Dana Carmel is an Indie Pop artist out of Brooklyn, NY with a sound to keep an ear on. She has has been profiled in both Bleep, Pen’s Eye View, Independent Spotllight and received accolades from songoftheyear.com, where her song “Fighter” was a semi-finalist and “Castle” was praised as a runner-up. Dana is a dedicated songwriter boasting more than 100 unique songs in her repertoire. Make sure to look out for her most recent album, ‘Little Red Heart.’
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music?
I’d say the biggest catalyst to writing music was my love of it. A huge influence of mine growing up was Pearl Jam. I remember distinctly listening to them, sitting in my big papasan chair, black lights flowing, and thinking “I want to make people feel the way he (Eddie Vedder) and this music make me feel.” I didn’t start writing my own music until years later, at NYU, where I studied music. For the theory classes, we had to compose quite a bit, and it was there in the tiny piano rooms that I started to write my own songs. It was very cathartic for me.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
The Craziest thing? Define crazy! There have been a lot of wonderful things that have happened to me. I did a self-imposed project where I wrote one song a week for a year. Looking back, it seems like a crazy thing to do…but I did it (happy face emoji).
What has been the high point of your music path?
There have been many high points of my music path. Just like in life there are peaks, and valleys. I’ve written songs on retreats in Spain, in upstate New York, in Louisiana. I’ve led workshops which were really fun. Recording is always a high point for me. And of course, the moment when you finish a song and you’re like “ that’s goooood”. So, I can’t pick just one. Those are some favorites.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
It varies. Sometimes, songwriting approaches me, and sometimes I approach it. Sometimes, I wait until I feel inspired, but mostly I sit down with my guitar and call the inspiration to me. One of the biggest things I learned during that “crazy” project was that actually waiting for inspiration to hit is a misconception. If you sit down every day to write, it’s an invitation for inspiration to come. In terms of the actual writing….I usually start with a chord progression on the guitar or piano, and then sing melodies over it. The ones that are catchy and stand out the most in my head are the keepers. Lyrics usually come last though there are always exceptions.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I think the biggest challenge is that many music fans only want to spend money on the artists they know. Like the Beyonce’s and Taylor’s of the world. (and I’m the first to admit that I love both of those artists) A lot of people expect music to be free. If I could change one thing, it’d be the marketing and branding of music itself. Imagine the world without music…without your favorite song, without the first song you danced to, kissed to…. The world would be so boring and flavorless. I always say that music is a time machine…it takes you back to the memory where you first heard it, and for me, I can actually smell the lip balm I was wearing at the time (lip smackers of course), or feel the air on my skin. It’s amazing to me that people don’t want to spend $1.29 on a song that transports you back in time. I’m sure I’m generalizing and that there are people who want to support artists and I am grateful for that. But generally, songwriters who write the soundtracks to people’s lives are undervalued and underpaid.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Oh Gosh, this is so hard. I have to break the rules and pick 2. I have to say Pearl Jam because that’s been a dream of mine since I was 13. I’ve always felt so connected to their music and Eddie Vedder is a huge inspiration to me. And then I have to say Taylor Swift because I see her bring all these artists up on stage and sing their songs with them, and I’m like “oh that’d be so cool”.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I am actually in the midst of that right now. In the past, I’ve played many shows solo, and so for that I just practice practice practice. When I play with a band, again it’s a lot of practice, breaking down songs into sections, and playing them until we get the right feel. Currently, because my new album has a different sound, I’m working out the arrangement and how I want the live show to look and sound. I’m talking to a bunch of other musicians to get some help and inspiration. I’m excited. I think it’s going to be really cool and different.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
In general the greatest challenge for me is finishing songs. I have so many ideas for choruses, verses, phrases, and it’s like as soon as I get to the end of the chorus, it just stops. I don’t know where the song is supposed to go. When that happens, I leave it. Which is why I have so many unfinished ideas. I always go back and the same thing happens. If I had to pick one song? Gosh, that’s hard. There’s a song I wrote called “Never Land” And I really love the melody and the idea. That I don’t want to grow up, I want to stay in Never Land. But it’s still not finished because I can’t get the verses down. When that happens, sometimes the best thing to do is call in some reinforcements and get some feedback. When you get too inside your own song, an outside perspective is gold.
What's coming up in the future?
I’m releasing my album Little Red Heart in September of 2018 and just released a single, The Great Escape. I’ll be touring and releasing a lot of exclusive content around the making of the album. And then next up will be my book on songwriting!
Tell us where fans can access your music.
itunes.apple.com/us/album/little-red-heart/1433103539 or sign up at email@example.com to get the latest info.
Check out a demo of her music on youtube!