A Glimpse Into the Mind of Dan Cha


Emma McMillan

Daniel Cha Singing at Cherokee Idol

“And I say Game On! Game On! Gotta choose to have a good day…or not. And I never choose not. Never choose not.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard it while laughing with friends in the hallway, balancing morning coffee on your books, or even while running hurriedly into school, hoping that class has not started yet. Either way, when those lyrics start playing over the loudspeaker, you know it’s time to check your schedule, wave goodbye to friends, and get a move on. The time is early, the day is still fuzzy and new, and maybe you don’t even realize that one of the people you accidentally brush up against in the hallway is the very same person whose lyrics you lip-sync as you try to wake up. Daniel Cha.

The upbeat senior who wrote the morning song says that it’s the hardest he’s worked on a song, second to only one other. Having involved countless people, hours of time, late nights, early mornings, and school lunches, the song certainly wasn’t just produced overnight.

“It was fun,” quips Cha. “But there was a lot of staying up until one or two a.m at night.”

Having written two previous Cherokee morning songs already, Cha says that the hardest part of producing “Game On” was making sure it was a piece that he could be proud of. He wanted his senior year song to be well-liked by his peers, but most importantly, he himself wanted to really love it as well. According to Cha, every part had to have his own “stamp of approval” before he could put it in the song.

Many of the past years’ morning songs have also been primarily sung and produced by Cha as well, including Cherokee’s famous “Nobody’s Better.” 

“There were other people singing in it, but they would spend like eight minutes recording and then I would be working on it for like ninety hours,” Cha laughs.

This year’s morning song, however, was one for which Cha did get much-deserved attention.

“This year people know me who I don’t even know their names, and they like me or they know the song, [or] they saw it on YouTube,” Cha comments. “I think it’s kinda special…for people to like me and enjoy my music before they even know me as a friend. That’s definitely different.”

Ignoring the few negative comments and focusing on the good, Cha describes some of the best parts of the attention he’s gotten.

“Most recently I’ve found out about the Special Ed. Department. They’re all big fans of me and my song. They play it every day and are making up a dance for it and they printed out the lyrics. They all have gotten to know me and now I go down and visit them,” Cha tells proudly. “To me that’s one of the most cool things. It’s not all about me getting attention. It’s about the song and it making people have a better day.”

On the career side of things, Cha hopes to one day be in music production, but he also doesn’t want to let go of his singing talents. Ideally, he says that he would be “a record producer who sings but also produces himself.”

Besides music production and singing, Cha feels passionate about architecture, piano, organ, and especially art and painting. Currently trying to sell paintings to pay for college, Cha feels glad that he took up the previously abandoned hobby once again.

Speaking of passions, though it’s clearly hard for a musician to pick a favorite song, especially as new music is constantly coming out, Cha says that he has finally narrowed it down to one song that sticks with him no matter what. Coincidentally, it’s also written by a previous Cherokee grad, Christina Grimmie, who tragically passed away in 2016. The song “Maybe I,” by Christina Grimmie, which was released after her death, is a constant for Cha. So much so, in fact, that you can find the song’s lyrics, “If you can’t love yourself, then you’re never gonna rise above,” in Cha’s senior quote. When it comes to favorite music artists, the same holds true for Cha, as he says he “will always be inspired and continue to admire Christina Grimmie.”

Daniel Cha manages his time by choosing the things he finds personally important to him over things he feels less passionate about.

“Most things don’t matter in the long run,” he muses. “Especially when you look at eternity. I think that doing things for yourself and the people that matter…is a lot more important than the difference of a letter grade.”

When it comes to things that matter to him, however, Daniel isn’t one to slack off, as seen from the long hours he worked to produce music. Having taught himself how to play the piano from an early age, Cha always kept music a constant in his life.

According to Cha, “Music always helps you when you’re having a bad time in your life.”

When asked what advice he has for others starting out in music, Daniel’s words are simple: “Make music.” For anyone just beginning, as Cha points out, getting into recording songs and actually producing music is a crucial aspect of going down a path towards that passion in music.

“It’s so important to make a song…don’t wait for a contract with a record label to record your first song ever,” Cha advises.

In the spirit of being a good sport, Cha says that of the other morning songs competing against his, he liked “the ukulele one with a girl singing,” the best. He described it as sweet, “put-together and tied with a bow.”

As far as Cha’s personal philosophy goes, as a Christian, Daniel believes that everything he ought to do “should be to the glory of God.”

He tries not to lose track of what really matters, like making an impact on other people and trying to share love, help, and support. If you share those same values or enjoy the kind of music produced by Daniel Cha, be sure to look him up on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube. You might just like what you hear.