I met Danielle on Facebook and was blown away by how similar we are. Both session singers, both animal lovers, similar outlooks on life – I feel like I have a session singing sister! I’m really excited to introduce you to her; I’m sure you’ll love her as much as I do!
Before we start this, I just need to note that this interview focuses less on music and more about Danielle as a person. I just found her answers so fascinating that I kept asking for more details! Please check her music out as well as her social media links at the end!
I’m really excited to interview you! We have so much in common, tell me about how you first got into session singing:
When my vocal coach encouraged me to start writing, he said when I was ready he’d set me up with a producer to record my songs. When the time came, he coached me in the sessions and I still credit him for making me the singer I am today. He didn’t baby me, and he wouldn’t accept anything but my best. He made me go through the process like a professional would. I learned really quickly about punch ins, matching timing on doubles and harmonies, etc. At one point in my first session I was getting frustrated at how many times I had to do something over and over. He made a comment along the lines of, “only session singers get solid takes almost every time, this is perfectly normal.” At the time it didn’t mean anything. As I fell more in love with the recording process, I asked him what he meant by “session singer.” He explained what it was and I’ll never forget the day it clicked for me. I was listening to the radio in my grandpa’s car and the thought just came to me: If I love the studio this much, I’ve gotta pursue session singing. I could make money doing what I loved more than any other aspect of the industry.
Awesome, let’s talk gear! What is your studio setup like? What DAW do you use, etc?
Up until about a year ago, I’ve really only worked in the studio. When I started to get interest from people who lived elsewhere, I decided it was time to get the gear so I could work at home. Right now I’m just working out of a corner of my room where we just set up some foam panels, a shield and mic stand. I do everything I can to dampen the sound. The nice thing about being short is I can put a pillow over the top of the shield. That’s really helped! We just bought a house and it comes with the perfect closet for a vocal booth, so I’m really excited to get that set up. My mic is a Neumann TLM 103 Condenser Microphone and I use a Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface. I’m legally blind and unfortunately a lot of software for vocal editing is too visual for me, but I’m hoping that will change since I know more opportunities will open up if I can comp, tune etc. Right now I just send vocals over for producers to edit themselves and so far it’s been working well for me.
Congratulations on your house! Where is it? Did you choose the location based on the music industry?
We bought a house in Florida, in my hometown. I’m still going to continue living in LA though. We just thought it was time to start investing in a property for when the time does come that we decide to move and settle.
You mentioned being legally blind. On Facebook I saw you mentioned using sound as a way of finding your way around (while riding your bike)? I’m so curious about that. How do you do that or can you tell us a little more about it?
I can tell a lot just by clicking. Basically I can hear the way sound bounces off different areas and it gives me a good idea of where I am. I don’t need to click to know if I’m near say, a wall, or something else taller than me because if I’m paying enough attention I know it’s there. It just sounds different. But if I’m in the middle of a room and I don’t want to bump into a table, I’ll have to click to get a better understanding of my surroundings. As far as riding a bike, I only really rode either where I was familiar or I would have someone ahead of me and I could hear where they were going enough to follow along. Sort of interesting tidbit along the same lines: I found it easier to skate or ride my scooter to people’s houses in the neighborhood than walk because counting the cracks in the sidewalk, I could tell exactly where to turn. I know you could accomplish the same using a cane, but I found this way more fun and less about drawing attention to my sight issues.
That’s so interesting! Okay, let’s talk music. You have several singles coming out this year, tell me about a couple of them and what they’re about!
I currently have 5 new songs ready to go! The first one is called “Shot me Down” and it came out January 25. I live with social anxiety and I wanted to illustrate what it can feel like when you put yourself out there. I used asking a guy out and the rejection as an example, but the main idea is you talk yourself up and go through this whole process before you can approach someone. When it doesn’t go well, instead of moving on, your brain tells you it’s this big, dramatic end-of-the-world thing.
Another song is called “Don’t Fail Me Now.” A common theme in my music is taking chances and following your passion no matter what anyone else says, so this one goes along with that theme.
There’s also a single called “Vulnerable.” It’s about how people try to paint this perfect life on social media and they’re so afraid to let anyone know they’re hurting inside that the emotions manifest in not-so-healthy ways. I wanted to write something that sends the message that it’s ok to show that you’re not ok.
I have super bad social anxiety as well, haha (must be a session singer thing!). Was the story for “Shot Me Down” a true story? How do you deal with social anxiety in an industry where networking is extremely important?
