Today, we are speaking with Memphis’ Mahogany Dannie. How did you get into music?
Well to start, I was that child in the youth choir that just had to sing louder than everyone else because I loved singing and wanted to be heard. It also didn’t help that my parents were huge Jackson fans, so we would find ourselves pretending to be one of The Jacksons and putting on concerts all the while not knowing the words. We would just lip sync and pretend to be them. We also couldn’t wait till the next Michael Jackson video was released. It was like a movie premiere for us. After a while, I and my siblings stopped singing in the youth choirs to focus more on school work and sports, but the singing bug never left me. So years later, when I got in college, I sang in a gospel choir for about a year. Then life happened. You go through a few things in life and suddenly music takes on an entire different meaning and for some including myself it’s a means to survive, uplift, and encourage.
You have just released your latest single LEAP in late July. What was the writing/creative and recording process for the single like?
It was actually a long process for me, because when I wrote this song, back in 2013, I was going through a lot of life hurdles. I was freshly divorced, and feeling free to do what I wanted. I met people here and there that gave me surface insights on the industry. Someone even put a guitar in my hand saying if you want to be great at this learn to play an instrument. I started teaching myself how to play the guitar. I didn’t know anything about chords and chord progression, minor and major scales or even how to read music. So I had to push myself to learn and study. It was also hard trying to find a producer/engineer to work with. For one, my style is a bit more eclectic than what many producers that I was introduced to have dealt with and two, I was new on the scene and really had to prove I was invested in this. There were 2 different producers to work on this song, because of hiccups here and there and also me being a guitar enthusiast I had to have live guitars on the track which was done by one of my good friends with a band called w/Bravado and not me, lol. The live drums were done by a drummer in Nashville. I have so much more respect for the music writing process, because it takes a whole lot more than what we see on TV to create music.
How has Memphis helped and hindered your career?
Memphis is so full of talented artists that I wouldn’t say that it has hindered me; however, I will say that because it has so much talent, the competition is mad real. It makes it more challenging to stand out. Also because of so much talent, you meet a lot of artists that are trying to get where you are trying to go, so it may also be a bit harder to find help with your projects. Yet still, I will also say with me starting so late, age wise, trying to break into the music industry, it can become more difficult because you don’t have room for trial and error. You have to go into this knowing that this is what you want to invest your time, money, and energy into. A lot of the artist I have met started singing and consistently performing at a younger age, whereas my singing career has been very sporadic; therefore causing me to have to play catch up. Through it all, the thing that has helped me the most is my aptitude for reading and studying up on all that I can to find ways to get my message out there and ensure I am following the right procedures.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music?
As crazy as this may sound, I would have to say Hans Zimmer. I love to listen to movie scores, and video game music. I think my brother got me into listening to them when I was a child. Movie scores are the one stop shop for all kinds of emotional outlets. The music has to evoke those emotions to make certain sequences of the movie stand out. Hans Zimmer does a wonderful job at this and I have been a fan of his all the way through my child hood into my adult years. Other artists I’ve taken a like to are Junkie XL, M83, and Daft Punk. If I had to say I had a favorite band, it would be Coldplay! My favorite performance artist would have to be Janet Jackson and it was absolutely wonderful to see her come out of her mini retirement and put new music out.
Which sort of social media services have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize?
You know, I have not found a favorite go to place for social media at this time. There are so many things that you can do with each one. I began using Facebook the most because that was what I was familiar with, but they are each their own playing field and they are all of equal value in my opinion when it comes to marketing. They each offer some form of video and they each provide a platform for your artistry, but the uses are different on ways to engage. I have now branched out to Instagram and Twitter. The most valuable thing you can do with each is engage, engage, and engage your audience. I will say that the use of Social media has made it difficult to obtain one on one meetings, but you can also use each platform for an internet performance. There are so many uses for social media.
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started performing?
This year is really my first time actually putting on a performance and the most difficult aspect for me to overcome was stage fright. However; my performances have improved from standing in one spot and shaking uncontrollably to actually dancing, working the stage and actually having fun. So as I am on this journey my confidence in myself has skyrocketed. Also, my singing abilities, as far as vocal control, tone, and breathing techniques has become stronger due to the work that my Vocal Coach, Terrica Clayton of Total Experience Music School, has put in. It was not a pretty picture when I first started but I knew what I wanted to do, so like my song says I took a leap faith and she has too for sticking by me through this journey. As far as the evolution of my music, it can only get better. Most of my music leans towards pop and power rock but I have never been fearful to add aspects of other genres to my music. Love the guitar so most of my music will always have some mad rifts in them. Someone once told me I have made my own music genre. At this time, I have released 1 song but I have plenty of other unreleased work that I am trying to strategically release. It definitely takes a lot to be an independent artist.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
My biggest highlight will be that I did release my very own song. I wrote it, I wrote the chords for it and helped produce it. I won’t say that there was not help along the way, but I will not allow anyone to take that from me. It was absolutely wonderful to pull up streaming sites and places where you can buy music and pull up my product. It’s an awesome feeling of accomplishment to see and hear the fruits of your labor. Other highlights of my career include actually hearing feedback from individuals you have never met say that they enjoy listening to my new song daily. To hear people say that really makes my day. Last but now least I have met some amazing people from artists, songwriters, designers, producers, brand marketers such as Audria Richmond with Building Big Brands, all the way to fans and so many more.
What are your plans for 2016 and beyond?
My plan for 2016 includes releasing another song here soon. It is called Trust the Change. You can hear a toned down acoustic snippet of this song on my Reverbnation.com page under Mahogany Dannie. I have some more performances lined up. I’m going to also start putting up cover song videos. So of course if there are any special request please feel free to reach out to me. As I stated before my style is so versatile, I can do any genre of music justice. I will also start working on a full length album next year but I still have other singles that I will be pushing as well.
How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music?
I am everywhere! I’m on all the streaming sites, Rhapsody, Iheart music, Spotify, Pandora, Itunes and Apple music, etc. I am also on most Social Media sites under the handle Mahogany Dannie: http://www.iammahoganydannie.com/
Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers?
Trust the Change. Change is going to happen whether you want it to or not, but it is usually for the better. Embrace it, learn from it, and watch yourself grow.