DANA JEAN PHOENIX - 'Digital Life' | An Interview
The reigning Queen of Keytar Ms. Dana Jean Phoenix is on another level let’s be honest.
Her high energy performances twinned with the catchiest tracks of anything I’ve heard to date all serve to endear her in the hearts of many and this Toronto native has no plans to stop anytime soon!
Her powerhouse vocals and production chops have seen her perform on both sides of the Atlantic and with some fantastic livestreams under her neon belt there’s really no end to this lady’s awesome talent!
The unadulterated passion for what she does abides and has garnered her a legion of fans the world over. From her earliest memories of attending and subsequently graduating Musical Theatre in the renowned Humber College Toronto to becoming a featured performer in Toronto’s musical circles she had an undeniable drive to succeed and worked very hard to accomplish her goals. She’s the literal embodiment of someone who through this same hard work realised her dreams and made a fantastic name for herself. I’m sure she’d be the very one to tell you to hold tight to your dreams because with some graft you will get there, just keeping going!
She has toured internationally fronting a band wonderfully titled ‘God made me funky’ and was featured on the celeb blogger Perez Hiltons website for her rendition of ‘Starships’ by Nicki Minaj and even receiving a shout-out by the Artist herself with this same track garnering over 1 million views on You Tube!
She has shared her stage with the likes of Mariah Carey, Fergie, John Legend & Suzanne Vega to name but a few and has collaborated with some of the most influential names in the Synthwave biz to include the wonderful Timecop1983, Sunglasses Kid, Perturbator & Highway Superstar amongst others so it was no wonder that Forged where super excited to interview her, let’s get into it…..
So happy you took the time to chat to Forged in Neon Dana, thank you so much for your time...
I got to get straight to it and congratulate you on an absolute stormer of an album in ‘Megawave’ truly a highlight amongst the sea of releases we had in 2020, how do you think it was received?
Thanks so much! I’m stoked that the album has been so well received by the Synthwave community and beyond. I was definitely curious to see how people would respond to the funkier tone of the album, and it’s great to see/hear so many synth fans note that very aspect as being a part of why they dig the album so much. I’m grateful that people continue to discover the album and shout it out on social media, and I’m mega thankful to Outland Recordings for releasing it on their label and for being such a champion of it. It’s also rad to see so many people excited for the Megawave LPs that just got released! They are definitely super pretty-in-purple!
Of course, Powernerd was an intrinsic part of that Album, it’s the collaboration we never knew we needed until now, the creativity and dynamism were a thrill. Tell us a little about the creative process behind what ultimately became ‘Megawave’
Powernerd Paddy and I have been collaborating for a few years now. It started with the song ‘Flame’ on his album Testosterossa and then ‘Losing The Connection’ and ‘Only For One Night’ on my album PixelDust. Playing two live shows together in Vienna was really epic, and it was a spur of the moment idea, to do a full collab album, at the last show we played together.
We talked for a few weeks about the vibe we wanted for it, and knew that performing the songs live someday would be an important element to consider in terms of the overall energy. Then, Paddy would send over a track, and I’d record the vocals. The tracks that Paddy created were so playful, moody, funky, and fun that it allowed me so much freedom in the recording process. We’d then have a back and forth about any extra elements that we felt were needed. Paddy is so awesome, talented, and has the coolest ideas, so it was a totally fun and exciting process from start to finish.
You, yourself as a solo musician have had such great success and are hugely revered in the scene touring when you can the world over. Have you many cherished memories of your time on the road? What have been some of your stand outs?
Vienna is definitely a standout tour spot and I usually start my European tours there. It’s the perfect way to kick off a string of shows, thanks to Powernerd, and Phil (he’s the man!) of Silent Booking being so awesome and welcoming. The crowds in Vienna are so enthusiastic and energized, and the city is super cool and beautiful, so it’s really amazing to play there.
