Daniel Donskoy In Conversation with FAULT Magazine

Daniel Donskoy X FAULT Magazine
Daniel Donskoy

Words: Miles Holder

Actor, singer, performer – artist. No matter where you first hear the name Daniel Donskoy, you’re sure to remember his art.

While Daniel Donskoy‘s story begins in Moscow, his acting skills on HBO’s Strike Back, BBC‘s Detectorists and Netflix series The Crown are quickly making him a household name across the globe.

His artistry stretches beyond just one medium, however, and Daniel recently released a new single entitled ’24’. A track about chasing adrenaline highs and emotional peaks in life – fitting for an artist always on the go.

We caught up with Daniel to discuss his new music, inspirations and of course, his FAULTs.

You’re go go go with work, and track 24 is about chasing that emotional high – does that reflect your life and approach to new exciting projects?

Daniel Donskoy: Absolutely, I believe in the power of saying yes, to all of life’s adventures and challenges. So much in our society is ruled by fear so many people are prisoners to their own insecurities, societal norms confine too many individuals. I made the conscious decision to live a life of freedom. I haven’t had a proper flat for over two years, for instance, given away most of my materialistic possessions other than my musical instruments. I’ve been moving from filming project to touring and back to filming. Working both as an actor and musician, my main focus is telling people stories – in order to do that to the best of my abilities I want to experience my own life to the fullest. I’m so fortunate to call three countries my home, to have grown up in fundamentally different cultures – to have seen life from different perspectives. Socio-economically and culturally. Over the last years, I got to travel a lot, met the most fascinating and inspiring people all over the world – of course, to a certain extent chasing excitement. But life is way too short for anything else. 

Do you feel that you get to enjoy the payoff of your hard work or does chasing the next exciting project leave little time for celebration and reflection?

Daniel Donskoy: Without reflection, there can be neither growth nor development. So I do reflect a lot – at times even too much. I tend to overthink everything except when I write music. This is my safe space away from my thoughts where I can purely relish in feeling. For me, the payoff for hard work is the opportunity to continue learning and growing as an artist. Hopefully, I’ll be able to perform live again when the pandemic is under control. The most beautiful payoff for my work in the music industry was my first ever concert – I arrived on stage in Hamburg, and suddenly a whole club was unanimously singing my song together with me. I felt more alive than ever. So yes. There is time for celebration – most of it on stage!

Daniel Donskoy

The life of any modern “celebrity” is about only showing the “highs” and hiding any lows from the public or social media etc. Did you ever feel like that could become your life?

Daniel Donskoy: No. I am pretty open about my fears, anxieties and low moments. They are part of us. Make us who we are. We all know that every high is followed by a low – but that’s nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. It’s the truth, and the truth can’t hurt you if you accept it. Of course, there is a tendency to try and optimize how people see you. Most of us are culprits of Instagram filters, picture corrections and at times faking a smile. When I’m truly down, I take time for myself or with my loved ones and stay away from the at times toxic online environment. But I am a political person; I share my opinions with my fans and followers on stage and online. Being political means that at times you’re upset, and I think it is crucial to share that. It’s ok to be sad and angry at times. It makes us human. My music is so close to my heart, every story I sing about is something I’ve experienced – that includes heartbreak, self-doubt, not feeling like you fit in. I don’t consider these things as lows though – I consider them as hurdles, challenges and they are there to be overcome.

Is 24 part of a larger musical release or EP, will we hear more music from you soon?

Daniel Donskoy: I will be releasing five more tracks in the next couple of months. We had to shift plans slightly due to Coronavirus. I was working on an album to be released before heading on a European tour early 2021. As I don’t know when that will be possible, we’ll stick to single releases for now. This is actually really exciting as I get to create a new world for every song. It’s a great feeling knowing that every track will make the listeners get to know me to be a little bit more. The through-line and main theme of the songs is freedom in all its forms: sexual freedom, cognitive freedom—the freedom to be a dreamer and say it out loud.

Can you work on music and acting projects simultaneously, or do you feel you have to keep them split up to focus on either one properly?

Daniel Donskoy: Of course, it’s not always easy – it requires a strict discipline. After a full day of shooting, I often head to the studio, then to the gym. If you have only six hours left to sleep, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to meddle. A lot of it is down to proper planning, but I’m very fortunate to have good stamina and a brilliant team around me who work relentlessly to help me create. I think that working in both fields actually makes me an overall stronger performer. As an actor, I learnt how to tell stories – that really helps me when I perform my songs live. As a musician, I have to dive right into my emotional core to write the most honest lyrics – being connected to those emotions really helps me as an actor. To make it short: I think it’s the biggest gift to able to work in both worlds. 

Daniel Donskoy

What’s been the most challenging career hurdle you’ve had to climb?

Daniel Donskoy: Well, as an independent musician without big machinery or big budgets behind me, a lot of my work in the field happens after the actual creation. If I had a choice, I would only ever focus on writing music, barricading myself in a studio for months and months at a time. Then go on tour.

There is a lot more that goes into releasing music than meets the eye… I started as a musician to be an artist, but the artistry is just the starting point. I believe in hard work and determination, so I work relentlessly and yes – at times, that is very challenging. 

Daniel Donskoy

What is your FAULT?

Daniel Donskoy: I have an addictive personality and thrive of adrenalin rushes. Let’s just say it gets me into trouble quite often. The problem with chasing the adrenalin rush is that trouble is a big fucking adrenalin booster.