Singer-songwriter Danny Chait is having a phenomenal 2012. With performances at SXSW and NYC’s inaugural Lower East Side Music Festival and much anticipated CMJ shows still to come, plus the release of his debut EP The Back Room, the talented musician has been going non-stop. His magical voice landed him features in American Songwriter as well as The Huffington Post and he continues to garner positive feedback across the board. I got the chance to talk with the charming Chait, who generously opened up about the debut EP, writing songs, and where his inspiration comes from.
When I track him down on the phone, Chait is at home on the east coast. “I’m in New York right now,” he tells me. “I’m actually upstate a little bit in Westchester right now. But I’ve been in Brooklyn for a really long time, since about 2003. I moved down to the city for school.”
Though he’s no stranger to Denver, the musician has not yet played in the Mile High City. “I haven’t performed in Denver but I’ve definitely been through it a bunch of times,” Chait shares. I promise to check back in after the first time he does so I can make sure he is warmly welcomed.
Chait’s debut EP The Back Room dropped in July and is receiving positive reviews from fans and critics alike. “I didn’t really have a set goal in mind for this EP,” Chait explains. “I knew the songs that I wanted to put on it and I just felt it out as I went. When it felt done I sent it off. I didn’t really have an idea of exactly where I wanted to take it, but I had a picture in my mind of each song and I how I heard it in an ideal space, what I was searching for. I just kept shooting for that. I felt good about the record when I released it. There’s always stuff that you hear or you think you could have done better but I had a vision about what I wanted it to sound like and I just went for that.”
I wonder if there are any songs on the EP that Chait initially had doubts about releasing. “It’s funny there’s a song that jumped on there called “My Best Friend”, it’s track number four,” he reveals. “It’s kind of a short, slower song but I had a couple of friends who loved it. It’s a little out of left field but I wrote that a while ago and there was something special about it. On a previous demo or record that I would have put out, I don’t think I would have put that song on there. So that one’s a little different and I didn’t know how people were going to react to it as opposed to the rest of the record, but I’ve gotten a really good response to that song.” Chait pauses for a moment, and then continues. “Even with “The Back Room”, I don’t think I would have picked that song if it wasn’t for people’s responses to it at shows and on demos that I had done. That had some different things on it that I wouldn’t normally put out but it felt right and people really seemed to like it.”
My favorite song on the EP is “Let’s Get Loud”, so I’m curious to know more about it. “My friend- the first steady bass played I had when I started playing around the city- he loved that song and that was a big reason why I even kept that song around,” Chait admits. “I don’t really know how it came to be. I started playing that little guitar lick on my bed during one summer of college, it might have been the summer right after college, and I just started playing it on my bed then I came up with the whole song. A couple of friends loved it and it grew from there.”
So what’s the strangest thing to inspire a song? “I’m honestly not sure,” Chait proclaims after a pause. “I don’t know what the strangest thing is. I think it’s all strange. I never know where all the inspiration is coming from. It would seem like it would be, ‘Oh this girl made me write this song because of this’, but usually it’s a multitude of things in my life that build up into the song. Even with “Let’s Get Loud”, I can envision a couple of people that I was thinking about, but it wasn’t one thing that inspired me. It’s more of a period in my life or a group of things that are inspiring me. There have been relationship things and life things and all that kind of stuff but I don’t know what I’d categorize as strange.”
Chait takes a very natural, organic approach to writing music. “I don’t have a particular process or spot where songwriting comes easiest,” Chait shares. “Because I started writing on my guitar, I’m always comfortable when I’m noodling around on the guitar and writing there. Sometimes I like to push myself out of my comfort zone and maybe start from the lyrics perspective and see what melodies or harmonies will come out of that. Or sometimes I’ll do something without a guitar in hand, like go onto the piano and see what it can make me do. Sometimes I’ll just try to stoke the fire a little in different ways to see what I’ll do. In terms of the writing process, I usually have some sort of inspiration, something that happens, and I just follow that down its natural path. The song starts defining itself as I play through it more and more. I’ll just play through it like a thousand times and slowly it will form itself.”