For me, music has always been a supplement to my day, an addition that enables me to get from point A to point B. There’s nothing like popping in an album and blasting it away, bobbing my head and singing along to the lyrics. For musician Danika Holmes, however, she used music as a vehicle to make her happy. And although it took a few personal events to propel her into the music industry on a full-time basis, fans are thankful for it. That’s because, the singer/songwriter is well on her way to making a name for herself.
Q – Why did you decide to go into music?
A – I was at a bad point in my life personally and in a job I wasn’t happy in. I was literally at rock bottom and the only place to go was six feet under or back up. I went from living on a tropical island and owning a lake house in the Ozarks to living in my brother’s basement and not even having a car. Someday I’ll dish the dirty details, just not yet. Needless to say, my life sucked pretty bad for awhile. So, I learned to play guitar and write songs. I’ve always been into music as a hobby. But when you start playing and writing for more than 10 hours a day it turns into more than a hobby! It was at that point when I realized I could be happy again if I pursued music seriously. My favorite quote is “Music is what feelings sound like.” -Anonymous. And I have A LOT of feelings!
Q – Who were/are your inspirations?
A – I love Beatles tunes. Sara Bareilles is an amazing singer and has great songs. Duffy is super fun and I’ve loved Sheryl Crow since I was in middle school.
Q – I read you almost have your PhD in Finance. Tell me about this.
A – I used to be very level headed. Now I do crazy things like pursue my dreams! Ha ha! I wanted to be a college professor actually. By the time I was 26 I was only a dissertation away from finishing my degree. But that’s when it all went down the drain in my personal life. I remember I had one more course to take, in taxes. I opened up that two inch thick book and re-read the same page about ten times. I couldn’t force myself to do it anymore. With all that said, my background in finance has helped me manage the business side of my music career. I’m lucky enough to know how to manage and invest resources. I’m not one of those musicians who almost dropped out of high school and hated every minute of it. I was the dork in the front row taking notes because I liked to learn. Everyone who knows me now knows I’m always asking questions. I’m a questions person. I like to know how things work and I don’t like “just because” as an answer.
Q – You’re from Davenport, IA. How is the music scene there?
A – I’m more linked into the music scene in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids actually. However, I’m a huge fan of the Redstone Room here in Davenport. I also found an amazing guitar player (Jeb Hart) and drummer (Wes Weeber) to play with who are in the Quad Cities. These guys are pros and I’m lucky that they want to play with me!
Q – Not only do you play music, but you also write it. What process do you go thru in regard to writing songs?
A – I don’t have a set process. Sometimes I write at a piano, sometimes at a guitar. Sometimes I start with a chord progression, sometimes lyrics, and other times I start by humming a melody. I just let the creative process take over and see where it leads me.
Q – If your background is in Finance, is it safe to say you had intentions on going into, say, banking?
A – I wanted to be a professor/own my own financial planning practice. I wanted to work as a fiduciary and give people sound advice. One of my pet peeves is people who call themselves “financial planners” but are really “financial salespeople!” Run people! I was tired of seeing/hearing all the BAD financial advice out there. Makes me sad that a lot of people have no clue how to manage their money. So, I wanted to save the day and teach people how to manage their money. Maybe I should write a song about predatory lending!
Q – With the Internet as a platform and vehicle to get your music heard, is there still a disadvantage NOT being in L.A., NY, or Nashville?
A – Ugh, yes unfortunately. It’s easy to connect with fans via the internet. But the personal connections and networks you can form by living in a major music market are priceless.
Q – Do you plan on making the move to a big city?
A – Well, I’d really like to move to a tour bus! Nashville or a tour bus. I loved camping with my family in an RV when I was a kid. A tour bus is an adult version of my greatest childhood memories!
Q – With a musician’s schedule – touring, recording, writing, and promoting – is there any time for a personal life?
A – Not as much as I’d like. When you work for yourself the balance between work and personal life is sort of strange in my opinion. When I’m “working” it doesn’t really feel like work. But when I’m hanging out and relaxing I have my super long “to-do” list in the back of my mind all the time. I wish I had an “off” switch! Balance is good. I’d like more of that.
Q – What do you like to do in your spare time?
A – What’s spare time? Ha! Seriously though, I try to make time to work out. When I work out I’m in a better mood, which makes the guys in my band happy and the less stress in my life the more creative I become. I also love movies. Love reading too, but don’t find time for it. The sappier the romance novel the better. And I have a monster sweet tooth (why I have to work out so much I guess!).
Q – Tell me about the new album.
A – “Second Chances” was recorded at Big White House Studios in Avon, Illinois with producer Paul Hamilton. He’s a super talented dude and I was fortunate to work with him. The album has eleven songs about life on it. It’s an emotion packed album taking on tough issues such as the death of a parent and relationships ending. But it also has those fun sing along songs on it as well! It really showcases my personality. But who cares about my personality really! Have you ever bought an album and said “This singer has a cool personality!” No, we buy because somehow the song touches us personally. I tried to choose songs people could relate to.
Q – What is your favorite song on the album and why?
A – “Half as Strong as You” is the most personal. It was written for my dad who passed away from cancer five years ago. I don’t have a favorite though. They just have different meanings to me. A fan favorite though has been “Lock Me In Tonight.” That’s why we decided to use this song for my first music video.
Q – What do you want fans to get out of your music? In other words, is there a message that you want to convey thru music?
A – I want fans to relate to my music on a personal level. When they hear a song I hope it will take them to a place in their own life and reflect on their own experiences. Everyone’s life experiences will help them relate to the music in a different way. I think that’s super cool!