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Meet Daniela Spagnolo of danistella music

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniela Spagnolo.

Daniela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I can’t remember a time where music wasn’t intertwined in my life… I grew up in New York to Italian parents. My father was a singer and guitar player. There was always music. My father singing and playing guitar, my grandmother’s cooking, her garden, and the sound of her sewing machine. These are the sounds of my youth that inspire me to this day.

I began classical piano lessons at 9 years old at “Hochstein School of Music”. After hearing Carol King sing and play piano, I thought..How cool! She sings and plays and she’s a girl! I started learning her songs and quickly started writing my own music and lyrics. It became a private world for me… I could go to the piano when I felt sad, pain, heartbreak and even joy! Something that”s incredibly useful at a young age where it can feel like you aren’t always understood.

I was incredibly lucky to attend a high school where my teachers were caring, and pushed us hard enough to become the best that we could be. I cannot speak enough about the importance of great teachers at any time in our lives, especially at a young age. My life became filled with the arts. Dance lessons, piano lessons, voice lessons. I was either in a musical, play, piano recital etc. My life filled with music! That pretty much continued through college.

I later began to spend a lot of time in NYC where I began a journey into the jazz world. After hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing, I realized I had a love for the style of jazz music, and the freedom it offered after all of my classical training. I spent a few years in NY playing in jazz trio’s and getting a little-kicked round. To quote Tom Hanks I learned that there was “no crying in baseball”. I learned how to talk to the musicians with confidence and command my space.

After a few years, it was time for a change. I got an offer to sing with a band that was signed to a label in Cincinnati Ohio and accepted. Along with singing in the band, I started to sing on commercials and began to model. All great ways to pay the rent! I continued to visit NYC often. I was on the subway one day in my all-black outfit, cold outside, looking down at the floor, and wondered what it would be like to live without snow. A friend had moved to LA and invited me to visit. I’ve been here ever since! What??? Sun, ocean, cars without rust and great musicians? I’m in!!!!

I began to play in jazz clubs with some of the best musicians. After a few years, I realized I didn’t have a CD and it was time. I never stopped writing music or playing the piano. I really wanted to find a way to incorporate everything that I learned. All of my past experiences and influences with music. Maybe include some of my originals. So a few songs at I time, I put together my Cd “Daniela Sings”. There was some doubt along the way. I had no record label, no producer, no team. I just knew I had to finish it. Often times, we are our own worst critics! When I felt frustrated I would cook like my grandmother, relax and collect myself. When I didn’t know what to record next, I would sew or go to my garden, relax and collect myself.

There is so much solitude for me in gardening, sewing and cooking. There is a magic in the silence where everything can be heard. For me, silence is often my sanctuary, where I can hear what to do, or not do next. A way of meditation really… A place to quiet any negative chatter and trust myself. Then go to the piano and remember my
private world, like when I was a little girl and express anything I feel. That’s where it’s safe… I finished it!

I called Al Schmitt at Capitol Records and asked him if he would work with me if he would mix it. He agreed, I  almost fainted! Al is a 23 time Grammy- winning recording engineer and producer. I was so honored and he just couldn’t be a kinder person. After it was finished, I decided what the hell, I’m going to put it in the mail and submit it to the Grammy board. I later received a letter, saying that my CD was being considered for Grammy for “best jazz vocal record”.

Most recently and up to date, I began “danistella music”. Writing and composing for placement in tv and film.

Songwriting and collaborating. I’m not sure why, but there is something about where I’ve arrived in my life at this moment. With everything I’ve learned and experienced. From teachers, other musicians, music lessons, people sharing their personal stories of joy and pain, my own twists and turns in life. I feel clear and free and able to somehow take all of those experiences, and turn my emotions into sound.

With my hands, my voice, my heart and soul, and all of the sounds of my youth. I absolutely love the process of composing. It’s created an opportunity to use some of my classical training. Writing string section parts, playing live piano on the tracks. I’m also working on a song with Jason Scheff, the lead singer and bassist from the band “Chicago”. He has an amazing voice, and will be singing on one of my songs! Forward, forward I go… every day growing more in faith and trust in myself, in others and music.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road that led me to where I am now, has been everything! Smooth, rough, bumpy, happy, sad, grateful. All of it… I write for a publishing company which I absolutely love, called “Masterphonic”. That’s when I really began doing a lot of writing/composing. At first, it was very challenging. I didn’t find the music hard to write, I found the technological aspect incredibly daunting! In order to meet today’s standards, I had a to learn to record live piano, live vocals, edit, run pro-tools, and be my own engineer.! So I rolled up my sleeves and dove in! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and It felt REALLY HARD! But I don’t mind a good challenge, especially if I can grow and become better at something that I love.

Yes, there was some crying, expletives in both English AND Italian, and when the computer would crash, I felt like smashing it! When music would accidentally get deleted, it was so frustrating. All of that work, poof, gone! There was no way I was going to give up… I just kept telling myself “You can do this”! I am incredibly lucky in that Michael Verdikc and Stephen Bray (owners of Masterphonic) talked me through everything. Slowly I grew more and more proficient. More confident.

Finally a feeling of freedom and accomplishment! Freedom on so many levels. I love working with other people, but when I’m in the flow of writing it’s wonderful to not have to wait for anybody else because of technology. It’s wonderful to able to rely on myself. It’s also become incredibly valuable as I work on my next CD and other writing projects!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with danistella music – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As danistella music. I simply create music. With my voice, my hands, my heart and soul. I am a composer/pianist/songwriter/vocalist. I write cinematic pieces, with a strong string and piano focus. My music is available for tv/film, or any project that needs music. I can produce a finished product that is comparable to anything of high quality on the market today. My studio has excellent sounds, and my Yamaha C7 grand piano sounds like heaven!

I am also a live performer and am honored to play with some of the best musicians Los Angeles has to offer. If I had to say what I specialized in, I can only say that when I create anything through music, I’m incredibly passionate. I give all my self holding nothing back. What is heard and felt, is up to the listener…

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m looking forward to placing my music in film and television and connecting with interesting people along the way. Cultivating relationships is part of the journey for me. If the end game were to just achieve success as status, that wouldn’t be a very rich life.

I look forward to future live gigs, and playing with some of my favorite musicians! I’m also in the process of recording music for my next CD which I’m super excited about! Besides that, I continue to cook, sew and garden. I continue to listen to the silence, and allow it to lead the way!

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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