Daniel Donskoy | 5 Minutes With

“We all need to smile more right now, and it’s so easy. Just put on a smile right now. Try it. NOW. Hold for 15 seconds, try and imagine something that makes you feel good – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15… You’re welcome” Daniel Donskoy proposes a little exercise for everyone as he introduces his new single ‘Bring Me Back My Smile.’ 

It is a follow up for Daniel’s second release ‘Robbed_Me’ that delved into the shock that comes after a relationship suddenly ends. ‘Bring Me Back My Smile’ is about moving on and hoping to look forward to a brighter future. But who is Daniel Donskoy? 

He certainly arrived at the right time as people need a gentle reminder to smile despite current situations. Daniel Donskoy is a German established actor and an independent artist. From being a household name in his homeland, and landing a role in Netflix hit series ‘The Crown’, Daniel Donskoy now focuses on pursuing his passion for music and songwriting with three successful releases already under his belt. 

Planning to put out two more records before dropping his debut album, Daniel decides to utilize this time in lockdown to further concentrate on his music: “I’m excited for my new release, which is a nice way to forget about all the crazy that is happening with our world right now. I’m currently based in a little village about 50 miles outside of Berlin. When the new lockdown was announced, I fled into nature to focus on writing and producing new music. But from next month I’ll be back to my usual which is between London and Berlin”, he states. 

Keeping his sanity in check, Daniel makes sure to put any draining emotion back into his art and urges everyone to do the same; just let it out, he says. “Honestly, the best way forward for me has been to focus on creation. Put all my negative thoughts, anxiety, and uncertainty into my lyrics and compositions. Now not everyone wants to create music – but I think it’s essential to let the emotions out. Whether that means to punch a bag, scream into your pillow, create music or draw – I personally think that it is so important not to bury any of those emotions inside”. 

Daniel’s involvement in the arts was inevitable. However, he was unsure how to go around securing the right direction at a young age, but it all worked in the end. Daniel elaborates: “To be honest, the acting just happened. When I was younger, I was certain that I wanted to go into the arts, but I didn’t know how to begin. I got a place to study contemporary music in Israel, but it didn’t feel right at 18, so I went on a bit of a journey, which led me to love both equally: I’m a musician and an actor”. 

At first, Daniel handled his singing endeavors as an outlet for his emotions. “Music has been a healing element for me. Anytime I got stressed, upset, or unnerved, I just sat by my piano or with my guitars and sang my heart out into the night. I honestly thought I’d never share it with anyone. It was my own personal realm of consciousness”. 

Later on, it took one man to suggest ‘really going for it,’ and Daniel Donskoy never looked back: “Like so many times in my life, I had an encounter that changed my perception. Upon my first time on a TV talk show in Germany, an A&R from one of the major labels came up to me and said: “We’ve been watching you, why don’t you just go for it?” – I had been uploading a lot of cover songs onto social media during that time – And you know what? That simple question made me go for it. With the conscious decision to go independent, but just DO IT. Release, start playing festivals, my first tour. I will be forever grateful to that man. His words made the decision, which has weighed on my shoulders for a long time, easy”, he explains, letting this be a lesson for everyone – all you have to do is GO FOR IT. 

As a man of many talents, it is natural for Daniel to look up to musicians who were able to conquer both trades – singing and acting like Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. Taking further inspiration from artists like Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, Samm Henshaw, Daniel analyses his sound: “I would describe my sound as R&B and soul-influenced urban pop. I work on atmospheric layering and strong harmonies. Trying to create soundscapes in which the story I’m telling can truly unfold”.

Sometimes it takes only one moment to change our perspective or our calling. Daniel circles back to when he was encouraged to pursue singing for real and shares his input on the pressure of today’s society and wants us to be daring and bold: 

“The encounter I mentioned earlier left a big impression on me, so a lot of the music is there to tell people: You can do it! Be who you are, stop with the self-doubt and just live. This life is so damn short, and it’s so easy to succumb to the fear that drives our society. It’s totally ok to be scared. I think a lot of people in my generation are feeling the constant need to prove themselves. To be seen, liked – that’s a lot of pressure and prevents a lot of people from finding themselves. Who they are, what they want. By expressing that in my music I want to inspire them to dare and do just that. You want to be loved? That’s beautiful; say it out loud. You want to enjoy yourself? Perfect – find your way to do so. It might sound a tad ethereal, but I just want to share my most intimate thoughts and feelings and, by that, inspire others to do so as well. To be FREE”. 

Today, Daniel Donskoy presents his fourth release in the form of ‘Bring Me Back My Smile,’ a track swarming of encouragement. The singer shares the backstory of how the record was born: “Initially, the song was written about a breakup that left me bereft of the ability to be open on the world. I was trying to get back to the former positive self I knew. Only to realize that no-one can give or bring that back to you. You have to allow yourself to smile again. It’s ok to grieve, but it’s just as ok to just get over things. I thought it’s the perfect song for the current period we’re in, so that’s why we expedited the release – we all need to smile more right now, and it’s so easy. Just put on a smile right now. Try it. NOW. Hold for 15 seconds try and imagine something that makes you feel good – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15… You’re welcome”. I hope you cracked a little smile. 

While unveiling, he is working on a debut album, Daniel explores the thin between being free and running away: “I’ve started working on my debut album. It is going to be a concept piece about constantly trying to free yourself of societal boundaries. But what happened to me in chasing freedom that little bit too much is that at some point, it started feeling like I’m always on the run. Escaping from something I cannot see or name. It’s a work in progress, and it is going to take a little longer to complete, but I can’t wait to share it when it’s done”.

As an established actor, by landing a lead role in a successful German prime time tv show, Daniel Donskoy became a household name in Germany. He also stars in BBC’s ‘Detectorists’ and HBO’s ‘Strike Back’. How he got the role in Netflix’s ‘The Crown,’ we wanted to know all the details: “I was on a set in Germany between two scenes, and suddenly my UK agent called me three times in a row – I couldn’t pick up. I thought the part went away as I hadn’t heard for a while, and on my next break, I called her back, and she delivered me the fantastic news – I was psyched!” Daniel tells. 

As a master of his craft, Daniel knew he had to work extra hard to get where he wanted to be as an actor. Landing a role in a British series, especially of this caliber, is a huge accomplishment. Daniel talks about the whole experience: “I was very proud to finally be cast as a Brit. Coming to the UK, it is always a struggle to not just be seen as a foreign actor. I spent so much time and dedication in perfecting my accent, truly depending on the countries culture, history, and language – to truthfully be able to portray British characters. James Hewitt was my first one and to play a Brit in one of the UK’s most successful productions in the last years was a small personal victory. My first day of shooting was on my birthday – I came into the makeup truck and was given a hug by Olivia Coleman – an actress I truly admire. That was the best start. Emma Corrin was also such joy to work with – I can wholeheartedly say it was one of the most welcoming and positive sets I’ve been on in recent years”.

What’s next, you may ask? Daniel Donskoy is ready ‘to go full steam ahead’. He plans to finish his album, announce his tour, release four more songs, work on two TV shows, and a film and other filming projects. With his talents and promising career in music, I am sure this won’t be the last time we hear about Daniel Donskoy.

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Words: Karolina Kramplova