…Time is precious so don’t waste it. Like it or not this is a young man’s game, and every second you’re not hustling someone else is. I wasted time in my early twenties partying, and not focused. I threw haymakers instead of strategic punches.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Daniel Bonte.
Daniel Bonte is a dynamic entertainer & songwriter known in the California Country music scene for his powerful vocals and electric live show. The Indiana native has a unique voice steeped in blues, rock, and soul with a style reminiscent of the legendary Garth Brooks and today’s country superstar Luke Bryan. As a child, he fell in love with the storytelling in country music as it blared through the speakers of his older brother’s 91′ lifted Ford pickup rolling through the backroads of the Hoosier state.
This love translated to pen & paper, and his heartfelt lyrics and melodies have produced two EP’s with a third on the way due for Spring release in 2021. His newest single “Dancing Away From Me” will be released on all digital platforms for music in November 2020. He is backed by a stalwart team of first-class musicians and shows no signs of slowing his upward trajectory.
Daniel has shared the main stage with some of Country music’s top major acts including Lee Brice, Billy Currington, Dustin Lynch, Justin Moore, Easton Corbin, Chase Rice, Chris Janson, Cody Johnson, Josh Abbott Band, Randy Rogers band, Casey Donahew, A Thousand Horses, and more. He’s headlined multiple local festivals & shows across the LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Central California markets. Check out www.danielbontemusic.com for tour dates & more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank y’all so much for having me! I was raised in the Midwest on the outskirts of a small town called Fishers, Indiana. It’s everything you hear about in country songs talking about being homegrown..Farm land, Mom’s casserole, snow days, and living the simple life. My parents busted their backs for what we had, and my two brothers and I are forever grateful for it. My parents were always very supportive of my aspirations even during the most turbulent times in our family. My mother is a passionate, fearless woman who has a contagious and vibrant spirit. She taught me to dream big and love bigger. My Father is a diligent and optimistic man who introduced me to so much great music at a young age. As I’ve gotten older, he’s become one of my best friends, and has always been a champion for me in my music career. My family has been there from day one supporting me when I was playing to no one and continue to carry the banner for me.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
After high school I packed my bags and moved to LA to become an actor. Shocking I know, right?! I loved music & film and wanted to be in the thick of it. It was nothing like I expected, and I quickly realized it wasn’t my scene. I moved south to Orange County for a change of pace and started gigging with various bands as a frontman. When I began songwriting, everything came out country. I guess all those years of singing every word of Garth Brooks’ No Fences album and John Michael Montgomery songs at the American Legion on Friday nights might have influenced my style a little! I’ve been very blessed to find a great network of talented musicians, some who have become my best friends. We’re all just trying to have a blast creating bona fide music that will make whoever listens feel something.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Back in 2016 the band and I played five shows in three days, in two states and one old beat up Chevy 2500. We went from rocking out in casino lounges and house parties to big festivals on little to no sleep. We ordered McDonalds in Yerington, Nevada after playing Night In The Country festival with Josh Abbott Band. I guess the manager could tell we were in a band, and when we picked up the food, he said “Do you need complimentary napkins gentleman, have a McWonderful day” It felt the Twilight Zone. We barely broke even at the bank on that run, but we laughed the entire time and still talk about it to this day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Back when I was playing in cover bands my friends came to the show and bought me 6 shots of Jack Daniels within an hour. In brilliant fashion I downed them all and forgot the words to Tom Petty. Felt like I committed a cardinal rock & roll sin so I’ve never done that since.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My bandmates and I have been writing songs with other artists/songwriters in our network once a week since the beginning of the year. Some of the songs have turned out fantastic, some just alright, but getting to know the musicians and how they create has been time well spent. I’m learning to really listen, and having a great time cultivating those relationships. Some of the songs will be featured on our next EP to be released in May 2021.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
We all have experiences and struggles we go through, each of them shaping and molding who we are. We all have something to say and something to learn from each other. To me it seems more difficult to be intolerant than it is to open your heart and your mind to others. I believe diversity brings balance, progress, and hope for a better world where we all truly take care of each other.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- First and foremost, time is precious so don’t waste it. Like it or not this is a young man’s game, and every second you’re not hustling someone else is. I wasted time in my early twenties partying, and not focused. I threw haymakers instead of strategic punches.
- Second don’t worry about what opportunities someone else might be getting. Focus on becoming the artist you want to become, and you’ll find yourself knee deep in them. I’ll catch myself every now and then envious of another artist, but I could be spending that energy rehearsing, writing, working out, or enjoying life and finding inspiration for new music.
- Third don’t get caught up in the hollow attention you might get because those closest to you deserve your full focus. Relationships are already a lot of work. Don’t complicate it by not valuing someone who supported you when you were playing for two people and the bartender.
- Fourth keep your body and mind physically strong because they play a huge part in your creative process. Put down the burrito and whiskey, eat a salad and wake up early to work out.
- Finally– You live for this. It brings you great joy so allow yourself to revel in it. Even when facing doubt, rejection, fear, or frustration you’re lucky to have this love of music.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Challenge yourself to write with others who might intimidate you. Send messages asking for the opportunity to sit down with them and carve out a tune. Stay away from meaningless bar gigs that don’t compensate you for your time and effort. You will need to cut your teeth, but be strategic and capitalize on that time by putting your best foot forward with marketing, social media awareness, merchandise and branding of the creative content you’re releasing. Be proud of what you do and who you are because people can see right through you if you’re not.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m a huge fan of Pay It Forward and my goal would be to help aid the resurgence of it by leading by example. It’s the little things that add up to a lot and is something that is tangible. I’m also very passionate about the environment and believe we are way overdue for serious reform when it comes to how we treat this planet. I would allocate most of my resources towards funding education for the younger generations on recycling, pollution, and the adverse effects of deforestation.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
One of my best friends Tina Shults has been a champion for my career since she saw me play. She’s one of the hardest working and most genuine people I’ve met in the industry. She’s a very talented and successful event producer who has never sugar-coated her opinion, even when I wished she would have. She booked me for my first big festival out in California back in 2016, which gave me the credibility I needed to get other opportunities. She’s family to me, and I’m very grateful she believes in what I’m doing as an artist.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
NO ONE is going to work harder for YOUR dream than YOU. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do, you have to put the work in. This is a reoccurring lesson for me every day and will continue to be until I hang it up.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Cody Johnson let’s grab some black coffee and write some songs together brother. I’ll let you have the first one, since ya know, you’re Cody Johnson!
How can our readers follow you online?
Stream my new single “Dancing Away From Me” on Spotify, check out my Instagram via @the_bonafide, and keep track of my 2021 shows through my website www.danielbontemusic.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank y’all so much, look forward to reconnecting with you down the line!