DELANILA, AKA Danielle Eva Schwob, is a multi-faceted writer who composes modern indie offerings with large cinematic appeal. Hailed by The New Yorker for her debut album ‘Overloaded’, we caught up with this world-beating artist about lockdown, creativity and all things in-between.
Hey DELANILA, how are you and how are you finding lockdown?
Hi! Oh, I’m doing fine thanks. Lockdown is a continually surprising yet simultaneously tedious series of good days and frustrating ones, I suppose, as it is for us all, though fortunately today is one of the former. It’s funny actually because I work from a home studio in general, and so in some ways it doesn’t feel that different to my ordinary life. My work day hasn’t changed at all, but after months of this I’m definitely missing having family and friends to offset the isolation, especially since I live alone. A huge cheers to anyone else in this position. This has not been easy but we’ll be stronger, more resilient people for it.
Do you feel more inspired than ever before, or has quarantine made sparking creativity harder?
It’s been both. At the beginning of the lockdown I worked very intensely for about six weeks, making a video, doing some live streams, creating a virtual dance project, releasing a record. Then in the middle, after my album came out, I got very tired. Partly the nature of the album cycle I think, but I’m sure quarantine-related fatigue as well. And now I’m getting ready to shoot another video, do more live streams and finish mixes on another project. There’s not much else to do besides work, so I’ve basically been working furiously, burning out, then ramping back up again. Not that different to my usual cycle I guess, just amplified somehow.
I will add though, that I think there’s a lot of pressure on artists right now to be focussed and productive and prolific, but it’s a strange time, people are having all sorts of reactions to it and there’s also something to be said for quiet reflection and taking a break. This will affect what we’re all making, regardless of whether we’re actively exploring it now or it’s just something that seeps subconsciously into our work later. I think people should be kind to themselves at the moment and try to find value in whatever train they’re on. I know you didn’t ask me that, but I’m here and you made the mistake of giving me a place to sound off, so I think it’s worth saying!
Talk to us about your album ‘Overloaded’:
Sure, so I wrote it all a while back, during a time when I was working from home a lot, had a few projects that were stalled and was feeling quite isolated. Partly because that comes from the territory of being a composer, which is sort of a monastic, up and down lifestyle, and also partly because I think being a young person in NYC can really just be lonely sometimes. Social media, TV and technology can exacerbate that, and wound up working their way in lyrically because I don’t think you can think about ambition, or human connection, or life in a big city without thinking about it. It’s so intrinsically woven in to how we interact with each other now.
Then musically, I wrote it in New York and worked on it over several years in London, NYC and Toronto, with some amazing artists including producer David Bottrill, keyboardist Nick Semrad, guitarist Adam Agati, drummer Aaron Steele, violinist Jenny Choi and frankly more people than I can name here. Initially it was supposed to be an electronic record, but I kept adding things to it and it turned in to something else.
What is your favourite track from the record and why?
That changes, but at the moment I think it’s Never Enough. The ending is the most honest thing I’ve ever recorded, and I like that we took a chance on an unconventional song form and arrangement. It’s always better to take chances and try to do something unusual.
What is the most important message within the record that you think resonates with us all now more than before given the current social climate?
I think it’s slippery for me to tell anyone what the message is and that that’s more for anyone who’s listening to decide. I will say though that I hope it resonates in some way with anyone who is currently feeling isolated, or stuck, or frustrated, since that’s how I felt when I wrote it. I think those are familiar feelings for a lot of us at the moment, and while Overloaded certainly isn’t a pandemic record, it could easily have been written for the time. I still don’t know what to make of that, but I do know that difficult chapters pass.
And finally, if you could curate a 3 day festival, who would the headliners be?
Leonard Cohen. Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. Ben Frost. Tool. I realise this is both four days and impossible, and that even if it was it would be so intense that probably no one would go to it, but I would!