New York is home to thousands of artists from all over the country. Because of its mass appeal and reputation as the world’s melting pot, the city is also home to thousands of artists from outside the United States. Broadway producer turned musician, writer and producer, Darren Ockert stands out among these artists in light of his list of accomplishments since relocating here from Lincoln, England.
With beginnings in a small town in the United Kingdom, it seems that Ockert’s arrival in New York was only a matter of time. The current writer and producer of electro-pop started out in London on production for a musical that toured the UK and eventually found its way to New York City’s Broadway. Ockert maintains that this experience was his introduction to New York, and he never left because he loved it.
“I’m from Lincoln, an all-white, small town and everything is all the same,” Ockert explains. “London was a big draw for me and New York even more. I love New York. I have so many great experiences and friends there.”
Though Broadway and theatre initially brought him to the states, Ockert soon discovered that he preferred the music scene, and in 2005 he released his first album and shifted all of his focus to music. This debut release was nominated in 2006 for the Out Music Award for Debut Male Album, an award that originated in 2000 as an effort on the part of LGBT Recording Academy to promote and recognize outstanding accomplishments within the LGBT music community. That same year, Ockert found himself on the initial voting ballot for the Grammys.
Of course, as a gay recording musician, Ockert admits that his lifestyle definitely has an effect on his work, but he maintains that his sexual identity is only a fraction of the person that he is.
“Every songwriter draws from his own experience,” Ockert says. “Being gay does play a role in what I write, but it’s just one part of me, not the whole of me. I just happen to be an artist from the LGBT community.”
Though Ockert has utmost respect for artists whose work purposely embodies and represents the gay community, he strives for a more widely understood and identifiable style. This outlook on his music and life contributes to the global quality that Ockert incorporates into his tracks.
“I try to make my songs as universal as possible,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter what type of person, everyone is human and experiences the same things, and if I can make my music open, we can all connect. We’ve moved on from being separate and it is now about being together.”
In line with his universal message, Ockert’s career has taken him around the world to performances and festivals in various countries. In addition to his performances in New York and his current home, Miami, Florida, Ockert has performed in cities like Cologne, Germany as part of the Christopher Street Day festival, the biggest pride festival in Europe. Not only did Ockert perform at the festival, he was invited to occupy the main stage.
Though Ockert is a world citizen by any definition and is originally from England, he is clearly a New Yorker at heart. Aside from a ten year residency in our fair city, Ockert ran the New York City ING Marathon both as a New York Road Runners member and as a self-created charity for the family of a neighbor who died of cancer. The money that Ockert raised during the run went straight to Texas Children’s Cancer Center, where his neighbor was hospitalized during the last days of life.
Charitable, well-traveled, open-minded and foreign, Ockert seems like a well-rounded individual who can’t get much better. But he can, and he will. He’s just released his first EP called The Rain from London and will be visiting New York in October to film the video for the title track. Ockert doesn’t stop there, though, as he shares plans to release his second EP at the beginning of next year and another full length album in the spring. He intends to follow the second release with a tour that will “obviously” include New York City. In other words, prepare to clear your schedules next year, because Darren Ockert is bringing all his passion, hard work and love for New York right back to where it all started stateside.