British blues and soul singer-songwriter, Dani Wilde, has been on a magical music ride since her debut opening for the popular Jools Holland at Royal Albert Hall. Soon after, she was signed to independent label, Ruf Records, releasing her debut album, followed by a world tour. She opened for such credible acts as Candye Kane and Deborah Coleman. On her second album with Ruf Records, Shine, she worked with legendary Mike Vernon, who has worked with several of her musical inspiriations and favorites, including Eric Clapton, David Bowie and Peter Green.
Dani has performed over 180 concerts throughout UK, Canada, Europe and the USA., and has supported such iconic acts as Journey and Johnny Winter, among others. Her influences range from Sam Cooke and Bill Withers, to Michael Jackson and Foy Vance. Staying true to her classic and iconic style, Dani enlisted the help of Grammy-award winning producer, Ike Nossel, who joined in co-writing with her for an upcoming major motion picture, and work on a new crossover album. Her single, “Loving You,” from her forthcoming new album, is available for purchase through iTunes.
Dani and I chatted about her extensive love of music, opening for Jools Holland, her best gig, her best influences and much more. Read on to discover more about this soulful singer and songwriter:
GGM: You have been a music lover for as long as you can remember. What was the first thing you remember about loving music so much, and who or what encouraged you to pursue it?
Dani: When I was 5 or 6 years old I discovered the Jackson 5 after seeing little Michael Jackson performing on a repeat of The Ed Sullivan show on MTV. I was mesmerized and so my Dad dug out all his early Michael Jackson vinyl and I just spent hours each day sitting in front of his record player singing along to these exciting soulful pop songs.
GGM: How was the experience for opening for Jools Holland at The Royal Albert Hall in 2007, and how did that come about?
Dani: Haha, that was incredible. I owe that experience to Jools’s wonderful brother Christopher Holland. I live in Brighton which is a real hub for musicians. When I was 20, I was playing at a soul jam in the city and Chris Holland showed up. He liked my voice and I was blown away by his keys playing. I gave him my demo and we exchanged numbers. A few months later I was at work (before I got my record deal I worked a little office job in the daytime) and I had a phone call from Chris. He said “Dani, are you free tonight; I have a gig in London and it’d be great if you’d come play it with us. My band have learnt your songs.” I said “Well, I’m at work, I don’t know if I can get there in time. What venue is it?” And he replied “Well, we’d be opening up for my brother; it’s at The Royal Albert Hall.” I then ran around the office screaming and then rang my brother who brought me some stage clothes and my guitar and he met me at the train station. It was incredible and still feels like a dream. I was shaking when I got off stage with happiness and disbelief.
GGM: You have opened up for and toured with some incredible and legendary musicians, including Journey, Foreigner, Johnny Winter, and more. What has been your best gig?
Dani: Other than the Royal Albert Hall; wow, so many. I’ve played a concert to 1,000 kids in the slums of Kenya, which was incredible. I’ve played Fehmarn Festival in Germany to around 10,000 people and that was also Hendrix’s last gig before he died so we were all playing in his memory. I’ve also shared the stage with Pee Wee Ellis at Womad Festival in Wiltshire which was just such a huge honor. I got to perform a set at Ottawa Blues Festival in Canada the other year and after our set I was invited to sing on stage with Tim Robbins, the awesome actor from the movie Shawshank Redemption. We played in the sunshine but later that evening there was a huge storm and the main stage that Audioslave and Cheap Trick were playing on was hit by tornado force winds causing the whole stage to collapse.
GGM: How would you describe your writing and recording process?
Dani: I’m lucky that my guitarist Stuart Dixon, who has played with so many great artists from Geno Washington to Eddie Floyd, is also a talented producer with his own studio called Big Noise Recording Studios in Northampton, UK. I spend a lot of time there demo-ing song ideas and then when we’re happy with arrangements, Stuart brings in the big boys to play on them. Stuart is pretty connected and has pulled in players from Fergus Gerrand (Drums for Madonna/Sting) to Roger Inniss (Bass for Chaka Khan). I can always count on these super talented musicians to take my songs and transform them into my vision.
With my new single “Loving You,” the recording process was a bit different. We did it live and unplugged at a venue called Sacrebleu in Northampton. It was all one live take and features myself on acoustic guitar and vocals, Stuart Dixon on second guitar and my brother Will Wilde on Harmonica. We kept it very intimate and real. The song subject is close to my heart and I think we captured the genuine heartache and sincerity in my vocal. The single has just been released on Amazon and I-tunes.
GGM: Who do you, past or present, look to for musical or artist inspiration during these modern times?
Dani: Oh, so many people. As far as more contemporary artists go, I love Foy Vance, Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin. I also listen to a lot of Bill Withers, Carol King and Donny Hathaway as well as Bob Dylan, BB King and Aretha Franklin. Today I’ve been listening to Bobby Blue Bland who I had the pleasure of seeing live when we were both performing on The Rhythm and Blues Cruise in Mexico last year. Oh, and I really love’ 70s Billy Joel.
GGM: What was your first concert and do you have a favorite?
Dani: My Dad took me to concerts from when I was too tiny to remember. I do remember Bishopstock Blues Festival in Exeter having a huge impact on me though. I was about 13 and it was the first time I got to see young women blues artists including Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi, Sue Foley and Deborah Coleman. When I signed to Ruf Records it was a dream come true to tour the world with Deborah Coleman who we call ‘Debo.’
GGM: What was your first album on cassette, vinyl and/or CD?
Dani: Lots of Michael Jackson and Motown. That’s where I began. I also loved and still do love Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and The Faces which I had on cassette but played until they broke and so I had to re-buy as an adult on vinyl.
GGM: What are your top five bands or albums you wouldn’t want to live without?
Dani: I don’t think I could limit it to just five. Lots of Chess, Stax, Muscle Shoals and Motown.
GGM: With one word, describe what music means to you.
GGM: Do you have a guilty musical or entertainment pleasure?
Dani: Hmm, not really but if I’m ever sad or feeling really low, the song I always listen to or sing to make myself feel better is Nat King Cole’s rendition of Smile. I love that song so much. It’s just perfection.
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