I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Dani Strong at the Phoenix last week in Toronto, before the Bright Lights Big Country benefit concert for Fort McMurray.
I began by asking Dani to tell me a little bit about herself and her band. I absolutely loved her response!
“I loved that you asked me about my band! I love being the band girl. Well, Dani Strong is me and I don’t like to straight up say I am a country artist. I am a singer, song writer first and foremost and well country is where the real music is at right now and I’m loving it! It’s my roots too, I love the oldies and I’m a big fan of old country. I’m from BC, I say I’m from BC because I basically grew up there. I was born in Ontario but after my parents split I moved out there and grew up out on the west coast.
Now, the band, they are literally my everything! There are not many artists out there that can say that they have been with their band since the beginning and playing with them for over a decade. I would not be an eighth of where I am and I mean this, if it was not for them. They have molded me since the age of 18 and we have been through everything together. Having gone through all these experiences has made me who I am today and I am so beyond grateful for them.”
It is truly amazing as a band to be together that length of time and to go through everything together since the beginning. They definitely have great dynamics and you can see this when they are on stage together. They really are a great group of individuals and together make an amazing band!
Well we circled back and I had to ask Dani, who her favourite artists are, as far as old country goes.
“I like George Jones, of course Merle although not my favourite, George I would have to say he is, I just love him, but still yeah I like Merle. Big fan of Waylon Jennings, especially in his later years and as for females I would of course have to say Patsy Cline. But my biggest hero and why I do what I do is Sheryl Crow. She is my be-all and end-all to everything. I started doing this because of listening to her. I am a big hard core Sheryl Crow fan and more just what she writes. But as far as my influences go, other than Sheryl, I would have to say Martin Sexton and Tom Petty, those are all my big influences. And it is pretty much life in general that influences me. Not necessary my life, I am a very different song writer that way. My good friend Gina Horswood, she writes from her life experience and she has quite the life experiences to write from and it’s amazing. But I’m very different, this I found has made it difficult to put this record together because I find most records tend to be a bit of a story. But mine I have been doing this for so long and this is everything to me and being a different song writer and to narrow this down and piece it together it’s just so different. For example, one of the songs, I’ve pretended to be Walter from Breaking Bad and it’s Walter to Jessie. I like to put myself in a character and almost give myself a job and write about it. That is essentially what I would like to do, be a song writer and write songs for movies. We need a song for this and I would like to be able to write it.”
Well Dani actually has already done something like this. I brought up the last time we were here at The Phoenix for the CMW Boots and Hearts Hotshots Showcase night about a month ago, Dani shared with us that night a little “diddy” she wrote for Coleman USA.
“Yes, I am the voice of Coleman for 2016. Just after that night, I went down to California and went to Joshua Tree National Park and played out in the desert and it was absolutely seriously amazing. Joshua Tree was mind blowing and so amazing and I can see why so many artists go there to get creative and be inspired. We climbed Ryan Mountain and actually we played Break Out Evil from the top of the mountain, it was so incredible. We then went to the campsite and played for the boys and girls club of America for Coleman. Youth and teenagers are a passion to me and I was so happy to be able to do this.”
I asked Dani, how she was chosen to be the voice of Coleman.
“Well, I kind of knew someone there who knew about this campaign coming up and actually suggested me as the songwriter and I never thought in a million years I would get it ‘cause well it’s Coleman. They are a major, huge corporation in the US and why would they come across border to get me to write it. They could’ve asked so many others, but it was a massive blessing to be asked and a really cool thing to do.”
I also brought up the fact that the month prior when we were here it happened to be the actual Tuesday night that the Fort McMurray fires happened. It was giving me goosebumps as Dani and I were recalling that night and she asked us to keep them in our thoughts and prayers;
“Yes, I remember taking the stage and I said, I want to send out prayers to Fort Mac, ‘cause it looks like there may not be a Fort Mac tomorrow morning. I literally had found out just prior to taking the stage and my manager and I agreed I had to say something before starting our set. Knowing so many people out west it just hit home. There are forest fires out west all the time and I know this is the biggest one, but to have seen them before and feel the effects, it’s just unreal and unreal to think about what these people went through. When Corey (from Sound Check Ent.) called me up and asked me to do this, I was like totally, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
It really did give me goosebumps to talk to Dani about the fire and what everyone had gone through and to think a month later after what Dani said, we were back in the same spot having a benefit concert for them, this was such a humble and special evening.
It was great to sit down and chat with Dani beforehand and her performance that night was so beautiful, just as she is and her gorgeous smile!
Looking forward to your album this summer Dani!