Highlighting & preserving women in Art
According to last weeks Art LovHer audience “Danny Severance has the type of looks that make girls giggle & swoon with a velvet voice to match.” Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Danny has been playing classical violin since the age of 5. An adolescence moving around the midwest gave him opportunity to experiment with his sound until college. Out of the struggle of finding himsself, emerged a raw, soul-filled blues song he’s been singing ever since fronting his first band in college. We caught up with Danny to talk art and life, while he visited with Art LovHer from his new LA home.
1. When did you become serious about it, and pursue it as a life path? Would you consider what you do your life path? I became serious in college, when I started fronting bands and performing my original material. I would consider everything I do my life path. And also, I have many passions: poetry, music, creative mentoring, spirituality, and the list goes on. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there is no difference between how you start your day and how you handle your ‘passion’.
2. Why do you create? Because I have to. Because it has to come out. Because I love beauty. Art is life and art lies in everything we do.
3. Who are some of your major influences/role models?
Influences: Paul McCartney / The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Howlin’ Wolf, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, Son House, Leadbelly, BB King, Joe Cocker, Spoon, Murder By Death, Tallest Man On Earth, Otis Redding, Oscar Peterson, John Mayer, Sam Smith, Kanye West, Mos Def, Common, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Drake, Thoreau, Simon Ortiz, Kahlil Gibran
Role Models: Grandpa Hahn (RIP), Grandpa Severance, and Grandma Severance. Derek Jeter. Paul McCartney. Drake. Thoreau.
4. What inspires you? Anything and everything. Beauty. Challenge. Sadness. Loneliness. Love. And, Love. Other artists, not just music.
5. What advice would you give a nineteen year old creative who wants to make their thing into their whole life? Do it all in. Be prepared to fall more times that you can count. And, you need to believe you deserve your dreams.
6. What’s one of the most rewarding parts of your work? Applause. Making people feel good. Empowering others to create.
7. What’s one of the hardest? Existing in the ‘real world’ that insists that being artist is bad. I feel so much judgement, and undercutting, and jealousy directed at me because I choose to do whatever I want. But, I have to accept that and challenge that and do my best to open their eyes.
8. How do you get through blocks in your creativity? I do my best to not worry about it. You know? Its a mental block. It only exists in you. So, stop worrying about it. (And then the block disappears).
9. What have you got coming up in the next couple of months?
Recording with the band this coming weekend at Purchase to finish a new EP, slated for Spring/Summer 2015! And, I have a solo nu soul/electronica release slated for Summer 2015 – collaborating with Bizzie Monroe on a track for that one, and most of the beats are produced by house/dance madman SmashDasaiku.
Starting a new LA project with Greg West (formerly of Billy Boy on Poison) – we’ll be in the studio with that project in March at latest. I’m now based in LA as Executive Director of Operations at arts/youth non-profit Off The Wall Graffiti.
10. How did you become affiliated with Art LovHer? Through the great Joi Sanchez. Through poetry events and the Brooklyn creative circles I met at those events, I had come into contact with Joi and became close friends with her. Our friendship is a constant conversation of challenging each other and supporting each other’s projects. And, as Art LovHer came to life and started to grow, I was there. It was a no-brainer. I don’t pretend to be perfect, I’ve broken hearts, but I worship women and I take great satisfaction in uplifting women to a level of creativity and confidence that matches their extreme beauty and inherent power.
11. What does Hip hop mean to you/your process? First off – #CommonTaughtMe – Common is so wise. He taught me a lot on how to love women. And he never forgets his community. I love Outkast too – Aquemini is a phenomenal album and I hope I can achieve that level in my career. I listen to the words closely and I do my best to glean life lessons from wise men such as Common and Big Boi – words are different in Hip Hop they hold more weight, you know? Or at least sometimes.
Hip Hop is a constant inspiration. I’ve collaborated with Hip Hop artists and I want to do a A LOT more. Today, [I think] it’s become sort of a common language that has spread from its birthplaces within black culture into the lives of many [globally]. There are definitely things to be said about the dilution of Hip Hop, and the prevalence of ignorant hip hop, but even so I think that we should take notice of the fact that the major “power couples” in the music industry (and beyond) that we look to are in the Hip Hop world. The cycles have turned to the point where, yes, Macklemore and Iggy Azalea are willing awards they shouldn’t BUT at the same time Jay-Z is making moves in politics and business that the conventional businessman would never dream of.
But you know, even some of the most ignorant Hip Hop (assuming it is well-produced) is inspiring to me. I draw confidence from it. For a white boy (or any boy), blaring self-righteous sh*t is sometimes just what you need to feel like you can hold your own. It’s hard to explain, but Drake and PRTYNXTDR are huge guilty pleasures for me, let’s be honest. Haha and yea there are some really crappy terms about women in there. But I guess my point is, the establishment, the government, society, existing stereotypes on gender.. all these things make it hard for a man to believe in himself. Everyone wants the man to make it happen as always but there are so many leashes, so much mud and sh*t to wade through. And sometimes, you gotta bump some ignorant Hip Hop to tell the world to f*ck off and feel like a man. Anyway.. that’s another conversation… Much Love, follow @dannyseverance