Dani Hagan is gradually making waves with each song she releases and this time, she is put with a brand new body of work which she titles ‘Kissing You’ and Dani is making waves in the rock and alternative scene. Collaborating with big names like Ron Dante, John Ferriter, and Mikal Blue, who produced the entire EP, Dani showcases her exceptional artistry and a history of success that brings a raw and electrifying vibe to her music.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with Dani Hagan to talk about her musical journey, creative process, and the personal inspirations that drive her music-making
In our conversation, Dani delves into the roots of her stage name, her sources of inspiration, and the profound impact of music in her life. From her childhood experiences in a family that fostered creativity to her deep-seated passion for the art, Dani candidly shares her artistic evolution and the journey that led to her authentic voice.
Dan begun by teaching herself how to play the piano at a tender age then later she was moved by the classics and eventually discovered her own sound through guitars and songwriting, Dani’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of music in shaping one’s life and identity.
Stay tuned as Dani Hagan takes us through her musical process, creative inspirations, and the intimate details behind her deeply personal EP, “Kissing You.” In this exclusive interview, Dani opens up about her music, her journey, and the unfiltered emotions that fuel her artistry.
Listen to Kissing You below
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What is your stage name
Is there a story behind your stage name?
My legal name is Danielle, so Dani has been a nickname my whole life
Where do you find inspiration?
Literally everywhere! I always have my lyric book in arms reach, so I can jot down my thoughts. My stream of consciousness tends to be in iambic pentameter, thank you Shakespear, so my songs tend to write themselves. Generally if i’m in a heightened emotional state, the music flows out of me, one of many reasons why I love love, falling in and out of it is such a muse. I use music to process my own life experiences.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
My mom recognized how creative I was and put me into every singing, dancing and acting class or production she could find for me. I started teaching myself piano at age 5 (watching my big sister play was so inspiring to me) and I wrote my first song at 9. I’ve always had really big emotions, and writing songs helped me to navigate them.
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
All the kids in my family have creative gifts, my dad wanted to give us every opportunity that he didn’t have as a child, so we were well supported in our creative developments. My brothers sort of outgrew their interests in the arts, but my sister and I are still very active with our musical skills and talents. My mom is the queen of quilting and crafts!
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
I just followed my own lead, without even realizing what the industry was. All I knew is that I needed to be on stage in front of an audience singing my songs. And before I knew it, I was swept into the business of it. Music was so ingrained in my daily life, I loved being moved by music, and I wanted to be the cause of moving other people, I’ve always felt that sense of purpose.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
As I mentioned, I started teaching myself piano at 5 years old. Learning how to read music and play nursery rhymes was the start of it all. Eventually I took a few years of lessons, and picked up a number of other instruments along the way. But my voice has always been my primary instrument.
I have a very classical background with training in opera, choral, musical theatre, etc. Then I moved to NYC and fell for a southern boy who introduced me to classic rock. At that point I knew I needed to buy myself a guitar and teach myself how to play, that’s when my songwriting really took off, and I found my authentic voice.
With all my classical training, I never felt like I found my sound, even though I developed great skills. When I started playing guitar and my own songs, I found my voice, and that was a true awakening.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
It was probably Lori Line, she was a pianist that my dad adored, so whenever she came to town, we’d go see her in concert.
How could you describe your music?
I’d call it blues rock. As Meredith Brooks would say, “I’m a little bit of everything, all rolled into one.” I keep finding deeper, stronger roots in my own sound. I recognize the wonderful influence from the people I work with, but am becoming more firm in maintaining my personal voice.
I don’t know if that makes sense, but I’m constantly refining my sound and allowing evolution. I think if you like top 40’s, classic rock, blues rock, pop rock, Americana, roots rock, etc, you’ll vibe with my music. I often write about matters of the heart, love is my favorite topic, from any angle. Whether it’s a ballad or a full rock sound, the heart of it will always shine through.
Describe your creative process.
