ONE cannot deny how well the single, Clouds, has done lately.
ARTWORK: Casey Blair
Its creator, Dani Robert, talks to me about its Spotify success and whether its acclaim was expected or not. Originally from the farmlands at Pain Court - she is now based in Toronto. I ask about the music scene in the Canadian city and how it inspires her. I ask about her latest single and the inspiration behind it; whether there is anything (music-wise) is coming up – and how instrumental music was when she was young.
I ask whether Robert is coming to the U.K. and what tour dates are approaching; the three albums that mean the most to her – and whether it is a struggle being a young artist in a competitive market.
Hi, Dani! How are you? How has your week been?
it’s been a great week! I’ve been doing a lot of press and promo for the new single, Clouds - so a whole bunch of things keeping me busy.
I am so excited about how people have been responding to it. We just broke 100,000 Spotify spins!
Such a giant blessing!
Clouds is your new single and summer anthem. What is the story behind the song?
The song is all about a personal experience I had with a close friend of mine.
I had felt so many feelings for this person and I felt he did too - but we just never talked about it! It made me think of all the times we feel something and are so hesitant to act or even talk about it. I compared it to a cloud because clouds are there, but they’re also just vapor – similar to these experiences.
The feelings were there but weren’t really because we never acknowledged them (like vapor). So, the moral of the story is: TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS!
The video looks like it was fun to film. What was the process of putting it together and how involved were you in putting the concept together?
It was such a great experience filming this video.
We worked really closely with the director, Gord Poon, to put together a story that, essentially, brought the lyrics and song itself to reality. He did a great job really taking my personal story and putting it on screen. I was pretty hands-on in the whole process too: from the initial brainstorm process to the casting - all the way to the end product.
Based on the responses I’ve been getting, I think we were able to capture a real-life experience that is allowing people to truly feel something. If you guys are able to feel something - and I mean anything at all - I’ve done my job!
It seems like a lot of time and thought was put into putting the song together. What was the process of making the song itself?
The song itself took about a year to fully complete. It was a long and worthwhile process that involved many people: from Mic Te to TJ; to A.M. and, of course, Ashton Adams and Kyngs - who produced the whole track. It started off with a few lyrics and a piano rift but when I took it into the studio for the guys to listen to - they added their touches and it took a life of its own.
That night in the studio, when we finally finished everything, I remember being with my team, dancing and beaming with smiles! It’s a very personal song to me because it’s something that really happened to me!
It has been streamed thousands of times on Spotify and taken to heart by so many people. How important is that kind of reaction and reception to you?
I’m just blown away by how well received the song has been thus far – over 100,000 Spotify listens in less than two weeks!
I’m so happy you guys like it! So many people have shared with me their own feelings on how they can relate to the song, and to me, that’s really what music is all about. As an artist, I just want to connect with people of all backgrounds and walks of life. It’s so beautiful to see so many different people from around the world create their own interpretations of Clouds.
It really shows that us, as people, really aren’t so different from one another.
Is there an E.P. or album on the horizon?
New music is on the horizon soon – whether an E.P. or an album, that’s to be determined. I have a collection of songs in the musical vault!
Right now, we’ve just been so taken aback with the success of Clouds and I’m just really trying to soak that all up. Stay tuned, though!
You live in Toronto but are from Pain Court. How different are the two places and what was the decision to move to Toronto?
Both places are pretty different from one another- but are each beautiful in their own way.
Pain Court is a small French village that is forty-minutes away from Windsor, Ontario. It’s filled with fields, old barns and breathes at a much slower pace.
Toronto, with its diverse neighbourhoods, for the most part, is much faster-paced and taller - in a sense that there are more sky scrapers! The only structure comparable to a sky-scraper in Pain Court would be their grain bins. Haha.
Music is the thing that ultimately brought me to Toronto though. Being there has allowed me to build the team of people I currently work with today. Toronto’s music scene is extremely tight-knit as well. It’s been so humbling to be a part of a community that has bred people like Drake, Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara!
To call these people my peers is truly an honour.
What is the music scene like there? How does it compare to other parts of Canada?
Like I said: the scene there is so tight-knit and talented!
So many international artists are from there from Drake to Alessia (Cara); The Weeknd, Justin (Bieber) - who’s just outside of Toronto.
