Dons                (Art Green)
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Dons (Art Green)

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18 Jul 2006 (Updated 20 Jul 2006)

With help from Swedes, solo debut is a hit
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Dons

Lights On
Platforma Records, 2006

PRCD 151
Raitis Freimanis

The Latvian popular music scene never fails to amaze with its good supply of new and up-and-coming talent. To this list we can add the singer Dons, who recently released his debut solo album, Lights On.

The 22-year-old singer, whose real name is Artûrs Ðingirejs, recorded the album with the help of Swedish producers and musicians in Stockholm. There are basically two producer teams on the album. Brothers Andreas and Martin Karlegård co-wrote, produced, performed and recorded five of the songs at K*Bros Studio, while Peter Månsson teamed up with James Cartiers on four songs and with Patric Sarin for one song at MIR Studios.

All the songs are sung in English and Dons does a great job with them. Actually, Dons is one of the few singers from Latvia who can sing in English with nearly no accent. His voice sometime sounds similar to that of Huey Lewis and at other times that of Red Hot Chilli Peppers singer (and Lithuanian-American) Anthony Kiedis.

Dons first gained wide notice in Latvia as one half of the duo Dons & Lily, paired with Linda Kalniòa. They met on the Latvian television reality show “Talantu fabrika.” The duo released one album, Viens otram, in 2004, but went their separate ways in 2005.

Lights On kicks off with opening track, “Take Me Alive,” a fast paced number that has a fabulous, screeching guitar solo. Dons really belts out the chorus line on this song. Next is the first single from the album, a ballad called “Light Out,” which has been getting good airplay on Latvian radio stations. There’s a videoclip to the song as well. This is the showcase for songwriters Dons and the Karlegård brothers.

“Jaded,” s song about the new generation taking over, has a little quote from The Doors’ song “When The Music’s Over.” This is not by coincidence, as one of Dons’ favorite groups is The Doors. “American Lovebite” is a Beatles-sounding song complete with a horn section. It’s one of four songs where Dons is not inolved as a songwriter, this being left to his Swedish counterparts.

Really grooving is “When Love Turns to Pain.” All the instruments are played by Månsson, while backing vocals are sung by Sarin. The song also has a catchy chorus.

The next three tracks on the album are produced by the Karlegård brothers, starting with “You Should Know Better,” a powerpop song that goes well together with the previous track. “Best Kept Secret” is a more poppy song, but again with a strong chorus. “Nothing’s Really There” is a song about childhood memories and shadows in the room that are just imagined.

The last two songs are produced by Månsson and Cartiers. “Mr. Greene” is the current single from the album, a steady-paced storytelling track that showcases Dons’ singing abilities. “Just Save Me” rounds out the album and is a rocking walking beat song where Dons goes looking for missing pieces, but I believe he has found them by creating this album.

All in all, the album has 10 good, strong songs, professionally performed, produced and recorded.

Raitis Freimanis
- Toronto News






The Latvian popular music scene never fails to amaze and with an open mind to the possibility that fantastic music exists outside the U.S. and is worth bringing here, SoundPress bring you Dons. Dons does sing all his songs in English with nearly no accent at all and even better - all the songs are hits. Dons has gained fame on Latvian television and could very well reach international stardom with his excellent stage presence and performance, coupled with strong vocal talent and songwriting skills as well as great image.
USA4real.com
Review
"If this band finds its niche, they will achieve international stardom. Dons offer a unique sound to the U.S. ...their music still pops and mixes well with rock. You find yourself singing along to their songs, especially "Jaded." It's truly a cool tune that should blossom well with anyone that hears it."
Currently, Dons is preparing a Rock Opera titled The Needle to be performed by Latvian National Theatre, where he will star as one of main characters. The single from the opera is the most popular single of the day. All tickets of Opera have sold out. Although, he is only 22 years old, Dons is one of most successful performers and songwriters in Latvia history and has charted numerous times. Dons goal is to bring his success to the U.S.

Dons CD "Lights on" is released


10 great songs, all produced, with excellent hooks
"Lights On" kicks off with opening track, “Take Me Alive,” which has an excellent chorus. Dons has a video on his website that is well worth your viewing time as well. The website is listed at the end of the press release. “Jaded,” is a song about the new generation taking over. There's a quote from The Doors’ “When The Music’s Over” which is not by coincidence, as one of Dons’ favorite groups is The Doors.
"When Love Turns to Pain” is once again, a showcase for Dons ability to write a catchy chorus. The next three tracks on the album are produced by the K-brothers, starting with “You Should Know Better,” a great power-pop song and “Best Kept Secret”, again a song with an undeniably strong chorus. The last two songs were produced by Månsson and Cartiers. “Mr. Greene” is the current single from the album. Throughout the album, it is clear that Dons has an excellent vocal ability and style. The album showcases 10 great songs, well performed and produced.

