I had the unexpected pleasure of hearing Danielle Lewis perform one of her songs at Cardiff Castle in Wales last month. In addition to books, music is a passion of mine and Danielle's song, Anywhere is Home, instantly captivated me. With it's cheerful melody, lovely lyrics, and Danielle's pure vocals, it's a song you can come back to as a pick me up anytime. Danielle has a clear, pure, voice that's reminiscent of Sarah McLaughlin. She's a great lyricist, but coupled with excellent musical arrangements, Danielle Lewis has fast become one of my new favorites. My particular favorite songs of hers are Pin up Lady, Live Forever, (both on her Live Forever album. As a side note, I added Live Forever to the play list for my current work in progress, a supernatural fictional look at the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. It perfectly suits the mood I need when working on that book.) Anywhere is Home, and Along this Time from her Along This Time album.
Danielle is a very talented musician and after I'd heard her perform just one song, I went straight to iTunes and downloaded her albums, Fly and Live Forever. They are different styles, but both fit the kind of music I love. Fly has a lighter, folksy, feel to it and Danielle's pure vocals really shine. I was honestly pleased with the entire album. Live Forever has a darker feel and departs from the folk realm and experiments with a more electronic sound that I was very excited about. I highly recommend checking her out! I hope you'll enjoy this chance to get to know Danielle as much as I did!
SJ: I’m fascinated by musicians and how they create. How does a song usually come to you? A melody? A few lyrics? Or do you set out to write a particular kind of song?
DL: It happens differently every time. Sometimes I’d be playing around with chords on the guitar and the particular feel of those chords would evoke an emotion or lyrics. Other times I have had the lyrics and melody in my head and would work out the chords on the guitar.
SJ: Do you write all the instrumentation for each song or does the band add to the melody and lyrics you’ve written?
DL: I mostly write songs by myself but have also co-written. I usually take the songs into the studio with my producer by the name of Secondson and we share ideas. He helps bring the songs to life by playing the instruments or we bring musicians in.
SJ: Which instruments do you play?
DL: I play the acoustic guitar and I'm classically trained in voice.
SJ: When did you realize you wanted to be a professional musician?
DL: The minute I realised performing on stage could be a career - ha! I started singing in school shows and local pantomimes from a young age and grew up listening to country music. I started writing lyrics at the age of 11 before picking up the guitar at 14.
SJ: Wales is a gorgeous country that I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice. Can you tell us a little about what it was like to grow up in Wales?
DL: I was raised in a small seaside town in West Wales called New Quay and have been hugely influenced by the rugged coast line. I'm currently based in the capital Cardiff which is a hub of vibrant creativity. I love sharing my Welsh language songs in new places because it always gets an enchanting reception. I have a Welsh language digital EP available online called 'Yn Gymraeg'.
SJ: You’ve spent time in Texas for a writing residency. Texas is its own world! How was your experience there?
DL: It was a truly wonderful experience and my first time in the U.S.! I was invited out by The House of Songs residency in Austin where I got to write with the local artists and international artists from Sweden and Australia. At the end of the week we all performed at the beautiful Cactus Cafe in downtown Austin where I sang 'Live Forever'. I'm a big fan of Townes Van Zandt so to have played on the stage he called 'home' was magical. The following week I showcased at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City representing Wales.
SJ: What is the coolest experience you’ve had because of your music?
DL: While I was showcasing at the Folk Alliance International last year, I was introduced to folk legend Tom Paxton during one of the conferences. He wanted to hear some of my music there and then and stood listening from my phone while crowds of fans gathered around him taking photos waiting to meet him. He was very moved by my music and praised it greatly, it was a surreal moment.
SJ: I think most people romanticize creative careers, like being a musician. What’s one of the biggest challenges that people might not think about?
DL: In my experience, it's been patience and sacrifice. There's been a mixture of challenges from emotional to financial but there's nothing that can't be overcome. Music and creativity is a journey and one I hope to be sharing for many years to come.
SJ: What exciting events do you have coming up?
DL: I will be performing live at Hub Festival Cardiff on August 24th.
SJ: Can we expect any new albums from you in the near future?
DL: I have something very special happening in the pipeline, keep those eyes peeled!
SJ: If there’s someone reading this who wants to be a professional musician, what would you want them to know about your experience?
DL: I would say believe wholeheartedly in your craft and look after yourself. Keep feeding your creativity.