Montreal is another place in Canada I really love. It’s also so amazing and diverse - there are so many talented groups from Montreal.
Those are probably the two places I’ve really been able to experience as of late. Canada is such a huge country. I’m hoping to see much more of it when we go on tour.
How early did you take to music? Did you start playing as a child?
I started playing the piano when I was five and began writing songs when I was seven. My babysitter, Jess taught me Heart and Soul on the piano and, from there, I couldn’t stop playing!
There are so many creative ways of looking at the world when you’re that age and I found the best way to express it was through song. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to express myself in such a way - because it really is my most comfortable method of communicating and connecting with others.
What kind of artists and albums did you grow up listening to?
Growing up, my parents always had the radio on. They listened to a lot of '60s and '70s music - and I listened to a lot of Sarah McLachlan.
As I got older, I also started listening to Chantal Kreviazuk - after my mom and aunts brought me to her concert. Watching her play, I remember hearing a voice inside me saying: “You will be doing this someday!”
Is it quite tough being a young artist coming into music? Do the ‘goods’ outweigh the ‘bads’ - or does it depend on the day?
Being a young artist sometimes has its challenges with all the responsibilities involved - and all the different hats you have to wear.
It doesn’t necessarily depend on the day because you’re always thinking and experiencing so many things at once and are always on the go. Whether that is spending hours in the studio, being in constant communication with my managers; having to meet multiple deadlines in a day, odd sleeping hours; meetings, social media management or press runs you’re always on - it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for myself.
As a young artist, especially, I think I have the added challenge and responsibility to make sure I’m presenting myself in a proper and respectable way. I have so many young listeners that I have no choice but to make sure I set an example for them. Often, when put in that position, a lot of pressure is there to do well not only for myself but for everyone impacted by my music.
But, when I see how people are connecting to the music and my story, all those challenges and bad days are really over-shadowed. Nothing compares to seeing people connect with my music and even having it help people in their lives.
So, to answer your question: the good absolutely outweighs the bad!
How do you unwind and spend time away from music?
I spend a lot of time in nature, swimming; painting, hanging out with my family; friends and Ned the cat (which my mom will soon be making a Facebook page for - stay tuned! Haha).
My faith is also really important to me - so I like to pray and go to church.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kenneth Leung
Can you tell us whether there are any tour dates coming up? Any plans playing in the U.K. this year?
As of right now, we are in the beginning stages of talking about tourin - but I would love to come to the U.K within the next year!
I hear that in general, the music scene in Europe is incredible - as you guys have a true appreciation for music. Wonderfully enough, my primary Spotify listeners of Clouds are actually from there.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I love Anna of The North – she’s an awesome artist from Norway.
I absolutely love her sound, look and overall vibe. Her melodies are absolutely breath-taking.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Vivaas Kise
I would also recommend an upcoming Canadian rapper I’ve worked with named Brae.
He’s on the same management team that I am (AMAG) so we’ve become good friends. He’s such a talented young Canadian artist - not to mention he has such a happy-go-lucky personality. His live performances are unreal!
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Sarah McGlaughlin’s Surfacing (album) is a big one.
I was so young when I first listened to that album on my old cassette player at home. It definitely inspired me to write songs on the piano like she did. The overall beauty, depth and emotion captured on the album is beyond words.
Chantal Kreviazuk’s What If It All Means Something also had a big impact on my writing when I was young.
It was the depth and her ability to capture emotions and tell stories that drew me in.
Lastly, Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra, is another project that leaves me in awe.
My ears never get tired of it and I feel like I’m in a different world when I listen to it. Strawberry Swing, in particular, literally makes me cry!
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Music isn’t just about making songs: it’s really about discovering yourself and knowing yourself. Get to know yourself in the studio - do you need breaks? Snacks? Do you need to prance around the yard and pick daisies in the middle of a session? (That’s what I do sometimes).
Analyse yourself and get in tune. I know there’s a ‘grind’-mentality out there but, sometimes, stepping away and coming back - or even waiting for that actual experience to capture - is worth it as listeners feel and hear the difference.
Really importantly; my manager Mic Tee always reminds me, that, despite the stress - to make sure to have fun in the process!
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Thank you for the wonderful interview and I hope to meet you in person soon!
I would love it if you played The Dreamer by Anna of the North!
Thanks so much and don’t forget to follow me online: @danirobertmusic!
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PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Boland