“Dirt Road Meets DJ” is the way Nashville recording artist Daniella describes the sound of her new single, White Tee, which was released on July 10, 2020. The fusion of pop country and EDM (electronic dance music) encapsulates “that electrifying feeling of infatuation when you begin to fall head over heels for someone.”
Daniella got the idea to combine the music genres after hearing Leave Right Now by Thomas Rhett. “He mixed EDM after the hook of the song, and the rest had a pop country vibe to it. I remember thinking, ‘That’s so cool; I have to do that.’” To create the sound she had in mind, Daniella teamed up with Nashville producer Sid Menon, whom she met several years earlier when he was touring as lead guitarist in Chris Lane’s band. Daniella says Sid brought her vision to life. “He took pop country sounds like keys, banjo and acoustic guitar and combined them with a ton of electronic elements, which created an incredible new sound.”
Listen to White Tee now on YouTube.
White Tee was written last summer when Daniella was on her way to Nashville to make Music City her permanent home. She had been traveling back and forth between SoCal and Nashville since the age of 17, when she first played songwriter rounds at the iconic Bluebird Café and Douglas Corner. She set her heart on “changing lives through God and country music” as a 13-year-old when a good friend from musical theater class took her to the county fair to see the new American Idol – Carrie Underwood. “I’ll never forget the incredible standing ovation she got after singing Jesus Take The Wheel. You could literally feel people’s lives changing around you – their connection to the song was so intense, almost tangible. I knew I wanted to do what she was doing.” Somewhere along their cross-country journey from California to Tennessee, the sight of her husband “chillin’ in a white tee” inspired Daniella to write the song.
The actual trip to Nashville took several months. Daniella, along with her husband and pups, drove their retrofitted RV 6,000 miles with stops in Idaho, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas to visit friends along the scenic route. “It ended up being the trip of a lifetime, but we encountered a lot of obstacles on the way.” Their brakes went out on a mountainous road in Colorado, and the RV almost caught on fire when the radiator burst a few days later. “We didn’t have air conditioning in the RV when we were driving, so at times it would be around 110 degrees. We would eat like 20 popsicles a day to stay cool!”
While on the open road, Daniella had plenty of time to write songs and assess her career and goals. “After investing so many years in learning and studying the music industry, I just really felt like this new season in Nashville was going to be a season of growth and blooming for me.” Part of that metamorphosis would include changing her professional name. Her given name is Danielle Marie Pupa, but she started using the stage name “Dannie Marie” in her teens when a producer told her, “You need a more catchy name, like Taylor or Miley.” Under the name Dannie Marie, she fronted a pop country band that played local venues, events, and festivals in and near southern California – including the legendary Viper Room in Hollywood and Country Thunder in Arizona. She also released two singles to country radio, and followed those up with multiple radio tours that included 40+ stations from coast to coast.
“I felt like the name Dannie Marie was never truly me; it was because someone in the industry told me I needed to have a name that was more catchy and ‘brandable.’” “Daniella” is a combination of her first name and married name. “It also happens to rhyme with my favorite storybook character and Disney princess, Cinderella,” she says with a smile.
As either Dannie Marie or Daniella, the name paid off. When singer-songwriter and Big Machine Records’ recording artist Dan Smalley was planning a writers round at Tin Roof’s famed Revival showcase, he reached out to invite Daniella on the first day she arrived in Nashville. “The round was billed as ‘Dan Good Tuesday,’ and everybody in that round had “Dan” in their name. Having the honor of playing Revival when I first officially moved to town was a great way to start my life here.”
Upon her arrival in Music City, Daniella settled in quickly. “I kind of joke that I have more friends here than I do back home, because so many of the people I knew from California had already moved here to be part of the music scene.” Playing writers rounds and spending countless hours in writing rooms, Daniella says, “I found myself surrounded by an amazing little community of about ten girls that I absolutely love writing and creating music with.”
One of Daniella’s most memorable moments since moving to Nashville was getting to play the love interest in 11:11, a song by the British brother trio Essex County, who recently signed with The Artist Management Group and relocated to Music City. When Daniella lived in Hollywood for a couple years after high school, she booked roles in movies, TV shows, and music videos, and "always dreamt of being the leading lady in a country artist’s music video.” So, she was excited when she got an 11 PM call to be at a private hanger at BNA the next morning for the shoot. “The guys in Essex County are so much fun to be around! It was really a great time on the set.” Watch the music video for 11:11 by Essex County below.
Daniella has a handful of other songs she plans to record in the near future, but chose White Tee for her first release as a Nashville artist because she feels it is very true to who she is as a writer. “The main reason I wanted to put this song out is because it is one song that I didn’t overthink; I didn’t re-write it a million times… it was one of those effortless songs. It’s light and fun, and everyone can use a feel-good song right now.”
Like other Nashville-based songwriters, artists, and musicians, Daniella finds it challenging to navigate through the current pandemic. When Covid first hit, she transitioned from in-person to Zoom co-writes, but even those have become less frequent. “I feel like everybody just got really exhausted, and it seems like we all slowed down with co-writing in recent months. Many musicians are dealing with their own personal struggles related to the virus, including financial and health-related issues.” Daniella says she is using this time to reevaluate her goals and focus on what’s truly important. “At the end of the day, all you really have is God and your family, and it’s a blessing to be able to find comfort in that at this time.”
Stream or download White Tee on your favorite music platform. Here’s the link.
White Tee on iTunes
For more information, go to www.DaniellaOfficial.com
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Party Trick: I can stick my tongue up my nose!
Movie: Cinderella Story and The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Local Restaurant: The Rudder (Hendersonville)
Vacation Spot: Maui
Perfume: Happy by Clinique (It's what my Grandma Faye wore)
Song to cover: Smoke Break (Carrie Underwood) and Huntin', Fishin' And Lovin' Every Day (Luke Bryan)