Today we have our Spotlight – Dani Strong. We got to sit down and chat with this talented artist about her journey in music. We discuss Covid and a very unique connection with the band The Salads. Her new release Undefined is out now on various platforms.
How did you get started in the music scene? Was it through friends, family?
I’ve been interested in/playing/writing music since I was 12 years old. But I didn’t get into the “music scene” (playing bars, venues and such) until I was about 18 and that was definitely through friends and university. Started by hitting jam nights and then mustering up the nuts to get on stage and share some of the songs I had been writing the past few years.
Who were some of those first influences that really stuck with you?
SHERYL CROW AND TOM PETTY were most certainly my biggest influences as far as my writing goes. But I listened to everything… Honestly, I listened to a lot of Big Band music and really loved jazz when I was in high school ( and still do today).
You have been in the country music scene now for a little over 10 years now, but what do you consider as your breakout moment?
OH! it was when some crazy broad stole one of my songs and got onto a TV show down in the states with it. When they busted her for fraud and impersonating me, that’s definitely when the things started moving quickly in my career. Kind of unfortunate that that’s what it took… but everyone loves a good story I suppose.
You were raised in the interior of BC, Cranbrook to be specific but have called both BC and Ontario home. Can you tell us a bit about the culture shock in that move?
Indeed! I actually was raised in Salmon Arm, BC. I only moved to Cranbrook 2 years ago and have most recently settled in Kimberley, BC. Staying in one place is not something I’m very good at, but I will say, I’m REALLY loving it here in Kimberley. Ontario (Lake Simcoe to be exact) has been, and always will be, the only constant “home” in my life. My dad has always been on Lake Simcoe for my whole life and that’s what feels most like my childhood.
As far as a “culture shock” I really didn’t notice one. I have always had both provinces (and now quite a bit of Alberta as well) in my life and I have always been a traveller, so nothing really ever “shocks” me. I understand and appreciate both city living and country living… but I am definitely not ever going to choose to live in any city. Keep me in my small mountain towns. 🙂
As mentioned, you have toured and performed for several years now. What are some performances, festivals, etc. that stuck out to you over the years?
Boots and Hearts festival in 2017 was my first real “HUGE” show… and I will never, ever, forget that feeling, however, my band and I have had the honour of being the “house band” at the Calgary Stampede for the past few years… a 5-day residency and a gauntlet of show run that has become our favourite shows to play. It’s hard. It’s draining but it really keeps our chops up, and we really bond as a band for that show.
For solo performances my shows are VERY different from my high-energy band shows. I love playing solo shows in small intimate settings where I get to sit at my piano and share my stories and really connect with my crowd.
Given the rise of fusion country music, what are some thoughts you have on the evolving landscape of the country music scenes and sounds?
Well, it certainly benefits an artist like me that has a very diverse range of sounds. Country music, to me, is about storytelling… or at least it used to be. So that’s why I love and find my home with country music. I am a storyteller. The “fusion” of sounds or “crossover genres” that is happening in today’s country music is pretty awesome.
I’m not worried about the sound of the music, so much as I am the content. A lot of today’s Country songwriters, in my opinion, need to step up their game and dig a little deeper. It’s possible to write a hit (if that’s what the goal is) and still have depth to a song. Get back to our roots and tell a damn story. Get up from the bar and take a look around… WE KNOW YOU LIKE WHISKEY AND BEER AND TRUCKS, what else is happening in your life
(yes, that’s how I really feel)!
You just released your new album, Undefined, recently. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it, and what it was like trying to release during the global situation?
Well, the “global situation” (Pandemic) was not easy… for anyone. Honestly, I actually didn’t know what to do at first. I actually pushed off the release a couple times and then just decided that I owed it to my loyal fans and supporters to get this record out to them. The album is (or at least I intended it to be) full of songs of hope, love, truth and inspiration. So, I thought it might be something people could use right now. Something to lean on, or cry to, or be empowered by. Hopefully.
You went with the track “Wild Summer” as the flagship track, what was the decision process behind the selection?
I wouldn’t call “Wild Summer” my “flagship track.” I’m not sure there is one on this album because it’s so diverse and I really want each song to live its own life and have its own unique impact to the listeners. “Wild Summer” definitely stands out (sonically) on the record with its super pop-country fun-loving vibe… but it was my first release of 2020 off this record and I released it in March because I knew (being a bit of a lesser-name artist) it would be a “slow-grow” in any playlist… so I released it early hoping to peak with the arrival of the warm weather. Thankfully… Apple music loved that song and it was placed on quite a few fantastic playlists… really changed my streaming platform existence.
