Conversation with Daniel Bernard Roumain

A black suit and long dreadlocks. Classical violin and electronica. The child of Haitian immigrants who now collaborates with the likes of Philip Glass and DJ Scientific. Also known as DBR, Daniel Bernard Roumain absolutely refuses to be put into a category. His most recent album, etudes4violin&electronix, is a mixture of enough musical types that it should be confusing, yet it is cohesive and deliberate. Bandleader, composer, violinist, and performer, Roumain is also a young man, so expect that his experimental sound will continue to grow and transform in the years to come. See listing this page for show info.

What originally drew you to music?
My music education was just a part of my total education. I come from an artistic family—my grandfather played the violin, my father made papier-mâché sculptures and painted the house. We were all creative. Growing up, music was just another activity. Then when I was about ten years old I had an epiphany that music was taking a much larger role in my life. I became hypnotized with it. It became a passion.

Do you play anything besides the violin?
I play about twenty-five different instruments -- piano, drums, keyboard, cello, the laptop for electronic music. When I start a new instrument, I try to learn the fundamentals first. In fact, I just recently learned how to play the harmonica.

Who has inspired you?
I'm really inspired by everything around me. I'm just happy and fortunate and humbled by everything in my life. I've always been inspired by Beethoven, Prince, Björk. They don't seem to have that much in common, but they do have a lot in common. I'm fascinated by beauty and extremes. These days I'm inspired by the new and the unexpected.

How would you describe one of your performances to someone who's never been?
Hopefully, loud but not too loud. Captivating, not alienating or threatening. It's a show, so we pay attention to the lights and the blocking, great musicianship, great composition. We want to entertain. The best concerts I've given have been not only good times, but important times. By important, I mean I hope the audience gets something from them, whether it's a new sound, a new perspective, or even a new question.