ALONGSIDE her brother Will (as The Wildes)…
Dani Wilde has released a cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, A Case of You. I speak to Dani Wilde about why she recorded the track and what it is about Mitchell that attracts her; what sort of music she grew up around – whether Brighton is a great base for young musicians.
Wilde reveals whether there are tour dates coming up and what it is like being on stage; the advice she would give artists coming through; if there are particular albums she holds dear; how she unwinds away from music – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Dani. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! My week has been great, thank you. When I’m not touring, I lecture Music History and teach Vocal Performance at Britain and Ireland’s Modern Music Institute - so I’ve been juggling that with being a new mum and also gigging and recording.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure thing. I signed to Ruf Records, a European Blues record label back in 2007 and, more recently, VizzTone records in America. I’ve spent the past ten years touring all over Europe, Canada and the U.S.A. and I’ve been lucky enough to chart in the Country charts and the Blues charts in Europe.
Although I often get pigeonholed as a Blues artist (and I do love the Blues), I’m more of a singer-songwriter inspired by many roots genres from Country to Gospel; Folk, Americana and Blues. My new record is really Folk-meets-Acoustic-Soul’ but you can hear the Blues in my note choices as a vocalist and the harmonica accompaniment.
A Case of You is your new track – recorded with your brother, Will. What was the reason for covering the song?
I’ve always been a big Joni Mitchell fan and her album Blue is in my top-ten-favourite albums of all-time. I actually decided to cover this song though after Prince died. I’ll be honest; even though I loved Prince’s music – songs like Purple Rain and How Come You Don’t Call Me - I didn’t delve fully into his back catalogue until he passed away. I came across a cover of Prince singing this Joni song and I really fell in love with it. That was when I started performing the song live. This coincided with me being pregnant with me little girl and so the song took on a whole new personal meaning for me.
I was touring out in Europe until three weeks before me due-date and when I performed this song each night with my huge belly on stage I would sing it for her. The lyric “Part of you pours out of me” really resonated with me - the concept of not knowing where I end and my little girl begins and how much I loved her even when she was still in the womb.
That’s why I decided to record this song.
Is there something about Joni Mitchell and the way she writes that attracted you to her?!
I was introduced to Joni Mitchell’s music by my high-school music teacher. She is a poet - her lyrics are just beautiful and her use of imagery is so unique –; she really paints such vivid pictures with her words. I also admire Joni Mitchell for her unusual vocal phrasing. There is no-one quite like her and as a vocalist I feel I have learned so much from listening to her records.
Give me a sense of the music you grew up around. Was it quite varied?
I grew up listening to my dad’s record collection: Bob Dylan, Motown; the Blues and ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll. I grew up busking and playing Dylan covers in local pubs. My first professional gig was a support for Folk artist Maddie Prior (Steeleye Span) at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon. I was seventeen and I played a set of original acoustic material blending Blues and Folk influences. I was born in 1985, and so I also listened to a lot of the great ’90s pop singers such as Whitney Houston - who had a huge impact on me as a female singer.
You are based in Brighton. Is it a great area in terms of music and inspiration?
Yes. I came to Brighton to get my university degree. It’s a huge creative hub and a great place to meet like-minded musicians. I’ve recorded in studios across the world such as in San Diego, Washington D.C.; Berlin, Liepzig and Madrid – and so it was nice to record my last album, Live at Brighton Road, for VizzTone records in my hometown using Brighton’s best session players.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I would love to see my new single, A Case of You, chart in the Folk/Blues charts. I’ve got a big tour of Europe booked in for this coming autumn. I’ll be taking my baby girl, who is now eleven-months-old, on the road with me which is a dream come true.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
For me, the highlight has been performing to children in the slums in Kenya. I’ve been fortunate enough to use my music as a fundraising tool to help provide children in Kenya’s slums with educational opportunities. I’ve worked with a charity called Moving Mountains to build classrooms and to deliver music education. I also support Toto Love Orphanage for children with HIV and AIDS in Embu, Kenya. When music can be used to put smiles on the faces of kids in need, and to make a real difference to their lives, that, for me, is what life and love is all about.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
I don’t think I could pick just three albums - a lot of the Blues records I love were recorded before the days of albums. I love albums that make people question their own social conscience such as Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
That’s a tough one…
Most of my heroes are sadly not still alive today. I’d love to open for Al Green or Van Morrison. Or maybe Paul Weller or Bob Dylan. I’ve been lucky enough to share festival bills with some of my heroes such as Bobby Womack and Koko Taylor whilst they were still alive.
In regards to my rider; labradoodle puppies and orange Smarties, obviously - and some sushi, prosecco and pumpkin spice lattes!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Create your own luck. Being in the right place at the right time means putting yourself in every potential right place whether that is your web presence; busking, gigs, local support slots; local radio and so on. Just share your music with the world at every opportunity and inevitably people will start to take notice.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I’ve got a U.K. show in Coolham, West Sussex in December. Before then, I’m out in Germany, France Luxembourg and Switzerland. In January, I’ll be up north in the U.K. at The Great British Rock & Blues Festival. Blues Matters are hosting an all-female stage there with myself and Dana Gillespie.
How important is it being on stage and performing? What sort of feeling do you get when up there?
I love it. It feels like a spiritual experience sharing your emotions through song and you can just feel it when the audience feel that magic too. That’s what it’s all about.
IN THIS PHOTO: YEBBA
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yes. I really love YEBBA - ‘YEBBA’ is ‘Abbey’ spelled backwards. Abbey Smith is an amazing artist from the U.S.A. who has so much emotion in her voice it’s insane. She is a spectacular talent. She fuses Gospel with R&B and Acoustic-Soul. Her songs, My Mind and Evergreen, can be found on YouTube.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I unwind by playing with my little girl - reading her stories, taking her swimming; pushing her on the swings in the park, taking her to feed ducks and escaping the city for days out in the countryside.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
YEBBA - My Mind (Sofar NYC). Abbey Smith wrote and recorded this after her mother committed suicide. I just find her voice mesmerising
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