Danny Mitchell will bring his solo, jazzy pop sound to the Pennsylvania College of Technology at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The event is free and will be held in the CC Commons Room of the Campus Center. Mitchell was kind enough to grant the Sun-Gazette a phone interview.
APRIL LINE: A lot of your songs seem to be really personal and at least, autobiographical. Care to discuss?
Danny Mitchell will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the CC?Commons Room of the Campus Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
DANNY MITCHELL: Yeah, sure! I mean, for me, that's part of being a songwriter - telling the stories that might be personal, but that a lot of people can relate to. I think a lot of people go through a lot of the same things. So what might be a personal story to me might resonate with someone else. Some of them are autobiographical and personal, but some of them are sort of created out of the blue. I've not necessarily lived those things, but thought, "What would this feel like?" It might not be completely autobiographical, but I'm trying to resonate with people on personal levels.
AL: How long have you been playing the piano?
DM: I've been playing the piano for a long time. I grew up in a household full of piano players. I sort of rebelled against it for a while because I had siblings and parents who were very good at playing the piano. I would do it in secret for a while. Finally, I owned up and started actually taking lessons. I got really serious about it late in high school, early in college.
AL: Where'd you go to college?
DM: University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. It's in my hometown.
AL: Do you travel with a band?
DM: Yes, I am just coming off the road traveling with a trio - so that was me, a bass player and a guitar player. A lot of the time, I travel solo. The show I [will] do up there is going to be a solo show. Sometimes it just makes more sense to do it by myself.
AL: What made you decide to run your online fundraising campaign at Project Kickstarter? It seems to have worked for you.
DM: Kickstarter is one of many different platforms that work that way. The idea behind it is that your fans help you fund creative projects. I think it's a pretty cool way to do it because yes, you are asking for financial help from people. But, for me, it seems like a really cool way to get people invested in what you're doing. People can make really small donations and get something out of it, like a copy of the album before it's available. In a way, it's sort of like pre-ordering used to work. It's a cool way to reward the loyal - people who have been with me along this whole path - and who have given me support both financially and otherwise.
AL: So, what took you to Nashville?
DM: I wanted to move to New York, L.A. or Nashville because I wanted to give myself a shot in a music town. And I had traveled enough, and been to L.A. and New York enough to know that I couldn't afford to live there. So, when I first came to Nashville, I just felt really at home here. It's got a small town vibe. I realized I could make the move without going in the hole. That was a big thing. My cost of living didn't change.
AL: Do you have a job besides music?
DM: No. I don't. I do all of my work in music. Some of it is the stuff that we're talking about - I tour and play my own stuff. Some of it is that I have an academic music background - the more classical school of music thing. So, I found a little bit of a niche for writing and arranging music for various different things. It's all freelance work, but it's not all performance.
AL: How did you get the gig at Penn College?
DM: I played NACA [National Association for Campus Activities], where you can go showcase for college buyers. I went and did that for the northeast region, and got some college bookings out of it. It's a pretty good market for me. It's kind of a trial thing to see how it works for me. You can get decent guarantees to play college gigs. And it's my age group, so it's fun to play in front of those people.
AL: The stuff is real nice and easy to listen to. I bet your Christmas album's gonna be a knockout. Do you have a particular passion for X-Mas, or is this strictly about money?
DM: Hahaha, cutting straight to the chase (giggles self-consciously), I do love Christmas music. Who doesn't? What I've been sitting on is three or four original Christmas songs that I've wanted to record but never really had a place to put them. It's hard to put something that's Christmas on just a regular album. It just sticks out like a sore thumb. Finally it was time. The guy who I'm co-producing both the albums with put it in motion and kind of forced me into doing it (in a good way), and it started with 'Savior.' "
AL: Two albums in one year is totally ambitious. Would you describe yourself as ambitious?
DM: That was a point-blank financial decision. Because what that allowed me to do was to go into the studio, and we blocked out two or three days and we recorded all of it at once. The traditional way I would've done it, it was that we went into the studio and worked really hard. We recorded 18 songs total. The guy who's mixing and tweaking the project told me that if I did both of them at once he'd basically mix three of the songs for free which saves almost $2,000. And then it came down to "I want to make a Christmas record at some point, so why not do it now?" Use the same studio time, same musicians, same technicians.
Visit www.dannymitchell.com for more information.