Dons hit number one for six weeks


Reality Show takes Dons to the top of charts
Dons has always known that he would be the one to set his country’s name on world’s music map. SoundPress! agrees. With the collaboration of Swedish producers “K Brothers and Peter Manson, Dons has matured and mastered his skills near perfection. Together they have created a powerful and exciting record. Dons became well-known in Latvia in 2003 after joining a reality show – “Fame Factory.” The winner was promised a deal with a record label. The fans went crazy for him. After a brief problem with the ballot counting, came back with a hit song titled “Just For You” that was dedicated to Lily his love and Fame Factory co-star. It shot straight up to number one in and stayed there for six weeks.

- SoundPress


“I first became aware of “Dons” when I was planning my annually trip to Cannes, France to take part in the music trade fair “Midem” – I was given his “Lights On” CD to review and my attention was immediately grabbed by his great vocal delivery – I thought this guy was a cross between Steve Tyler (Aerosmith) – Robbie Williams and also there was something there that reminded me of the halcyon days of “Jesus Christ Superstar” – As record producer I have worked with many top international artists including two Beatles (Paul and Ringo) and in this brave new quagmire of new singers (or young people with DIY CD’s in their hands fooling themselves that they are now genuine artists) it is rare that such a new talent like that of “Dons” jumps out of the speakers and truly moves you!

Long may his true vocal talent survive!

Charles A. Foskett

Record producer
www.shmusicmusic.com
- Platforma Records


DONS SPEAKS

RAITIS FREIMANIS in Riga
(Translated by Inara Cedrins)

On a beautiful sunny spring day, Toronto Zinas had the opportunity to meet with the young and energetic Latvian soloist Dons (real name Arturs Sirgirejs).

Toronto Zinas (TZ): First we want to congratulate you on the release of your first album. We understand it came out on April 10th, your birthday. How old are you, where are you from, and how long have you been involved with music?

Dons: I am 22. I was born in Saldus and grew up in Broceni. At the age of five, I started attending a music school. When I was 11, I gave it up, but turned back to music seriously when I was 17. I began working on the album last year in Sweden.

TZ: How did you connect with Swedish producers?

Dons: It began two and a half years ago, when Platform Records, which has a wide presence, gave me the chance to perform at an international festival in Georgia. I got to know an Italian singer. We had an idea of writing a song that could be released in Italy and Latvia. I went to Italy to work on the song, and then my Italian colleague asked me to sing it myself. The song “Good Morning, My Love” was my first demo. We sent this demo to Sweden. The song was cooked up in three hours, and was tops in Latvia in four weeks. I went to Stockholm and sang two more songs, and was offered very good terms to put out an album.

TZ: We understand there are two groups of producers, the brothers Andreas and Martin Karlegaad, as well as Peter Mansson. All are well-known Swedish composers and producers. Why didn't you choose one producer and one studio?

Dons: In all there are two studios and four producers. We wanted to introduce variety through this. It's more interesting to gaze at a rock that has many colors.

TZ: Where did you learn to sing in English so well?

Dons: I don't know, it seems to me I still have a lot to learn. My mother was teaching me English when I was just six years old. I also work to improve my English speaking skills. The Swedish producers taught me a lot. They saw my English from a pedantic viewpoint. It's said that people who are musically talented have an easier time with languages, but I don't know about that.

TZ: What instruments do you play?

Dons: Guitar and piano.

TZ: All the songs on the album are in English. Do you also have songs in Latvian?

Dons: I've had songs in Latvian in the past and will have them in the future.

TZ: What groups or musicians have influenced you? In one of your songs I heard an excerpt from The Doors…

Dons: I very much like Jim Morrison and The Doors. I also like Robbie Williams, Queen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

TZ: What plans do you have for the future? Where do you want to be in five years?

Dons: Time will tell. There’s no need to run ahead of time. Everything has happened at such a tempo that I am already very close to my goal. I’d like to be putting out my 50th album at the age of 45.

TZ: What would you like to advise or tell TZ readers?

Dons: That it’s nice to be in good health, have a healthy outlook, and be happy that we can hear, see and walk.

