“All youth deserve access to the arts,” says Daniel. “They deserve a safe place to take risks and explore their creative potential.”
Daniel is the co-founder of Totem Star, which uses the model of a record label to engage youth and offer life skills. Kids create, perform, and record music, and produce public events.
He’s also a mentor teaching artist for Arts Corps and Rock School, and believes firmly in show, don’t tell. “We teach and empower kids by modeling this: It’s okay to be creative. It’s okay to express yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to take risks.”
Born and raised on O’ahu, Daniel identifies as Korean and Japanese American. Raised in a multicultural environment, he is comfortable in many different communities. “Every time I step into a classroom, I feel as if I am surrounded by my family. We have to treat each other like our own brothers and sisters and look out for everyone’s best interests.”
Now completely dedicated to producing music (with the youth in his community, and his band Kore Ionz), at one time he found himself at a fork in the road: should he use his metallurgical engineering degree to be a nuclear engineer? or work with kids and music? No contest, he says. “A community is only as strong as those who need the most help.