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BLUES PLAYER

"The pure, raw emotion relayed through the Blues was what really drew me to it." - Danielle Nicole

Posted: January 11, 2022
Even blues artists, can be sucked into the studio bag of tricks, so he/she can sound better. If a some tweaking is needed, than I am totally cool with it.

Those are the words from an amazing blues artist. I am going to skip the topic based interviews that I normally have. I really want this interview to be a focus on the dynamics of Danielle Nicole. From the quote above, the words pure and raw stand out to me. Often times, we take for granted the meaning of words. Because we can define the words in the shortest of terms. However, I like to go to the dictionary, when I want to make a point. According to the Webster – Merriam dictionary the word raw can be described as “being in or nearly in the natural state : not processed or purified”.

If you have any insight into producing music, it is rarely in its purest form. There is so many edits, tips, and tricks, that almost anyone can sound like an artist. (Excuse me, I mean singer. Artist and Singer are two different individuals).

Even blues artists, can be sucked into the studio bag of tricks, so he/she can sound better. If a some tweaking is needed, than I am totally cool with it. However, if you are going to alter the sound to the point where the vocals are no longer pure, than you really are not legit. Let’s be honest.

That brings us back to Danielle Nicole. I believe there was also a picture of Danielle Nicole next to the word “Raw” talent. We have done some extensive research on this blues artist. She is the real deal. She has performed with some of the greatest blues artists. Each of the performances, she seems to stand out front and center. It’s not because she feels the need to take receive special attention. Danielle Nicole just enjoys playing the blues. We are always ready to get behind an artist like that.

Before we get into the interview, I would like to give you some additional information about Daniele Nicole.

Danielle Nicole Schnebelen began music from the moment she was born. Musical influences from generations on both sides of her parent's families ensured that a love of playing music would continue to be passed among her and her siblings. She began singing publicly with her parent's bands as a youth and took ahold of her full time in her early 20s.

In 2015, Nicole set out on her own with over a decade of touring experience. Nicole's "distinctive, inventive bass work"—which resulted in her not only becoming the first woman to ever be nominated in the category of Instrumentalist ~ Bass in The Blues Foundation's 2012 Blues Music Awards, but also the first woman to receive the honor—"is the product of years of intensive roadwork.

Nicole's 2017 release of "Cry No More" ushered in not only a heavier sound and style differentiating Nicole's already broadening voice and writing, but also accrued a slew of accolades including a 2019 Grammy Nomination for Contemporary Blues Album; 2 Blues Music Awards, one for Contemporary Female Artist and her second Instrumentalist ~ Bass, and 3 Independent Blue Music Awards.

Nicole is currently nominated for the 4th time in this year's Blues Music Awards for the category of Bass Instrumentalist. "To be recognized for artistry on my instrument, for bass as a woman, is extremely humbling. I was shocked to find out I was the first woman ever nominated, but I'm glad that the steps are happening and it's process is becoming more inclusive."

Certainly you would agree that is quite an accomplishment for anyone. I believe Danielle Nicole is a leader among blues artists, and would even be considered in the same class of blues artists, like Samantha Fish, Kenny Wayne Shephard and Benjamin Booker. No doubt, these are some of the elite blues artists. Just goes to show how dynamic Danielle Nicole is.

DANIELLE NICOLE INTERVIEW WITH GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Thank you Danielle for joining us today. We are honored to have you as guest interview. We do not take it lightly, ad you are a very talented blues artist. If you read a portion of your bio above, you would have noticed I left out some information. It was important for me to cover it in the interview and I didn’t wan’t to release any information beforehand.

Guitar Thrills: I think the question is so cliché’ because it is used so often in interviews. I may have been guilty of using it often. However, I find that the term inspiration cannot be overlooked. Especially when you want to connect with your favorite artists. I know that your father had much influence on you as a child. Can you tell us a little more about your connection with the blues?

Danielle: My father definitely introduced me, and my family, to the Blues. My father worked at a record store in his youth so we grew up with a plethora of music in general. We had Classical, Motown, Rock, Folk, Blues whatever Zappa was, no disco haha. My Dad found Jonny Winter in the 70s and really fell in love with Blues. He went back to see who Jonny was influenced by and who influenced them and so on. Then he got into the rich Blues scene in KC and kept going from there. My parents were musicians in and around KC and the Midwest; my Father played guitar and sang and my Mother sang lead. At first, they mainly did classic rock covers sprinkled with originals but really started covering more Blues as my Father went down the rabbit hole. My Mother always loved Bonnie and Aretha but I remember her talking about the first time she’d heard Etta on a local Blues Radio show. Etta had one of those voices where you remember where you were the first time you heard it.

That emotion, that undeniable truth that you just cannot escape is what drew me to the Blues. Every note has to be played like it’s your last. Every bass note, every kick beat, every bit of it has to be met with respect and intent to me. Every word means everything no matter the content of the song. Love, loss, anger, joy, desire….they’re all equally relevant. I didn’t know at time the history of the Blues or the importance of it when I first heard it, I was just drawn to the feelings it gave me. That’s why you can fake all the other genres, but not Blues.

