Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Poetry Of It All: SoulGalaxyGirl

I want to go back to a place of pure emotion. You don't have to throw me back; this is not a throwback... But to hear the voice of Ann Arbor-based singer/songwriter Dani Darling, is to attain a new understanding of just how potent those pure emotions were when they exuded by jazz icons like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, with feathery, lilting melodies, activating the full poignancy of the human voice-as-instrument, emoted as much as performed, a voice that can be as powerful as to quiet all else around you, obscure the cacophonous anxieties of the outside world and tune you in to something primal and beautiful, something laid bare, something vulnerable but transcended, wistful yet still resolute...

Dani Darling performs as SoulGalaxyGirl and is part of the Black Opera Collective. She's preternaturally attuned to affecting a certain kind of subtly vibrant vibe - and I know vibe is an amorphous phenomena that we music writers like to throw in to suggest a kind of evocative atmosphere, but whatever it is, that kind of classically jazzy/neo-soul vibe that impels a listener to close their eyes while listening and let the purple-splashed daydream-like visuals come and cast a contemplatively-escapist spell upon you...whatever that is, that vibe...? SoulGalaxyGirl's got it down.

SoulGalaxyGirl is performing this Saturday in Ypsilanti.
This lineup is curated by Grove Studios, part of their monthly series Live at RAC.
Riverside Arts Center
Athena Johnson / Steve Somers / Duane Wells / The DayNites / Royalé Michael  
Breathe Easy Music Group / Gary Horton / Derick Jerome -


I have to ask about your voice. It's delicate, it's powerful, it's a voice for soul music, but it also feels like something for a choir. Like it could fit in a jazz club or a coffeeshop folk night just as easily as it would in a theater! 
Its funny you said choir because I started out singing in a trio. I’m part of a set of singing triplets, and we started singing at around 4, my grandmother would take us around to sing at retirement homes lol. While church and gospel music was a large part of my musical journey, I’d say that choral music, music theater, and opera also have been large parts of my development. Later on I really got into jazz. As a soloist I would say that Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday are my biggest influences now in terms or vocal aesthetic. I had a very big jazz phase that I never got over!

When did you first start writing songs? Very young! I think the first song I wrote was about my dog dying when I was a kid....and..., so started the angst! (laughs). I started writing songs seriously at about 19.

When you think about your favorite artists, your most formative influences, even your favorite songs, is there something that they achieve, in terms of emotional impact and arrangement, that you try to do with your own work? I think what influences me most is lyrical beauty and a vibe! Sade is my number one favorite songwriter. Radiohead has always been at the top of my list. But classic jazz standards are super romantic and honest about feelings, too. If it's confessional and dreamy? I'm into it! Since I value that the most as a listener, I hope that comes across in my music. The poetry of it all!
So you've got the "Wonder" suite, can you talk about that, it blends that old world jazz sound to contemporary vibes of neo-soul and R&B... There is a whole lofi-music-wave that is gaining momentum, where it's this combination of jazz and movie music, with subtle, understated arrangements. I find it so easy to write to, and that is how those songs emerged. Just hearing the instrumentals and hearing songs that I just felt I had to record and share. The songs that I produced and wrote from top-to-bottom are coming soon!!

What is your experience like, so far, in the local music scene around Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti? Locally, I've just recently begun to approach the music scene and I'm very impressed. I think that Ypsi has a lot going on, right now. I've had really warm receptions and what I find most inspiring is that my music is kind of singular, and yet I still feel like I fit in. Very grateful for that!

You mentioned top-to-bottom productions, what else are you working on or looking forward to in 2018? 
          Yes! I have a music video coming out in the spring! But there's also the All Threads Festival (March 10). This year, I'm focusing on my live show, so you'll be seeing a lot of me around here! I have a proect that I plan to round out the year with, so 2018 will be a big year!

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