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INTERVIEW: Danny Zee

Hi Danny, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thank you for the welcome! Super busy, but at a turning point in my life so I’d say never better!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Blue Butterfly”?

Well, it’s an ode. An ode to someone I dearly loved, and the relationship we had. I always thought of it to be a cliche when artists would write something after they’d break up, and here I am, pouring out my grief and longing to the world. But now I know why we do it. It’s the first and the title track off of my record, also called ‘Blue Butterfly’, (due January).

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?

Of course! My girl and I would use the blue butterfly emoji on our phones to express our love for one another. I believed for a long time, ‘she’s the one’ but it’s just crazy how whenever it’s ‘the one’, circumstances don’t let you be together. There was nothing wrong with ‘us’, just our situation and maybe the timing of ‘us’ I think. We had careers to pursue. And so, the heartbreak and primarily a ‘yearn’ for her gave birth to this track. You can say it’s my ‘last calling’ for her.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Very intense, overwhelming and beautiful. A dear friend, Ash, heard the song and I’m so grateful he decided to come on board. We shared the same vision for it – a damaged yet beautiful relationship coming to its demise, and accepting things the way they are. We were a close family-like crew of a mere 10 people. Inja, the lead actress, was phenomenal and inspiring. She genuinely felt the track. We really connected with each other and it reflected well on camera too (I hope!)

Why name the record after this song in particular?

I think the entire essence of our relationship condensed into the blue butterfly emoji and its an idea. You know how they say, a picture is worth a thousand words? That emoji was literally the ‘picture’ of our relationship. It seemed like the perfect title as an ode.

How were the recording and writing process?

I’m a nocturnal creature. Since the song was so close and personal to me, I wrote, recorded, performed and engineered the entire track myself in solitude at my brother’s studio in Lahore, Pakistan. Firstly, I laid down the groove, and I remember literally the first lyric that hit me was ‘you’re my blue butterfly’ and I started humming it (the way you hear it in the track). It took me a week to finish it, as the groove was just making me wanna say so much. The first 3-4 days were just me jamming and letting out everything. I wanted to make sure I do it right, actually feel it and not rush it. I wrote about 40-50 lines and then cut down to what is now there.

What role does LA play in your music?

I don’t think anything I’ve made would’ve been made if I hadn’t been to LA. Everything – from my journey, to inspiration, to sound, to writing, experimenting, etc. I believe at least half of what you make is what inspires you, and I got a lot of that from LA because of the experiences I had while I was here. This city somewhat played a role in the loss of someone I loved dearly – it’s all connected – only in the best of ways though. I can’t put it exactly to words yet and say “yes this ‘how’ LA played a role”, I just know it did. Because I was here mostly and everything you’ll hear formed after I came to LA.

How does your upbringing influence your writing?

I grew up in a house where thankfully music was just always around me. My brother, Ali, made it big when I was pretty young so I was exposed to the industry at an early age. He gifted me a guitar when I was 12 and I’ve been jamming with him and his musician buddies ever since. But I remember the game-changer – when he gave me his ZEN music player and it had Dark Side of The Moon, and Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I feel that those two records, and spending a lot of time with my brother in his studio really influenced and enabled me to rapidly start writing originals at a very young age. I remember playing them to him, and how he was the first to say, ‘you’re made for the international market, pursue it’. Nonetheless, because I had big shoes to fill, I feel that on a subconscious level I was also growing up to think and write very differently so I could carve my own sound and style, and my brother constantly guided and pushed me towards it too.

How has Frank Ocean and John Mayer influenced your music?

It’s just the way they expose their vulnerability. If you look at their writings, they’re so delicate and sensitive. The deeper you go the more you’ll resonate with your listeners on an emotional level, and they really inspired me to write from the deepest corner of my heart. In terms of music, you’re basically looking at John’s signature style with his sound and guitars and Frank’s extremity of experimenting and pushing bounds with such soul and pain in his voice.

What aspect of relationships did you get to explore on this record?

Primarily, ‘acceptance’. To just come to terms with the way things are, but not resent them. In fact, cherish what had been. To understand that every person we come across is either a blessing or a lesson.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Aside from complete solitude, and I’m not even kidding, but mega bus rides from LA to San Fran when I’d go to visit my brother. It’s a 10-hour bus ride, and I’d always book the upper deck front seat. You get the most calming and inspiring views. I’d start coming up with these ideas and melodies without even music and just record them as voice memos on my phone.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, I can’t wait! Just waiting for the record to come out in its entirety and I believe that would be the next step to pursue!

What else is happening next in Danny Zee’s world?

Well, we just wrapped up the video shoot for the track! For now, all focus and energy are towards the launch of this record. I spend weekends in San Francisco because there’s so much work and LA gets distracting, so I’m just devoting my hours to managing to put everything out there. I actually had to take a break from the studio because I was making songs every day as I’d walk in. So I’ve taken a step over to the business side now as it’s very easy to get caught up in this cycle of making songs after songs and not putting them out there and just dwelling. But I believe in December I’ll be hitting the studio again for a second album to follow up by the summer!

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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