GIGsoup’s Laura Koonjean spoke to on the eve of her upcoming tour about life on the road and about her AMA UK nominated album ‘Mockingbird Lane’…
Danni Nicholls, welcome. How has your week been so far?
I arrived back in the UK after a month in the US, in Nashville, a week ago. So, mostly this week has been jetlagged, trying to deal with that and unpack. I am getting geared up for shows, I’ll be touring this month, so I’ve been getting prepared for that. But mostly, I’ve just recovering, after a month in Nashville, making my third studio album.
So, how do you prepare for a tour?
That’s an interesting question. I’ll try a get as much rest in the lead up as possible. I hydrate, that’s always a good thing to do. Try to eat well. Sleep, eat well and hydrate – always a good thing because you’re singing a lot, travelling, late nights. There’s also a lot of talking so you need to prepare for that.
What do you love about the live aspect?
Honestly, that’s the reason I do this job. Everything else, you need to do and I enjoy that. But, I love the connection that comes from playing live music for human beings in a live setting. You have this amazing one off experience. It’ll never be the same again. You have a connection, sometimes you don’t, but it’s still an experience that you can never recreate. Obviously you get an adrenalin buzz, that’s quite nice. I think for me, it’s the sharing, the communicating and the connection with people that I love.
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Your album ‘Mockingbird Lane’ was nominated for the AMA UK album of the year. When you started writing for that album what were you thinking about?
That album was very cathartic for me, because, as we all do, I was living life and had experiences that were challenging and that wanted to explore. The personal way that I explore that is through music and song writing.
When it came out, the press referred to it as a ‘break up’ album. Yes, I had a break up, but I was also just exploring who I was in the aftermath of that. Who I was, what I felt and what was happening came out in those songs. Always the hope is that as many people as possible will hear that, maybe relate to it but I think that aim of that album was to get out what I needed to say and work through stuff.
Musically, once the songs are out in an acoustic way, which is how I write, on my acoustic guitar, they have their own needs and wants. Almost like a baby. They will grow into the person that they will grow into to being. You have to get to know them and listen to what they really want. I enlisted the help of an incredible musician called Chris Donahue as my producer to help me find out who the songs were and what they wanted. It’s a process of unveiling and getting to know the songs, rather than deciding to put things on them. I just wanted them to be true to themselves. I think that’s what we managed.
You are here to do the ‘Sights and Sounds of Tennessee’ showcase. Two of the songs off Mockingbird Lane’ directly refer to Tennessee. What is it about that state that has influenced your music?
I have been going back and forth to the south of the US because I have family in Georgia. I grew up listening to country music because of my Grandmother. She always had Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson on, She loved Crystal Gayle and lots of Elvis and Dolly Parton. That was what I grew up with. That music makes me feel like home and makes me feel comfortable. It excites me and makes me happy.
Tennessee was always a place I dreamed about going to, to see where my heroes made their music. I did that in 2010. I went on a bit of a musical pilgrimage down there and went to Nashville for the first time. It just fell in love with the energy of the place. There is an incredible energy there and I think that’s because so much creativity is flying around, so much historic, legendary music has been made there. It’s just infused with that. I just kept wanting to go back. It was beyond my wildest dreams that I would get to record my own music there. That is what happened and I still pinch myself about it. The community over there is incredible. I’ve made friends that I need to see and love very much and I want to go back and forth to see. The mix of spirit and community is what keeps me going back.
So, you’ve almost completed a new album, what can your fans expect this time round.
It’s a little different. I worked with a new producer. Jordan Brooke Hamlin. She is incredible and she has this amazing space called Moxi Studios, out in the woods. We dove deep into the songs and got to know them. What they wanted was a bit more space. It’s not jammed packed with instruments. It’s more of a feeling album I think. There’s a lot of vibey guitars and piano sounds. The songs have come from my truth and my heart and my exploration of life. In that sense I have grown as a person and a songwriter. It’s not wildly different, but there are certain treatments of the songs that are different, which is exciting.
Tell us about your newest single, ‘Beautifully Broken.’
The spark of that song came from a road sign that I saw. I was driving along in Atlanta, Georgia. I saw the street name ‘Mocking bird Lane.’ I’ve got a very active imagination. I just thought about what went down on Mockingbird Lane. I did create a story about what could have happened but I was also going through my own relationship experience and pulled some of that in. Sometimes you can be in a thing that you know is not right, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a beautiful thing or beautiful connection.
Quick fire Questions
Morning light or moonlight – Moonlight
Tea or coffee – Coffee
Chris Hemsworth or Chris Martin – Chris Martin