American singer/songwriter DAANI unveiled her new single “All Of A Sudden” on June 22nd.
The Nashville-based artist started her career as a backing singer supporting major artists such as M.I.A, Miley Cyrus, Sheryl Crow, Amos Lee and The Roots.
The singer/songwriter released her debut EP entitled “The Good Side” in May. She is now introducing an electro-r&b-pop record “All Of A Sudden” written by DAANI, Kyd the Band, and Matt Wigton.
“This song is about what it’s like to meet someone who stops you in your tracks. You know that feeling of feeling like you were just living in some gray, monotonous existence and out of nowhere someone comes into your life and just slaps some excitement into it? That feeling. Hopefully everyone has had that happen to them, or will have that happen to them at some point”, reveals DAANI.
“All Of A Sudden” is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Hi! I’m a singer, songwriter living in Nashville, TN.
What’s your story?
The abridged version? Born in CT, raised in Church where my first musical experiences were where my parents were worship leaders, then followed your average path of getting into musical theatre in high school, becoming an Opera major at my first school, then moving to NYC and majoring in Jazz at New School University, auditioning and getting rejected from my dream church choir in Brooklyn, (one of the many things that pushed me out of church and into the tumultuous arms of the music industry), where in between touring with some amazing artists, I did whatever I could to pay for my records, such as but not limited to: handing out flyers on the street, walking dogs, teaching voice and piano lessons, waitressing and having people pour their drinks on me, swear at me, and generally started questioning the "process” of being an artist, lol. Met my husband in NYC, both realized it wasn’t where we needed/wanted to be anymore so moved to Nashville where we didn’t really know anyone, randomly played a songwriting competition so that I could win $500 to pay my rent, which led me to tour with Miley Cyrus a year later, all the while my husband had started producing music. I came back from tour with MC, realized I had a freaking gem on my hands with Matt’s new found skills, and we started making music together culminating in the “Good Side” EP released in May and the new single “All Of A Sudden”.
What got you into music?
My parents for sure. They were my gateway drug. My dad had been signed to Capitol records in the 70’s with a band he fronted that was in the style of Tower of Power. It didn’t end up working out because, well, it was the 70’s and everyone except for my dad was coked out and could never get to the studio to finish the record. My parents found God and started leading worship at the church they were attending and apparently I walked to the pulpit when I was two, grabbed the microphone from my mom while my parents were singing a duet during tithes and offerings collection, and I’ve been singing ever since-to varying degrees of proficiency, haha.
At what point did you know you had to become an artist?
Tell us about your first experiences in the music industry. How did these first experiences shape you as an artist?
I guess this would depend on what part of the industry we’re talking about. I remember thinking I was hot shit coming out of high school (only child syndrome), and getting a major humility check when I didn’t land the parts I started going out for in my University Opera and musical theatre department productions. It was a game changing experience because it made me realize I wasn’t more or less special than anyone else who was working just as hard as I thought I was. At that point, I started practicing 2-3 hours every night after school and my part time job.
My first real professional experience was singing backing vocals for M.I.A. I had been very fortunate to meet my mentor and eventual friend, Stevvi Alexander, on Craigslist of all places, and she had started putting me forward for work. Working with M.I.A. was-let’s call it interesting. We were supposed to go on tour in Europe and the day to fly out came and went and the other backing singers and I never got our tour itinerary or tickets for our flights. I realized after that experience that the industry can be fickle and unreliable and that if I was going to continue, I had to make peace with that, and remind myself why I was choosing to pursue music-for the love of the music and what music does for people, not the industry.
When did you start writing songs?
I wrote some real Basic B. worship songs when I was a kid. I started writing more seriously after I took a songwriting class my senior year in college. Before that, I thought I was going to be a jazz singer, doing original arrangements of jazz standards at small jazz festivals for the rest of my life. After that, I put out a 7 song EP when I graduated from college (whose existence I have wiped the internet CLEAN of), and kept releasing original music in between tours, and sometime while I was on tour with other artists.
What appeals you the most about songwriting?
Storytelling. I always loved writing and used to enter into writing competitions a lot as a kid. In 6th grade I won a state wide fiction contest and it was the first time outside of singing (which was mostly my parents encouraging me to do), that I felt validated for doing something I enjoyed. Songwriting has been therapy for me and for other writers I’ve co-written with and it’s helped me express things to people I had a difficult time saying in conversation. I love finding new ways of saying things that we all say to each other every day, but maybe making it more beautiful, or at times more ugly-both of which bring a kind of romantic element to the everyday experience.
You performed with major artists like from Miley Cyrus to Sheryl Crow, Amos Lee, The Roots. What did you learn from these backing vocalist experiences?
Lord, we could be here for a long time. Honestly, I have been so lucky in that I love all of those artists so much, and have so much respect for them. They’re all professionals, human in the most beautiful way, never acted like they were above anyone else, and stayed true to their musical visions, which are qualities I admire and try to carry with me in my work and life. I think the opportunities they afforded me to travel were really some of the most impactful lessons I’ve ever had though. The gift of traveling the world and being thrown outside of your comfort zone into countries where English isn’t the first language, or having to traveling 22 hour travel days with a large group of people, or having the opportunity to go to local music venues in other countries and hear their music and try new food you’ve never tried. It makes the world feel bigger and simultaneously smaller in so many ways and coming from a very small town of about 6,000 people in CT, it broadened my horizons a lot. I am so, so grateful for that.
