Wednesday Q&A: Danika Holmes
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I’m blessed with meeting new independent artists every single day. Some are just briefly, some I became friends with and some I won’t hear for some time and all of the sudden, boom, they hit me up again with schweet musical surprises!

Singer/songwriter Danika Holmes is one of those artists who I haven’t heard of for some time and a little over a month ago, she surprised me with an exclusive sneaky-peek of her acoustic album ‘Balance‘, which she officially dropped yesterday.

I’ve listened to ‘Balance‘ several times now and ‘pure’ is the word I would use to describe it. The acoustic tracks are simply beautiful, Danika’s vocals pure, it’s the perfect example of less is more. And yes, I dare to say, so much more! And when you’re done reading the little pow-wow I had with her, you’ll understand why:

The Dutch Guy (TDG): Can I borrow 20 bucks?

Danika Holmes (DH): For what?..

TDG: When you looked into the mirror this morning, what was your first thought?

DH: Ugh… I don’t feel like working out but I’m going to do it anyway…

TDG: Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

DH: Haha… no way! Can you?..

TDG: What are your roots?

DH: I grew up in Iowa. I love wide open spaces, lots of land and four seasons. Musically, I’m all over the map roots wise…

TDG: How long have you been working on your album ‘Balance‘?

DH: Album took us about a year and a half to complete. We had a flood in Nashville that was devastating and derailed the project, but we got back on track and finished it up… and I’m really proud of this project! It feels real, it feel like us…

TDG: How would you describe your sound?

DH: Acoustic pop with a hint of soul and country…

TDG: What’s involved in your songwriting process?

DH: I usually start with a lyric or melody idea and build the music around that concept.

Sometimes I write by myself, sometimes with other co-writers and most often with Jeb Hart, the guitar player behind ‘Balance‘…

TDG: Which aspect did you enjoy the most while working on your album?

DH: I had a lot of fun in the studio recording vocals…

TDG: Who or what inspires you the most?

DH: Professionally, I’m inspired by those who have sustained long careers in the music industry. Those are the people I try and have coffee with and learn as much as I possibly can from. So many people “try” and then give up.

Personally, I’m inspired by positive people. We live in a tough world. Those who can remain positive through it all are amazing to me. My mom is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met…

TDG: How important is connecting with fans for you? What kind of connection do you have or do you like to have with them?

DH: It means everything to me. Without fans I would have a guitar and some songs and my dog to listen to me sing them. I respond to every email, Facebook message, tweet, etc. Music is my way of connecting with the world and with people. Many fans have turned into good friends…

TDG: And social media is a big help in your opinion?

DH: Yes! Twitter is my preference…

TDG: Why Twitter?

DH: Twitter is just plain easy to use. You get 140 characters, so everyone needs to get to the point. I see it as a kind of online hangout. It’s a great place to share virtually anything you can think of…

TDG: What do you do to stand out from all the rest on social media?

DH: I’m accessible. I follow back. If you want to connect I’m up for it!..

TDG: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

DH: I’m actually an introvert. I know it sounds strange, but it’s true.

Sometimes introverts and shy people can be mistaken for being stuck up, which is really a bummer…

TDG: Who is currently on repeat on your iPod or Spotify list?

DH: Well, first of all I’m old fashioned & still buy CDs. I like to take out the liner notes & read the thank you’s, who produced & wrote what and all of those other details. I wouldn’t say anyone is on repeat other than Eva Cassidy. I listen to as much music in as many different genres as possible. I like variety…

TDG: People say the end of CDs is near, but vinyl is making a major comeback. What’s your personal opinion on this?

DH: First of all, I buy CD’s because the sound quality of mp3’s is terrible, and it’s really unfortunate that most people don’t even realize how bad mp3’s sound because of compression issues. Sound quality is important and I think it’s making a comeback… hence the vinyl revolution. I’m all for it. Sound quality is top notch and it’s just this amazing piece of artwork to hold in your hands… to frame… to listen to… vinyl is an overall experience. Records are meant to be played from the first song to the last song. I think vinyl is a way of slowing down and really listening to the tunes you love. It’s an investment in the bands and artists you love…

TDG: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you started out and you think it would help other aspiring artists/bands?

DH: Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Work hard. Expect nothing from anyone. No one will care about your music and your career as much as you do…

TDG: We are five months into 2014, you just dropped your brand spanking new album, but what do you have in store for us this year?

DH: We are hitting the road! We’re playing as many shows in as many places as possible. Want us to come to your town? Get a crowd together and we’ll play!..

TDG: Got any last words of wisdom you wanna lay down on us before we wrap this up?

DH: Haha… well, I would never describe myself as wise. Ask me again in 30 years and then maybe I’ll deserve the “wise” title. All I know for certain is that you are the only person who is responsible for your success of failure.

