Generally speaking, I don’t care for trends. Instead I opt for what is special. Special is timeless – fresh - uncommon. So when it comes to music, I ask myself what is special about this sound?
A friend shared a video that changed April for me. Instantly I fell in love with her sound and thank COLLECTIVE for my little Q&A with this rising star.
Meet Dana Williams... She’s as special as they come.
Collective Magazine: Where did you grow up?
Dana Williams: I was born in Los Angeles but I grew up mainly between LA and NYC. I ended up dividing most of my time and schooling between both cities.
CM: Any musicians or artists in the family?
DW: Yes, my dad was a rhythm guitarist. He recorded and performed mainly with Michael Jackson. So I guess that's why I feel so inclined to make music. He always encouraged me to sing, play guitar and write songs. Also, my sister Davida is an actress, so art was really encouraged in my family.
CM: What is your first memory of music?
DW: Since my dad was a musician my first memories of music are all jumbled. But I remember going to his concerts when I was a kid. I remember falling asleep in the front row of a Janet Jackson concert when I was really little. Not that I wasn't entertained, she is an amazing performer, I guess it was just passed my bedtime. My favorite was going to his concerts and he always knew where we were sitting in the audience and he would wave. That was really exciting for me.
CM: If your musical influences were a “playlist”, who would be on it?
DW: I like so many different genres of music, but I guess vocally I've really been influenced by: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Patsy Cline, Amy Winehouse and Carole King.
CM: What was your first gig?
DW: My first gig was very spontaneous. I went to the Lenox Lounge in Harlem one night to hear some jazz and there was this lady who insisted on singing with the band the whole time, she called herself Billie Holiday (the second coming), one thing lead to another and someone asked me to sing, so I had to asked the second coming for the mic and I ended up singing a few standards to her dismay.
But my first gig where I played original music wasn't until a couple years later at an open mic in the Valley. I was pretty nervous and the MC only made matters worse. He tried to get me up on stage to dance before my set and I didn't because I wasn't there to dance I was just there to play a few songs so while I was sitting on the stool setting up my guitar he whispered in my ear, "You better sing good" and luckily my set was well received. What a relief.
CM: Do you write all of your music?
DW: Yes I do. Music is personal to me. I'd feel uncomfortable singing songs that I didn't have a hand in writing. It makes it easier to relate to.
CM: How auto-biographical are your songs?
DW: They are pretty auto-biographical. I take real ideas and situations from my own life and expand on them. Although I try not to be too specific I like there to be a tiny element of mystery so that people don't exactly know who I'm talking about.
CM: Where do you jot down your music ideas? ie: a journal?
DW: I guess you can say I jot them down in Garage band and text edit. I have tons of little snippets of songs in garage band and occasionally I revisit them and finish them or I just start something new. But it's nice to know that they are there and my thoughts haven't totally disappeared.
CM: What do you think is your distinguishing trademark? Tattoo? Killer mane?
DW: I guess my most distinguishing trademark is my hair. It can get pretty wild and it used to frustrate me but now I am really happy about it. Although it does take a large effort to maintain.
CM: Any style tips or summer trends you can share?
DW: I'd just say to be yourself but indecent exposure is unbecoming.
CM: What’s next for your music?
DW: Well, I just released my first music video called "Keep Me Waiting" off of my up coming EP. Then I am releasing my EP "The Lonely One" within the next couple of months. It was produced by Max Drummey from Chester French and Dan Stringer. It's a short compilation of original songs and a cover.