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OppyArts Spotlight: Donnie Aki

Welcome to another installment of OppyArts Spotlight, where the Oppy highlights exceptional artists navigating the Corona environment, showcases their creative process, and searches for ways for MBA students to get involved in their local arts communities. This month’s feature is LA-based musician Donnie Aki.

Donnie started his career in early 2020 and had to quickly shift and adapt to a pandemic paradigm. Since his debut, he’s put out multiple singles and been featured in a number of collaborations with other LA-based artists. His recent release, “Rich Lovin,” already recorded over 300k streams on Spotify alone and led to his first music video, which I must say, is just a delight. I sat down with Donnie to learn more about his creative process and his rise through 2020.

CC: What’s been the biggest challenge of working in music throughout the pandemic?

DA: Definitely not being able to perform live and attend bigger public events. Networking and getting your name out there in person is key to growing your name as an artist.

CC: Yeah it’s weird seeing such a crucial component of the music scene go away. What surprised you most about the music industry or your community’s response to the pandemic?

DA: I was surprised that LA has been the longest city to close down even with Miami being open for a while. Everyone began releasing music and going heavy into online marketing for their releases.

CC: A lot of artists say they don’t like the ways this online shift is influencing the industry. Others say it was inevitable. How has this year and this experience inspired your creativity? 

DA: This time off has really let me find my sound and work on a lot of music as well as work with a lot of different artists. It also gave me time to plan out my marketing plans for my upcoming releases.

CC: Have you had more time to work on your art during this time?

DA: Yes, this time has allowed me to complete about 2 albums with many other songs that didn’t make the album cuts.

CC: Wow, that’s some serious content. The tinkering, reworking tracks can be brutal though, do you enjoy that? What do you enjoy most about making music?

DA: I enjoy writing the music and being in the studio environment. The energy in the studio when making a song is hard to match.

CC: What excites you most about music?

DA: Making the music itself and being in the studio. I love working on music, it’s what I spend most of my time doing.

CC: We’ll see if that answer changes once you can do live shows again. How has studio work or collaboration changed throughout this process?

DA: Not really, I still work the same in the studio as I did before, I’m just maybe more experienced every time I go in the studio.

CC: Honing the craft, well you’re definitely onto some exciting stuff, love the work you’ve been putting out. Who are your biggest influences?

DA: I would say I’m highly influenced by Juice World, he’s always been an artist I feel like I can relate too.

CC: I will always admire him in the way he has this compulsive creativity. Like he’s just constantly coming up with stuff, almost like it’s involuntary. He has a lot of different styles though. What do you think best captures your style?

DA: I feel that love best captures my style. I tend to touch on topics about love or surrounding this topic.

CC: Certainly a lot of runway to work with around Love. Any music that can capture those feelings is sure to get a response too. Has your style changed much over the past year?

DA: Yes, I used to make rap and even went into EDM for a bit before finding my sound I have now. 

CC: It’s cool to see how your music can flow or span between genres too. Do you have any other passion projects you are working on?

DA: No, music is the main goal at the moment. 

CC: Love to see the focus. Alright last one here. In what ways could Stern students get involved with your projects & efforts?

DA: You can listen to my music anywhere, just search Donnie Aki. Just share our music and keep streaming.

You heard the man. Check out Donnie’s songs and more recent collaborations in our latest OppySpot playlist, and be on the lookout for his future releases and music videos. Be sure to support on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Instagram.

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