It's been well over a year since The City List first interviewed singer-songwriter Dani Komari. It was just before the pandemic, just on the cusp of the release of her debut single Circles. Since then, just as with virtually everyone in the music industry, the pandemic flattened the curve of her career trajectory.
Gigs have trickled down, so earning her keep has been tough. However, the downtime allowed Dani to retrace something of her roots in songwriting and rearrange a 2015-written tune, If You Stay, as her latest single. Dani vied for a “New York jazz vibe”, and true to description, the rework mixes traditional and modern jazz into a heady cocktail, replete with cigarettes and sighs intro and outro. Laidback piano underpins the sonorous siren’s vocal delivery, and ever ready with the horn section card, she throws in an ace by including a sneaky trumpet solo. The ironically iconic 2020 might be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but at least it had Dani.
How have you been coping during this time this past one year? How have you been keeping busy through all this?
Probably much better than last year, but it’s difficult to really say because I haven’t been feeling very present lately. I’m just doing what I can to survive each day. I’ve been working on my vocals and guitar playing more this time around and am working on developing those skills further. On top of that, I also teach Maths and Science at a refugee school.
You recently released a new recording of If You Stay, which as we understand is a re-recording. Could you let us know how the original song came about back in 2015? What went into writing it and where did the inspiration for the song originally come from?
If You Stay was actually the first song I wrote when I started in 2015. At that point in time, I wanted to take my songwriting skills more seriously and managed to come up with the initial version of the song with just my acoustic guitar. The song reflected what I was going through at that point in time. I tweaked the song a little, so it doesn’t come off as personal, but instead, in a way everyone could relate to. The song is about hope.
Tell us about the re-arrangement for the new version? What was the inspiration behind the decision?
Because of the pandemic, we had a lot of shows, events and festivals either postponed or cancelled. It was a difficult period for all musicians. So, I decided to use that time to rearrange the song. The rearrangement of the song was necessary because the song was originally much longer and that wouldn’t work for airtime on the radio, so rearrangements were made to accommodate to the stipulated time it would require to be played on the radio.
How did you go about recording and performing it so far, what has been the response like?
Usually, I’m able to assemble the band and we would do the recording together. Because of the pandemic, we had to go to our drummer’s studio one musician at a time to record our parts because we wanted to comply with the SOP. It was an interesting experience, but easier to manage. The response has been ok. On the day it was released, the song has been picked up by some local radio stations such as Rakita, TRAXXfm, BFM, & Hitz. We also received our first international review from a music blog from Kenya called “AIPate”. We are hoping to pitch it to more radio stations and playlists, both locally and internationally.
What are the plans from now on for yourself and your fellow musicians? What can we expect from you coming up for the rest of the year?
It’s been really difficult to plan things over the last few months because of the pandemic. Ideally, I would like to play more shows and festivals to promote the single, but that has been postponed. So, for now, we’re (the band) just working on honing our craft and hopefully, soon enough we’ll get a clearer picture of what to expect and can plan accordingly. So, follow me on social media to receive updates on my journey.
How do you feel about how the MCO is progressing with regards to the music industry in Malaysia as a whole?
It’s been an extremely difficult time for all of us, and I’ve even heard stories of musicians having to sell their instruments to make ends meet. I understand everyone is trying to do their best. But the arts side has not been getting the attention it deserves, and that’s unfortunate. I’m just hoping the music industry in Malaysia will be taken seriously soon and I wish my fellow Malaysian musicians all the best during these difficult and unjust times.