My current to do list is about 20 items long.
I made that to do list because I was so far behind on my other to do list that it was too overwhelming to even look at it. I’m about to make my third to do list that’s even more abbreviated than the last, and nowhere on any of these lists does it say, “write a song” or “practice your scales” or “drink some fucking water.” It’s a list full of, “answer so and so’s email,” “look into this or that festival,” “update your EPK,” “submit your album to this blog,” or, “that playlist,” and on and on. It’s disheartening how little of my day to day work actually involves music.
I’ve heard it said that if business were a person, he or she would be a sociopath. I have occasionally found myself falling into this archetype and into the mindset of “not enough,” “growth at all costs,” or “I need to do/be/have more.” I lose sight of my humanity, the intrinsic value of my art, and the reason I do what I do. There are many arguments about the purpose of art and the role of the artist, but if you ask me, the short answer is that there is no purpose to art, and that is where its power lies. Art usually comes into existence simply because someone decided it would be nice. Someone felt moved to create something out of nothing. No end game, nothing to gain but the satisfaction of creation.
It is next to impossible to maintain this free spirited nature when time becomes an increasingly scarce resource; you have to start choosing between what is going to put food on your table and what’s actually going to bring you joy. The culture in which I live is in complete opposition to the environment in which an artist can thrive.. or at the very least, eat. This opposition is ever present in my mind, where my logical and pragmatic side pushes me to “make it,” (whatever the fuck that means) and the artist in me insists music should be shared freely, that art doesn’t exist just to be exploited. When I’m feeling pessimistic, it is an impossible paradox, but on most days it’s simply a balancing act - a challenge.
I spent ages 8 to 18 writing music for no reason other than my own gratification, and my emotional/mental health. I didn’t release any of it anywhere, outside of maybe showing a close friend or two (god bless their poor ears). These years were full of experimentation and discovery, which I believe has made all the difference. That decade I spent singing songs to no one with no judgment, no source of validation, no audience to approve nor disapprove, forced me to discover my own taste. This time helped me build some confidence and a sense of who I was as an artist. It gave me some solid ground to stand on.
While these years of solitude and self growth were invaluable, I was nonetheless always daydreaming about the day I would muster the courage to share my music with the world. I dreamed of playing huge stages to sold out areas, and I saw myself with a beaming smile on my face exchanging that incomparable energy with a crowd. I dreamed of love and connection through music. The personal satisfaction of making music was keeping me going in and of itself, but I knew there were ears outside of my bedroom that needed to hear my music. So I dove in.
I spent a ton of time researching and talking to musician friends/mentors about what I should be doing, how I can reach my audience, and how to maximize my chances of reaching the ears of people who might like my music. Only after making the decision to actively work on my branding, marketing, distribution, etc., was I able to finally share my music, my contribution, to the world.
And now, fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve gotten pretty decent at the business end of things, and often it occupies more bandwidth than the actual music I make, and this can turn me into someone I don’t like very much. The business and logistics girl in me is cynical, at times desperate, and never ever satisfied. The side of me that wants recognition and some version of mainstream success is so obsessed with her Spotify analytics and maintaining her Instagram feed, and honestly, she just sucks. I know she is necessary to some degree, and I have her to thank for most of the opportunities I’ve had, and for the larger audience I have been able to reach. But she is not, and will never be, my source of happiness.
Singing brings me pure, unbridled joy. Every single time. Writing a new song gives me satisfaction unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. The creating of the thing itself is what fills me up. Whenever I feel fearful or anxious about where I’m at in my career, burnt out on “hustling,” or worrying about the possibility of never amounting to anything, I literally sing it away. When I feel myself spiraling, I remember that getting into this industry was and is completely my choice, and that I chose it because I love it. When I sing or finish a song or hear someone else’s song that gives me chills, everything feels unquestionably worth it.
About Danielle Durack
Danielle Durack is an indie pop, singer-songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona. Since the release of her 2017 debut album ‘Bonnie Rose,’ Durack has risen to prominence in the Phoenix music scene. She has graced the stage of renowned venues in the southwest area, such as the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and the Marquee Theater in Phoenix, as well as several festivals in the region. Her debut featured a collection of piano-driven pop songs with infectious hooks, drawing comparisons to artists like Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson.
On her sophomore album, ‘Bashful,’ Durack expands her sound into the territory of indie-pop, with the standout singles ‘Something Good’ and ‘Hold My Heart.’ After the release of ‘Bashful’ in January of 2019, she gained national attention when her new song, ‘Sunshine,’ was placed on the New Music Friday Spotify playlist. Expect to see Danielle Durack take her sounds on tour in 2019 in support of the new album.