Internet resources:
http://www.donsmusic.lv/
http://www.platformacd.lv/

- Raitis Freimanis


Latvia spawns Dons. If this band finds its niche, they will achieve international stardom. Dons offer a unique sound to the U.S. However, their music still pops and mixes well with rock. You find yourself singing along to their songs, especially "Jaded." It's truly a cool tune that should blossom well with anyone that hears it. - review


Discography

Album- Lights On /Platforma Records/

Single - Fast Line (Tuksums) (8 weeks No 1 in Latvian Radio Charts
http://www.lanet.lv/news/spice/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmhg1nknM9g

Photos

Bio

The tale of Dons, and his greatest passion music, begins in 1984 behind the iron curtain in Soviet Latvia. Dons always knew he would be the one to set his country’s name on world’s music map. He never goes for easy targets! Having experienced times of denial, disbelief and fear of music in his childhood, Dons has re-discovered his faith and is now unstoppable at what he does best.
“Lights On” is Dons second album released almost two years after his first record. He has matured and mastered his skills to almost perfection in collaboration with Swedish producers K*Bros and Peter Manson. Together they have created a powerful and exciting record. It's an emotional story bringing up subjects most people can relate to in one way or another. “When Love Turns To Pain” touches the subject of the mixed emotions love sometimes makes us feel. The song "Jaded" talks of breaking through and keeping an open mind even though life kicks you in the face at times. “Lights On” is a product of Dons, his past, present and future. Every song on the album is an extension of him, his history and his standing here, in this world as a person.Having learned the greatness of music early, Dons always knew that music was his one true passion. He sang his first song when he was three and started playing piano when he was five years old. His path would prove not to be without obstacles. The collaboration with his first teacher ended abruptly and under dramatic circumstances one day. The teacher was accused of trading with "illegal" goods, a serious accusation during Soviet occupation. He basically got arrested for having “Michelin” tires on his car and wearing a leather jacket.
Dons was too young to understand the real causes of the arrest – the small boy thought his teacher and friend was sent to jail because of singing, because of music. After that Dons never sang again in public. He feared music and singing, but deep down it was his only desire. It took several years and a change of political system in Latvia until Dons dared to sing in public again.
Dons became well-known in Latvia in 2003 after joining a local reality show - a la Fame Factory. The winner was promised a deal with a record label. The possibility of winning a record deal and getting his music out is what tempted Dons. Everything seemed to go his way until he, without reason, suddenly got voted out. Dons wasn't truly voted out, an error had been made when counting the votes, nevertheless he was out. His fans went crazy, they wanted him back. After a week of uncertainty the producers agreed – under one condition – to get back on the show Dons had to spend one week in what was called “the cell”. He had to be there alone, he could not go out, he couldn't talk to anyone. During that week he was allowed no contact with the outside world. Not that it bothered him, he did after all have his piano in there.
In the "cell" he composed a song called “Just For You”. The song was dedicated to Lily his love and Fame Factory co-star. It shot straight up to number one in the Latvian airplay chart and stayed there for six weeks. The success of “Just For You” and the debut album that followed strengthened Dons belief and faith in his musical abilities. His passion and dedication to music is stronger now than ever before.
“Music is an illness from which I do not need to be cured, I only wish to get more and more obsessed with it,” says Dons.

SONGWRITING CREDITS/AWARDS:
1) Finalist of the International Songwriting Contest 2006 - Category Rock

http://www.songwritingcompetition.com/winners.htm

2) 2nd Prize Winner of the The Vision 4 Music Song Contest 2006

www.vision4music.com

3) Nominee of the Latvian Music Award 2004

4) Nominee of the Latvian Music Award 2006

5) Finalist of "Tour Germany + Release Your Album in Germany" 2007

6) Singers Universe Magazine Singer of January 2008 top 5 vocalist

http://www.singersuniverse.com/competitionwinner40-123.htm

7) Latvian Music Chart - Best Artist, 2006

http://www.lanet.lv/news/spice/arch/2006/2006-artists.html

8) Latvian Music Chart - Best Artist, 2007

http://www.lanet.lv/news/spice/arch/2007/2007-artists.html

9) Year 2007 Latvian Music Chart TOP 100 - 2007 TOP SONG - Dons "Tuksums" (Fast Line) - songwriter/performer

http://www.lanet.lv/news/spice/arch/2007/2007.html

10) 2nd prize winner of the LMK Musical Fight Club 2007 (songwriter/performer)

11) 2nd prize winner of the Latvian State Radio SEB Musical Bank contest (performer) 2007

12) Nominee of the Latvian Music award 2007.