July 2024 | Volume 42

1. Hi Dani! Please introduce yourself to those who might not know you.
Hey, I’m Dani, a rock singer/songwriter here in LA. I take my heartfelt lyrics and wrap them up in rock and roll. I live to be on stage and am so grateful for the community I’ve built around myself here in LA.

2. How did your connection with Shira and Gritty In Pink come about? 
I somehow got my foot in the door in the LA jam scene and started performing regularly on major stages. When Gritty came to life, I was invited to participate as a singer, and I said yes without fully knowing how big of a movement it would become. Gritty in Pink has been incredibly inclusive from the start, and I immediately felt welcomed into the family.    

3. What's it like to be a part of the effort to create a supportive community for a set of diverse women in the music industry?          
Community is a major element in defining fulfillment for me. I hadn’t realized how predominantly male the music scene in LA was until I joined the Gritty fam and discovered a whole new way of making music. It truly is an honor every time I get to share the stage with other talented, driven, and kind women. There’s plenty of room for us all to be successful and elevate each other. That’s exactly what the Gritty In Pink family does.

4. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Was there a specific person or influence that made you recognize being an entertainer was your dream?I always knew from about 7 years old that I was born for the stage—though my mom probably knew it even before I did. I started writing songs in secret around age 9. Coming from a big family, I knew my brothers would tease me, so I kept it to myself. Once I bought my guitar at 18, there was no turning back. Growing up in North Dakota, I was a bit sheltered, but moving to LA opened up a whole new universe. Grace Potter was the first female rock artist to truly rock my world. Pursuing a career in the music industry never felt like a choice; it was simply my path.

5. Your latest single, "I'm Jolene," serves as both a response to and a tribute to Dolly Parton's iconic song "Jolene." What motivated you to add your own perspective to the legacy of that song? 
Honestly, I had writer's block and was listening to random songs for inspiration. When “Jolene” came on, and she sang about this redhead with green eyes and ivory skin, it felt like an invitation to join the conversation. When a song moves me, I often write a response as a songwriting exercise, just like with “I’m Jolene.” I also feel like we’ve all been Jolene at some point, whether we knew it or not, so I had a few things to say on the topic, haha.

6. Do you have a particular ritual or routine that helps you get into a creative mindset when writing a song?
I carry my lyric book with me nearly everywhere, as I’m constantly inspired and jotting down ideas. I’m a pen-and-paper type of songwriter. Anytime I try to write in my phone's notes, I never return to the concept. With a glass of wine and some emotional stimulation, I can’t be stopped. I just need to get out of my own way and let it flow, then distill the good stuff. I hear melodies all the time, and since I was raised on Shakespeare, my natural rhythm is iambic pentameter, which lends itself well to songwriting.

7. This June marked the 2nd anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. You performed at our "Rock for Abortion Rights" protest concert a few years ago. How did it feel to perform there, and what does fighting for women's rights mean to you? 
This caused a fire in me in an unexpected way. I felt called to write a song specific to the situation, and it was an absolute honor to sing it in front of the downtown courthouse in protest with my sisters. In this major moment in history, when one often feels helpless, I felt like I could have an impact and influence, encouraging the fire in others’ hearts. It was empowering to be on that stage, singing about what I was thinking and feeling, knowing it resonated with everyone there to make a difference.

8. You've been on the road a lot lately, performing in various places. Reflecting on your early days, what would you say is the most significant lesson you've learned as a performer? Also, how do shows in LA differ from those on the road?    
 I’ve learned that the best way to connect with my audience is to truly surrender to the story of my song and be vulnerable as I share it. That’s when people hear their own stories within my lyrics, and that’s where I have the biggest impact. In LA, it takes a lot of effort to pull a crowd because there are always so many events happening. But once you start touring outside of LA, people are ravenous for live music. Small towns turn up for concerts, and it’s so much fun making fans along the way!

9. What was the first song or album that made you want to become an artist?
India Arie was the first songwriter to truly move me to pick up not only my pen but also my guitar. She wrote a song called “Ready for Love,” and I even have the lyrics tattooed on my body—it was that profound for me.

10. Who are your musical inspirations? 
The first ones that come to mind are Grace Potter, ZZ Ward, Nothing But Thieves, The Pussycat Dolls, and Gary Clark Jr.

11. What advice would you give to aspiring artists that want to make it in the music and entertainment industries? 
Don’t get hung up on others' vision of you. Everyone will have an opinion and a way they think you should be shaped. Play the game, but stay true to yourself and your creative vision. I’ve become wonderfully unapologetic, and it has led to my greatest success.

12. Where would you like to see your career in 5 years? 
In five years, I hope to have at least two more albums released, with an audience at every stop who will sing my songs back to me. Additionally, I aim to establish myself as a songwriter for other artists. I write non-stop and have more songs than I have time to sing—I’d love to share them with other artists.

13. Dream music collaboration?       
Teddy Swims…pretty please!

14. What’s next? 
Next up, I'm focused on releasing more songs from my latest album, scheduling additional tour dates, and producing more music videos. I also have my sights set on opening for a larger band and possibly embarking on an international tour—I've always felt my music would resonate well overseas.