Feature Friday: dnny
Written by Kayla Albee
If you’ve been following us for a hot minute, you’ll know that we absolutely love to highlight artists in Nashville, ranging from good old fashion country and singer songwriters to alt pop, indie, and hardcore. That’s the beautiful thing about this city — there’s something for everyone. Some may think that Music City is strictly country music, and that’s simply not true.
This week, we’re happy to introduce you to dnny, a pop artist who relocated to Nashville from Denver and graduated from Belmont University. His latest single “alley oop” features Cam Meekins, and he has some big plans for the rest of 2019. We chatted with dnny about getting a start with music at an early age, balancing passions, standing out in a growing city, and more. Continue reading below to check out this week’s Feature Friday interview!
Q: You got your start with music at a young age! What’s the first song that you remember writing, and how has your song writing process evolved since then?
A: I wrote my first song when I was like seven, and it was called “The Wind” (haha). I was in trouble and my parents sent me outside to the porch to sit and think of what I had done wrong. I came back in with a song. Obviously, it was terrible, but it was in that moment that I discovered my passion for songwriting.
Since then I’ve written hundreds of songs. I kind of have the Ed Sheeran mindset which is to write and write and write, and even though most of the songs will never materialize into anything, you have a few gems pop up. I’ve evolved in my songwriting for sure and the way that I go about crafting a record, but ultimately I need to be writing about something that’s real to me and true to my heart and then everything falls into place from there.
Q: Growing up, you were heavily involved in both music and sports. How did you make the decision to pursue music full time, and what advice do you have for people who may feel torn between two passions career-wise?
A: That’s such a great question. I think the world has this unspoken rule that you have to choose a path, choose a lane, and stick with it. We see people commit to one sport, one career path, one passion. But like for me, I played three sports in high school while being in two choirs while also pursuing an artist career. And now I’m actually hoping to become an athletic trainer while obviously being an artist.
In addition, I want to start a clothing line, maybe do some acting down the road, invest in real estate, all that stuff. So the first thing I’d say is you don’t have to pick. I’d also say never underestimate a gut feeling. I stopped playing soccer my senior year of college and it was definitely tough, but I could just feel in my heart it’s what I needed and wanted. And it certainly was. So yeah that’s my two cents on that.
Q: Nashville has been seeing some major growth over the past few years. What is the most important thing that you’ve learned in terms of navigating this ever-expanding music scene?
A: Yeah, Nashville’s definitely growing and it’s exciting to see the diversity of music being created here. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to just be yourself and while it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the industry, don’t let that push you away from staying true to who you are.
It sounds cliché but like, there’s a million artists in Nashville but none of them are you. None of them can be a better you than you can. So I think being shamelessly who you are and being confident in that is what breaks through in this town. I got to hop in the studio with Travie McCoy, and his biggest advice was to “stick to your guns” - basically saying the same thing.
Q: You collaborated with Cam Meekins on “alley oop” this past May. What was that experience like when it comes to writing together and playing off of each other’s energy?
A: Working with Cam was great, he killed his verse. I think with features, it’s all about capturing the essence of the song and putting your own spin on it, which is exactly what he did. He took the vibe I had created and put a “Cam Meekins flair” on it, and it’s fire. Loved working with him.
Q: You recently performed at The High Watt, and with Nashville being known as Music City, is there anything that makes local shows here stand out when compared to other cities?
A: Since I just launched this year, I haven’t played shows anywhere else yet. But I think Nashville has a different type of appreciation for live performance. People understand all that goes into a show and how difficult it really is to pull off a good one. I’ve also developed an appreciation for live performances personally after playing my first couple shows. I’ve learned quite a bit and have lots to improve upon but can’t wait to continue to get on stage and grow.
Q: What do you hope that people take away from your music after their very first listen, and what can fans expect from you for the rest of 2019?
A: From first listen I’d hope that people feel that what I’m saying is honest and genuine, I’d hope they feel inspired and uplifted, and I’d hope that they think the records are catchy as heck!! The words I live by are love, faith, and youth and so I want that to shine through on every song I make.
For the rest of 2019 I have my best records yet, a really exciting collaboration, and some super dope video content that I can’t wait to share. Stay on the lookout, we got lots comin’!