You know those times when a stunning vocal comes on the radio, TV, film soundtrack – or even from inside a venue – and your ears thank you for it, but your head and heart will not rest until you find out exactly who possesses such a gift?
But when you eventually do see the singer, that voice just doesn’t fit the face and body? No disrespect!
Well, for London’s blue-eyed soul man Danny Toeman, that really is true when you see the guy. He sings like a legendary vintage soul brother on stage at the Apollo in Harlem back in the 60s and 70s.
But those scorching soul vocals come from a bloke in a blazer or suit, smart shirt and silk handkerchief in his top pocket, thick mop of curly hair, donning spectacles and with a full-face beard. Looking more likely to sell you life insurance or look after your accounts than get up on stage and blow the roof off. No disrespect!
The geezer delivers unashamedly retro or vintage soul/r&b, but it crackles and pops with a modern-day vibe that is in the ballpark of the likes of Nick Waterhouse, Allen Stone, St Paul & The Broken Bones and Fitz & The Tantrums. Danny has the same level of star quality as all of these cool cats, too.
After college and Uni’ in Leeds, his talents landed him support slots to such illustrious company as the late Charles Bradley, Robert Cray, Betty Wright, Michael Kiwanuka, Incognito and the legendary Kool & The Gang.
He names James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard as some of his main influences, and there’s a host more he really digs such as Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, Leon Bridges, Curtis Harding, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack and Otis Redding.
The launch gig a few days ago for his cracking new single “Give It All Up (Mr. Showtime) – which you can hear via Soundcloud, at the bottom of this page – at The Finsbury, fast becoming one of London’s hippest live music venues, saw the “sold out” signs go up and people travelling from across the country to catch Danny & The Love Explosion band in the act.
He has already graced the stage at the London’s iconic Alexandra Palace and The o2 Arena. His previous single “She’s Got Something About Her” gained spins on BBC Radio and won him many new admirers.
Danny’s five-track EP “The Way It Seems” dropped in 2014. His music can be heard in a global advertising campaign for Toyota, on the US TV show “Saturday Night Live” and in the UK reality TV show “Made in Chelsea”.
He first got the bug for soul music at the age of three, when his parents showed him the Blues Brothers film, and then he wore out the “Blues Brother, Soul Sister” compilation CD, and classics such as Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” and Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour”. Back then as a young lad, he could never have dreamed of one day being invited up on stage to sing with the legendary Eddie Floyd.
An amazing factoid about Danny will surprise most of us: When he is not performing, writing and producing music, since early 2018 he’s spent hours in the gym learning to become a professional wrestler. No, it is not the 1st of April. This is straight up…
In fact, check out the video to his superb track “Rise Above, which can be found lower down on this page, and you’ll see him in action in the ring versus his nemesis, former champion Kyle “The Hipstar” Ashmore. The guy who shattered Danny’s elbow in training. Ouch!
But it is for that knockout voice (see what we did there?), sublime and soulful songwriting skills and explosive live performances, that Danny Toeman is slowly but surely indelibly imprinting his trade-mark hashtag ‘# NorthLondonSoul’ into the collective consciousness of the capital city’s discerning music lovers, and word is spreading around the UK and overseas.
If there is one artist doing their thing today who is surely a tight fit for sure-fire global success with the Dap Tone record label, it’s this chap. So, come on Gabe Roth (aka Bosco Mann) and your colleagues, give him a listen and sign him up – before you have a bidding war on your hands!
Music Republic Magazine prides itself on shining the spotlight brightly on undiscovered talent and giving them a leg up. Danny Toseman is obviously not completely undiscovered and he has had pockets of success across his career, but he needs and deserves that one big break to see him become the star he could and should be.
The name, Toeman: “I come from a long line of chiropodists”, he will tell you, with tongue firmly in cheek for his stock one-liner. Well, those two feet are going places as that gravel and gasoline growl and wine-glass shattering falsetto will surely take him far.
But before he jets off, we sling 20 questions at the man to find out exactly who he is, where he’s been, what he’s done and what makes him tick, musically…..
- Your name and your age? Danny Toeman. I am 30.
- Where you were born and where you are based now? North London. Now I’m technically in North West London.
- Instruments you play? Not including singing: Guitar and a little bit of bass, keys, drums. Enough to compose and arrange on, but generally not for public consumption.
- Age when you started in music? And when/where/what was your first public performance/how many saw it? I’ve been performing music since as soon as I could play guitar. Do school shows at the age of eight or nine count? For some reason, before I’d even started playing, everyone in attendance started chanting ‘Da-nny! Da-nny!’, over and over.
