Dannie B is artistically-inclined individual in every aspect, from songwriting, to playing instruments, and even his familiarity with videography. He considers himself a storyteller. I had the opportunity to sit down with him to learn more about his background.
Danii Gold: Being a man of many talents, how did you start off in all of your talents ?
Dannie B: It started in high school, I was a curious person. I just loved trying out different things. So during my senior year, Me and my friends would have rap battles every morning before school and one day I had this idea to record it. My mom had just got a digital camera and I decided to records the rap battles. Once I had the footage, I decided to edit it into a film. So that’s was the start of my video experience. And then I started getting into photography senior year as well when I wanted to take pictures for my senior memory book.
I actually began considering myself an artist in college when I started studying creative writing and so I had to transition to that from computer science. My counselor asked me why would I want to change my major and I’m thinking, “she’s supposed to be encouraging me to follow my dreams.” After I spoke with my parents, they said they trusted me to make my own decisions so that’s how I got into creative writing. Then my last semester at Flo Valley is when I got into the poetry club and started writing for the school newspaper and pretty much got into whatever writing that I could.
Photography came about when I interned at KDHX. I was a writing intern and pretty much a music journalist. My manager asked me for pictures one day instead of sending out separate photographers so I started taking a few pictures for articles. At the same time, I became further interested in photography by traveling and by meeting a group of black photographers at UMSL. Those experiences grew on me then I gradually transformed into a photographer.
My love for music comes from my childhood, I come from a family of musicians, my mother’s side was gospel singers. On my dad side, my grandfather was a gospel singer, then I had a uncle who was a touring musician and played with a bunch of major acts. Music was always there but it wasn’t until the middle of college when I had this spark to do it professionally! For a period of time, I did a mixture of poetry and guitar playing at open mics, then over the years I started playing for a couple of different bands and pretty much grew as a musician from there. To sum it up, I had all these individual influences that sparked my curiosity to get me into doing all those different things. Originally, I wrote poetry to music and then I got the idea to become a songwriter. I wrote my first original song last fall.
Danii Gold: So do you play instruments as well?
Dannie B:Well, when I was in grade school I started off as a percussionist but when I actually got into music more seriously, I started playing the guitar, which is my main instrument. Then I went on to play bass and piano.
Danii Gold: Out of all of your talents, which one is your favorite one to do?
Dannie B: I kind of go through seasons. So for the past year I’ve been doing a lot of music and instrumentation with other people, and doing poetry. I’ve been kind of dormant with photography and haven’t done a lot of it in the past couple years but I am gradually getting back into it; every 3 to 6 months I go through a cycle with all my talents. But I spend the majority of my time on music so that’s my favorite right now.
Danii Gold: What do you like to write about when it comes to poetry and songwriting for instants love, feelings, etc?
Dannie B: My genre is love intimacy and romance so the vast majority of my work deals with that. Whether it’s the typical boy meets girl or being in a relationship and going through things or just teaching in general.
Danii Gold: While you were doing photography what kinds of images did you like to capture?
Dannie B: When I first started off I did a lot of travel work. My big entry into photography started when I studied abroad in Amsterdam and that’s when I was fascinated by all the buildings and architecture and bicycles. So I got into travel photography, and when I went out of town somewhere, I would try to take pictures as much as possible. I did a lot of street photography, like walking downtown and seeing people as they are and things happening. Then I got into protest photography and was contracted with SEIU, Service Employee International Union in 2013, which was before Ferguson. So when Ferguson actually happened, I was doing a lot of protest photography and I knew a lot of people that were activists and organizers within it. What I learned with shooting protest, there is a flow to it.
Danii Gold: Do you have a favorite musician/someone who’s inspired you ?
Dannie B: Definitely there are all these different types of aspirations like as a guitar player, my favorite has been Chris Martin or Johnny Buckley from Coldplay. John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even 70s soul like Earth Wind and Fire, Ohio Players and Heat Wave.
Favorite Photographer; I like Ami Vitalie, she’s a shooter for National Geographic and she focuses on pandas. When it comes to film, I am a huge Ava Duvernay fan. She’s my favorite right now. In terms of individual films, I am obsessed with Intersellar, it’s directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway.
Danii Gold: Do you consider yourself an artist or a creator?
Dannie B: Kind of a mixture of both but I do find myself more so an artist. I’ve come to that decision because I do work in marketing and PR and that’s a creative field and I’ve come to realize that a creative is someone who creates for the sole purpose of monetizing their work or their work being part of an advertisement. Whereas an artist there is something deeper and more meaningful and monetization isn’t the first thing that is on their mind. So I straddle the line, but I feel in spirit I’m definitely an artist.
Danii Gold: What are other talents that you still want to explore?
Dannie B: The next thing I would like to get into is acting. The idea of putting on a façade and playing a character is cool.
Danii Gold: What is end goal?
Dannie B: My end goal is to have a solid body of work or bodies of work long after I stop doing what I’m doing that can inspire and influence people. That is the main drive behind what I do is being an inspiration whether it be teaching something to people that didn’t know something or inspiring somebody to do something that I’ve done or that they want to do for themselves. So the end goal is creating something that I believe can be value to other people and give them hope and inspiration.
As far as projects go, Dannie B is working on a music project that he can place on a digital platform. He’s already done a written poetry project and a photography project so, he says this is one of the things he hasn’t done yet.
Make sure you follow him Instagram for music updates and when he’s performing at a local St. Louis spot. @DannieB224