While Danielle bunkers down for the first half of 2018 writing up a storm for releases later this year, we thought we would check in with her to see how she is doing and learn a little more about this talented Nashville based songstress.
How did you start in music?
Like so many musicians, I grew up in a musical family. I was surrounded at birth with incredible talent. When I was old enough, I decided that I was going to make a living doing music. In 9th grade I went into a coffee shop and asked to play my first gig. If I remember correctly, I made 75 dollars and I sold out the coffee shop with all my friends and family. After that, when I tried to get gigs I had no online presence, no CD recorded, no YouTube videos, etc. so it became hard to get any venues to call me back. Instead of waiting to do all that online work, I would just go to a bar that I would want to sing at and ask for the manager. When the manager would say “sure, just drop off a CD and a bio for us to look at.” I would respond with “How about I just sing you a song right here, right now?” Then I would sing “Respect” acappella and I’d usually walk out with one or two dates a month. I don’t know if it was because the manager was impressed by my talent, or just incredibly uncomfortable, but either way it always seemed to work for me! By the time I was 17 I had a weekly show and multiple monthly residencies.
You hail from a musical family. What are your fondest childhood memories?
Todd family Christmas parties! Every year on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) the entire Todd family gets together for a big potluck dinner. I have a really big family and a lot of us are musically talented. Every Christmas morning after all the presents were opened I would still be bouncing around the house with excitement because I knew the next day I would get to see my family. Usually on Christmas morning I would get a couple of CD’s as presents. I would take the CD’s and learn two or three songs off by heart so that I could perform them for my family. I still remember all of us cousins and aunts and uncles crowding into my uncle Bobbi’s little yellow farmhouse up north in Listowel. (Ontario, Canada) Odds were that the snow banks were as tall as I was and it was a huge blizzard outside but everyone would drive from all over Ontario just to spend time together. Thinking about those winter nights makes my heart swell. Family time is my favourite time, and I was so lucky to have such a wonderful family to share my talent with, and to learn from! I also remember learning guitar with my dad and countless hours in his home studio with him and my sister Leah. We must have some cool recordings saved on an old hard drive somewhere! Those are memories I will cherish forever.
How would you best describe your music?
Short answer: Quirky country!
Extended answer: I love old country but am a fan of deeper lyrics and modern sounds. I love singer/songwriters and grew up listening to so many talented lyricists. It’s important to me to write songs that people hear and think to themselves “That’s me. That’s my life.”
Where do you draw inspiration from when you write your own music? What’s the favourite part about the process?
Writing has taught me to be very interested in how people view the world, view each other and view themselves. I absolutely love the process, especially when I write something that I listen to later and think “yes, that song brings me back to a time where I was super sad and depressed and it tears my heart out and stomps on it a million times. JUST what I wanted!” or “I can’t stop singing this song with a big smile on my face as I picture myself driving across the country with the windows down on some desert road with the love of my life.” When you set out a goal to write a certain song and capture a certain emotion, then walk away feeling like the lyrics, melody and music nailed that emotion, it is the most incredible high.
Now that you are a Nashville based artist, how has this affected your career?
It’s funny, now that I’m a Nashville based artist I actually have a lot more followers back home. The last time I went home people that I didn’t even know would stop me on the street and say “Danielle Todd! From Wandering Wednesday! I watch you every week.” I was quite surprised at how many people loved Wandering Wednesday and how well it connected me with complete strangers all over the world, but especially back home. Working at Tootsie’s has been a game changer as well. I’ve learned how to keep my cool when I meet famous people (although I have yet to run into Steven Tyler or Keith Urban in Nashville and I just don’t think I’ll be cool when that happens! Ha) Being a Broadway singer is a very demanding job, so I’ve really got my chops up when it comes to performance.
You’ve been working hard in the studio this year. What style of music can we expect from your upcoming releases?
I think my fans will be really surprised and excited. I have been co-writing with some amazing artists and working with some extremely talented people in Nashville. Nashville is full of inspiration, talent, love and hope. I think my music is going to reflect that. I’ve always loved country, but since I moved to Nashville I feel like I’ve learned to respect a vast amount of artists that I never paid attention to or even knew of before. I’ve taken all those influences and tried to incorporate it into my lyrics, melodies, content, and lifestyle. I still have my quirky side, and I hope to always keep that sound, but I have fallen for country music all over again and I can’t wait to share my re-found love with my fans.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
In the long run my dream would be to have a number 1 country hit song, and win a CMA! Besides that, my goal is actually something that is less related to my personal musical career. I would like to, one day, start up a Mental Health organization/charity. I really hope to incorporate different sound therapy, writing therapy, art therapy and different artistic outlets for different age groups. Music brings people together and I would love to start an organization that helps people through their toughest times by using one of the only tools that has helped me through every event in my life – music.
