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Dave Koz: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Dave Koz.

Dave Koz is 2022's Artist of the Year! He may also be smooth jazz's busiest man of the year! We had a lot to talk about! Check out the magazine article below (click to see it full screen and click the arrow to see the second page) or keep scrolling for the extended version of our interview in text format.

Read the rest of the BEATS magazine here.

2022 was a busy year for this year’s Best Artist winner Dave Koz. Dave hit the seas with his Dave Koz & Friends At Sea touring Amsterdam, the UK, Ireland and Scotland. He had a busy year of touring with his Summer Horns tour and 25th Annual Christmas Tour in full swing as we write this. And he is also a radio host with his Dave Koz Radio Show airing on the Smooth Jazz Network and several radio stations around the world, and another show on XM/Sirius. Plus, his new family addition “Buddy”! Congratulations to the hardest working guy in Smooth Jazz!

AK: This year has been a big one, with the Dave Koz and Friends at Sea cruise back on and your 25th anniversary Christmas tour (and CD). And your recent project celebrating over 30 years as an artist, which yielded another hit this past summer! Where do I begin?! You are certainly the busiest man in Smooth Jazz!

DK: That’s very kind, AK…and you’ve been there for every last bit of it! J I can’t thank you enough for ALL the years of amazing support and cheerleading…it’s truly meant a ton to me. The older I get, the more I come to appreciate all the people who bent over backwards for me all these decades of doing this—and you’ve always been there. And not just for me, but for SO many of us. So, thank you!

AK: First off, I know it was a thrill for you to get the cruise back on this year. It was an amazing week for me and I imagine it felt very rewarding to see all of those passionate fans on board.

DK: We were very lucky that our cruise was happening in May of 2022, when Covid had died down a bit, especially compared to the beginning of the year. But it was still about the most challenging thing my team and I had ever had to do. For the almost 4000 people who ventured to Amsterdam to be on these two cruises, nothing was going to stop them from being there. It was the same with all the artists, musicians and crew too—the people who were there REALLY wanted to be there, no matter what was happening around us. And the result was truly astonishing—there was a palpable joy to every show…you could feel it everywhere. These guests were amazing, Allen (you being one of them!). You all brought such incredible energy to the ship, and while it was physically and emotionally draining to mount a cruise in Covid—I think we can all look back on it as perhaps one of the proudest moments in our cruising history.

AK: Any favorite ports from this one?

DK: I absolutely loved our host city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Of course, it helped that the city’s most-famous sax player (the great Candy Dulfer) was there to show us around, and be a surprise guest artist on the cruise to boot! There’s so much to do and see there…the food is delicious, and it’s so picturesque—everywhere you look. The people are so warm and friendly too. I can’t wait to go back.

AK: The talent lineup was mind blowing. How do you wrangle such an elite list of artists for your cruises?

DK: We try to strike a healthy balance of established headline artists that everyone knows and loves (people like Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Kenny Lattimore for example), with newer names in smooth jazz (like Julian Vaughn, Adam Hawley and Marcus Anderson etc). And this year, we even had the super-young guys like 15 year-old piano sensation Justin Lee Schultz and his sister Jamie, who absolutely slayed our guests. We mix in a few more traditional jazz artists, some cabaret performers, plus people like Cory Wong, who defy categorization. The goal is to overwhelm the senses in every possible way, and hopefully provide something for everyone’s musical tastes.

AK: The cruise was my first chance to see Rebecca Jade and now she has an amazing TOP 20 single and she is nominated for “Breakout Artist of the year”.

DK: I am SO happy for Rebecca…and so proud of what she’s accomplished. She deserves it all, as not only is she immensely talented, but no one works as hard as she does. And she can seemingly do everything! From belting it out, to very nuanced jazz interpretations. Rebecca is one of the artists on this year’s Christmas tour, which we’re out on at this very moment. She was such a hit last year, we HAD to have her back—and in an even more expanded role this year. Of course, she is killing it! J

AK: And you are nominated for Artist of the Year!

