Dani Nolden

Their debut album was released worldwide on Chavis Records and Seven/Universal Music in Brazil, and their up-coming record, produced by Dave Schiffman (Audioslave, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and many others) was released in June 2008.

Shadowside is led by female powerhouse singer Dani Nolden. Dani’s powerful vocal style and charismatic stage presence had her quickly rise to the top within Rock and Metal’s elite group of female vocalists.

Metal Express Radio was pleased to spend some time with the charming Dani Nolden to talk about her rise to stardom and the band’s forthcoming new album!

MER: Your vocals aren’t a carbon copy of a lot of the female-led bands out there today (e.g., Nightwish, Evanescence, After Forever, etc.). Who were some of your musical influences?

Dani Nolden: Sebastian Bach, Rob Halford, Steven Tyler, Paul Stanley … basically all of those singers that had/have a lot of power, passion, and attitude in the way they sing. When I started singing, female-fronted bands like those weren’t common or didn’t exist. I’m not really sure because I was just listening to stuff like Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses — I didn’t know much about female singers apart from L7 or Heart, so they were never a reference point for me. Maybe that’s why I sound nothing like them. They’re great in what they do, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not me at all.

MER: How did you get interested in singing Metal music?

Dani: My cousin got me interested, I guess. At that time I was into Pop music, basically because that’s what my parents would show me (laughs). I was about 10 when this cousin introduced Guns N’ Roses to me and I fell absolutely in love with them. He showed me a video of “Welcome To The Jungle” and I thought that was so COOL! It had such raw energy. It was everything I had in my personality but could never find in music until that moment. Since then I became very interested in having a band, but I never took it seriously until I actually got to a point that I had to choose between music and a career as a professional soccer player. There was no time for both, because we had team practices every single day and I wouldn’t be able to rehearse with the band. I’d have to completely leave it behind me, but I just couldn’t — I love music way too much, so at that moment I decided that I wanted to be a professional musician and that I’d work my ass off to become one.

MER: How does the Brazilian music scene compare to other countries?

Dani: The scene here is quite unique because CD sales are completely dead, but live shows draw more and more people every year. We have many national and international acts touring here every month and all the venues are packed, so I have no idea why CDs don’t sell here. The audience here is extremely passionate — they scream their lungs out when their favorite bands come to their hometown, which is awesome for an artist. It’s impossible to describe how we feel when we see someone singing our art, our creation — it’s amazing. Of course, that happens in other countries too, but it’s quite funny to see that every underground show here in Brazil has an audience of 300-400 people and big bands are packing stadiums, when lots of bands with a huge fan base aren’t selling more than 5,000 copies in the whole country. Some sell more, but the large majority doesn’t. There’s also a lot of talent here, but usually bands don’t know it’s possible to actually make it happen. If bands here start believing in themselves more, it’s just a matter of time until we have more Brazilian Metal touring the world.

MER: This summer Shadowside is playing a big festival in the United States including Rocklahoma and last year you guys played at the Indianapolis Metal Festival. These are actually two of the premiere Metal festivals, as far as America is concerned. This must be pretty exciting? Have you guys played in the USA before?

Dani: Yeah, we’ve already played Indianapolis Metal Fest last year and it was amazing, so we decided to go for a tour in December and it was fantastic. We had an idea of what we would find because of the number of people who contact us daily on MySpace, but even like that we were very surprised to see people singing along to our Theatre Of Shadows songs and even trying to sing the new tunes we played. It was a short tour, we did it as a test to see what it would be like, but it opened up a lot of doors and we were asked to play at those festivals and to headline the Flight of the Valkyries in St. Paul, Minnesota. Right after that tour we’ll come back home for a Latin American run starting in October. We’re very excited about it all and hope it will open the doors for us in Europe too.

MER: The new album is being produced by Dave Schiffman who has produced some big name talent in Audioslave, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, and Red Hot Chili Peppers just to name a few. This must be pretty exciting? How did Shadowside get Dave involved?

Dani: We were kinda shopping around; we were also talking to other producers, but when we contacted Dave’s manager, he said Dave liked our music very much, he showed interest in working with us so we got in touch, talked about music, about what we wanted to do with the new album and he totally got our vision. He demonstrated he was the perfect guy for it so we asked if he would come down to São Paulo and produce us. So he said yes and we did a pre-production, sent him the songs to hear his input and it turned out that things worked out perfectly, it’s so easy to work with him, he’s always very clear about where he needs us to go and knows exactly how to push us to the limits without breaking us, you know? Sometimes producers don’t know when it’s time to stop or give the musician some space but he knew exactly how to do that, he made us think outside the box and we ended up recording a very intense album, mature, heavy, with a lot of energy and lots of catchy but powerful melodies.

MER: The new album is named Dare To Dream? What’s the significance of the title?

Dani: It’s about not sitting around thinking something you love wasn’t made for you. If we didn’t have the guts to dream, we wouldn’t be touring right now, we wouldn’t be making music professionally and doing what we love. Of course you also have to make the dream come true but some people won’t even go as far as dreaming and it needs to change, the best ideas were born from a dream… you dream of making things better and then you go and do it. All you have to do is believe in yourself, which is also another of our song titles.

MER: How does the music on the forthcoming album compare to your debut full-length release (Theatre Of Shadows)?

