Originally from Northern Ohio, Daniel Lee Perea attended high school in Phil Campbell, Alabama. After working for several years in various factories in and around Tupelo, Perea got offered a job as a video editor at Oxford’s PMQ Pizza Magazine in 2012.
“I was friends with Melanie Addington, who at that time was one of four directors of the (Oxford) Film Festival,” said Perea. “Liz Barrett (former editor in chief at PMQ) contacted Melanie and said ‘We’re currently outsourcing our video editing, and we are looking to create a full time position, would you want to do it?’ and Melanie said ‘I don’t know how to edit video, but I know a guy that does.’ I got a job interview, and I guess I impressed them enough to hire me.”
Perea got into photography and video editing as a hobby during his years living in Tupelo. “I had an interest in it. Growing up, my brother and I were big movie buffs,” Perea said. “I downloaded this video editing software, which was confusing and really a mess and I didn’t know how to use it. I do music, so I decided to do a music video and try to figure out how that program worked.” Perea would go on to win an award in the “Best Student Film” category at the Magnolia Film Festival in 2007 for his short feature The Picture.
In addition to Perea’s video prowess, he is also a guitarist and vocalist. His musical influences are diverse- his grandfather was a bluegrass musician and taught Perea as a teenager. Additionally, Perea enjoys heavy metal and hip hop. His favorite genre is rockabilly, and plays in a band called Dr. Daniel and the Rockabilly Vampires. “What I really love is 1950s rock and roll, so I fell into playing rockabilly. That’s what my dad listened to when I was a really young kid. Buddy Holly would come on the radio and he would get really excited,” Perea said. “I remember in the 1980s when the movie La Bamba came out with Los Lobos, and it was some of the most electrifying music I’d ever heard.”
After four years working at PMQ, Perea reflected on some of the perks that come with his position. “There’s a lot of travel that comes with the job,” said Perea. “I’ve been to Italy four times, and China one time, so the international experience is really interesting. If you grow up and never really leave the United States, you hear about these places and want to see them. I’ve always been fascinated with the Roman Empire, and to get to visit and see where it was, and see how the modern Italian culture is and what they’re like, and the modern Chinese culture and what they’re like, I came to realize that people are basically the same everywhere you go.”
For Perea, the very best thing about his job is the personal connections he has made. One of his duties is working with the United States Pizza Team, which is sponsored by PMQ. “I’ve literally travelled the world with a couple of guys,” Perea said. “There are so many experiences you get to share, like a riverboat cruise in Shanghai. You marvel at how beautiful the city is. We went to a Red Sox game in Boston. You really become lifelong friends with a group of people.”
Among his experiences is visiting the very first pizzeria- Port Alba in Naples, Italy. “That guy in the (above) photo is Genarro Luciano, the Great-Grandson of the guy who invented pizza,” Perea said. “He gave us menus and signed them- he was just the nicest guy. That was just a magical day. Those kinds of things you get to experience with those guys are the best part of this job.”
Bill DeJournett is a musician and freelance writer based in Oxford. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.