I love being in flow state, so I’m always looking to be inspired. I keep my lyric book nearby, there’s a guitar (or two) in literally every room of my house. The best songs just kind of fall out of me. But there are other times I need to sit down and sculpt them a bit. I allow time for daydreaming, my logical side of the brain gets annoyed with how “unproductive ” I’m being, but I’ve come to realize that my daydreaming is actually part of my creative process so now I can hold space for that.
I realize I have creative seasons, sometimes creativity is flowing like a river, and sometimes it feels dried up, but that ebb and flow is just part of the development of the songs. So the best I can do is set aside time to sit with a glass of wine and my thoughts and hope that the musical muse will arrive, and if not, I don’t like to force creativity.
I’m a very emotional writer, but sometimes my best songs come from songwriting exercises rather than life experiences. So I don’t judge, I keep it playful, and I’m always willing to stop what I’m doing if inspiration hits. I get out of my own way and let it flow, just how I like it.
What is your main inspiration?
That’s easy… LOVE.
What musician do you admire most and why?
I’m a huge fan of ZZ Ward, Grace Potter, and Nothing But Thieves. They are all incredible live performers, the songs are amazing and watching their evolutions as artists has been inspiring. The music speaks to me in every language, great songwriting, moves my heart, makes my body want to move and I hear my own stories in their songs. That’s the kind of artist I strive to be.
Has your style evolved since the beginning of your career?
Massively! Going from a singer/songwriter style artist to now playing big stages in LA with a full rock band has been quite the journey with lots of interesting chapters along the way. Playing dive bars all the way up to Carnegie Hall, getting better as a performer, as a singer, as a songwriter. I feel layered as an artist, I feel seasoned. I feel rooted.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
Me and only me. There is plenty of room for everyone to be successful, and most people aren’t willing to do the long term hard work. But I am. I’m always striving to be better than who I was yesterday.
What are your interests outside of music?
I am truly obsessed with Pilates, I love to paint, I enjoy cooking, and the main thing is connecting. I love spending time with the people I love.
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
Teaching Pilates and making an impact on the health and wellness world (pst…I already do this alongside music)
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
I would say my patience…haha. Everything is always six months behind schedule but right on time. I’ve really learned to enjoy the journey, let it flow and not be so controlling. This makes for a much smoother ride.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
Well, the finances of it all. The music industry is such a money machine, and artists are the last to get paid, if ever. It feels really backwards.
Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
My EP is titled “Kissing You.” Which is the name of the first song I wrote on my first electric guitar, the title really dials in what my songs are about, intimacy, the rollercoaster of love, making out, all the things! It brings in a bit of romance to the rock.
What are your plans for the coming months?
LA tends to shut down from mid-November to mid-January, so this is where all the behind the scenes work takes place. I’ll be in the recording studio cutting 4 new songs, rehearsing and touring with my band, photo shoots, game planning, and resting. All this so when LA gets up and running again, I’ll be ready with lots of music and content to roll out in the new year. There are also rumors that I’ll be headed back to London in a few months, where I get to shoot my music videos with Stabal, and hopefully do some touring!
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
I love co-writing so I’m always looking for collaborations. As of right now, I’m focused on the next EP, many of the songs I co-wrote with my guitarist, Aaron Medina. But i’ll let you in on a little secret, I’ve started a new project with Rome Deluce, called The Switch. We wrote a bunch of duets and recorded a whole album of really incredible songs. We’ve done small performances around LA and need to figure out what to do with all this awesome music we’ve made together. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
I am such a storyteller and a visual artist, my songs often have themes threaded through them, and story arcs. I’d love to hear if you pick up on them. This next ep is all about going deeper, and playing in the shadows. My music videos are an essential expression of the music, the music is so much more than what plays through the speakers. I hope fans explore the full range of the music. Love freely, dive deeper, sparkle in the sun and shine in the darkness. And may my music be the soundtrack to your life!