Danny Django

He’s quite dry, and quite sardonic.  Perhaps even a little tough to know; not because he’s closed, but just understated.  Singer/Songwriter Danny Django is one of those genuinely humble, genuinely interesting guys with guitars who has something worthwhile to say, and is taking the time to say it.  With a gritty Americana Blues Rock sound placing him in league with Cat Stevens, Neil Young, and Tom Petty, Danny Django is the voice of a generation ago set in modern times.  Basically, Woody Guthrie with a band and digital audio gear.  The message of these greats is imbued in Django’s work as well, with the quest for peace, love, and the common good setting the course for his songs and stories.

It’s not surprising, and very likely not coincidence, that the name Django is derived from the European Gypsy vernacular meaning “I awake.”  Django’s bent in songwriting is towards songs that explore how to live life rather than merely endure it, while expressing a benevolent concern for humanity.  “It may sound like corny hippiedom, I know, but beyond the darkness of our condition nipping at us most of the time it seems so positive to think about us all getting along, solving our problems constructively, listening to each other and being quick to forgive.”  This outlook permeated his music from the start, along with that fierce self-reliance of the American man.

Just prior to the beginning of his recording career however, his body and the world around it chose to press its limits upon him in a most terrifying and malicious way.  Django spent 2003 fighting Thyroid Cancer; fighting, and beating it, and has been in full remission for 8 years with no relapse.  While his person is not defined by cancer, the impact it had on him is undeniable.  “It changed my priorities.  I was beginning to wake up and focus on what will last before my diagnosis, but fighting and beating cancer definitely fast-tracked it.  It galvanized my need to make music, and to use it to pursue peace and understanding in the world.”  From his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Django began single-handedly performing all duties on his albums Soul Traces (2003), Cosmic Wheel (2005), and Touch the Sky (2007), including songwriting, performing all instruments and vocals, engineering, and even propelling the single “Jennifer” from Cosmic Wheel to become a high-selling track on iTunes.

Now almost 10 years into his career as a songwriter and recording artist, Django has created Child Indigo, his fourth full-length studio album.  Some things have remained the same, like signature songs riddled with signature hooks, his signature jangle guitar-based sound, and his signature philosophy on life and death.  “Dealing with life and death are usually sub-plots in my music,” he states plainly, and the songs of Child Indigo plainly reflect.  Some things have changed, however.  Most notable among them are the inclusion of fellow musicians for the first time on any of his albums.  Adding to Django’s performances on Vocals, Guitar, Bass, and Harmonica are Sophia Tucker on Vocals and Keyboards and Alexandre Lira on Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Bass, and Vocals.

Fittingly, Child Indigo explores and celebrates the unique ability to change and heal the struggles of life that is held by those who have been pressed up against death.  Django’s dry insight and frank optimism are laid out in “Eternally,” “What Life’s About,” “I Blame You,” and “A Survivor.”  Making this record met both emotional and creative needs for Django.  “I had a real need to make this record.  After years of success as a songwriter and producer confined by the needs of the market, I needed the freedom to be creative and make the music I needed to make.”  And that’s just what he did.

Danny Django is that rare human with a weathervane in his heart, always sensing the shifts in the winds of the world and telegraphing it out to those who will listen.  The songs of Child Indigo and all the others that came before them are simply the honest thoughts of a good man with a guitar and a record button.  Regardless of the venue, he will be serving those around by singing his songs, and taking it one step at a time.  “I want to reach as many people with my music as I possibly can.  Millions.  Billions?  The rest will take care of itself when that happens.”

How do you describe your music to people?
Lately I've been saying I'm like Ben Kweller on steroids.  I used to say I'm Woody Guthrie with digital capabilities.  So maybe it should be: I'm like Woody Guthrie in a digital age meeting a juiced Ben Kweller.

Some one awhile back said they see my music as "luminous Folk" - I really like that idea.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
When I was in 5th grade the conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra cam to school with a number of members from the Orchestra.  They played a few tunes, talked about music and what it takes to become an accomplished musician.  At the end, the conductor asked for a volunteer to conduct the group in the last piece, out of hundreds of kids with their hands up he picked me. I was elated.  I went home and told my Mother all about it.  She then told me a family story about how her father (the Coal-miner grandpa I never new due to death from cancer long before I was born) as a young man wrote and published his own songs on sheet music in the Peoria area in the 1920's.  He wrote a letter and sent a couple copies of his songs to Irving Berlin to see about going to New York and learning the ropes around this time.  Never heard back, started a family in the 1930's, worked as a Coal-miner.  By the mid-1940's, his mother became ill and died.  Upon going through her things there was a letter from Irving Berlin in New York saying "Yeah , Sure! Come on out to New York,  I'd love to show you the ropes,  I like your music, there's some talent there " and then info on how to reach Irving when grandpa got to New York.  I gather that was a bit devastating for Grandpa.  But for me that was the catalyst to start down the long road of music. It was at the point in my life that I knew I wanted to be a musician.  It seemed so interesting and wide open, the life of a musician could be filled with elation and/or devastating heartbreak.  Grandpa was one of the first Indie Artists.  I have a framed copy of one of Grandpa's works in my office.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
I play several instruments, but I love playing the guitar.  They're a work of art in themselves.  But playing and studying works of past masters in different genres gives me a feeling of kinship with writers and composers I really respect.  It's also something that unfolds over time.  As you continue to get better and learn new ideas, you can explore and get a sense of taking the instrument someplace that it's never been before.  I don't think of the innovations as earth shattering in themselves, rather subtle movements or augmentations that help fulfill the importance of what I may be trying to convey in a particular song.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Time is the biggest challenge.  I've determined I need 36 hour days.  My creative process probably eats up 8 to 12 hours a day.  Factor in another few hours for work and sleep - I need 36 hour days!

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Well, before the Epiphany in 5th Grade.  I wanted to be a racecar driver or an Astronaut.  For a while too I wanted to be a Pro Basketball Player.  It seems it was always something a little dangerous, exciting and requiring a very large amount of luck and skill.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I grew up in Peoria, Illinois - home of Caterpillar Tractor - birthplace of the vaudville saying "Will it play in Peoria"  the truth behind that saying is that if something can be popular and play in Peoria, it can play and be popular anywhere.  Now I live in Colorado Springs, CO - probably on of the most beautiful places in the world - alot of really nice well-meaning people - culturally it is a juiced version of Peoria

What other artists out there do you love?
Bob Dylan & Joni Mitchell for the Songwriting. Cole Porter and Igor Stravinsky for the incredible sound.  Jimi Hendrix and Joe Satriani for the expanded playing styles and incredible sounds.  B.B. King and Kurt Cobain for the sheer emotional power in their songs.  Lady Gaga for the outfits.

I also have been listening to Elliot Smith, Eddie Vedder, Neko Case, My Chemical romance,etc.

What does your future hold?
I will be touring and blogging and such in support of the new CD release "Child Indigo".  I just need longer days.