DK: I am very honored about that—thank you! As long as I’ve been doing this, it feels awesome to still be considered relevant and that people still are gravitating to my music. It felt amazing to release a lot of new music in the last couple years too—and that it was received well meant so much to me.

AK: Plus you have a new member of your household! Tell us about Buddy Boy!

DK: I’m such a dog person—always had a dog growing up. But I talked myself out of getting one as an adult because I was always on the road. Then Covid happened…and I just thought, I am not putting this off any longer! My assistant Janice and I co-parent Buddy, who is a rescue mutt who came from Bakersfield, CA. He’s an amazing presence in our lives—I learn SO much from him, and he’s been the BEST companion I could ever dream of. We even had him out on the road the first week of the Christmas tour—and he loved it all! Riding the bus, hanging in the dressing room, even coming on stage! We got very lucky with Buddy.

AK: … and he has his own Instagram?

DK: I have gotten very used to the fact that it’s all about Buddy now—no one is that interested in me anymore! Haha. Yes he does have a popular IG acct @buddyboykoz

AK: Tell us about “Just Be Koz”…

DK: A good friend of mine who is a videographer suggested that I sit down for a sort-of big interview, where I speak about my career and life, as that had never been done in my career up to that point. I did it…and was happy I did. But I didn’t feel releasing it as such would have much impact. So we came up with the idea of animating it, and splicing in moments of my interview, hopefully making it more fun and appealing for people to watch. We worked with a genius animator out of Finland named JonesAndYou, and together we created these short autobiographical, animated vignettes. Season One had 6 episodes, and there will be a Season Two out next year. It was a really fun project to do, and it seems like the fans really enjoyed them.

AK: I know you’ve been having a lot of fun with your various social media platforms. I like how you kept the 80’s mullet for your cartoon persona!

DK: Haha…well I HAD one! I can’t in good faith, re-write history! J I keep thinking that the mullet will come back one day…I see some guys sporting them now. But not sure if that’d be a good look to go back to anytime soon!

AK: Tell us about your upcoming 2023 cruise?

DK: This will be the first time we’ve ever done three voyages back to back, but the overwhelming demand for this particular itinerary made us seriously consider it and eventually say yes. It’s a pretty breathtaking part of the globe, so I get it! Barcelona, Ibiza, Alicante, Malaga and Seville, Spain…and Casablanca, Morocco and Lisbon, Portugal. And when you’re on vacation with your favorite artists, even better! We all can’t WAIT for this one!

AK: And your Christmas tour is in full force right now… Planning for some downtime after?

DK: Well, I will have about a week to decompress after the tour (which this year is 24 shows in 23 cities in 29 days!), before joining my dear buddy Rick Braun for New Years Eve at his event in Tucson, AZ. Don’t call me during that week…I’ll be in my bed!

AK: Ok, I’m afraid to ask (haha) What’s on tap for you in 2023?

DK: It’s shaping up to be a busy year, and I am very excited about it. Lots of shows all over, a very fun Summer Horns Tour is being planned with Candy Dulfer and Eric Darius, lots of international travel and hopefully another Christmas tour with Jonathan Butler. I also turn 60 (can’t believe it!) in March 2023, so I am feeling extremely grateful to be this busy at this point in my life. As you know, there is also a documentary about the smooth jazz world that was filmed over the last two years that will finally be released as well next year…I did a lot with the filmmakers for this film, and as of yet haven’t seen it. But I have a feeling it will do a ton for our community! Pretty exciting stuff.

AK: Any hint about your 2024 cruise destination?

DK: I have wanted to a cruise in this area of the world for ages—but always thought it would take a long, long time to put it together. To my great surprise, it all fell together quite easily—and so I couldn’t be more honored to say--we will be taking people to ‘The Cradle Of Civilization” in 2024! Round trip from Athens, Greece, this cruise will sail to Kusadasi, Turkey (where the ancient ruins of Ephesus lie); Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel and Alexandria, Egypt (the port for The Great Pyramids). To me, this is the ‘bucket list of bucket lists’!! There will only be two sailings of this cruise, as our partners at Holland America were only able to make this bespoke itinerary happen twice! We are all super-excited for this one—you should come with!

Keep up with Dave Koz via his website.

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