- What song or artist/band lit the flame inside you to want to be a musician/artist? I was already familiar with artists such as Ray Charles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin from a very young age. But it wasn’t until I was six and about two verses into the Beatles ‘A Hard Days Night’, that for some reason the idea of writing and playing music seemed like an attainable goal.
- First song you wrote, at what age, what was it called and what inspired it? The first song I wrote was called ‘Nothing’, at the age of eight. I improvised it on the spot, in response to being told I should play ‘nothing’. I still remember it, but not who told me that.
- What music has been released so far? And what format and dates? This year I’ve released two singles, ‘She’s Got Something About Her’, and ‘Give It All Up (Mr. Showtime)’. Both are available on Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major streaming services. I also released a song in the form of a music video, ‘Rise Above’, which features me in a full-on wrestling match.
- How do you describe your own music style to a stranger who asks: “What kind of music do you play/sing”? Uptempo, gritty soul and funk music that leans on the classics, but has a definitively London attitude.
- How many gigs have you done and which/how many countries? A conservative estimate of the last few years worth of gigging would put that number in the 200-300 range. I’ve been very fortunate to play a few shows outside of the UK, including a few in the Czech Republic and Germany, but I hope to branch out a bit further in the coming year(s).
- Bullet points of your main music career/achievements to-date?
- Support act for the legendary Kool & the Gang at the o2 Arena in September.
- My single ‘She’s Got Something About Her’ being championed by Robert Elms on BBC London Radio and Craig Charles on BBC 6 Music.
- Selling out our headline shows this year, including one on ‘Blue Monday’, labelled the most depressing day of the year!
- Having my music featured on TV shows including ‘Saturday Night Live’ (NBC), and ‘Made in Chelsea’ (E4).
11. Best or worst gig you have done? That’s a tough choice to make. As gigging becomes more ‘boutique’ in London, I’ve played in a lot of unconventional spaces. One that counts as both a strange and bad gig was a few years ago in a Hackney warehouse. In front of the stage were a number of canvases with painters contributing to them. Every five minutes, a buzzer went off, and each artist moved onto the next canvas, completely interrupting our set. However, the bad gigs always make the good ones that much more worth it.12.A: X Factor?, B: The Voice? C: Britain’s Got Talent? D: Gouge your own eyes out with a rusty spoon? I’d probably say C, but not for anything music-related. I’d probably just go out there, and touch my nose with my tongue. Back in 2016 I got approached on four separate times to do The Voice. It seems like in more recent years, the producers are becoming aware of the negative opinion many musicians have of these shows. That’s why the scouting emails and phone calls are now very ambiguous, only alluding to television opportunities, until you dig a little deeper.13. Day jobs you have done…………………? I’ve had a fair few odd jobs, but I’ve generally stuck to music-related work over the years, including jingle and library music writing, working at a record shop, teaching music and working as a gig rep’ (the guy who picks out the brown M&M’s for the band!)14. Funniest or most dramatic thing that has ever happened to you? I once wrote a song called ‘Let’s Get Naked’ in about 15 minutes, as a joke, bit I decided to play it at a solo club date later that day. To my surprise, it was a big hit that night; people actually began disrobing as the song progressed!
15. Guilty secret? I spend money in mobile phone games. Not a lot, but enough to make me feel guilty about it.16. What two recordings could you not live without, if you were stuck on a desert island? ‘Different’ by Louise Golbey and ‘Ambient Tofu’ by Itchy Teeth. My favourite singles of 2019, and both very talented acts to check out.17. Your main influences? James Brown, The Temptations in their psychedelic soul years, Little Richard, Bobby Womack and to an extent, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. In more recent years, I’ve really enjoyed the work of more modern soul artists like Mayer Hawthorne and Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reid.18. If you believed in reincarnation; who or what would you want to come back as? A seal. I imagine everyone says a cute dog or something, but I like the sea, so what better than the doggos of the ocean?
- Pet ‘hate’ (dislike)? Restaurants that slice your steak up for you. This completely robs you of choosing the tempo of your meal, and it also seems like they often re-cook the meat after slicing it, turning a rare into a medium! Also, why all the serving things on wooden chopping boards? That can’t be healthy. Give me a plate!
- Plans for rest of this year and next year? Get ripped…. (Good luck with that, DT!)
The latest single:
Photos: Ian Wallman