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Spotlight: Danny Miller of Lewis Del Mar

HAILS FROM: Queens, New York USA
PLAYS IN: Lewis Del Mar
SOUNDS LIKE: Transcendental, high-concept alt-rock
LATEST DROP: August (LP out now via Fader)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
I have an Alvarez Parlor acoustic, which is currently the guitar I play onstage and record with. I came across it because I was travelling with an older Martin 000, but that guitar was getting too beaten up with all the flying, and the maintenance costs were starting to add up. I wanted something with great tone and resonance, but that I didn’t have to be precious about. I bought my first Alvarez Parlor in 2016 when we were touring heavily, and a couple months after copping it, I smashed it during a performance on television. I walked right into a guitar store the next day and bought a new one for $200. Can’t go wrong at that price!

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I fell in love with guitar through learning about latin folk music. My family is Nicaraguan, and my first guitar teacher, Amilcar Cruz, was also from there. Amilcar played with the Sacasa family, a legendary music family in Nicaragua, and he taught me about the history of protest music and storytelling in latin folklórico songs. The idea of being a poet or generational storyteller really resonated with me. My first guitar was my father’s first guitar. It’s a no-name classical guitar from the late ‘70s, purchased somewhere along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. I still play it all the time. It is probably my most prized possession. 

What inspires you as a player?
Aside from latin music, my guitar playing is also very influenced by ambient and Brazilian music. I’ve adopted a lot of chord voicings and melody movement that I’ve found on ‘70s and ‘80s tropicalia and Brazilian folk records. One album in particular, Clube Da Esquina, greatly influenced my playing and note choices. I also love artists like Steve Reich, Brian Eno, and Arthur Russell. A lot of the more drone-y, arpeggiating parts I write are influenced by impressionism, and the desire to imbue these most recent songs with a sense of breathing and subtle motion. 

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’m not much of a gear nerd on the whole. I feel it often gets in the way of my creativity, but I’ve been trying to experiment with it more as well. Currently, my favorite piece I own is an older model of the Zvex Fuzz Factory pedal. That shit slaps. 

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
Not really, but I dig Fender’s Offset Japanese Telecaster. Maybe a pre-war Martin, too.

What would your signature model look like?
It would probably be something I made by hand. I’d love to make a guitar myself one day – even if it was a broomstick glued to a frying pan, with some shoelaces over it. I’d love to make a guitar that nobody knew how to play, so it would get you thinking outside your zone. 

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
I’d love to play with Blake Mills. Maybe we’d do “Many Rivers To Cross” by Jimmy Cliff. Or maybe an eight-hour jam with Santana and a ten-piece band with two drummers.