Daneshevskaya on Making New Friends and Playing Really Big Rooms (9/19 at The Church w/ Black Country, New Road)

This coming Tuesday, September 19th, Black Country, New Road will be playing a super sold-out show at the Sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church.  However, we’re just as excited...

This coming Tuesday, September 19th, Black Country, New Road will be playing a super sold-out show at the Sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church.  However, we’re just as excited about openers Daneshevskaya, who are currently on tour with the English art rock outfit.  Daneshevskaya is the project of Anna Beckerman, a Brooklyn-based preschool social worker who grew up with a music professor father and a mother who studied opera.  Beckerman learned piano from her father’s grad students and grew up singing prayers she was taught while attending synagogue, although Daneshevskaya’s music has been characterized more as spiritual in a general sense, rather than anything explicitly religious.

Daneshevskaya’s debut EP, Bury Your Horses, dropped in 2021, with their full-length, Long Is The Tunnel, set to drop November 10th on Winspear.  Over the summer, they dropped two singles from the album: “Somewhere In The Middle,” which KCRW said will, “sit nicely on your breezier indie-folk-rock playlists, but be prepared for the increased frontal lobe action it might stir up,” and “Big Bird,” which The FADER called, “crunchy and quaint in equal measure, with Beckerman singing about the sighting of the large winged creature in incomplete sentences that hint at trouble elsewhere.”

Just yesterday I got a chance to chat with Beckerman, pianist Maddy Leshner, and guitarist (on the record) and bassist (at the live shows) Artur Szerejko from the back of their van, en route to their show at MOCAD in Detroit.  They talked to me about the EP and LP, some of their favorite music, and their biggest shows yet, by far

Izzy Cihak: You’re gearing up to release Long Is The Tunnel in November, which I understand you’ve been working on since 2017.  How do you feel like it compares to Bury Your Horses, both in terms of sound and just the process of writing and recording it?

Anna Beckerman: I would say there’s a little bit more guitar in some songs, but also just a wider variety of sounds.

Artur Szerejko: Bury Your Horses, I think, was kind of rooted in folk and chamber pop.  And then Long Is The Tunnel is actually our first time reaching outside of our immediate network of friends to work on the music.  ‘Cause everything up until that point was folks that we’d been working on music with for close to 10 years: friends from college, stuff like that, pulling a lot of favors.  And then, for Long Is The Tunnel, we got connected to Ruben Radlauer and Hayden Ticehurst, who were actually really great to work with because it was a really natural fit.  It felt very easy, surprisingly.

Izzy:  Cool, cool!  I was just gonna ask about Ruben, because I like Model/Actriz, and that’s really rad that you hooked up.  How did you originally connect with him?

Anna: My manager and their manager were friends, or worked for the same management company.  And, at that point, Hayden and Ruben were just looking for new music to make.  And they were like, “Do one session, no pressure,” and we met up in the park for coffee to talk about it, and we just really hit it off.  And we worked on one song, and then another song, and then three more [laughs].  So, it was just a good fit!

Izzy: You’ve already released “Somewhere In The Middle” and “Big Bird” as singles.  Have you had any favorite reactions to these songs so far, whether from critics, or just fans or friends?

Maddy Leshner: On TikTok like 5 people have said, “This looks like Adventure Time.”

Anna: Yeah, the “Big Bird” music video!  Everyone thinks it’s like Adventure Time [laughs].

Maddy: My friend says she really likes “Big Bird” because she can’t ever tell where it’s going.

Anna: I feel like it’s so different from the last stuff that we were releasing that people seem to be just like, “Where is this project going?” which I always enjoy, when projects are kind of taking new shapes.  So, it’s nice to hear that from others.

Artur: And when we play live, we play a song from the first EP, “Dr. Johann Averies,” and “Big Bird” back-to-back.  And the first song has kind of a sweet, soft ending.  It invites you in, and then we immediately go into “Big Bird,” and there’s a strong contrast between the two, and it’s funny seeing people’s faces in the audience when we play it live, because they’re just totally not expecting us to go into this scuzzed-out, fuzzy, really Wall of Sound-y tune.

Izzy: You’ve also released really cool music videos for both “Somewhere In The Middle” and “Big Bird.”  What is it that inspires the visual elements of your work?  Or, is it different with every video or project?

Anna: Well, Maddy actually is a music-video-and-everything director and editor, so we’ve been really lucky to get to work with her!  And she also works with Zach Stone.  We’ve just been really lucky to get to work with people.  But, in general, it’s just been following what the people we’re working with like to do.  I think that’s the most fun, when you find someone who’s excited about something, even if it’s not my instinct, it’s always really cool to work with someone who’s jazzed on what they’re doing!

Izzy: You’re currently on a run of dates with Black Country, New Road, who I also really like.  How have the dates been going so far?  Any particular highlights?

Anna:  Up until this point, we’ve really just been playing shows to maybe maximum 50 people [laughs].  And then being pushed into this…  I think our second show was 1,500 sold-out.  It’s just the most surreal feeling, and it’s definitely a huge leap.  But we’ve been really lucky with Black Country, New Road.  They’re just so sweet and welcoming and understanding.  And they’ve done tours opening for other people, and they obviously blew up super quickly, so I think they kind of understand the feeling of going from playing really small rooms to really big ones [laughs].  And everyone in the band is great.  I just met the drummer and the guitar player – who are in the front seat, driving [laughs] – about a month ago, but I just really trust them, and they’ve been really great to be with.  It’s been like the best-case scenario for a really scary tour!

Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you’re here in Philadelphia next week at the First Unitarian Church, which is such an amazing venue?

Anna: There was another question like this that we were trying to answer, and we ended up answering it like the “I spy” clue.  Did you ever do those puzzles?

Izzy: If I have, it’s been a long time…

Anna: They’re like, “An angry witch…”  It’s just like a list of things to find…  Anyway, Maddy, what do you expect?

Maddy: Ummm, there’s some choreography that you might not expect to see…

Anna: There’s one piece of choreography [laughs]!

Maddy: And you’ve gotta keep your eyes peeled so you won’t miss it!  But we’ve got some folk, we’ve got some rock, we’ve got some banter…

Artur: I think it’s really fun making these songs translate live, especially because the first record was so string heavy.  And everything was acoustic on that record, for the most part.  Like, grand piano and stuff.  So, having those songs played live in a room with a five-person band is really interesting.  Actually, the Philly show I’m really excited about, because I remember being like 15 years old and just watching a lot of hardcore shows on YouTube for hours on end, and the First Unitarian Church is always the venue where those bands would play!  So, it’s cool to show up there in another context.  It’ll be kind of surreal for me in that way.

Izzy: I try to avoid asking musicians about their biggest musical influences, and instead like to ask them about some of their favorite albums, so I’m curious if you have any favorite albums, whether stuff you grew up loving or things you’ve discovered more recently?

Anna: Good question!  Maddy…

Maddy: Ummm, From a Basement on the Hill by Elliott Smith, basically any Elliott Smith album…

Artur: I would say Crumbling by Mid-Air Thief, and also You Belong There by Daniel Rossen for my two favorite records right now.

Anna: I agree with From a Basement on the Hill!

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you, after the album drops?  What are you hoping and planning for the tail end of 2023 and the start of 2024?

Anna: We have a release show, and I think also just writing more music.  It’s hard to do that on tour.  We have a lot of like half-ideas, so it’ll be fun to flesh them out.

Band InterviewsLive EventsMusic

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.