My personal favorite off the album is probably “Gold Fever,” but really all the tracks are so deeply personal it feels. What is it like putting so much of yourself into a track and then releasing it to the masses?
OHHHH!!! I LOVE that you love “Gold Fever!!” Not many people pick that as a fave. I actually think it might be my favourite on the album as well, from a purely sonic standpoint. I usually try to tip my hat to Tom Petty at least once on each record and “Gold Fever” was that song for me. The solid, roots vibe. Crisp guitars, drums that are clearly a real drum kit and some B3 organ sounds to give that classic rock feel.
“Gold Fever” wasn’t actually a song that drained me emotionally to write (like “Not Right Now,” or “Ashes”), “Gold Fever” was one of those songs that I wrote from someone else’s perspective which is something I like to do once in a while. As you said, I definitely “put so much of myself” into my songs. I just naturally do that. Because I am the sole songwriter, they are naturally very much a piece of me. Music is, and always has been, my form of communication, processing and coping with life. The good, bad, hard, exciting… all of it.
What do you want listeners to walk away feeling/experiencing?
Good Music. I want listeners to get that old school feeling of loving an entire album. I want listeners to know that they can play this record or some of these songs to draw a particular emotion out of themselves, happy, sad, funny or empowering… just to feel something real.
You have been working consistently doing a multitude of online shows this summer. Was it difficult to pivot from the festival and concert scene to going back to being a kid playing in your living room?
Ha ha… YES. It was super hard and I hate it. Love playing live, and I am always so grateful and honoured when I am asked to play any of the online shows, but I LOVE reading a crowd. I can’t read a computer screen. I can’t “connect” with my audience… and… the sound is shit on the online concerts. I cannot wait to get back on stage in person!
Since we are heading into the winter holidays, and your music was featured in the Christmas movie Hometown Holiday, what’s your favorite holiday film(s)?
ANY CHRISTMAS ANYTHING IS MY FAVOURITE!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!! The Grinch with Jim Carrey, I think that’s top 3 for me (I love imitating The Grinch). Rise of the Guardians (SO GOOD!), all of the The Santa Clause movies, Elf, Christmas with the Kranks.
Obviously, this year was a bit different from most to say the least. As a mom of 2, and a dog mom, what were some of the unexpected positives that occurred this year for you?
As hard and unprecedented as this year has been, we were “forced” to slow down. Something I have needed to do for a long time. Both my husband and I were off for the first 3 months of the pandemic and our kids were out of school, so it was incredible to spend that time together. We are fortunate enough to live in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors together. I will go as far as saying I am grateful for the pandemic in that respect alone.
You recently did a live coast to coast with several other prominent women in music, including Nicole Rayy who we’ve also featured. How do you two know each other, and what was that like for you to collaborate and converse with them?
That was actually my first show with Nicole! I loved it, and I love her. Of course, we have known each other for quite some time, as I think any and all musicians and artists do, especially in the Canadian Country music scene. It is most certainly a big family. I always love playing with and meeting other artists… from any genre and any country. Music is the universal language that I am so very lucky to have the gift of speaking.
Another weird connection that we have, is the band The Salads, I was a HUGE fan in high school, but why don’t you tell us a bit more about your connection to them?
YEAH!!! What a band eh? Anyone who has seen The Salads play a live show will know why any of us became fans. They were unparalleled in their live performances. MONSTER shredders!! I loved them, and still do… the drummer in particular. That’s why I married him. 🙂
Thank you so much for meeting with us, and as we close, I would love to know what words of advice for female musicians/performers that you would like to give. Whether it is advice that someone gave you or something you wish someone had told you?
What are some words of encouragement as we head into winter that you would give to folks for staying grounded during COVID winter?
Music is a healer, a tool, a coping mechanism and most importantly an emotional influencer. Listen to whatever makes you feel real… good, or sad or strong or subtle. Support yourself, empower yourself and let yourself feel.
Lastly as independent and smaller businesses have been hit disproportionately hard this year, what are some of your local favorite places to hype up and give a shout out to?
Restaurant: Urban Dish Restaurant Barrie, ON
Photography: Roam and Ramble Photography Barrie, ON
Hair Salon: Ihvory Hair Salon Salmon Arm, BC
Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Top of the World Ranch Canada
Counsellors: Be The Change Counselling Canada Mental Health Resources:
Help Seeker https://helpseeker.org/, Canada
What do you want to say to your fans and readers?
I love to talk. If you read this, let me know. Reach out, let’s talk music, let’s talk life, Say hello!
This Spotlight – Dani Strong is at and end and we want to give a big thanks to Dani for chatting with us
Check out Undefined out now!
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