There will always be outside obstacles and variables, but in the end… your attitude and work ethic is what matters most.

I do want to connect with you though and I want you to have some free music, 3 tracks of my new album ‘Balance‘, so go to now to get your free download. Say hey on Twitter and come to a show!

Check in with Danika Holmes on:
Twitter: @DanikaHmusic
Facebook: /DanikaHolmesMusic
Danika Holmes Store: Danika Holmes’ album ‘Balance’

Karina Nistal – All That I Want
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You know we’re getting closer to that wonderful time, where the sun comes out to play and temperatures will get higher & higher, when you listen to what I would call the first summer jam of the year!

Those smooth keys, that groovy beat and when Ms Nistal’s vocals hit, you can’t tell me you aren’t looking forward to the first BBQ at the park or the first block party of the year with this jam coming out of your boombox!

And while I wonder if I should go to Los Angeles, or try to get Karina here for my first summertime party, you just grab a copy at your favourite online music boutique! ‘Cause that’s ‘All That I Want‘…

Check in with Karina Nistal on:
Twitter: @KarinaNistal
Facebook: /KarinaNistalMusic
iTunes: Karina Nistal’s single ‘All That I Want’

Wednesday Q&A: SilverSpark
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I love keeping an eyeball on artists or bands. Love to see the progress they are making, love to hear the brand spanking new tunes they drop. And SilverSpark is one of those bands I’ve been keeping an eyeball on for some time now.

When they dropped an exclusive sneaky-peek of their debut album ‘Flames Run Deep‘ for my listening pleasure, I was sold! It’s melodic, it’s powerful, it’s groovy, it rocks, it sparks… This album ain’t silver in my personal & humble opinion, but pure gold!

With the album next Friday, I couldn’t think of a better way to already introduce you to the awesome members of SilverSpark. Ladies & People, meet Carley – Vocals, Matt – Guitar, Hewey – Drums, Lincoln – Bass:

The Dutch Guy (TDG): Can I borrow 20 bucks?

Carley: Yes on the condition that you buy ‘Flames Run Deep‘ and bring us some ‘dutch cake’…

TDG: When you looked into the mirror this morning, what was your first thought?

Matt: This is far too early to be Rock N Roll!..

TDG: Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

Hewey: Northern and loud with a lot of energy!
Carley: A tiny lass with a BIG personality!
Matt: Tall and shy! Ha Ha Ha!
Lincoln: A posh Aussie!

TDG: What are your musical roots?

Carley: SilverSpark are an eclectic mix, an explosion of genres from blues to folk, rock to pop, jazz to country culminating in Rock and Roll meets Pop Princess. Imagine Christina Aguilera singing with The Black Crowes with Flea on Bass and on Dave Grohl on drums…

TDG: How long have you been working on your debut album?

Carley: I guess we didn’t really write the album in the way people usually do. By that I mean that we didn’t set out to write a ‘traditional album’ with a common thread between the songs, this album is more like 10 separate songs written at different times from our different experiences over a 3 year period, which we’re now releasing together under the banner of ‘Flames Run Deep‘. We like that, it makes it an interesting album to listen to, as the songs are pretty varied in feel…it’s like a SilverSpark playlist!

For example, there is a song on the album called ‘By The Fireplace‘ and that was written way back in October 2010, so a good 3 and half years ago. ‘Coming Home‘ was written most recently at the end of last year. We write songs whenever inspiration strikes and so all of our songs are written from real-life experiences and how we’re feeling right then. We definitely wouldn’t be any good at saying “Hey, let’s sit down today and write an album”, it’s so much more organic than that and that’s why so many people can relate to our tracks…

TDG: How would you describe your sound?

Matt: It’s taken some time to figure where we fit in. We try to be as original and true to our own sound as we can, rather than follow fashions too closely, we like to be melodic! And in fear of pigeon-holing ourselves, I wouldn’t suggest a specific genre, we’re unmistakably SilverSpark! LOL!..

TDG: What’s involved in your songwriting process?

Carley: Well up to now at least it’s always been myself and Matt that write the songs. One of us will come to the other with some lyrics a guitar riff or even a melody that they have and then we’ll work on it together.

For example, when we wrote ‘By The Fireplace‘ as mentioned above, Matt had a really beautiful riff and was playing it on his acoustic guitar and I just knew it would fit the lyrics I had!

Once we’ve written the lyrics and chord structure of the track we then take it to the boys in rehearsal and give it a bash through. There’s often a few weeks between first playing it and settling on the final cut and some songs have a habit of constantly evolving until they’re recorded and ‘set in stone’. ‘Don’t Bring Me Down‘ is a great example of that. That’s was why we did so many shows at the end of last year as we wanted to go into the studio knowing these tracks inside out.

TDG: Which aspect did you enjoy the most while working on your album?

