An Interview with Synthwave Artist Daria Danatelli
Daria Danatelli describes herself as a "girl from the future touched by the '80s." She says that her music merges "all of her obsessions with retro culture and synthetic sound." I talked to her about how she started making music, her creative process and how she recharges her batteries.
Karl Magi: How did you first come to be interested in making music?
Daria Danatelli: I came to music right from my childhood. I’ve been singing for my whole life, I took music classes and studied at a music school. For my whole life, I’ve had experience with many genres of music. I went through rock, glam rock, jazz, ethnic music and pop music when I was trying to find myself. Almost four years ago, I came to synthwave. For me, it was like an experiment. I simply wanted to try something new. It looks like it wasn’t the worst direction to have chosen.
KM: What drew you towards making synthwave music?
DD: I don’t remember exactly what period of time it was, but I was listening to bands and musicians who were making synthpop like the Russian band Tesla Boy. My friend (Pioneerball) was playing with them and it inspired me to start writing songs. My friend was like, “Why aren’t you showing these songs to anybody?” I was like, “Okay! Maybe I should show them to everyone!”
Of course, I was inspired by music from the ‘80s because I was born in the ‘80s and that era had a great influence on my own music. The modern bands that inspired me were Tesla Boy and Patterns.
KM: Who are your strongest musical influences?
DD: There’s a huge list of influences from the ‘80s including Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde, Spandau Ballet, Bonnie Tyler, Madonna and Michael Jackson. I’m thankful that I had the experience of listening to all of that music as a kid. Sometimes it seems like I’m really stuck in that period of time. Somehow I’m still a kid who’s trying to make music!
KM: Tell me about the creative process that you go through when making new music?
DD: Sometimes it’s something sacred for me. As a rule, when I’m composing, the whole song comes to me in one moment. It often comes to me when I’m sleeping. In the middle of the night I’ll wake up and be like, “Oh my God! I know this song!” I immediately run to my keyboard or open up my laptop and either write something down or record it. In the next weeks, months or even years I try to shape all of these thoughts into songs. Of course, it depends on my inspirational stream. Sometimes I’m not able to write at all for a certain period of time because I feel depressed or some sort of trauma is going on in my life. It’s a talent in itself to motivate myself to work! I have to fight all of my bad habits and work harder.
KM: Talk about some of the current projects you’re working on.
DD: After my Dreamcatcher EP, which I released in January 2017, I’ve had several singles and taken part in several collaborations. I’m still working on several collaborations with artists from all over the world. They’re my favourite French musicians like Morgan Willis, my Italian friends like Abobo and my German friends Level -1. Right now, I’m trying to gather all of my thoughts and finally release a full LP. I’m working on the album right now and I hope, if everything works, it will be released at the end of this summer or the beginning of the fall.
I want it to happen and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m thankful for the many people who are eager to help me with the songs on this album. I have international support from France, Italy and from the U.S.A. I also have great support from my Russian friends who are making cool music.
KM: Tell me more about your upcoming album?
DD: On this album, I’m trying to experiment and to bring a new sound into my music beyond the basic synthwave sound. In my opinion, sometimes it sounds boring. People are eager to hear something new that’s more groovy and funky, so I’m trying to combine something old and new. I’m still in the process of experimenting. Since I’m a professional jazz singer, I want to bring more jazzy melodies, harmonies and chords into my music
KM: What does the future hold for your musical career?
DD: I wonder that myself! I’ll be honest. I’m doing this music for fun. I don’t want to do it to make money or become famous. For me, this music and this scene gives me the possibility to meet cool people from around the world and collaborate with people from different corners of the Earth. Right now, it’s possible to get my music heard.
Of course, I’d like to perform my music in more places but to perform I have to have some music to perform. Right now, I’m working on that and in the near future, I’ll be doing a live stream of my live performance. I’ll see if people will be interested in it or not. I’ve already had a good experience in Berlin performing with Morgan Willis at the Tech Noir synthwave party. It was pretty cool and I enjoyed it so much. I was surprised by the positive reaction of the crowd.
KM: How do you think the synthwave scene is doing these days?
DD: The scene isn’t dying but I feel like many artists are repeating themselves right now. Many people are trying to copy already famous artists and that’s the problem. The famous artists are trying to find new sounds, but some of their fans are complaining that it isn’t like the music that they’re used to. It is pretty hard to make something outstanding. Right now, it seems like it’s enough to have a MIDI keyboard and nothing more. In my opinion, it’s necessary to be a good musician with a strong musical basis to create something new or combine synth music with something else.
I do love this music and I love this scene. I love how supportive everyone is. I have very many friends from many countries and I love how strongly they’re connected and how much they’re collaborating. Every problem we have, we’re eager to discuss it. I’m lucky to have the friends that I do.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
DD: Silence, coffee, books. I’m a book eater. I adore reading books. Sometimes I try to get my inspiration from books. I love traveling and seeing new places. I love going to new cities, new countries and traveling on the plane itself is a recharging process for me. I love being somewhere else, but at the same time I bring myself to that place. I want to explore new cultures, new food and new people. People, situations and emotions are inspiring, but since I’m an introverted person I prefer to recharge my battery alone.