DANITSA: LOST IN MUSIC

ON SET WITH DANITSA FOR NU ICONS FALL ISSUE “NEW ERA”

If passion is a prerequisite for any artist willing to make it to the top, Swiss singer Danitsa has an amazing career ahead of her. Not only does the Paris-born Swiss singer have intense energy and creative instinct, but she’s also surrounded by a team of inspiring women that support and empower her. Danitsa has been immersed in the music industry since childhood, and she was already recording in her teens. Music is her world, and it’s what makes her heartbeat much faster. Her favorite references include John Holt’s reggae, Erykah Badu’s soul and the singing and songwriting of Horace Andy, who famously worked with trip hop duo Massive Attack. Having spent the past three years working on her new album, Danitsa is ready to share her creative gifts with the world again and perform to live audiences. We caught up with the talented artist to discuss her artistic process, being a woman in the music industry and how she keeps the flame burning.

DANITSA WEARS TOP BY COLLECTIF MON AMOUR
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK SELFWINDING, 37 MM

NU: You’ve been surrounded by music since childhood. Did you always know you would be a performer?

DANITSA: My parents encouraged me to start singing and my father helped me record my first tracks in a studio when I was 10 years old.

NU: Where did that happen?

DANITSA: That was in Paris. My father had been writing and composing songs for a while, and I remember feeling at ease, because it was family. My mother really wanted me to record, in fact she insisted on it. I don’t think my father was completely sure at first, but when he heard me sing, I think he was impressed.

NU: That’s amazing.

DANITSA: My father kept the recording, and now that I’m 26 it’s nice to be able to listen to it again and understand how I’ve evolved as a singer.

NU: Is performing live in front of an audience scary or exciting? How did you experience it?

DANITSA: I studied at the Conservatoire de Paris and had on-stage experiences for plays and one musical, too, but performing live in front of an audience was a completely different thing. I struggled at first, because I felt completely exposed. For me, voice belongs to the soul, and singing live initially made me feel like I was sharing my soul with strangers. I started performing 10 years ago and remember being terrified at first. I even removed tracks during the performances because I couldn’t handle it.

NU: Were you shy?

DANITSA: I guess I was. I felt very confident in a studio environment but being on stage brought back some of my insecurities. In 2017, when I released my first album and started touring, I asked my younger brother to come with me on stage and it changed everything for me. He taught me how to perform and have no fear. It’s going to sound a bit pretentious perhaps, but now it feels like I’ve conquered the stage entirely. It takes time to get to that point, but it’s all part of an empowering process.

NU: You have performed in front of many audiences worldwide. What have you learned from such interactions?

DANITSA: It may sound simplistic, but we’re all the same as human beings, only the backdrop changes. Of course, there are cultural differences and certain songs do better in certain countries, but many people react the same way. You learn to bond with your audience, wherever you are.

DANITSA WEARS ROLLNECK BY WEEKEND BY MAX MARA

NU: What’s it like being a woman in the music industry? Do you feel like you have to fight harder for your independence?

DANITSA: I’m currently surrounded by women in my team, which was not the case when I started out. You get chatted up by men and treated in ways that are not professional. When you’re a woman in the music industry, you do need to shout louder than men, which means they call you ‘aggressive’ or a ‘diva’. This may be 2021, but certain things haven’t changed, and I have to assert myself much more than my male peers. Things are evolving slowly, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

NU: What advice would you give to young aspiring female artists?

DANITSA: If you have a vision, do not hesitate to express it, and make sure people respect it.

NU: How did you cope with the challenges of your industry? And has it changed your character at all?

DANITSA: I’m lucky because I’m surrounded by benevolent and experienced people. My family continues to support me, and I’m grateful to have such positive individuals around me, including my own team. They offer me strength and protection. Music is a tough business, and you need reassurance.

NU: You’ve been working on your second album, which will be released this fall. How is it different from the first?

DANITSA: I signed with a major label for this last album and had to familiarize myself with marketing and other things that are much more corporate. I see it as a natural evolution though, and a learning curve as well. I have been successful in Switzerland, and now there are other parts of the world where I’d like my music to be known.

NU: What’s your process when you write songs?

DANITSA: I like to travel and observe people as much as I can. I absorb things around me before getting to the writing stage. For this second album, I went to Los Angeles, London, Accra, Berlin, Paris, and Zurich. I spent three years writing it and it includes all the stories I got to live during that time.

NU: It’s a luxury being able to take that time for writing and reflection.

DANITSA: Definitely, but it’s also my approach as an artist. This album is eclectic, international. It has different colors and emotions.

DANITSA WEARS TOP & SKIRT BY COLLECTIF MON AMOUR, TIGHTS BY HUDSON & SHOES BY AMINA MUADDI

NU: Is there an artist you met who really impressed you?

DANITSA: WizKid is someone I love and respect. I met him in Accra, and we spent one evening together in his studio. He listened to the whole album while giving me feedback and advice. That was a beautiful gift for me, because I had been listening to his music all the time, especially during lockdown.

NU: What do you like and dislike the most about the music industry?

DANITSA: I don’t like social media. You have to share so much with your fans, and sometimes all I want is to disconnect, and keep certain things under wraps. You obviously need to create links with your community, but sometimes it feels like you’re oversharing. I would love to be a mysterious and secretive artist, writing music just for pleasure.

NU: I understand what you mean, and many creatives complain about this. Being invisible seems impossible today.

DANITSA: It’s part of a whole package that audiences expect from you, and it can get overwhelming at times.

NU: Do you think artists should be role models?

DANITSA: As an artist today, I do not feel like I have the necessary stature to take on such a commitment and support specific causes, but I would like to be able to do it when the moment is right. When ‘Captain’ was released, I realized many people understood the message of the song, and that was quite a powerful one.

NU: Have you felt empowered by music?

DANITSA: Of course. Music is therapeutic, which I understood listening to Erykah Badu for the very first time. Her songs gave me a feeling of empowerment and positivity, which I have cherished to this day. Writing is a liberation of your spirit as well, and I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being on this journey of self-expression.

CAPTURED BY JUDITH HIRSBRUNNER
WRITTEN BY PHILIPPE POURHASHEMI
HAIR & MAKEUP BY NAJAT ZINBI & GURWEEN SANDHU
NU ICONS GIRL DANITSA
PRODUCED BY NU ICONS STUDIOS