Danielle Ate The Sandwich

Danielle Ate The Sandwich

Danielle Anderson has created a life for herself, complete with name and occupation. Once a fashion design student, Anderson now travels the country, stopping to stand in spotlights and say: "Hi, I'm Danielle Ate the Sandwich and I write songs."

- Kirsten Milliron

posted March 10, 2010

Danielle Anderson has created a life for herself, complete with name and occupation. Once a fashion design student, Anderson now travels the country, stopping to stand in spotlights and say: "Hi, I'm Danielle Ate the Sandwich and I write songs."

When I first stumbled across a YouTube video entitled "Another Day," Danielle Ate the Sandwich was an all-but-unknown artist recording, editing, and distributing her original tracks with the help of her "only ally" - the internet. A year later, Danielle Ate the Sandwich is in the midst of recording her third album, entitled "Two Bedroom Apartment," and touring the Midwest to visit more of her widespread fan base.

After an all ages show at the Sam Ash Guitar Store in Castleton, Indiana, Danielle Ate the Sandwich sat down with PlugInMusic.com to discuss some of the ways she creates her own success; or, in her own words from "Another Day," how she goes about "photosynthesizing, turning unreal expectations into energy."

Besides asking people what songs they want to hear, how do you decide what song you want to play?

I always play a set list of my songs that I think are good - that are my favorites to play. And then every once in a while I throw in a cover. But I also try to pull out oldies every once in a while, which I should practice more. They are so old that I have kind of forgotten how they go or forgot the words. But other than that, it's kind of hard and I play a lot of shows, so I like to try to mix it up so it feels a little bit different for me. But then, if I don't play a song that someone wanted to hear but I play all the other times - it's a challenge. Making a set list is a stinky, stinky task.

When you are getting tired of your songs, do you also become more critical? Do you doubt the quality of your work?

Yeah, yeah. There are a few songs that I do that for, like: Why would anyone like this song? And I think it has a lot to do with comparing my songs to other songs that have been written and that I hear a lot - the arrangement of my songs, like verses, verses, chorus, verse, blah blah blah. And I'll think: this is a stupid song, it doesn't make any sense, it's short, it's lacking thickness. I do get critical every once in a while and there are songs that I play all the time that I just get so sick of. I almost feel like I'm not connected to the song anymore when I play it. Then every once in a while I'll play a really good show and it'll be like I'm relearning all my songs again and I'm like: "You know, this is a really good song. What was I thinking, doubting it?" So it's kind of a wave of self-hatred and...bored - boredness is a good word. But at the same time, I'm really proud of my songs, you know.

Several of your songs address what some might call "big issues" like gender identity and environmentalism, but your videos and performances often give off an air of explicit silliness. Is this a tactic meant to soften audience reactions to such issues?

Yes and no. I actually think that sometimes, having a sense of humor takes away from the seriousness of my songs. Because I'm funny, people sometimes will laugh at the lyrics of my songs, thinking that they're supposed to be funny and I'm like: "This song isn't funny." And even if the song comes off as kind of silly and the words are light, I want the final meaning of the song to be serious. I think about this so much. Should I stop telling jokes so people will listen to the songs and take them seriously?

But I think that I am a goober and I'm a center-of-attention hog and I do those things. I like to make people laugh, so to cut that part out, it would be just as bad, I think, of a move as leaving it in and the regret of somebody not getting the set at all. But it's worth it, too, when people really get it.

I really appreciate your lyrics and I think that they would stand up on paper by themselves - would you would ever write a poetry book or something like that?

I would, I totally would. I would, but I'd be self-conscious about it - that it's not good enough or that it doesn't hold up as poetry. But if someone were to want to publish my lyrics as poetry, I'd be like: "Yeah, go for it." I wrote poems a lot when I was in high school, and even in college I took a creative writing class and wrote poems. And then when I could put them to music, they became more useful to me. It felt like a better way of expressing myself, or something. So I don't write much more than lyrics nowadays, but I like writing in general.

You've been in the recording studio recently; how is that going?

It's good. It's a new experience because I'm doing it in the studio with a sound engineer and bringing in other instruments and other people to play on my record with me, which is a big step all in its own - letting my songs be in the hands of other people and hearing what they want to add. But it's fun and it's exciting to listen back to the progress. I feel like: "Cool, this is starting to sound like a real CD." And this is going to be, in a way, my debut album in a more corporate environment, you know. Professional music industry people will look at it like: "Oh, she finally got a good recording, now we'll pay attention to her."

It will be good to move forward but I'm also nervous that people are going to hate it because there is more than just me and an instrument. There's stuff going on and I am moving forward and I think part of my appeal now is the homemade-ness of it all, that I am just a person trying to do it all by myself. So I hope I don't lose it, I hope it's possible to keep both - to be professional and successful but still approachable and vulnerable and childish, in a way. Because I don't want to be a stodgy know-it-all, like people who are mean to the sound guys or expect the royal treatment. I hope I never get that way.

I think you have done a lot for the DIY music scene - there's not really a question in that.

Yeah, I think I'm one of the many who have. I didn't really think about it when I was doing it, but people are like: "This is the new wave of music. This is what it's going to be like. You don't need a manager anymore; you don't need a record label. This is what it's all about."

That's cool; it's cool that you can do it yourself. I set up these tours all by myself thanks to help from the internet - just about my only ally in how far I've gotten up to this point. It's kind of cool to not need a record label and to not be sweating it and not trying to work my butt off and kiss up to a record label. I don't care about record labels. I'll do it myself - I prefer to.

Do you ever have any fears about the insecurity of your profession?

I do. A lot of times I feel stupid just telling people "I'm a musician." ...you know, I'm finally growing up and owning up to the success that I've gotten and that: I am a musician, I'm pretty good at it, what I do is really working for me. But I'm always insecure; it hits me at the weirdest moments. I'll get really insecure sometimes, like crying insecure. Then other days I'll be mad insecure, so it's a fun emotional journey with Danielle. You never know what's going to happen.