Carley: We love spending time in the studio as a band. My favourite aspect of working on the album is hearing the final results. When you’re in the studio you have a lot more free reign for overdubs like harmonies, guitar solo’s, string sections, the full monty. In the studio we add things that you cannot always replicate live with a 4 piece so when we get in the studio we let loose. ‘One Way Street‘ has whole orchestral sections in the last chorus which give it a real Hollywood backdrop.

Also, when you are in the studio it can be really hard at times! When you are right in the thick of it you ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ and you struggle to get an overall view of whether something ROCKS or whether it needs say, that one more power chord! Sometimes you just need to switch off, take a step back, give your ears a rest and come back to it another time and then when you do BOOM! You know it rocks!..

TDG: Who or what inspires you the most?

Matt: It can be lots of different things. Some days it’s a piece of music or a beautiful piece of art. Other days it’s seeing other people achieving their dreams or battling an illness and that inspires me to work hard on SilverSpark and be true to my passions and goals. Sometimes though it’s nice to just sit back with a glass of red and take stock of what you have achieved. That’s pretty inspiring when you look at where you’ve come from, and where you want to be…

TDG: How important is connecting with fans for you? What kind of connection do you have or do you like to have with them?

Carley: Our fans are SO important to us, without them we wouldn’t have an audience! We always try to take the time to chat with our fans on Facebook, Twitter and of course at our shows. We understand that they’ve chosen to put their hand in their pocket and given us their hard earned cash, that’s not to be taken for granted!

Hewey: Fans are incredibly important and the more you can do to connect with them the better really. Every single one is important and it’s important that they know how their support keeps you going. Fans are the the ones who buy your music and come to your gigs and therefore give you the opportunity to make music for a living…

TDG: And social media is a big help in your opinion?

Carley: Absolutely! Never before have fans been able to connect so much with the artists/celebrities and stars that they enjoy. It does mean that you have to be a lot more creative nowadays because fans want more than to just come along to your show. They want to see behind the scenes footage on Facebook or to be able to tweet you their thoughts.

Also, from a band’s point of view there has never been such an opportunity to get yourself heard. However, that brings it’s own pitfalls too. That means every single person in the world can put their music up on Soundcloud/Facebook and that must be overwhelming to the music industry professionals out there. They have to sort the wheat from the chaff. We’re the wheat of course! Ha ha!..

TDG: What do you do to stand out from all the rest on social media?

Carley: We always try to interact with our fans and we take the time to thank every single person who has supported us in some way, whether that’s playing our track on the radio, pre-ordering our album, sharing our music… We thank as many people as we can. Be nice to people on the way up as you might meet them on the way down, it rings so true…

TDG: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Hewey: I guess when people look at us they probably expect us to sound a certain way and maybe we don’t sound like that!

Matt: People seem to think that we are a poppy band and don’t realise the eclectic influences that are within the band.

Link loves Jazz, Hewey loves a bit of prog rock/metal, Carley loves a bit of Country and I love Alternative Rock! Go figure!

Lincoln: People seem to think we’re a local band, we’re actually an international band coming from all over the world!

Carley: For me it’s that people think we just do this for a hobby. We are actually full time musicians and have chosen to do this full time, not just weekend warrior. We’re doing this all guns blazing. If you want to do something, do it properly, right?!

TDG: Who’s currently on repeat on your iPod or Spotify playlist?

Carley: Mumford and Sons – Babel
Matt: REM – Automatic For The People
Hewey: Dream Theater’s latest album
Lincoln: John Mayer

TDG: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you started out and you think it would help other aspiring artists/bands?

Carley: The best piece of advice given to me about SilverSpark was to be true to ourselves. As soon as you start trying to write songs to please other people, you to lose yourself. You lose your integrity and I think it’s the honesty and openness that we put into our tracks that so many people can relate to.

Lincoln: I got told once that the Beatles were turned down for a record contract and we’re told they had no future in the music industry. I guess it’s the old ‘if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again’.

Matt: Always be a student of your instrument, you can always improve and learn something new…

TDG: With dropping ‘Flames Run Deep’, it’s hard to top that in 2014, but what do you have in store for us this year?

Carley: Our Album Launch Party is at The Buffalo Bar in Cardiff (UK) on May 9th. That’s gonna be one hell of a party!

Hewey: Gigs! I think it’s really important that we back up the album with a strong live show and hopefully progress to larger and larger venues.

Lincoln: GIGS!

TDG: Got any last words of wisdom you wanna lay down on us before we wrap this up?

Hewey: Take the time to enjoy making music, not everyone has that experience.

Matt: Be yourself!

Carley: Eat your greens!

Check in with SilverSpark on:
Twitter: @SilverSparkHQ
Facebook: /SilverSparkMusic
SilverSparkStore: SilverSpark’s debut album ‘Flames Run Deep’

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