VIENNA, PHOTO BY SHADE GROWN EYE PHOTOGRAPHY
My two shows with Outland in London, and of course the Outland Toronto event in 2019 were really special too. Stu and Brett of Outland have so much passion for music and the Synthwave genre. They take so much care to put on amazing events for both performers and patrons, that it truly is an unforgettable experience. VHS Visions, Miami Cyber Nights, Night Arcade, Neon RI, Turbo Drive, and Tech Noir are also events I’ve played that were insanely fun to be a part of. All the organizers of these events are the best people.
OUTLAND TORONTO, PHOTO BY ABOYNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Lastly, it’s so rad how many Synthwave fans travel from far and wide to catch a show. Some fans have been to almost every single show I’ve ever played, regardless of what country I’m at. That’s something really special and unique to the Synthwave scene, and it’s always a highlight for me.
Probably putting you on the spot here (sorry not sorry) but what would be your one favourite track in your entire discography that means the most to you? What’s that one track you’re most proud of? Why?
‘Dreams’ with Timecop1983 is a meaningful one for me. I remember having the feeling that it was something very special when I was recording it. Getting to perform the song onstage for the first time with Timecop1983 in Stockholm was an amazing feeling. The entire crowd knew all the words and sang at the top of their lungs – it was pretty surreal.
Fun side-note: A dear friend of mine who now lives in Stockholm, met his partner there. They were sharing their favourite music with each other one night, and his partner happens to be a fan of my music. He played ‘Dreams’ for my friend not knowing that I was his long-time bud. That was totally spesh and magical to hear.
Can you tell us a little about any current and future projects you have in the pipeline?
I recently collab’ed with Powernerd again on the song ‘The Ruins of Paradise’ for his amazing new album Destroy To Create. I’m currently collab’ing with a few really rad artists, and have been writing for a solo EP.
If you had the chance what would be the one thing you’d love to change within the Music Industry?
I’d love if all music genres could experience the unique and special energy in the Synthwave scene. I’ve played in a variety of projects from R&B, to jazz, to funk, and rock – sometimes in big lavish tour buses and playing large festivals. Synthwave is definitely the most exciting. Not only are the music lovers and supporters next level, but so many of the artists, bloggers, video directors, and promoters are such stand-up people. You’re guaranteed a good hang at a Synthwave show or a livestream event.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up? Who are you listening to now?
There was a ton of jazz, classic rock, prog-rock, and 80s music being played in the house when I grew up, so those are definitely influences on me. From an early age, I always gravitated towards the R&B, soul, and funk side of things. Janet Jackson, The Time, Prince, D’angelo and Raphael Saadiq were always playing in my headphones.
Nowadays, I really love checking out all the badass synth ladies in the scene like: Mecha Maiko, NINA, Glitbiter, Parallels, Bunny X, Czarina, and so many others. And of course, some of my amazing label-mates: TAURUS 1984, Laura Dre, and New Arcades. Other non-synthwave artists that are my faves lately are: Thundercat, Men I Trust, and Alvvays.
How do you think as an Artist you’re sound has developed over time?
In terms of sound: I think I’m continuing to embrace my early love for R&B more and more. In terms of message: songs of self-empowerment have always been important to me. That philosophy only continues to get stronger as I see how resilient we’ve all become as a result of navigating these challenging and uncertain times.
What is the one guilty pleasure you cannot live without?
Raspberry dark chocolate and listening to WEEN.
What’s a day off for Dana Jean Phoenix like? Is there such a thing?
Consuming raspberry dark chocolate and listening to WEEN. I cycle and hike a lot too, ‘cause nature rules.
How would you describe your music to someone who has as yet to be introduced to it?
Pretty-In-Pixelated-Pink Retro Synth music.
What would you say is some of the best advice you have received that’s stuck with you throughout the years?
Always treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Be thankful for the opportunities and support that come your way. Work hard. Take moments to pause and reflect. Have fun.
What do you enjoy most about being a Musician?
Travelling, meeting so many amazing artists and supporters, and sharing in magical music moments with a crowd under one roof. Also, I love that work is actually playtime if you’re doing it right!
Photos by : Peter Gordebeke
A message for your fans?
Megawave is out on VINYL on Bandcamp! And Thank you so much for your always incredible support!!
Also, thank YOU Ashley for being such a champion of the scene. You are AWESOME!
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