If you could open up for any artist on tour right now, who would it be?
This is the hardest question ever. I am really into a lot of country artists right now. Brothers Osborne are such a kick ass band and I can’t stop listening to their albums right now. I also love Keith Urban and Aerosmith and I always will love them. They’re my heroes.
Which artists do you find inspiring?
I feel like the chicks in country music are killing it! Cam, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Caitlyn Smith, Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Lori Mckenna, Carly Pearce are on the top of my playlist right now. I know that’s a big list, but I can’t leave any of them off, they’re all such talented women and I can’t stop listening to them.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your music out into the public eye?
While it is easier than it ever has been to get your music out there in the world, it’s also over saturated with so many artists. Social media has also caused the audiences attention span to be considerably shorter than ‘back in the day’. The industry has definitely changed and it is a good and bad thing for different reasons. As for social media, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I absolutely love the fact that I can stay connected with my fans 24/7. I try my hardest to respond to every message sent to me because I think it’s important to have that connection. It is a great tool for my business, and it keeps me connected to everyone back home as well. On the flip side, if I am doing something that’s super fun, like going to a concert for example, I never even think to take my camera out. I want to live in the moment and take everything in. When I was a little girl I remember being on my dads shoulders while we were walking through a light show in a canyon in Finger Lakes. My dad said to me “Danielle! Look at that! Take a picture with your mind.” I can still see the dinosaur painted in lime green fluorescent light on the rocks in my head. That has always stuck with me and so I find that I miss out on posting about my life because I’m living it instead!
What’s your favourite thing about being a musician?
I know it sounds simple, but singing is my favourite thing in the world. Whether it’s cover songs, or my own songs, I just love singing. I’ve always wanted to be a singer before anything else. I also feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to travel the world and meet so many fascinating, loving, outgoing, different people. Music even connects me with people I never would’ve imagined I’d ever find common ground with. That is really something to be thankful for.
What are the five things you can’t live without?
Okay, besides music because that seems the obvious answer, here are five other things!
My family and friends – I am so, so close to my family. It kills me to be so far away from them. I love them and miss them every day.
Food – I’m obsessed with cooking, it’s my favourite thing to do besides music. I would much rather make dinner for my friends than go out for a night on the town. I typically try to eat “healthy” and try out new recipes all the time. If you have any favourite recipes, please let me know. I’m always on the hunt for new things to try. Also, I get angry pretty quickly if I don’t have snacks so watch out!
My face wash – I actually find it really meditative to do my morning and bedtime face washing routine. It’s a few minutes that are just for me to pamper myself. I also do weekly facemasks just to have a little bit extra quiet “me” time!
My car – I just bought a new (used) car that I love. It’s nothing fancy, but I am pretty proud of it. I do a LOT of travelling so I need a nice space to spend my countless hours on the road. It’s also the place that I warm up my voice for shows and learn new songs.
Essential oils – I know this sounds super hippie, but I am a huge fan of them. Not only do I love the actual scents of them, I also love the healing properties associated with them. I am really into natural remedies and I think essential oils are really overlooked. For example, if I’m having trouble sleeping at night I will put a couple drops of lavender oil in my diffuser and BOOM, I am out cold. My favourite scents are lavender, orange, lemongrass, and jasmine. My go to “essential oil cocktail” (I just made that up! Haha) is turmeric oil, myrrh, frankincense, and lavender. Beside my bed you will find an essential oil diffuser, air purifier and humidifier. Life of a musician!
Turmeric – I know that this is a 6th one, but I LOVE turmeric. I put it in everything I eat. Not for the flavor, but because of how good it is for you. I take multiple vitamins everyday to stay on top of my health and turmeric pills are on the top of the list. I also have turmeric extract, which I take when I have headaches or when I’m using my vocal chords too much. It’s an incredible anti-inflammatory.
What makes you laugh the most?
I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. Everyone around me all have a great sense of humour. Every weekend with my band I leave with three billion hysterical stories and I have been caught laughing until I’m crying on stage, unable to finish a song. Also, I am a sucker for memes. They KILL me.
What’s your motto or advice you live by?
“Live your own life.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON DANIELLE:
Watch Danielle performing Carrie Underwood’s ‘Cry Pretty’ from The Orange Lounge Recording Studio, Toronto.