You don’t have to be a certain size: This is important because I have struggled with ED my entire life. It started because I was put into pageants when I was little and it was further fueled by being a child actor. I actually looked my age when the rest of the kids looked older. I still had my baby fat and braces and I constantly heard “she was great but she could stand to lose a little weight.” I still hear those voices at 31 years old but I am in therapy working on it and will continue to as long it’s needed.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing dani bby.
dani bby is a rising artist with a current single titled “I Grew Up in LA”. The emerging non-fiction pop artist and musician truly wants to entertain her fans in a positive light, wanting her listeners to feel a “little less lonely in this extremely alienating world.” Recently, dani bby signed with Sound Republica, the Global Music Distribution and Publishing Company based out of South Korea.
After “I Grew Up in LA”, dani bby is set to release “Swipe Right” a collaboration with Willow Smith dani bby hopes to be 2021’s breakup anthem. In creating the song, dani bby states: “We did something on this song that really no one has done before and I am so excited to share it with the world.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you so much for having me! Oh man I don’t even know where to begin. I was born in Santa Clara, CA. I have two sisters from my dad’s previous marriage. I never perceived them as half-sisters, they are my sisters and have been like mothers to me ever since I was born. My childhood wasn’t the best. My mother struggled with addiction and alcoholism when I was growing up and it created a lot of damage and a lot of trauma. When I was about 7 years old my parents separated and me and my mom moved to LA. For a couple years we lived in a hotel that belonged to the church we were a part of. After that we moved around a lot, I’ve lived in a lot of different apartments and homes. We never stayed put for too long. I didn’t experience any stability which I feel is really important growing up. I don’t think your readers have all day so I’ll give the short version. I was bred to be the next young superstar, was recording an album, was acting, was dancing — I was doing it all. Then at around sixteen something traumatic happened in my life and I just shut down completely. I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. I was living alone at sixteen, addicted to cocaine and lost in my own misery. I grew up fast, I learned lessons the hard way and I never really got to experience being a child. It did, however, make me who I am today, so for that I am grateful.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
The belief system I was raised with discouraged any strong emotions or feelings. From a young age, I dealt with anxiety and depression. A sense that I didn’t really belong anywhere. I learned that I could use music as a shield, as a buffer between my inner self and the world outside of me. I could express how I was feeling without explicitly saying it was me I was singing about. That’s when my love for music and creativity blossomed and became a part of who I was. I needed it in a way that I need oxygen to survive.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I needed my entire life to fall apart before I could become the artist I was meant to be. The end was just the beginning for me.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was an actor as a child, I must have been about 13 when I went in for this huge commercial audition. In the room, they asked me to recall an incident where a family member had been sick and how that made me feel. I got so overwhelmed while telling the story that I burst into tears and ran out of the room. I was so embarrassed and angry at myself for not doing a better job. My agent called me the next day to say the commercial people loved me and I had booked the part. I couldn’t believe it. I learned then and there that you can never know the outcome of anything, that even in your perceived failures, there can be great success.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have two new singles which are being released in the next couple of months. The first one, which drops next month, is “I Grew Up In LA.” The second one is “Swipe Right” featuring Willow Smith. Both singles have very different messages and sounds — both based on true events and I’m excited to share that bit of my life with the world.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Tell us about how you bring in diversity in music whether it be your style, your singles themselves, or something about you.
I came out of the closet when I was about 22 years old. However, after my marriage fell apart with my ex-wife, I started to find myself being attracted to the opposite sex again. It really put me into an identity crisis — this was around age 29. I began dating my now ex (Levi Meaden) and I felt I was in the closet all over again because I had put this pressure on myself to fit within a certain label. I wouldn’t tell any of my gay friends because I was nervous of how they would react. However, I found that labels don’t apply to me and I love who I love regardless of their gender. Quick note: even though he and I broke up, he’s still my best friend. I couldn’t think of life without him!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You don’t have to be a certain size: This is important because I have struggled with ED my entire life. It started because I was put into pageants when I was little and it was further fueled by being a child actor. I actually looked my age when the rest of the kids looked older. I still had my baby fat and braces and I constantly heard “she was great but she could stand to lose a little weight.” I still hear those voices at 31 years old but I am in therapy working on it and will continue to as long it’s needed.
- You don’t need to use your body to get what you want. I’ve been in plenty of situations in this industry where it is expected that if you want something, you need to give a piece of yourself away in order to obtain it. I did that when I was younger because I didn’t know any better. I wish someone had told me I had the power to say no.
- Not everyone is going to like you. Your art is your own. If you love it than the right people will love it. Someone is always going to have something to say. You have to let it roll off your back and keep moving.
- YOU ARE ENOUGH. As I said, I struggle with depression/anxiety and when I was deep in my addiction, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was very suicidal and thought I didn’t matter enough to be alive. I was wrong. Anyone that feels that way is wrong. So if you feel that way and are reading this, you are enough. Always have been and always will be.
- Sober is sexy. The music I listened to and musicians I looked up to depicted drinking and drug use in such a beautiful light. I never saw anything beautiful when I was using. It wasn’t until I sobered up that I saw the true beauty in life. I’m sexier when I’m sober. I’m not passed out in front of your door with my eyebrows washed off, you feel me?
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Meditate, therapy, sleep, repeat.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I am a HUGE animal rights activist. I am vegan and started my own rescue (Rebirth Rescue and Animal Sanctuary.) The world, as a whole, views animals as commodities and objects that we own when, in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They were here before us, and I believe they will be here long after us. I hope one day the world will see that their needs and wants are just as important as ours. I live a life where I am not above nor beneath them. I view us as equals and truly live by that each day.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I mentioned him earlier but I truly would not be who I am as an artist nor a person if it wasn’t for Levi Meaden. When I doubt myself or let my depression get the best of me, he is there to quiet all that comes along with that. When I want to give up and say maybe I can’t do this, he is there to tell me I can. Experiencing life with him opened a side of me that is responsible for where my career is at this exact moment. Life had really broken me and took my heart off my sleeve. He put it right back on which is what allowed me to write the single which will drop next month, “I Grew Up In LA”.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Yes! I actually have it tattooed on my stomach. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius. As I stated before, life had REALLY broken me. Kicked me down every chance it got, and before sobriety, I was definitely tripping when life wasn’t kicking me. However, I got up each time and each time I stood, I realized I wasn’t dead and that I was given another chance. When I fell the hardest, I got sober and through sobriety I was born again. There is nothing more beautiful than that to me.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Oh that is an easy one. Katherine Moenning. Growing up, the L Word helped me navigate my feelings towards women which wasn’t allowed or spoken about within my world. Being gay was the ultimate “sin” and I felt ashamed because that’s what I was taught. It may sound crazy but the show helped me through that shame and I felt I was a part of the LGBTQ world even if I was just alone in my room. She has been my forever crush.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
- Personal Instagram: swiperightbby
- Rescue IG: rebirthrescue
- Twitter: swiperightbby
- TikTok: danibby