How would you define DAANI, the artist?
I like to think of my music as chill, electro pop for grown folks, haha. In terms of artistry though, I want to write good songs that make people feel something-not exclusively happy, or dance-y or sad, or inspirational, but floating between those things and looking deeper, beneath the surface of themselves and others. I’ve always appreciated multi-dimensional people and I want my music to be that way too. On my last EP, I wrote a song called “Talking to the Walls”, which sounds like a break up song. I actually wrote it after my friend told me a story about an elderly woman she talked to at the call center she was working at, who had recently lost her husband. Talking on the phone to my friend was one of the longest human interactions she had had since her husband had passed, and during the conversation she told my friend that she had “just been talking to the walls”. I knew that was a story that had to be told. It sounds like pop, but there’s something heavier there.
You recently released your new single “All Of A Sudden”. What’s the story behind this record?
My publisher had set me up on a write with Devin of Kyd The Band (check them out!). My husband Matt had started a track for us to write to and Devin and I started piecing together lyrics we both had. I actually felt kind of blocked that day, so it took me a while to feel like I had hit some kind of stride in the write, while Devin was slaying, haha. I’ve learned by now though that a lot of my favorite songs happen really easily half of the time, and are a struggle the other half, so I’ve learned to not get too down on myself. It ended up being about that feeling you get when you meet someone and they kind of stop you in your tracks and you’re like “damn, what the hell was I doing before I met you?!”
You live in Nashville. What do you like the most about this city?
The community and the space, in every sense of the word, that Nashville provides. We moved here, barely knowing anyone, and so many people have been so welcoming, so collaborative, so willing to help us expand. Not having the array of pressures we had in NYC, has given us the opportunity to be more creative, and honestly, I think Nashville has made us better people. Well, that’s not fair actually, Matt’s always been great. I think I needed to be better, hahaha.
How’s the music industry in Nashville?
Again, definitely more collaborative than I found NYC to be. You can run into anyone at a show, or out to dinner, or going for a walk. The city is teeming with creatives and people who work in music. I also really appreciate that people aren’t glued to their phones or dedicated to the grind here. A lot of people in Nashville have families, or just generally have a better work/life balance, and when they leave work, you’re not going to be getting a response about the thing you think is super pressing, until they get back in the office in the morning. I respect that and have learned, and am still learning, to implement that.
What’s the best thing about being an artist? And what’s the hardest thing?
The best thing: making music! At that, making music with your friends. Starting the day with literally nothing, and at the end of it, having words and a melody; something that didn’t exist before you started working on it. You get used to it because it’s work, but I am still amazed by it sometimes. Just the Big Magic-ness of it all (I’m reading that book right now and it’s speaking to me on a lot of levels.) And, on rare occasions, actually hearing from someone who you don’t know, who came across one of your songs and lets you know how it affected them. That is so special.
The hardest thing: continuing to pursue music. I’m trying to stop thinking of it as pursuance and more as flowing, living amongst it-ness. Financially, it’s really, really hard to be quite honest. Every dollar you make goes back into this. Paying for publicity, artwork, clothes for shoots, photography, recording sessions, musicians for shows, gear for shows or recording, experimental marketing techniques, hahaha, you name it. You can practice as much is physically possible, throw every dollar you have at this, write great songs, and there are still things that are completely beyond your control. It is really hard to just invest in your life and move forward with things like buying a house, or paying down debt, or honestly consider things like having children-which I’ve never necessarily been interested in, but having the freedom to have the option would be nice. Between traveling and financial inconsistency, it feels like certain, normal things, aren’t always an option. Trying to navigate that can be really, really difficult. Welcome to my new show “Reality Check Dream Killer with DAANI!”, hahaha.
Any advice you’d like to give to anyone who’d like to pursue their goals?
As Whoopi quotes in Sister Act Two from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, (yes, I love that movie, no, I will not apologize for it because it introduced me to the gloriousness that is Lauryn Hill),“ if you wake up thinking about ___, if you go to sleep thinking about ___, then you are ___.” I honestly tell myself this multiple times a week to remind myself. If it’s your passion, you won’t be able to ignore it, and if that’s the case, you have to give your goals quite literally everything you have.
What defines you?
My gut reaction answer to this question is “nothing”. Not that I don’t stand for anything, but I’ve never liked the idea of being defined. I change, a lot, and I appreciate the process of evolution. What “defined” me 5 years ago, doesn’t define me anymore, and that’s always been the case. I think if anything defines me, it’s my willingness to grow.
What are the things you are the most proud of?
My marriage, my relentlessness and resilience, my parents, my friends, and not accidentally poisoning my dog.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Open mindedness, compassion, empathy-basically programs in place to help literally EVERYONE travel. That and making everyone work in a service industry job for at least one year. Retail, restaurant work, hospitality. I’m not kidding. I literally think it would make the world a better place.
Any upcoming project?
What’s your purpose?
Lord! You guys are asking some deep ones! I mean, I think it’s to make music. I know there’s more to it than that, that I’m still trying to figure out. I don’t think it’s just to make music, but I think music is a vehicle for something I’m still searching for. I think that I’m good at interacting with lots of different types of people and meeting them where they are, and I think this informs my music and is a part of my purpose. I’ve always felt kind of weird about exclaiming what my purpose is though. I’ve always felt that’s something a higher power kind of designates.
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