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Conversing With Addi McDaniel of Addi and Jacq

Behold McDaniel's wit, charm, and lots of feeling.

Addi McDaniel is the singing half of Addi and Jacq, WNYC's "Best Emerging Band in New York."

The duo has played Carnegie Hall, Joe's Pub, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Metropolitan Opera, Birdland, and the Apollo Theater. McDaniel will release her debut solo album, After The News, January 25. She also has a new music video out, called "Are You Serious," a cover of Andrew Bird's droll tune that's included on the album. The video, directed by Nick Spanos, captures the alluring dichotomy of New York City: larger-than-life while simultaneously intimate.

Popdust sat down with McDaniel to learn about the source of her passion for music and her perceptible vulnerability.

Addi McDaniel - "Are You Serious" (Cover) - Official Video

How would you describe yourself?

Old soul, nostalgic, compassionate, down to earth.

What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?

I was probably 12 or 13, and some friends and I broke into the local mini golf place after hours to go rollerblading on the green. We were caught and banned from the course. Obviously.

What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me."

Who is your favorite music artist?

Impossible to pick just one! Lately I've been really into Susanne Sundfør. I think her album Music for People in Trouble is brilliant.

How did you get started in music? What's the backstory there?

I was born into a very musical home—there was always music playing, or someone playing an instrument. My siblings and I would harmonize in the car on road trips. It was a big part of my life from the very beginning. I remember seeing Les Miserables with my grandparents and being totally enamored with live performance and live music. It was the most thrilling thing I had ever seen. I went to a public performing arts high school in Florida, and my passion for the arts began to deepen. I always knew I wanted to move to NYC, so after college I continued to seek opportunities to perform. Music has always felt intrinsic to who I am. I can't imagine what life would be like without it.

What musicians influenced you the most?

There are so many. Some of my favorite albums of all time are: Paul Simon's Graceland, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Rufus Wainwright's Want One, Ben Sollee's Learning to Bend, k.d.lang's Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?

I'm constantly inspired by other artists. I've heard that all music is a sort of repackaging of an artist's collective influences. I love that idea. Growing up, I was captivated by the songs of Rufus Wainwright, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen, drawn to any voice that conveys pathos, honesty, and depth. I aspire to emulate those qualities when I'm singing.

What instruments do you play?

I grew up playing piano, but I'm really into learning guitar these days! I love all stringed instruments. Would also love to learn how to play the mandolin!

What made you choose to include Andrew Bird's "Are You Serious" on your new album?

I've been a huge fan of Andrew Bird for years, and this song in particular had been stuck in my brain for months. I found it to be so playfully perfect and infectious. Andrew Bird is such a genius at his ability to create dichotomy in his songwriting. That quality seemed right for this album; somehow it seemed like the right fit.

Your debut solo album, After The News, drops January 25. What inspired the album?

In the spring of 2018, I had the great fortune to record an album of a heart-wrenching collection of songs written by Tom Siering that explores the darker side of our human experience, particularly regret, loss, and grief. Tom's lyrics were full of vulnerability and honesty, and I really wanted to match and honor them in the vocal performance. What I discovered throughout this process was just how necessary our vulnerability is, how healing it can be. I also find great joy in giving life to someone else's words, finding the point of entry, taking on someone else's point of view and making it my own.

What's next for you musically?

2019 is shaping up to be a really exciting year of lots of different collaborations. My intention is to generate new ideas, exploring a range of styles, all culminating in another album—hoping to record this spring/summer!

Will you be doing any touring?

I love to travel and share music whenever possible! So far we have a show lined up for Feb. at The Standard, East Village, and a performance at the St. Augustine Distillery this spring! Additional shows will be announced soon. Check and Instagram/Facebook/Twitter for the latest!

Follow Addi McDaniel Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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