Danny Denial came to Seattle by way of L.A. after a failed attempt at filmmaking. Fortunately, his way of getting over that failure has turned into a fruitful musical journey that has seen him collaborate with a number of local musicians over the years. His latest album “Fuck Danny Denial,” was released early this summer.
What bands/projects have you been affiliated with?
I have always performed under the “Danny Denial” name with various local lineups, but most actively I’ve been performing with Dark Smith since 2017.
Seattle has changed so much over the years, what’s made you stay in the city?
It definitely is changing, especially in these past five years of being involved in the local arts scene. But I have to say Seattle has become home to me. That doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily be able to continue living here long-term, but I feel like I will always have roots here. It’s made me sentimental. It’s hard to watch places shut down and people move away.
Can you give me a brief bio–how’d you get into music and why’d you stick with it?
I grew up as a big music fan who wanted to go into filmmaking and wound up failing incredibly at that in L.A. So I sort of ended up in Seattle doing music as a way to distance myself from that experience, and it’s been an incredible journey meeting with and working with all of the artists that inhabit this community. It’s the reason I love making collaborative projects like this upcoming series! (More on that project, titled BAZZOOKA, below.)
Why do you think Seattle’s music scene has always been so vibrant?
Coming from L.A., I see the Seattle music scene as authentic, genuine and based in a love for creating and performing. There’s really no bullshit that comes with the L.A. and NY scenes – okay, maybe there’s a little bit of it – but at the end of the day, it’s a safe haven for people who can’t operate within the “industry” complex. As someone who felt really burned by that, making art in Seattle sort of rehabilitated my soul and reminded me that there’s more to this than the bottom line (i.e. money, success, record labels, etc).
Favorite local venue you’ve played? Favorite local venue to see a show at?
That’s a really tough one. I’m pretty sure I’ve played every local venue. But there’s something about the Cha Cha under Bimbo’s Cantina on the hill, where every time I play there it’s an otherworldly experience. It’s small but feels packed with love and excitement. And I always love seeing shows at Barboza underneath Neumos.
How would you describe your sound? Who are some of your influences?
That’s hard. I’m all over the place with my music and draw from pretty diverse inspirations I think. I’d like to say I mostly draw from Sonic Youth texturally, The Cure atmospherically, Betty Davis and Bjork energetically, and Joy Division and Lil Peep vocally.
Can you talk about your project Bazzooka and what exactly it is and how you came to collaborate with Eva?
BAZZOOKA is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. It started with my 2017 film “Kill me to death,” which starred Eva Walker and included appearances by DoNormaal, The Wednesdays and others. I just felt like there was so much opportunity to get political and confrontational and be more inclusive, and I struggled then because it was my first film. But after everything we’ve gone through in 2020, there’s no time like the present. It’ll be limited physically due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it WILL be political and confrontational and more inclusive. I want to spotlight Black and Indigenous voices, and I want an entirely queer BIPOC cast being unapologetically just that. I want to employ and elevate my peers in the community, and this the way I know how. I’m also personally just really excited to work with Eva again, along with some new collaborators!
Can you also talk a bit about your new album? It’s definitely not the kind of music you’re going to blast to pump yourself before a party. Where did the darker tone come from?
The making of that album was almost entirely introspective, whereas most of my music has come from an observational place. It’s interesting because I set out to make a lighter record sonically, back in 2018, but it ended up being my darkest thematically. I’ve been honestly really surprised by the positive reception to it for that reason, but that’s the thing I love about music. There’s an openness to follow a songwriter and a musician into any world, really, in a way you don’t get with other mediums.
You identify as queer and you’re also Black. The state of the world is emotionally taxing for a lot of reasons but especially for folx from historically marginalized communities. How have you been coping with everything?
It’s been dizzying, to be honest. Going from the shut-down to the daily protests to releasing an album and feeling like a spokesperson all summer, to then the come-down of all of that and wondering what the lasting impact is. I’ve been working hard not to let myself “backslide.” To stay busy and put my feelings into art and into the community, which is a big part of why I want to make BAZZOOKA now. Because I know I’m not the only black artist that is feeling this way right now.
Your album features a lot of awesome local artists. Can you talk about some of the artists featured on tracks on the album and how you came to collaborate?
I pretty much knew exactly who I wanted on each track, I had this wish list essentially as I began recording and it was amazing that I got everyone I wanted to track on it. It was just based on a feeling, like on “I’m not your type” I just knew DoNormaal would breathe that effortless cool into the track where it needed it and on “White tears fake queers” I wanted to scream the hook like Rat Queen but it was so much better to just have it be Rat Queen. I would love to get to make more records like that.
COVID has stopped all live music for the foreseeable future, do you have any ideas or plans for what these next few months might look like for you?
I just got off promoting this record “virtually” which was a mixed bag. We did eight live streams including Pride and Folsom Street Fair and they were fun, but definitely could not replace playing to crowds. For that reason, I’m definitely shifting my focus for the next six months on BAZZOOKA and a graphic novel I’ve been working on. But I’m hoping 2021 has more music and shows in store.
What does live music mean to you?
It’s the ultimate catharsis and release, and I don’t think there could be any replacement for it. But I think more than for me, I’d be really sad for the younger generation of teens picking up instruments and ready to play for crowds, if they weren’t able to play for audiences in the next few years. It was such a huge part of rediscovering my confidence and my voice, and I really hope they get to have that, too.
Where can people find your music? How can they support you and other local musicians during this pandemic?
Definitely buying music and merch on Bandcamp is always a huge help! dannydenial.bandcamp.com. I also have a Patreon where I’m releasing exclusive content like unreleased demos, music videos and works-in-progress! patreon.com/dannydenial
Favorite song from a Seattle area artist OR about Seattle/the PNW?
My FAVORITE song of the year is “.925” by Ex-Florist (F.K.A. Guayaba) who graciously let me use the song for my BAZZOOKA trailer. It’s so good! Exflorist.bandcamp.com
Anything else you’d like to add/promote?
I’m going to release my first live album/bootleg this winter, and then in 2021 look out for BAZZOOKA!