Danica Bryant has been Playing It Strange for some time, but the release of her debut EP Cider, coming out on the 31st of July, has allowed her to come into her own. The EP reflects a level of maturity and style that contemplates the challenges of everyday life sung in the sultry mist of Lana Del Rey and Aldous Harding.
Born in the sunny Hawkes Bay, Danica has gone from getting a guitar at Xmas at the age of eight to supporting none other than Elton John's Farewell Yellow Brick Road NZ Tour earlier this year. Of course, these things don’t just happen by chance and as I chatted with Danica I got an idea of how she landed where she is today, along with the emotion of releasing her first EP, which is a mixture of excitement and fear, in equal parts.
Boylee: Hi Danica, how are you going and how are you feeling about the release of your debut EP Cider?
Danica: It's pretty scary to be honest. It’s my first full body of work and bringing something together like this in one cohesive package has been challenging, but at the same time, it’s been quite exciting as well.
Boylee: So an interesting time now to be bringing out your debut EP during what has been a pretty surreal year already. How did it all come about?
Danica: Well we spent a week in Wellington pulling the songs together and got them recorded at the beginning of this year. I had every intention to release the EP at this time but with COVID 19 I was really worried that under lockdown the opportunity to get it out through the normal channels would make it too difficult. Luckily things have progressed well and everything came together quite nicely.
Boylee: Looking back, what were some of the key influences you have had over the years to get you to this point in your singer-songwriting career?
Danica: I was very lucky when I was given a guitar at eight-years-old for Christmas. My parents were really supportive and got me lessons etc which was hugely important. I also, at a very young age, had a strong interest in writing stories which then progressed when I was 12 to writing songs and performing them. Living in the Bay gave me a number of opportunities to play live, which really helped with my development and confidence.
Boylee: What about school, were there any elements that guided you through that time?
Danica: I went to Napier Girls High School and my music teacher, Suzanne Purdy, supported me and introduced me to a lot of opportunities.
Boylee: Tell me about your association with Play It Strange. How did that come about?
Danica: Play It Strange was something that I got involved with over a number of years at school. I entered a number of their competitions, getting runner-ups along the way and then winning the Who Loves Who Competition - singing Aldous Harding's song Horizon was a real highlight.
I recorded the song myself and taught myself how to use the recording software, which was a real learning experience as well. Aldous Harding is an inspiration for me and to win the competition singing her song was the icing on the cake.
Boylee: So who are your other influences? When I listen to your EP I hear a range of singers but Lana Del Ray comes to mind quite quickly.
Danica: Thank you for saying that, I love Lana Del Ray. I also love Taylor Swift, particularly around her structure of the songs. I found some older music and artists that I love as well, especially last year I was listening to Alanis Morrisette and Kate Bush. I have also been listening to Samia, who is based in New York City and writes such incredible songs. I love her honesty and fearlessness in her music and really admire that.
Boylee: Your EP Cider hits on some pretty tough topics including mental health. Do you find writing and singing on this topic cathartic.
Danica: I wouldn’t say cathartic. I find that when I write on a topic like that it makes me feel stronger on the subject. But it is also a way to share it with others so I know I am not alone and so they know they are not alone as well. in other words, they hopefully will feel it's not just me feeling this way.
Boylee: What’s coming up next? You have the launch of your EP Cider are you going to have a few live gigs to celebrate its launch?
Danica: I'm not really in a position to go out and tour at the moment, but I would like to have a couple of shows around Wellington. Maybe stream a few shows as well to get it out.
Boylee: Well I wish you all the best.
Danica has much to offer and most of it is from the heart. I will let Mike Chunn, CEO of Play It Strange, finish this article with a quote he gave me when I asked what his impressions of Danica were.
"Danica, as has often been the case with other songwriters from Napier Girls High, writes songs that are interesting and evocative. Not easy to do well. They take us on journeys that find us focused and receptive. Very cool." - Mike Chunn