Words by Natalie O'Driscoll
We’re caught in Danielle’s web, that’s for sure.
Danielle (pronouned dan-EEL) is a soulful musician with a voice of steel and honey. Recently she’s taken a sideways step into the world of dance-pop, bringing all that lush musical sensibility into Golden Orb, a spiritual project designed to uplift and inspire.
The female Golden Orb spider was your inspiration for the project’s name. Why?
During the writing of a lot of the music for Golden Orb, they just kept appearing in their webs all around the perimeter of my house.
I'm very much a spiritual person and always look for signs from the universe, and this was one that I couldn't ignore. The name Golden Orb itself is so visual and symbolic and seemed to fit the music, but when I did a bit of research on the Golden Silk Orb Weavers, I found that the females are larger than the males, they spin the webs to catch the prey, and they feed their families. It seemed to me like a message of female empowerment, and of weaving the kind of life for yourself that you want to live.
Love, empowerment and unity are some of the words you’ve used to describe what you’re hoping to bring into the world. In what way do you believe music is uniquely positioned to bring these things to people?
Music is such a unique and ethereal art form. I feel it hits us in the feels in ways that other forms of art don’t. It goes straight to our subconscious, through our body and emotions, and can have a healing effect on all levels of our being.
Lyrics become mantras that we repeat as affirmations. Melodies and beats have vibrational resonances that can lift our spirit and completely shift our moods and perspectives.
There is a time and place for all types and genres of music, and we will need various types at different times in our lives. Right now, and for the last two years, I’ve been focussed on making music to uplift myself and others into realising that we are the creators of our own destiny.
You talk about timing being wrong for a relationship as the inspiration for the lyrical content of your first single ‘Slipstream’. I’m dying to know if anything else happened in that regard… does the story have an interesting ending?
Haha yes, Slipstream does have a very happy ending – I ended up being together with the song’s muse, my Twin Soul. The poor timing was that we were both in relationships when we met, so some heartbreaking destruction was unfortunately required for us to be together. But every fibre of my being knew that she was The One. Every sign pointed to her and I’m so glad I followed my intuition!
How much of your personal self are you happy to share with the world through your art?
In terms of how much of myself is in my art – basically all of it! With [last project] Daneel & The Feel, I was mostly writing through my pain. It was a more reactive and therapeutic outlet for what I was experiencing in my life.
With the session work I do for other artists, I play a supporting role for their artistry and their vision.
Now with Golden Orb, I’m much more conscious of the messages I’m expressing and the way I’m presenting them. Golden Orb feels like a safe container that I’ve created to express more of my personality than ever before. I feel free to express all elements of myself – sensual, political, cheeky, powerful, spiritual – all the things that I am.
What are some of the unique challenges you believe women are still facing when it comes to the Australian music industry, and how do you personally navigate them?
I think ageism is an issue for female artists. Obviously, sexism has been a huge issue, as the music industry has historically been a big boys club. But a seismic shift is taking place in that regard with Jaguar Jones lifting the lid on her own and hundreds of women’s sexual abuse and harassment in the Australian music industry.
We’ve seen this set into motion an inquiry into the treatment of women in the music industry, which in turn has led to major changes within the old guard, and women now stepping into leadership roles at large corporations like Sony. This needed to happen for the industry to come to a true sense of balance.
I believe women are the gatekeepers of the moral fabric of society, and for this reason the music industry and the art that comes out of it will be richer and more diverse with more women at helm.
I’ve been extremely fortunate not to have experienced anything too negative, apart from not being taken seriously by men. It used to piss me off that a sound guy would put the male rhythm guitarist’s amp louder through front of house when I was the one doing the guitar solos or being introduced to someone and having them assume I’m the groupie and then seeing the shock and confusion on their face when I get up and strap on a guitar or bass.
But these instances are becoming fewer and further between, thankfully.
The only way I know how to navigate these larger challenges though, is to keep pushing through as though they don’t exist, because my passion for music too strong – I can’t not do it. I think having a strong support system of other females in the industry is important too.
Do you face any other challenges that you either have had to overcome in order to get where you are, or are still having to deal with on a regular basis?
Yes. Right through my twenties I suffered from ill mental health after developing psychosis from excessive drug use. I was absolutely convinced everyone could read my mind and I could read theirs. It was hard because I began hearing so many voices, and I felt like a new portal had been opened within me on a psychic level. It was at least a year before I could be convinced to see a medical professional about it.
To me it was purely spiritual, but I had no one to turn to who could give me any answers on that level. Eventually I agreed to take antipsychotics, but all they did was turn me into a zombie, so I booked myself a trip to America and went and worked at summer camp and forced myself to correct my thinking without meds.
I stopped hearing voices and having telepathic experiences eventually, but it took years.
Fortunately, my queerness has never had a negative impact on my life – I’ve been blessed with supportive family, friends and work environments. I came out at 16 and never looked back to heteronormativity!
What is something you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I think overcoming that period of ill mental health, which lasted about eight years, without relying on pharmaceuticals was pretty epic. I thought about ending it all so many times. But we keep on keeping on!
I’ve also suffered from terrible imposter syndrome and low self-esteem, so releasing my own music has been a major feat. But through the process of releasing ‘Slipstream’, I’ve learned to separate myself from my art, and that has been such a huge shift in mindset and something I really needed in order to move forward and actually let people hear and enjoy my creations.
More and more we are seeing a shift in social consciousness around environment, caring for those less fortunate, tending to the needs of marginalised groups; a shift most obviously evidenced by the results of the recent federal election. To me it feels like the old authoritative and distinctly male approach to leadership is slowly making way for a more creative, collaborative and more nurturing approach to the world that feels distinctly more female. As a creative who is reflecting and commenting on the world around you, how do you feel about that idea?
I believe these shifts are occurring naturally as humanity evolves. In my mind, leadership is becoming entirely redundant, and the perfect example of this is the Lismore floods. The community stepped up and organised themselves to help their neighbours during crisis, not the government. I feel like we are waking up to the fact that authority is a sham and government is an abusive relationship and we don’t need to ask or wait for permission any longer.
Regarding the masculine and feminine aspects of this shift towards empathy - I see it as a restoring of balance from toxic masculinity into divine masculine, which integrates healthy feminine aspects.
I’m so beautifully touched by the way men are expressing their thoughts and feelings now. I’m seeing this on social media a lot and have had conversations with men that are just so - they get it! And I’m all for it!
At the end of the day, I try to look at everything from the bigger picture, and I truly believe we are all one – flora, fauna, human, spirit. So as our consciousness raises as individuals, we start to take action that benefits the whole.