DANAII is a 25 year old Neo-Soul/Indie Artist born in Milwaukee, WI and raised in a small town called Culpeper, VA. She knew she wanted to be a singer by the time she was in elementary school and started writing music when she was in elementary school. Now that she's older, she combines inspiration from her favorite artists, some being Erykah Badu, Lianne La Havas, Tame Impala and SZA to create a euphoric and psychedelic side to new-age R&B. One of her most recent and greatest accomplishments as a singer was being able to perform at SOB's (Sounds of Brazil) in Manhattan in October 2021, where she got to share her music on the very same stage many of her inspirations also performed. She's currently working on new music for both herself and the collective she's in, called OFFCOLORS, who plan on dropping their second EP this summer.
Please share a story that includes a happy memory as an artist and has made a huge impact on your artistry.
A memory that really stuck with me and helped develop me as an artist was probably my first talent show. I was in 4th grade, and I sang "Breaking Free" from Highschool Musical. All I can remember is looking out into the audience and seeing parents with TEARS in their eyes. And I was so confused! After the show, my parents told me that I sang the song so beautifully that I had almost everybody in the audience crying. As a fourth grader it didn't really add up, considering High School Musical was not a sad movie...at all, but the fact that my voice shifted the atmosphere in the room had me thinking, "hmmm...I think I could get used to this!" How do you choose to lead a Happy Healthy life as an artist?
One thing that I always tell other musicians and artists is that you should always make your art for yourself, and nobody else. Once you start making art to please others, it's no longer yours. Even if people don't like it, or it doesn't fit into society's view of what art should be, your art should always be an expression of yourself. Another face that you don't wear, but it is seen. Who did you learn from to instill those values?
I honestly don't know, haha. Even as a child I believed that art is an extension of yourself, therefore you should never compromise its integrity for anyone or anything. Even when people told me I needed a "back up plan" for when I failed (and I still haven't), I refused to stop doing it. For me, music is the only thing that has kept me on this earth. And as morbid as that sounds, it's true. Was it hard work to make sure that you focused on your well-being and not only your art?
YES. I still have trouble with this now. I have been diagnosed with a few mental disorders (and there are still some that are undiagnosed...yikes), and it honestly took me a while to address them because I felt like if I took that time out to get help, I would end up falling behind in my music. Almost kind of like FOMO. Was there a turning point of how you decided to put yourself first?
I realized that my art was being heavily affected by my lack of self-care. Writer's block would go on for months, I would get frustrated with the things I did write and would leave so many projects unfinished. I decided that although the music that I was writing was good, it was BEYOND depressing. And I didn't want people to see me as someone who only wrote music when they were upset or going through something traumatic. I also wanted people to see the side of me that was happy and free, and willing to love--even the negative parts of my life. How do you like to promote a healthy lifestyle?
Lots of time in nature, dancing in my room, hugs and cuddles from loved ones. Basically, if I feel like something will make me feel better, I'll do it! I also like to work out, meditate, and have been leaning towards a meat-free diet lately. I've seen a big change in my moods, even when I'm having the worst manic episode possible, it feels a lot easier to navigate through them now. In what ways are you connecting with fans to check in on each other? I tend to be very vulnerable on Social Media. Not because I want people to feel sorry for me, but I want people to know it's okay to be open about what's going on in your head. Even if it's ugly. A lot of posts go along the lines of "I had a really really bad mental day today, however, I'll never have to live this day again, and neither do you." I also personally like to reach out to my fans in DMs they sent me, and sometimes even let them rant to me about their day (but not all the time, because being everybody's shoulder to cry means you won't have one to cry on yourself), and give them encouraging words. I just want my supporters to be upfront with their emotions but also learn how to cope with these emotions when they come around. Who checks in on YOU when you need it most? Probably my Parents! No matter what time of the day it is, they always pick up their phones. As a kid I didn't really feel like I could be as open with them without being preached to (I was raised in church as a child)...and even now I still get preached to sometimes, but they've definitely always had my back. Back in 2020 I admitted myself into a hospital and they both came from Arizona and Virginia to come and get me and make sure I had all the resources I needed in order to feel healthy again. Nobody could ever replace the love and support they've given me. They also have always supported my music, even when everyone else around me was worried I was making the wrong decision financially. Changing habits can be hard. Which was the habit that you had to change and how it's changed your life now? I think the biggest habit I had to change was believing everything I think about myself. I used to be very insecure growing up as a kid. As a black girl in a small southern town, I was bullied a lot and told that I wasn't white enough or black enough. Not to mention my anxiety and depression tripled these insecurities into bigger doubts about myself. And I carried all of those opinions of me with me as I grew older. But once I reached college, I decided I couldn't let that hold me back. I was just so exhausted from masking all the time in order to please the voices in my head that decided what those kids said back when I was little was true. Now that I've allowed myself to be me in the truest way possible, I feel like I attract really positive energy and beautiful people and souls everywhere I go. It's also definitely opened up more opportunities for me and my music. Is there a song, book, movie, show, or anything that always gives you the motivation you need? This beautiful piece is called "dodging the devil" by mereba. It's so beautiful and you can feel the power in every word! I won't give away too much because I want you all to listen to it! What is the mantra of 2022?! I will accomplish ALL of my dreams in my divine timing! Give all the inside scoop on your latest project! I currently don't have a project on the way (or so I think...), but the band I'm in, OFFCOLORS, we're dropping a new EP before the summer. I should be dropping some singles, but I don't have a definite date. Just stay tuned! ;) We want to thank you for joining us here and are so excited about what we see from you next! Leave us with your socials!! Instagram and Tiktok: @danaiisenpai Facebook: DANAII OFFCOLORS' socials: Instagram and Tiktok: @trilloffcolors Facebook: OFFCOLORS