Dani Siciliano has been a curious presence for over a decade now.
Born in Arizona, the vocalist drifted into the orbit of Matthew Herbert, working with the underground legend on numerous projects.
Releasing two dizzying solo efforts, Dani Siciliano then drifted back into the shadows. With the release of a new self-titled full length, though, the vocalist is ready to take centre stage.
The Invisible's Leo Taylor has been aware of her work for some time, and gladly took part in a special Personality Clash.
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Dani: What was your creative process during this record?
Leo: All in all we'd had a pretty challenging time making and releasing our second record 'Rispah'. Dave lost his mum during the making. It was, as a result, a very emotionally charged record. We all had to take time out to process what had happened after Dave was electrocuted on stage whilst performing in Lagos with legend and musical hero, King Sunny Ade, two weeks before the release of 'Rispah' which completely wrecked the album campaign. We all had to take time out to process what had happened and It took a year or so before we all felt like we could reconvene and make new music together.
When we came back we spent and initial three days at Konk studios with our friend and sonic wizard Lexxx (who eventually mixed the record) and we just let rip, jamming completely new things and also developing some existing ideas and demos we had made previously. Some of these eventually became tunes that are featured on the album.
We then went to the US to support our friend and collaborator Jessie Ware and ended up in LA. Dave went back on a couple of occasions do more writing and production. Finally, after building our studio, we began setting about putting flesh on these ideas by playing them on our instruments and developing them further as a band. It felt very like a very natural and organic process.
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All in all we'd had a pretty challenging time...
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Dani: Have you ever thought about making a proper live record? I think you should!
Leo: I would personally love to do that! Actually with our new record the majority of the recorded material is live takes - obviously there were many overdubs too, but for the best part they were all one takes and for me these are some of the best moments on the album. I guess there is a real sense of a performance unfolding which you still don't hear in a lot of modern music. We have to then somehow try and approximate the record we've made when we perform live. As there are only three of us this can be a challenge and as a result we're using track to help make things easier.
Something we have always talked about though is performing everything live. All percussion and keys and backing vocal's replicated live, a bit like the way Talking Heads did for the album 'speaking in tongues' and their film 'Stop making sense'. A big inspiration. We need London's answer to Bernie Worrell and Steve Scales though! I'm hope the live album will happen sooner rather than later.
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Well, in all honestly, I had to find my voice again...
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Dani: Do you have people remixing tracks for your new album?
Leo: Yes so far we've had a couple of great ones, firstly Reginald Omas Mamode IV did one for our first single 'Save You'. Loved what he did, he really brought big swing to proceedings in the vein of the great J Dilla. His take on it and his feel adjustment, as a result, has got us already re-interpreting the original and playing it a bit like his version live! That's one of the beautiful and amazing things about remixes I suppose, they can re-contextualise and re-inform the original and give it a whole new lease of life. The other track 'So Well' which features Jessie Ware was remixed by our friends Darkstar. I love their musical lens and filter so much. Their offering was brilliantly original and features a gun clip to boot. We're not sure if they own the gun in question or just borrowed it but it's in there. Northern gangsters to the core!
Dani: What's the last record you listened from start to finish?
Leo: 'A Moon Shaped Pool' by Radiohead and 'Dirty Mind' by Prince - I actually listened to it two and a half times...
Dani: On vinyl?
Leo: Yes. I think it's the best way to experience an 'album', to really absorb it as an experience. You are left a much more enriched individual listening that way as opposed to a dreaded MP3 and with the physical object in your hand you discovering so much more about the story and the intention - imagining how it was recorded and what it might have been like it the studio and also knowing who worked on it, who engineered and mixed and mastered it - this is all incredibly important and valuable information!
Leo: Your track ‘I'm The Question’ you wrote for your new album got me thinking about a deep subject I guess which is – why are we here, what is our purpose or what is it we are here to fulfil and it resonated with me as I’ve been going through a time of self-reflection recently – we are here to try and understand ourselves and find out who we are. Does that bare any relation to the songs meaning or over arching theme?
Dani: For sure, the title is to be taken at face value, the hook in the song is is the continuum of the title - it's neither a question or answer, it's both question and answer. The music was inspired by 50's doo-wop - well, my interpretation of it - and the lyrics were to match the innocence of that sound - so I decided to write the lyrics as if I were writing to my 13 year old self.
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It's neither a question or answer...
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Leo: It’s been 10 years since your last album ‘Slappers’ which I had the pleasure of playing on. I know it’s been a time of big transformation for you. How did that experience shape your creative process?
Dani: Well, in all honestly, I had to find my voice again: physically, metaphysically... I started off by working on this idea I had, a project for piano and voice of disco covers which is entitled "discovered". I'm so happy I did this. I spent four months with a rented piano in my flat and dissected a careful selection of disco tunes from my collection with this amazing pianist I met, Gael Rakotondrabe. We then went and recorded the project in real time, in the same room, no edits. It was exactly the opposite of what I had been doing in the past.
From there I kept writing and finding that I had a collected enough material to start thinking about working on a new album. The prospect of working with Circus Company started to materialise. At one point during the pre-production of my album, it became very clear that I would be the producer for the project - it was all at once daunting and exciting. I put my head down, worked hard, made a lot of mistakes, learned a ton, watched a gazillion YouTube tutorials and got on with it. I have so much more to learn and explore but that puts us squarely up to date.
Leo: How did working in Paris inform the sound of your new record and did your environment shape the overall result?
Dani: I'm not sure Paris informed my sound but I do believe had I been in London the record would sound different - by that I mean it's a subjective process. The musicians I worked with here have their own narrative and sound and therefore it will always be a sonic factor.
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Dani Siciliano's new album is out now on Circus Company, The Invisible's new album 'Patience' is out now on Ninja Tune.