Musician Daniel Park, 31, describes himself as a hard worker rather than a risk-taker.
Yet, he quit his stable daytime job against the advice of others nearly three years ago to pursue his dream of playing music.
“Nobody was really sure if it would work out, but I’m a hard worker, and that’s what it comes down to,” he said. “If you’re willing to work hard, you can make anything happen.”
Park’s hard work is paying off. He released a new album called “Keep Your Gaze Upon the Compass,” a five-track extended play, in September.
The album has been an ongoing project with Los Angeles producer Matt Bobb, whom Park met through his musician friend Chadwick Johnson.
“I was actually part of (Park’s) EP,” Johnson said. “I helped with the vocal production. It was really cool being part of the intimate experience in the studio.”
Johnson and Park met while auditioning for NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent” and became good friends while competing in Las Vegas.
After leaving the show, Johnson invited Park to sing with him at a few shows in Los Angeles.
“His music is very unique. He does awesome looping with the guitar and violin,” Johnson said. “His sound is just super marketable and has a lot of heart in it. I can totally see it being in movies and TV soundtracks.”
Johnson, who sings pop soul, moved to Las Vegas recently because of Park.
“(Park) opened for me last year at my CD release party. This year, I opened for his party,” Johnson said. “It’s nice that we’ve been able to help each other out as artists.”
Park’s love for music began at a young age. Born in a small village in South Korea, Park and his two sisters were adopted by a couple in Albuquerque, N.M., when he was 4.
Almost immediately, his parents signed them up for violin lessons.
“I don’t ever remember being like, ‘This is the greatest thing in the world,’ but I didn’t hate it,” Park said. “It was something I just did, and it was how music was started for me.”
Park was about 15 when he picked up playing the guitar.
“I couldn’t put it down,” he said. “I would miss class just playing it all day.”
While studying engineering at New Mexico State University, Park played the violin and guitar in two bands, Kiss to Betray and Live Bait.
“(The bands) didn’t work out. So when I graduated college, I had my little quarter-life crisis,” he said. “I kept asking myself, ‘What am I doing?’ ”
In January 2010, Park quit his job as an electrical engineer to pursue music full time. Although people wished him the best, Park said everyone was wary of his decision.
“My parents told me to work on a career because most people don’t make it big,” Park said. “They weren’t trying to discourage me. They were just trying to give me a reality check, and I understood. I still went for it anyway.”
Park started traveling and playing one-man shows in bars and restaurants across the Southwest, including Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Last year, he received an email from a booking agent at Red Rock Resort asking if he wanted to perform at T-Bones Chophouse.
“I hadn’t done too many casino gigs at the time, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” Park said. “After a few shows, they asked me to let them know when I was ready for a regular position. So I was like, ‘Well, I’m ready now.’ ”
Park moved to Las Vegas from New Mexico about five months ago to play at the resort’s Onyx Bar.
“I pick up (additional) shows around town as they come,” he said. “I’ve played at The Venetian, the Bellagio and the Hard Rock Cafe, places like that.”
According to Park, he plays acoustic pop rock music. He typically plays solo, rocking his guitar and violin in every set.
“I would say my music is influenced by Maroon 5, The Script and One Republic,” he said. “That’s the sound I’m going for, but I listen to and play everything.”
Comparing writing a song to carving a statue, Park said it’s better to take your time and craft the song into a beautiful art form.
“If you rush it, it might look OK from a distance, but it won’t have any fine intricacy up close that an artist would be proud of,” he said. “Maybe I just have high standards, but that’s how I feel about it.”
In addition to writing original songs, Park also plays cover songs of many mainstream artists, including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kanye West and Jay-Z.
“The hardest part of music is standing out and saying, ‘Here I am. I’m unique. Listen to me,’ ” Park said. “I don’t see other musicians as competition, though. We all help each other try new things and learn new music.”
In the end, Park said he still believes he would have quit his engineering job to pursue something else, even if it wasn’t for music.
“There’s a creative side to me that I have to let loose,” Park said. “It’s the core of who I am.”
Park plays from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday at the Onyx Bar at Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. He also performs from 9 p.m. to midnight every Tuesday at the Lily Bar & Lounge inside the Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
To listen to or purchase Park’s music, visit danielparkmusic.com.
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at 702-383-0403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.