Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview with the talented musician Danielle Barbe

I first discovered the music of Danielle Barbe (Pronounced Barb) in the summer of 2010, when it was announced she would be an opening act for "The Gracious Few" on their nationwide tour.  Normally I don't care about who an opening band is, let alone seek out their music before the show, but for some reason I found myself searching for Danielle Barbe on i-Tunes.  After listening to the 30 second samples, I was interested enough to download the full album.  It quickly became one of my favorites and I would find myself listening to it over and over during the work day.

Lisa and I saw Danielle open for "The Gracious Few" at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California.  As good as her CD is, she was that much better live.  From her captivating stage presence, to her soaring vocals, she wowed the crowd and was warmly received.  Lisa and I met Danielle after the show and were able to express our appreciation of her music, and got a CD signed.

In the summer of 2011, Lisa and I were in New York City, and saw Danielle preform at the Rockwood Music Hall.  It's a intimate little club in the lower east side, and after her one hour performance, Danielle was gracious enough to chat with us, and take a few photos with her.

She is an amazing vocalist and a very kind and fun loving individual.  She agreed to allow me to interview her, and I have posted it below.  Check out her music at www.daniellebarbe.com/

Let’s start off with a little background information. How did you get your start?

I started singing in church around the age of 6. I’d perform little songs for the holidays and my grandma, also a singer, would get me some performances in her church. I eventually joined school choir and started singing in musicals and plays. Then, my brother formed a band in high school and asked me to sing. That’s how I ended up, finally, singing rock music. I loved it so much that I never looked back…

How would you describe your music for those that haven't heard you before?

Catchy rock 'n roll. I really think my album has something for everyone, though.

Where do you draw your influences from?

When I was little, my dad put a lot of tapes in my hands. Because of him, I grew up listening to The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Sheryl Crow, Alanis, and a lot of other artists. I loved the male front people – like Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan… I just thought it was the coolest thing. We’d watch videos of those guys performing. I was pretty little, but I’m sure that influenced me. Nowadays I try to stay inspired. Whether it’s through music, fashion, art, anything. People are so creative! It’s pretty easy to stay inspired.

What genre of music is your least favorite?

Screamo. Sometimes I can appreciate it, but for the most part it just makes me nervous. I feel like the people are personally screaming at me. Gives me anxiety.

What music have you been listening to lately?

Lots of female artists I've loved for quite awhile and am now revisiting. A lot of Fiona Apple, Alanis, Feist, Sharon Jones, Sheryl Crow… It feels good to get back in touch with my ladies!

What is your favorite track off the album and why?

This varies from day to day. Today is an Explosive Minute day. I got into the car with one of my best friends and she was blasting it. It’s a good car jam.

What dream tour would you love to be on with any past or present bands?

Probably Foo Fighters. In my dreams, Dave Grohl is my husband. So talented and they put on an amazing live show.
The Future Mr. Danielle Barbe?
What do you feel has been your biggest break or greatest opportunity?

There have been a lot of great breaks and thankfully things just keep rolling in. I'm so grateful! Getting my song on the television show "Ghost Whisperer" and the "Vampires Suck" soundtrack was amazing. MTV picking up the video for "Ghost Town" was thrilling. And now playing Warped Tour…

Speaking of the Warped Tour, how is that going?

It was an amazing opportunity to be selected for. There were so many people at the event, out in the extreme heat, just because they love music and wanted to see bands.

How would you rate your live performance ability? Do you feel more comfortable live or in the studio?

I truly love performing live. I don’t think that could ever get old for me. I still get jitters right before, but it’s a good thing. Maybe this is weird, but I don’t want to ever get too comfortable. I’m afraid if I get too comfortable it means I’ve stopped pushing myself and stepping out of the box.

Your music seems very personal, and deals with subjects close to you. Is it difficult or scary sharing yourself in song and on stage?

It is very personal! It was incredibly scary for a long time... There are still certain moments where I feel very vulnerable writing about difficult experiences and about certain people. It's terrifying to put yourself out there! Once you take the first leap it gets easier and easier.

Why have you succeeded in an industry where so many others fail?

Perseverance. I believe that you have to have talent, but the ones who can really stick it out, and wait it out, are the ones who can make it.

What has been your favorite on stage moment?

Sharing the stage with Kevin Martin (Candlebox and The Gracious Few) was amazing. Love him! Warped Tour was very cool too. A very different experience.

What is the funniest/weirdest thing that has happened on the road?

There are a lot of great stories... One time we broke down near a small town in CA called Yreka. We couldn’t leave the van on so we were all freezing on the side of the dark road, hoping that AAA showed up. They never did. Finally the cops had to come get us and take us to a Best Western. Nobody in town could repair the van right away, so we ended up having to take a U-Haul to our next show. I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces when we pulled up in a U-Haul and I stepped out in my 4 inch heels and walked into the club.

What has been your favorite city to perform in and why?

Oh, I can’t pick just one! I loved Seattle and Portland. I had never been. The venues were very cool. In Seattle I got to play at Showbox, where so many well-known bands have performed in the past, and in Portland we performed in this place called The Wonder Ballroom. It really looked like an old ballroom or gym. Very unique.

What is the most unusal place you have ever played a show or made a recording?

I played a lot of funny places when I was starting out. Some grad parties… a motorcycle event… We pretty much recorded in garages. I think you have to do this kind of stuff. It teaches you how to perform under any conditions. Our old rehearsal space was in a big plant and had no air conditioning or heating. We’d have to rehearse in snowsuits in the wintertime. It was hilarious.

Check out Danielle's latest video "Wango Tango" here

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I feel like the industry is really changing at the moment... I'm just interested to see what happens. I'm along for the ride. I feel like artists can have a lot more control than they used to, and can do so many things independently, but we’re all just kind of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years as an artist? What are your long term goals?

I have to tell you that I’m very much the type of person who lives day-to-day. I’m impulsive and I like to enjoy all the little moments and I try not worry too much. I’m trying to make music that I truly believe in. I just want to keep growing as an artist and be able to do this every day. It’s a lot of work but it’s incredibly fun and rewarding.

How do you feel about file sharing or people recording your shows?

I'm fine with people recording the shows. I think it's amazing that people love the show enough to record it and take the time to upload it and share it with others. I do hope that people will buy my CD... You know, I have to make a living too. However, I'm glad it's reaching new ears everyday and that people are sharing it with others.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Oh, I’ve been given a lot of good advice… A well-known singer told me to learn as much as I can, practice as much as I can, and then when I hit the stage, to just forget about it all. I feel that’s very true. You learn as much as you can until it’s ingrained in your memory and then you just let go.

If you were not a singer, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be a psychologist. That’s what I studied in college. Either that or designing. Interior design, graphic design, fashion design.. I love it all.

The video for Danielle's hit single "Ghost Town

Where would you like to visit on your next tour?

I’d love to go to the UK and play some dates.

When can fans expect new music or be able to see you on tour?

I’d say late fall. I’m always writing and working on new things, so we’ll see.

What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

The promotion of my music is becoming very exciting. I love meeting all these new fans online and hearing their thoughts on my music.

What is your pet peeve and why?

About five minutes ago, I was wondering why so many people on Facebook badly crop someone next to them out of their profile picture and use it. I’d feel bad if I was that person’s friend and they cut half my face off.

One last question:  Rock, Paper or Scissors and why?

Paper. So I could write. Sometimes words are the best, and wisest, weapon.

Thanks to the amazing Danielle Barbe for this interview!  Check her out at www.DanielleBarbe.com and pick up her CD at iTunes

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