Danielle Duval

With her cool retro punk rock vibe, Montrealer Danielle Duval presents us with her new album Of The Valley.  There is a raw quality to her voice and an overall delivery that pulls you in and makes you want more.  The album was inspired by a road trip to the Mojave Desert to Johsua Tree. The opening track Control, has already hit #5 on the CBC Radio 3 Top 30 chart and is a good example of her blusy, melodic and explosive girl rock musical personality.  You might have heard her unique cover of You're the One That I want on Season 3 of David Duchovny’s cult series Californication.  For more info on this artist and tour dates, visit: DanielleDuval.com
Interview by: Valerie Bastien

Valerie: Can you please introduce yourself! Why you are so passionate about music?

DD: Yes hello, I’m Danielle Duval and I grew up around music.  My dad had 3 guitars kicking around, records of all kinds spinning at all hours of the day, I sang the blues with him when I was 6 in front of all my parents’ friends, and all our family parties consisted of amazing food, import beer, and major musical interludes.

Valerie: Congratulations on releasing your new album “Of The Valley” in a few days on Ma 19th, 2012; how does it make you feel?

DD: It’s actually May 29th.  It feels like fruition.  Very good fruition.

Valerie: Am I mistaken in thinking that you are French Canadian or it is just the Montreal Anglo accent that I hear? If you are French-Canadian, why did you want to sing in English and do you have any repertoire in French as well that you write?

DD: I grew up in Montreal with a Middle Eastern Mom and Grandparents who spoke Egyptian/Lebanese accented French all of the time.  Our French teachers in high school were Parisian, every single one.  Interestingly enough, my French last name comes from my Father’s South African side.  All my South African cousins have names like Pierre and Serge.  But they don’t speak a lick of French.  It is deep history that I won’t go into here.  And yes, I want to write songs in French because it is a beautiful language, period.  Therein lies a whole new way to express the songs.  Stay tuned. 

Valerie: I heard that your album was inspired from a Mojave Desert, and a brief sojourn in Joshua Tree; how's so?

DD: That leg was definitely a huge part of it.  I’d also recently done a trip to South Africa that was huge for me as well.  Come to think of it, the landscapes are actually strikingly similar.  But the California thing was what capped it all off.  I hadn’t traveled alone in awhile and I was very much due.  So I went on a whim, drove solo on coastal Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles in one day, slept the night, completely bypassed an LA visit and headed straight for the desert.  I seem to recall a few phone calls with family that ended with tones of concern mixed with hints of dread on the other end of the line.  But decisions such as these are what keep the inner fires burning.  Once I got there, I knew right away why I’d come.  I was supposed to hike the day, stay the night, then be off, but I was intercepted.  It was like being planted on the moon.  But with the sun everywhere.

Valerie: I watched your new video Ambulance; it's very cool. What is this song about?

DD: It’s about the emergencies of the mind rather than of the physical.

Valerie: Your songs Control, hit #5 on the CBC Radio 3 Top 30 chart andImposter has been named track of the day on CBC Radio 3; what makes these songs successful in your opinion?

DD: Because with both of these songs I was bold.  I went in deep to get to and translate the truth.  I finally set my cryptic ways aside.  When you get to this point with a song, you then deliver it with that much more courage and attitude. 

Valerie: Tell me about a song that wrote itself up really quickly and about another that took a long time to come about on your album “Of The Valley”.

DD: I wrote “Imposter” in half an hour and recorded it the next day. 
“The Start” took awhile cause I was trying to figure out how I wanted to move my fingers around the guitar.   There’s a 1-1.5 minute instrumental intro that alone took a decent amount of time.  I tried to go a bit further with my playing.  Adding in the early years of classical, hymnal schooling.  

Valerie: What song on the album do you feel is particularly worth listening to the lyrics carefully?

DD: “Day Becomes Night”.  I wish all the luck in figuring out what it means though.  I definitely have my own thoughts on that, but I like to leave it up to individual interpretation. I did go a bit ethereal here.   Sometimes they just come out as they do and you have to just let them be and hold hands.

Valerie: You have a very unique voice; who are your role models vocally?

DD: Thank you. 
Nina Simone, John Lennon, Sinead O’Connor, Edith Piaf, Dusty Springfield, Billie Holiday

Valerie: What are you touring plans for this summer?

DD: To tour. 

Valerie Bastien is a vocal coach, teacher, musician and freelance journalist.
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