I first discovered Danielle Oliver, a Montana-(of all places)- based singer/songwriter a few months ago, with the release of her first-ever music video. The video is for “Advice,” a track off of her Sun For Snow EP. The quirky clip, which is both literally and sentimentally sunny, depicts a bride reflecting on her “road to happiness,” for better and worse… I recently got a chance to chat with the equally charming and lovely Ms. Oliver about her EP, which has actually been out for more than three years. I ask her about what she’s been most happy about her musical career since the EP dropped in February of 2011 and she tells me, “I was able to do my first tour, which was really exciting for me. I was able to bring it through the Western US and some of Western Europe. Although a big highlight would be the music video I recently put out for ‘Avice.’ I had wanted to do a music video for a track from this album for a long time.” When I ask her about the concept behind the video and she explains, “It’s a playful song about taking advice and taking bad advice and looking back, so we wanted a whimsical storyline and I think the video really evokes the feeling I wanted to – that feeling of playfulness and looking back on advice you’d been given, and bad advice you’d been given, in retrospect and finding humor in it.”
Danielle Oliver’s EP, as a whole, reflects a similar smile-after-the-fact sentimentality when looking back on life’s existential traumas. Danielle embodies the beauty of many of the ‘90s most brilliantly popular and popularly brilliant female singer/songwriters, perhaps most notably a more optimistic, less lo-fi, more classically trained, and far less crass Liz Phair. And Danielle’s pedigree is a bit complex. She began learning piano (her weapon of choice, as opposed to Phair’s guitar) at age six. She eventually went to Pepperdine to study classical music, in addition to studying vocal performance in Europe. She may actually be the most “well-trained” artist to produce pop music as delectable as hers of this century. When I ask her about her personal influences, Danielle tells me that they’re certainly not set in stone, but confirms that the whole ‘90s female singer/songwriter characterization is well-deserved: “It is ever changing for me because I like to dabble in different genres and do different things but I’ve always been a fan of A Fine Frenzy and Feist and growing up I was very into Jewel and Tori Amos.” We actually go on to commiserate over the recent split of Jewel and her husband and reminisce about the role that her sophomore effort, Spirit, played in our youth years and how it remains ever-soundtracking life experiences.
Considering her career as a musician, I’m curious as to why Danielle moved from Los Angeles, where she lived for college, back to Montana, where she grew up… which for an East or West-Coaster seems hardly the place to go for music. She admits that the move back took a bit of adjusting: “I’m from here, but it’s definitely slower-paced from the city. I was definitely culture-shocked moving back from the city in LA to here.” However, she also admits that not only can it be more comfortable than LA, but it can also actually be more conducive to being an artist. “There’s lots of skiing and rafting and huge lakes, so it’s easy to get out in nature and more relaxing, but it also offered a little more opportunity in a lot of ways. I found a strong local music community, which is harder to do in big cities, where there’s just so much. People are really friendly and accepting here.” She tells me that there are actually a handful of artists from the worlds of country, soul, and ska, who are all quite supportive and appreciative of each other, in addition to a number of singer/songwriters, like herself.
And although Danielle Oliver has done a bit of touring to support her Sun For Snow EP, she tells me she’s still hoping to do some more and play a larger range of places, which she’s hoping to get to next year: “I would love to go out on the road, but I’ll probably have a smaller regional tour in the fall and probably a more extensive tour in the spring of 2015.” She also tells me that new music is in the works and she’s hoping to have it out in the near future: “I’d like to get some new material out. I’d like to get a single out, or maybe an EP. We’d like to get that out and get a video out there by the year’s end, if possible.”