1) Tell us something about yourself that your fans may not know.
A: Although I’m currently based out of Nashville, I’m originally from New Jersey, and part of my heart will always be on the east coast! There’s so much I miss from living in my hometown - going down the shore in the summers, being so close to NYC, and obviously, the food (bagels, pizza, and diners are the ultimate Jersey trifecta). I’ve lived in Nashville for almost 7 years, but I still get kind of excited when I hear a familiar accent that brings me back there immediately.
2) What made you want to start making music?
A: There are lots of factors that have gone into me loving music - and I’ve had many, many specific muses. I wore out my Good Charlotte CDs in the fourth grade, middle/high school me idolized the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift, and I deep dove into the likes of Carole King and Joni Mitchell in my college days. But I think the fact that it’s really hard for me to pin down a specific moment or reason that launched me into making music myself, just emphasizes how natural it was to just, start. It’s almost like, it was something I had to do, because it’s what came out of me without even thinking. It’s what I gravitate to - in pain, in love, through heartbreak and through joy. To be honest, I’m just so glad music found me.
3) You recently released your EP 'The Electric! EP.' What was the inspiration behind the project?
A: Almost 2 years ago, I met with my friend, and now producer, griggs, at a local coffee shop and asked him to create this pop project with me. As I had been making singer-songwriter music since high school, this was honestly the first time I realized that I could (and should) take the time to really craft who I wanted to be as an artist, and what I wanted to sound like. I scoured through new and old music; I got obsessed with artists like Emily King, HAIM, Bleachers, Sigrid, and too many more to count. Griggs was all in from the very beginning; we started from scratch, wrote and rewrote and recorded and re-recorded. We kept making songs and crafting the heart of this record. And when we wrote “Electric!”, and sang it together for an acoustic guitar/vocal voice memo in my little writing room, I really felt like we struck some kind of magic that was the start of this project coming together. Now, to finally see it come to fruition and be the literal record of my dreams, is one of the best feelings in the world.
4) What was your mindset when going into the studio to work on the songs for this project?
A: In the past, I’ve always had a set weekend or specific timeframe for going into the studio - of course, there are pros and cons to that; it’s nice to set aside a chunk of time to work, but it also puts some pressure on getting everything done right in just a few days. With “Electric!”, though, since I had no real deadline, it was the first time I felt we could really take our time with recording and make sure every detail was perfect. It was so relaxed, and felt so natural, to really have fun and enjoy the process this time around. We also got to toggle between tracking at either his or my apartment home studio rooms, and at this beautiful private studio just outside of Nashville, called Aimeeland. The different energies that a room can bring to a recording session is crazy, and we were lucky enough to be able to experience lots of spaces over that year or so.
5) What was the process like when making 'The Electric! EP'?
A: This is the first time that I’ve ever had a designated producer for a project, right from the beginning of the writing process, and I was so lucky to have found griggs as my constant collaborator and go-to person to navigate this journey with. The other cool thing about having him so involved in the record was that we were able to take our time experimenting with various ways of writing, and figuring out what worked, what didn’t, and what helped us create a little bit of magic. Sometimes, griggs would come in with a fully produced track, and we would topline over that (like with “Close Isn’t Enough”). Other times, we’d sit together for hours with just a guitar and a bottle of wine, and it wound up feeling more like therapy than songwriting (in my opinion, the best kind of co-write, and how songs like “Show Your Bones” were born). I also never want to close myself off to just one co-writer at a time; “Give It To Me” was a first co-write with my good friend Nell Maynard, and for “Gonna Catch Up”, griggs and I brought in our friend Molly Bowers, along with a cassette tape sample from my late grandma, Barbara Rogers, who was a recording artist back in the 80s. Every track on the EP truly has its own origin story, and I loved every minute of the emotional and joyful experience of making them.
6) What inspires you when making a new song?
A: So many things! From going to rounds or shows to hear other musicians share their art, to diving into Spotify to find new music, going back to the source of why I love making music does the trick every time. With discovering new music especially, I chase that feeling you get the first time you hear a really, really good song. The second and third times are usually good, too, but nothing beats the pure excitement of that first listen, not knowing what comes next, being joyfully surprised by a certain chord change or lyric. I chase that same feeling when writing songs myself, too. It’s the best thing in the world when you get to that “a-ha moment” in the writing process! With this project, especially, moments like that during the production process also inspire me; the addition of a third harmony, or a new synth sound, can add new sparks to an old song.
7) If you could only have 1 collaboration for the rest of your career, who would it be?
A: This is such a hard one to choose, but if I could collab with either Jack Antonoff or HAIM, that would be a dream. (I realize I picked two artists and you asked for one but I’m very indecisive, okay?) HAIM continues to reinvent themselves so well that I know we’d be able to keep creating new art to stretch throughout my career. Jack is just an absolute production and writing genius, and I think I would internally fangirl for the rest of my life if I ever got to work with him!
8) What are your goals for 2020?
A: My biggest goals are to perfect my live show, so that I can continue to reach as many listeners with my music as possible! As much as I love the long process of creating a body of work, there’s just something so magical about singing these songs on stage and seeing real live people dance and sing along and feel things right in front of me. That being said, after establishing my sound and solidifying my artistry with this record, I’m so excited to start creating and releasing more music! This is definitely not the last you’ll hear from daena. ;)
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