Ottawa Artist Dax On Coming Home For Bluesfest

Dax is one of the biggest artists to ever come out of Ottawa. From an early age the now LA-based rapper—whose real name is Daniel Nwosu Jr— had high aspirations. He played a host of sports growing up, but excelled in basketball, and focused on building a career in it. He didn’t do much else—all of his time was focused on his own personal development.


At 22, Dax was a full-time college student who worked overnight shifts as a janitor to make ends meet. And in his very small amount of free time, he began to make music. Just 5 years ago, the Ottawa-raised rapper graduated college and made a pivotal career decision. He began to pursue music full-time. Within just 6 months from that moment, he had become a seemingly overnight sensation, complete with a record deal, collaborations with stars like Hopsin and Daniel Bregoli, and an international fanbase.


Today, the rapper is even further. He’s a Billboard-charting artist with over 13 million followers across his social media. He’s collaborated with Trippie Redd and Elle King, and his song Dear God has just been certified Gold in Canada and the US. 


This summer, Dax will return to Ottawa to grace the Bluesfest stage on July 6th. 


Dear God was just certified Gold in Canada and the US, congratulations. What does this accomplishment mean to you?

It means everything, especially because of the way it was achieved. To release a song independently and for it to go Gold was a pretty big feat. When I first made Dear God, I felt it was one of the most important songs of all time. So just to see it slowly gain accolades organically, it’s assuring me that I’m on the right path. It’s nice when actual people are listening to it… it’s not on the radio, it’s not on playlists, it’s not being shared on anything mainstream, it’s just actual people hearing the song and wanting to share it with someone. 

So, it feels good. It feels organic.


It’s been 5 years since you graduated, quit your job as an overnight janitor, and decided to pursue music full-time. Can you believe it’s been 5 years? What’s your best advice for anyone just starting out?

Time flies! I’m 29, so it’s been 10 years since I started college. My advice would be to mess with the people who mess with you. There’s two types of people in this world, people who give energy and people who take energy away. So I think you have to be able to discern who is taking and who is giving you energy. And you have to limit your time with people who take energy. Because sometimes that may be family. There may be people who are close to you who you can’t necessarily exit out of your life. But figure out who those people are, and try to keep people who give you energy around you.  


What recent accomplishment are you most proud of?

Musically, I would probably say Dear God. But personally, just being 29 and having a good head on my shoulders. Growing up in a place like Ottawa especially, you tend to fall into a cycle… you grow up, go to school, find a job in the government… and you can get stuck in that. So I think I’m most proud of the fact that I was able to not listen to the people who told me that I was crazy, and that I followed my own path. And to be 29 and have good intentions and to be making positive music that isn’t tearing down my community, I’m proud of that.  


You’re performing at Bluesfest this year, how special is it to be asked to play on your home stage? 

It’s huge. I am the type of person that doesn’t really let fame resonate, and honestly it’s a bad thing because it always keeps me wanting more… but it really hasn’t set in yet. I was thinking the other day… I grew up in Ottawa, and always heard of Bluesfest and I had never been to any concerts until my own. But everyone I knew always went to Bluesfest. And it hit me that I am one of the biggest artists to come out of Ottawa and I’m performing at Bluesfest for the first time. My friends and family will be there, it’s really an honour. I’m excited to just go out there and give energy and go hard.


Were you ever a Sens or Redblacks fan?

I was definitely a Sens fan. I went to school with Cody Ceci. We both went to St. Petes and played on the basketball team, he was a year older than me. I always liked the Senators. I remember the year when they were in the finals, even though we lost, I remember the dope energy in the city. So I mess with the Senators, I was never really into football like that, I don’t like watching people get hit in the head and get a concussion. I was quarterback for one year at St. Petes so there’s that. 


What’s your best advice for aspiring artists in Ottawa?

Where was the last time you got in a car without a destination? Never. You never get in a car without knowing when you’re going. Our lives are like cars, and there’s too many people getting in theirs without a destination. 

So my advice would be to write down your goals, to clearly define them, so they become real life. And then figure out what your target audience is. There’s niche pockets of millions of people who have special interests, so you don’t need to follow the masses. You are a business. When I  was making poetry, I would only talk to and message people who liked poetry. Find your genre, and interact with those people. That’s when exponential growth happens. 



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