The story in the song actually isn’t true for me, but I’ve felt that way over much smaller things. With any rejection (not even really in music, just in any social setting) I have this whole dramatic fit going on in my brain, and the song sorta takes you through the stages. As far as networking, I’m thankful that meeting people online is so easy, but this year I am challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and actually meet people. I just have to throw myself in there and hope it goes well, because if I overthink it i’ll chicken out.
We are so alike! Do you have a preferred genre or genres you like to work in?
As a writer I really like to stick to pop, EDM and rock genres. As a singer, I really love when I’m hired to step out of the box. I get so excited when someone hears my pop voice and just knows I could kill some rock background vocals, for example! I sing everything from pop to country to classical, so anything outside of my day to day gets me extra excited!
What artists have people told you that you sound like?
I haven’t been compared to many artists. Someone told me I sound like Jen from Skillet once, and a DJ compared my voice to Miranda Cosgrove. I can’t think of much else though.
Social media is really important for getting business as a session musician. What is your favorite (and least favorite) platform?
My favorite social media platform is Facebook because it’s easy for me to use and I’ve met so many awesome clients, collaborators and producers. Instagram is probably my least favorite because I need help with almost every aspect of it. I need someone to take my photos and help me edit video, etc.
You’re really into animal rescue, which is awesome because I am also! I have so much to ask you about it, but I’ll try to keep this short and focus on music 🙂 How did you get into animal rescue?
I first became serious about animal rescue when I moved to LA. I always loved animals but literally a week after moving there, I found out that my cat who I’ve had since childhood died suddenly. It was one of the most traumatic things I ever experienced, and I was looking for any way to heal. We found The Amanda Foundation who seeks volunteers to just sit with their cats. Signing up and being in their presence brought me so much comfort. I wasn’t ready for a full-time pet but a few years later, I wanted to try fostering and my husband was on board. Unfortunately our first, beautiful perfect kitten ended up with FIP and we became her hospice. It was hard to open my heart up again and have it broken so fast. But knowing that for her short life she got to feel loved was a feeling you can’t describe. I started thinking about asking to take in more sick kitties. After that we got more, this time with feline leukemia. Taking care of them just confirmed that I wanted to help the most needy of cats. They’re hard to adopt out because people are afraid they won’t live long, so I want to be that home for them until they do find their forever family.
That’s so amazing, I feel like I’m interviewing myself! Haha. I am terribly allergic to cats though so I focus on dogs. Cats must be a lot quieter for session singing though, right?
Luckily we’re currently fostering a quiet, lazy kitty so she makes things really easy when it comes to recording music. The biggest struggle is my allergies which I’m managing so far. If it starts to interfere with my singing we take a break from fostering until I can get things under control again. But luckily that doesn’t happen often. I think I’ve built up some immunity, which I’m really happy about! We also never take in more than two at a time.
You mentioned cat allergies – how do you combat this while singing? I’m told Benadryl is bad for singing, but my allergies are SO BAD that if I didn’t take one I couldn’t sing. Do you have any tips for singers with allergies?
For my allergies and the related asthma, I take Singulaire and use a maintenance inhaler; the OTC stuff is too drying and I find it doesn’t work for me. I worked with my otolaryngologist and we’d adjust meds whenever I felt like something was affecting my voice. We finally found something that works, thank goodness! If you do have allergies it’s a really good idea to work with a doctor. You could even try allergy shots (I’ve done the drops under the tongue every day for a while). Everyone seems to react to medicine differently so having a doctor involved to make adjustments is great.
As far as general singing tips, I’d just tell people to be mindful of voice care. Don’t take your instrument for granted, you only get one. I also recommend learning about the vocal folds and keeping up with voice science. Not only is it neat to learn, but knowing about the anatomy of the voice helps keep me serious about being kind to it. There are certain things I’ve permanently made a part of my lifestyle; drink tons of water all the time and being quiet in really loud areas, never being around smoke, consuming alcohol or spicy foods, or screaming. Other things like dairy and caffeine, I just avoid before singing. I’ve also learned to love herbal teas! On the lozenge front, because I know they’re popular with singers, I love Luden’s brand. They don’t have menthol which is drying, but they’re also not super bitter like the slippery elm ones; they actually feel refreshing. Lastly be mindful of technique, and having a vocal coach is a great idea.
Lastly, what is your favorite genre to listen to, and who are your favorite artists?
Favorites are hard for me, I love so much music from so many different artists. I love electronic rock; when rock and EDM collide I get really excited since I think those genres work so well together.
Thanks so much Danielle for an incredible interview! If you enjoyed it, please let her know!Loved your interview, Danielle! Click To Tweet
Be sure to check out all of Danielle’s social media channels here: