#63 Lady Danville: Better Side
Los Angeles-based “vocal-centric” indie pop trio Lady Danville have come a long way together since meeting in that UCLAaudition line in 2005.
Dan Chang (Guitar), Michael Garner (Keyboards), and Matthew Frankel (percussion) have much to celebrate in this first quarter of 2012 — a well-mastered EP (Operating) released this past Valentine’s Day, a list of respected musical artists in the industry backing them up, and now they can add the release of their debut music video Better Side to the list. Side note: The video has already racked up 8,500 hits this week on YouTube.
The music video, directed by Garner’s brother, Joseph Garner (John West Already There), is an incredible, unique, conceptual visual piece of art, reminding its audience: You are never too old or too young to escape life, even for just one night.
The video is a modern twist on a story straight out of 1985, mixing the bright vibrant colors of M83 with 1985 cult classic Cocoon-esque properties, creating an overall solidly-produced short film. The video premiered on Consequence of Sound March 1st, and is a must watch.
The trio joined about 100 of their closest friends and fans last Tuesday on the infamous Wood & Vine Bar and Restaurant’s dimly lit patio in Hollywood to welcome their visually stimulating baby, Better Side, into the world.
The handsome trio sat down with Music is What Feelings Sounds Like before the festivities to talk about life, music, and….Disney songs? Check out my exclusive interview below with the guys, and make sure to check out their latest EP, Operating, and their latest video above.
MIWFSL: Hey guys, thank you so much for meeting up with me right before your big party. So how did you guys come up with the name Lady Danville? I know we have a Dan in Lady Danville. But, where did the ladies come from? You guys are not ladies, you are a bunch of handsome young men.
MG: You basically hit it right on the head, we’re ladies and because of Dan.
MIWFSL: You guys are not ladies!
MF: Yes we are!
MG: Go head Dan take it away.
DC: Well, we actually first tried up to come with the name by flipping through a dictionary. We just found 10 words, “lady” was one of them, “geriatric” was another one, and “perfume” was another word.
MG: There were a lot of feminine ones that popped up actually.
DC: Yeah “panties”, plural.
MIWFSL: *laughs* So you could have been Panties Danville?
DC: Pretty much. We all had veto power though, so if Panties Danville came up, I would have vetoed it.
MF: We also had Dan’s little cousin, who was three at the time, and just learning how to speak, be part of the naming process. Continue.
DC: Part of the reason why Danville is in there, is because Danville is where Michael and I are from. Danville played a big part of our history, so we wanted to keep that.
MIWFSL: That’s awesome. Now, there are different blogs that have said that you guys met while in school, here in LA. I want to say UCLA, but I don’t want to say USC [by accident], and get punched in the face.
MF: No we are not like that. Michael went to USC for his Masters. We love them both.
MIWFSL: Ok Good. Well how did you guys become friends, and then bandmates?
MG: We were auditioning for an acappella group, and Matt was already in the group. He was the beat boxer. I had heard of Dan, he was a big fish on campus, so when people found out that I was from Danville, they would always ask me, “Do you know Dan, from Danville??”, and I eventually would say, “No I don’t f***ing know Dan from Danville”. So eventually, Dan and I are sitting next to each other in this auditioning process, and we’re kind of talking, both of us were nervous. This is funny because I’m a bass and he’s a tenor, so we weren’t even in competition with each other. I asked him where he was from, and he said Danville. I was like mother f***a are you Dan from Danville. Then we just started talking more.
DC: We went to rival high schools, never knew each other.
MG: We lived these parallel lives for a while. Matt was our judge at the audition. We ended up both getting in that year, and started playing music outside of the group, shortly after that.
DC: I started to work out with Matt.
MF: You should have seen me back then, I used to be so fat. Just kidding.
DC: He had a part that he had to be really fit for. We would meet 45 minutes a day. I created a workout regiment for him. He actually had to be naked.
