Interview by guest blogger Lisa Cordileone
Out singer and Chicago-native Daphne Willis will be in Chicago April 7th at Martyrs. Daphne took some time out of her busy tour to chat with us…
LC: How did you get started playing music? What type of risks did you take getting started professionally?
I have been singing my entire life! Both of my parents were music majors at UT Austin. My mom was a vocal major and my dad was an engineering major with a biz minor. I grew up trying piano, sax, and eventually landed on guitar in high school when I started writing songs.
LC: What was a major turning point in your career early on in Chicago?
CRAZY story! I had made an EP and had gotten it licensed on American Airlines flights. The president of Vanguard Records, Kevin Welk, was on a flight and his iPod died. He plugged his headphones into the arm to listen in to the in-flight music and my song was playing. He looked me up and saw that I was unsigned, flew me to LA, and signed me right after our meeting. That was when everything changed for me. I started going to Nashville to write with other writers and work on my first record there… which is what led to my eventually relocation.
LC: How did your music change or did it change when you moved to Nashville?
Moving to a town where I have been in a ton more co-writing situations has changed the way I make music. I see music as a much more collaborative art form than I did prior to living here.
LC: What has been the inspiration for your music?
I find inspiration mostly through life experiences and through listening to the stories of my friends and family. My favorite music comes from a place of truth and honestly. So I try to write about what I know, but expand it into things that most people can relate to and can feel relief from relating to.
I know you started out playing acoustic and then added a band, and then expanded your band to include brass and back up singers – How has it changed the sound of your music?
It creates much more opportunity for dynamic. Dynamic creates opportunity for a broader range of emotion and drama in the music itself.
LC: What have you enjoyed most about the progression of your music and career?
All the AMAZING people I have gotten to meet along the way and all the AMAZING places I have been fortunate enough to see.
LC: How has the opportunity to play in LA changed your career?
I think being in LA for writing has been more of a game changer than the actual performances. Playing shows anywhere is a similar experience. For me, it’s the writing scene that changes. LA is a great pop music city. Very straight forward, clean and to the point. I dig it.
LC: What do you enjoy most about touring?
I love movement. Being in motion is just how I have grown up and I feel at ease when I am on the move.
LC: Do you enjoy performing live or in studio more, or do you have a preference?
I enjoy performing live more than actually performing in a studio. Live performance is much less sterile and involves an exchange of energy. I do love production, however, and I’m not sure I would able to pick between the two in terms of preference.
LC: You do private house parties? Tell us a little more about how that got started and how fans of your music can get in on a private concert?
I LOVE house concerts!!! They are so very fun and pretty straight forward to set up. I usually do them [as an] acoustic trio, you invite your friends, everyone chips in, we have a fun night of music and hangs. I haven’t been doing as many of them lately, however I’m always open to it.
LC: What is something about you that we don’t know unrelated to your music? A hobby/favorite food/favorite movie/favorite drink?
I love trail running, I love nutrition, I have a dog named Boo 🙂
LC: What are you excited about coming up that we can look forward to as fans of your music?
NEW MUSIC!!! I have been writing like CRAZY so I have a ton of new songs to share. This is also the first time in a long time that I’ll be playing acoustic duo. Will be super stripped down and intimate. Gonna be a blast!!!
Check out Daphne Willis at Martyrs Thursday April 7th
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