."
Perez hopes to get his second album on iTunes in the near future.
"Like I said, it's a hobby, but an über hobby," Perez said. "And if it went anywhere, I'd pursue it."