October 18, 2006

Dani Siciliano

Dani Siciliano's latest album, Slappers, embodies a healthy eclecticism that is as easy to enjoy as it is to appreciate. Utilizing an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach (though, truth be told, we wouldn't be surprised to learn she used a kitchen sink!), Slappers never falls victim to being too ambitious. Though based in a heady, electronica-style mindset, Slappers is something more; from catchy dance rhythms ("Didn't Anybody Tell You") to enjoyable jazz crooning over beats ("Big Time"), Siciliano masterfully creates intelligent music with a happy-go-lucky approach that results in one of this year's more enjoyable records. Of course, it's hard not to fall under the spell of a record that contains a song like "Why Can't I Make You High," which features the backing vocals of British rockabilly girl group Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis. Slappers is, quite simply, a rare jewel of a record.

It seems that you had a 'no holes barred' attitude when recording this record. Did you take a bit of a 'let's just record and see what happens' attitude to the process, instead of having a careful, thought-out approach as to how the songs should sound? If you did, did any one particular song's outcome surprise you?

The first brief I gave myself for Slappers before I even started the writing process was that I wanted to achieve a "bold" sound. That being said, it is never as easy as "let's just see what happens." Each song has a slightly different process attached to the writing and construction. There comes a point where you need to adopt a more concise attitude in the studio; for instance, when you are working with session musicians. Of course there were moments recorded from the musicians improving over a track, but mostly there were charts involved. The spontaneous moments are just that; something that can happen at any given moment during the entire process of working on an album. For instance, the track "Why Can't I Make You High" was recorded in London. There was a moment that i wanted to work to a click track so that I could record the vocals at home. One of the players was vehemently opposed to using a click...as a result of this the track is super, super live. All elements that were added to the track later had to be done in real time thus changing the approach for the rest of the production on the track. That one decision informed the rest of the music.

Listening to Slappers, it's hard to miss the elements of jazz and pop, even though the style you are working with is electronica and dance in nature. Is working with that style a means to an end to producing another kind of music that you are interested in?

I like to see it [jazz, electronica] as an influence rather than a means to an end. As of yet I have not decided to make a purist album of any particular style or genre. So until then I will always do what I do-as best as i can.

Was Dani Siciliano's first love with jazz, or with dance music?

I think I came to appreciate them somewhere around the same time. I remember when I was singing in trio with my friend Randall. I would be around at his place rehearsing and would have my walkman with some house tape that I would play for him. i would get overly excited about possibly making all this music but for a big-band....someone else beat me to the punch line!

When you perform live, is reproduction of your music difficult? Considering the complex textures of the new record, would it be safe to say that you're coming close to forming a full band, or, at the very least, that desire is there to express your music with other musicians in that way?

I do not want to try and duplicate the recorded album for my live show. The process of creating a live show involves distilling the tunes down to their core and working that back into a piece of music for a live audience. I believe that this helps you to free yourself up from disappointment and it makes it more fun for the musicians as well.

One of my favorite songs on the record is "Why Can't I Get You High," and what's made the song better is discovering Kitty Daisy & Lewis as a result. How did you discover this interesting group, and will you work with them again?

Yeah, Kitty Daisy and Lewis are great. It was just Ingrid and Kitty who were in on the session but they were fantastic to work with. I'm super pleased with the result. As for working with them again, I have no immediate plans to but i would never rule out the possibility!

Slappers is available now on !K7 Records

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