Guitar Thrills: I know in the music industry in general, it is important to be unique in the way you sound. I think if I were a blues artist, I would have mixed in a bit of SVR and George Thorogood. However, I think George Thorogood was more of a progressive blues artist, with a rock. Did you initially pattern your style of blues after any particular artist?

Danielle: In the beginning, I think you are naturally a product of your influences. You cannot escape that but expand upon it, you grow from it. You figure out what you can us your own. There’s a reason everyone think Susan sounds like Bonnie and Beth reminds you of Janis, but I don’t agree that either of them sound ‘’the same.’’ I think in my early work that Aretha, Etta, Janis and Zeppelin played major influences in my sound and it was pretty obvious

Guitar Thrills: I want to address your instrument of choice, the bass. What made you decide to pick up bass? Honestly, when I heard you sing, I didn’t think you would be a bass player. You get so accustom to seeing 6 string guitarists. What made you pick up bass? Also, do you know how to play any other instruments?

Danielle: When my brothers and I began talks about playing music together, they’d already been playing their instruments for quite a while. Instead of hiring a bass player, I threw out that I’d take a shot at learning bass. It was very difficult, and I mean VERY. I just kept walking the bass neck to a swing and singing along. Eventually I moved to a rock beat and then funk. I do play 6 string (not lead) a little piano and I love to kick a funky groove on drums but I’m definitely not fluent. Yes, there are a lot of female guitarists out there now and I love it! I’m also seeing more female bass players pop up and I love that even more; we just need to get more bass players fronting bands in general. It isn’t shtick to be a woman on bass or drums, it’s just not mainstream. I’d love to see a day when it’s normalized, I think it’ll be great because “you’re great for a girl’ isn’t a real compliment.

Guitar Thrills: I know you currently are working with Brandon Miller. I hope at some point, I will get a chance to talk with him. However, have you always performed in a band? Did you ever decide to go solo? You know you would be an accomplished blues artist regardless. Though there is much to be said about having a compliment of musicians as well. What are your thoughts on it?

Danielle: Brandon Miller is tops. He’s been in the band since it’s formation and has really helped me to find my sound outside of Trampled Under Foot. He’s a youngin’ especially in the Blues world, but he really has always had a wise approach to everything he does in Life and Music with a deep love, respect and appreciation for both.

I considered all the routes I could take; from hiring out ringers to fronting an already established band and I really just wanted to carve my own path musically. I knew it would be a hard climb, but it’s been steady so far. The choice to follow my gut wasn’t hard; applying it hasn’t been super easy but I’ve been true to myself and in the end that’s what matters most.

Guitar Thrills: In the opening conversation, I mentioned that there are different vocal types for a blues artist. I classified you have a vocal sound that is considered a “cry break”. Would you agree, would that assertion? If not, let me know what vocal sound you should be considered.

Danielle: I think that’s fair. Most of my songs (especially the earlier ones) are about heartache/break and loss. Life was super chaotic growing up and I didn’t make it any easier on myself in my teens and 20s so I really related to that. More so now, I think my voice lends itself to whatever the intent of the song. I did really want to give props to you also for separating “artist’ and “singer.” I think the same can be done for instrumentalists and musicians as well. There are “player artists” (showmen, flash, tons of high notes, slide work, sloppy, intensity for reaction) and there are musicians. You can tell when they’re playing because its fun to play music for a living, and because it’s what you are fundamentally meant to do. Both are important in entertainment, but one is important fo the soul.

Guitar Thrills: There is something about live performances that I really dig. While there is a necessity for full production videos, I prefer live videos. I enjoy listening to the actual voice, of the artist. It tells me, how good they really are, and what kind of preparation that they put into their performances. There isn’t anything wrong with winging it, as long as you can pull it off. However, the proof is in the pudding. I notice that you do not do many full production videos. Is it that your preference, or is there another reason?

Danielle: That’s been solely due to lack of funding from record labels. I would love to do all full production videos as live performance videos, if that makes sense, but that’s an extra $2k per show to have someone come and film. It’s just not realistic for 95% of Artists that don’t have AAA label backing money.

Guitar Thrills: So we have to know when your next release is coming out? Also where can fans catch your next performance?

Guitar Thrills: Is there a venue, or festival that you have not played and would like too?

Danielle: Um… definitely a couple I played with other bands like ACL, Telluride and Red Rocks, but some I’ve never done and would like to include:

  • Byron Bay
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Peach Music Fest

Guitar Thrills: That is pretty awesome. Hopefully that will happen, and we can be an influence to ensure that happens.

Guitar Thrills: I want to thank you very much for taking the time to interview with Guitar Thrills Magazine. We look forward to touching base with you in the future. We are turning up the types of projects that we have. Would you be interested in a podcast with us?

Danielle: Of course! Thank you very much for having me and for your thoughtful questions and extensive research.

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