By Emily J Weitz
Daisy Jopling is a rock star. If you talk to her, with her youthful British lilt, or you look at her, with her Bohemian style, this might not come as a surprise. But if you just saw her instrument, you’d probably come up with a whole different set of expectations. Because the small hourglass case she carries in her hand holds a violin. And it’s rare that this instrument has been asked to do what Ms. Jopling demands.
Like many other accomplished violinists, Jopling started young and trained diligently. She came from a family of musicians, which included some professionals. So when she started playing at three years old, she wasn’t out of her element. Her parents supported her, bringing her to lessons with the best instructors an hour from their home in rural England. When she was 17 she started at the Royal College of Music in London.
“Then I became a rebel,” she says with a laugh.
When she went to London, she was exposed to music from all over the world, and she was moved by it. She played in a Nigerian band and responded to broader influences. When she was 24, she moved to Vienna, where she started writing her own music. Then she moved to the States.
“I started playing American music, then rock and roll, reggae, and hip hop,” she says.
Playing a classical instrument like the violin in a contemporary genre like hip-hop gives Jopling the feeling she’s doing something fresh and new, which is essential to her creativity.
“Personally,” she says, “I need to feel like I am creating something new, that nobody is doing exactly this. I need this feeling that I am on the cutting edge of what’s happening. It expresses who I am. I love classical music, but I listen to so much other music, and I want to feel like I am expressing all of it.”
She adds that it’s not just about her own emotional and intellectual experience.
“It’s about the era I am living in. I want to express this time,” she says.
This connection to the present tense, which can be difficult to find in a 400-year-old piece of music, allows Jopling to connect to the audience.
“I am a performer,” she says. “I love to share music with my audience and my fellow musicians onstage. I need to communicate with everybody on a deep emotional level. Therefore, I need to speak in their language. I needed to bring pop and rock into what I’m doing. I love taking my electric violin and getting up in a club and jamming, and getting teenagers going wild for what I’m doing.”
When asked to describe a highlight in her remarkable career, she responds like a rock star.
“There was this one moment at the Royal Albert Hall in London,” she recalls, “when I walked onstage with my trio in front of an audience of 30,000 people. That energy is just amazing. We hadn’t done anything and people were going wild. I love that. It was then that I became strongly aware of how much I love performing.”
When the sweet, recognizable sound of a violin dances over a heavy drum beat, something happens.
“On a really basic level,” says Jopling, “it accomplishes that who I am, a violinist from a classical background, can communicate with a whole other audience, who wouldn’t otherwise feel so connected… I love to expand people’s horizons. To play to early 20-year-olds who say they didn’t think they liked instrumental music. I love breaking my boundaries, and breaking everybody else’s boundaries as well.”
Tonight (July 5) Jopling will be playing at Guild Hall with her regular drummer, Doug Yowell, and her regular bassist, Ben Zwerin. Guest pianist Christine Cadarette will join them for the evening. Special guest singer Natalie Sepp, a 12-year-old girl from Montauk, will join for a song. The performance is presented by Crossroads Music in Amagansett.
You can’t put Daisy Jopling in a box and label her. As a result, her performances offer something you won’t have seen before.
“People will be carried to a place of utmost joy,” she says. “It’s something stimulating, fun, and it will take you out of anything that’s bothering you. It’s about having fun, loving it, and letting go.”