MF: He whipped me into f***ing shape. Yeah I had to be semi-nude. The play was called Hello Again. It was a musical.
MIWFSL: A naked musical??? Where was I? How did you guys find out that you all could play instruments as well?
DC: Michael and I had the same major so we had Dinosaurs 101 together. Michael was actually an RA [resident advisor], and had his own room with a piano. I would come over. At the time I was doing that cliché college thing of teaching myself guitar. We from there started to write songs together, and Matt would join doing vocal percussion. We fused together, and wrote together.
MIWFSL: So what would you call the genre of music that you guys play? If you could slap on your own original name to it what would it be?
MG: How many words do we get?
MG: I have four.
*Murmurs to the guys. After much discussion…*
MG: Vocal-centric indie pop. Whenever we are playing shows with a sound guy who doesn’t know our sound, we always tell them that we are very vocal-centric.
MG: We want to make sure the vocals are what are leading the music. “Indie pop”, because that’s more of a generally understood term; it’s not hard enough to be indie rock straight up. I think we do write pop music.
MIWFSL: I really like that, and it’s very unique. Matt, you’re so silent; tell me a little more about the video?
MF: The song itself is about escaping, trying to get away from a current situation, about forgetting about what’s going on in your world, and the video itself is a very literal spin on the song. To give you a little of a specific, it’s older people that become their younger selves for the evening. Just kind of get away from the monotony of their normal lives. In these old peoples’ case, they’re trying to get away from this old person’s home, playing bingo, and they want to get away. You have to ask yourself, was this really them becoming young, or was it in their minds that they became young. We really like it and it’s really cool conceptually and we hope that people want to see it.
MIWFSL: Now who came up with that idea for the video?
DC: I think the initial idea spawned from the director, which just so happens to be Michael’s older brother. He came up with the idea and then we all developed it. But it originally came from the director.
MIWFSL: You guys have toured with some big bands: Ben Folds, Jacks Mannequin, and Dashboard Confessional. If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
DC: Some bands that come to mind for me are: Phoenix, Temper Trap, Florence and the Machine, Death Cab for Cutie…
MG: I think there are some bands that overlap for all of us. Band of Horses is one for me; there is something so emotional about their sound. Two Door Cinema Club has that kind of fun indie pop with electro influence.
MF: I would say John Mayer, or Adele. Sarah Barielles, people in the pop world who could really benefit us. Fans are really hardcore when it comes to pop music.
MG: Who’s Adele?
MIWFSL: *laughs* Do you guys have any big followings anywhere else but LA?
MF: Salt Lake City is Awesome. They love music.
DC: Salt Lake City, Denver…
MG: New York.
DC: There is a small contingent in Canada.
MIWFSL: Do you have any upcoming shows in the area?
DC: Our focus right now is getting back in the studio and recording new songs. We have had some offers of random dates, but recording is priority.
MIWFSL: One last question for you guys. If you could perform one song for the rest of your career, over and over again, every night, what song would it be?
MF: I have actually had an answer for this my entire lifetime. Ave Maria. I would do the indie pop version.
MG: I hate karaoke, but the only song I love to do at karaoke is Reptilia by The Strokes. It’s such a great rock song. It’s really fun and playful. But if you were talking about forever, I would have to pick something by Bach, because you would never get bored with Bach; that shit is complicated.
MF: I want to change my answer. Maybe a Muse song. No wait, changed my answer. Rufus Wainwright’s Beautiful Child.
MIWFSL: What about you Dan?
DC: Whole New World from Aladdin.
MIWFSL: You would be the guy, and the girl?
DC: Yeah! That, or Just Can’t Wait to be King from Lion King.
MG: I sang that for my 5th grade talent show. I was the new kid in town, and did that song.
MIWFSL: Well if they could only see you guys now. I again really appreciate you guys sitting around before your party and talking shop, Disney, and your new video. I think it’s time to grab a seat, and drink for this premiere.
LD: No, thank you.