Dani: I think this one is 100% Shadowside. I love Theatre of Shadows, I think it’s a pretty cool debut and lots of people loved it too but we’re way more mature right now. Dare to Dream is probably an evolution, we’ve gotten even more intense and took what we did in the past to the extremes this time. There is some angry stuff, but there are also some slower and heavier parts, some more melodic ones, but at the same time we stopped doing things that we didn’t feel that reflected us. We are doing everything people loved about us from day one, but in a more daring way and with a lot more personality.

MER: The “Memories” track on the band’s MySpace sight seems more Rock with a stronger Blues influence. How have the fans responded to this new track?

Dani: Our old fans have responded really well, lots of them messaged us saying they love the new track and we also have new fans saying that the song rocks so that shows us that we’re on the right path. It does have a bit of a Rock and Bluesy influence especially in the opening riff but I don’t think it’s less Metal because of it. It’s very heavy and has a lot of edge. That’s what I meant with us thinking outside the box, we just played along and let if flow, we didn’t worry if what we were playing had Blues influences or not. It’s still Metal and you’ll definitely find elements that are common to other Metal bands and some others that aren’t, but you will certainly say that it’s completely Shadowside.

MER: How does the band go about writing for a new album? To what degree is your involvement?

Dani: I’ve been writing most of the stuff lately, I wrote all the lyrics but not because I wanted to or because I said it was going to be this way, it just happened. Nobody came up with lyrics and I had lots of ideas so I just wrote. Three songs came from our bassist Fernando Peto and the rest were written by myself but everyone had an input in all the tracks, otherwise we wouldn’t be a band. Sometimes I come up with the song structure, some riffs and chords and melodies and then we’ll all arrange everything as a band, or Fernando will come with it and we’ll work on his ideas. In the future I know Raphael will also be very involved with the songwriting, he was showing us some riffs and he has some really cool ideas that we’ll use. It doesn’t matter for us who writes the song, as long as we all like it and everyone puts a little bit of themselves in it in order to make it a team effort.

MER: Anything you learned from recording Theatre Of Shadows that you guys have tried to rectify this second time around?

Dani: Every band should learn something from one album to the other, sure. We tried to be more spontaneous this time, to not over think some stuff or not worry about stereotypes, you know? We wanted a real live feel to the songs this time and just wanted to play things we like, we didn’t necessarily learn from the previous material but from everything that happened during our career in this period, bands and musicians should always be seeking improvement because someone may be the best singer in the world, but at the same moment this singer believes that, it’s when he or she starts to fall. You should never believe you’re the best, I know we never did, we just try to do our best, that way we always find something to learn and add fresh ideas to our music. That’s how we evolve.

MER: Since Theatre Of Shadows was composed of songs from your demo EP, is it safe to say you guys have a lot of backlog material written? Any of this used for the new release?

Dani: Not really, we just used those songs from the EP because we liked them and we felt they deserved a proper production, so we rearranged them and recorded them the way they should be. We dropped one of the songs forever from that EP and don’t think we’ll ever go back to it, simply because we don’t like it that much. We don’t have a lot of backlog material, there’s one song that we didn’t finish from the Dare To Dream sessions and may or may not use in the future. We had twelve other songs that didn’t need as much work so we decided to keep it for another time if we feel it’s still good enough in one or two years from now. We usually discard anything that we didn’t use on an album because we didn’t feel it was good enough, because it makes no sense in using something for a new album that we didn’t like on a previous one, the new stuff should always be better.

MER: How did you guys come about including a cover of Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark” on Theatre Of Shadows and will we see any other cover tunes on the new album?

Dani: Not on this one, we thought of doing another cover song but we didn’t have the time, the budget and couldn’t pick one (laughs). Maybe someday we’ll do it again but I’m not sure, we have way too many ideas of our own now to think of cover songs, so we might do something again for the fun of it. Recording “Rainbow In The Dark” was a suggestion from our first record label, Frontline Rock, they thought I sounded a lot like Dio and I had been compared to him before too so we chose “Rainbow In The Dark” because we like it very much. I don’t think I sound like him at all but I had a lot of fun recording it and tried to give it a little twist of my own without changing it too much because the original is fantastic but it didn’t make sense to just copy it. It was a lot of fun to record it.

MER: With the second album about to hit stores (June 2008) has there been any talk or buzz about a third album?

Dani: No, it’s quite early for that, I do have two songs finished though but we’re 100% focused on Dare To Dream now. There is a big buzz about a DVD though, we are thinking of doing something like a mini-DVD or something like that, we don’t want to put out a real DVD from just one long concert because it’s way too soon now. It’s our second album and I wanna have one or two more before we think of the real thing. We might release four or five songs from a few concerts though, or just from one special gig and throw in some backstage scenes, some stuff from the road and maybe a few songs recorded live in a studio like a private show, or a short acoustic set.

MER: Your personal website contains the tagline “Queen Of The Sky”, what’s the significance of that phrase?

Dani: That’s about the song “Queen of the Sky”. I wrote it and it’s about a period of my life that I just wanted to fly away from everyone that was around me. So I wanted to fly and be the “Queen of the Sky”, where no one could touch me and it would all be freedom and joy. Since that’s exactly how I feel now every time I step on the stage, it’s safe to say I became the “Queen of the Sky” as I used to see her in my childhood.

MER: Any tips you’d like to share with other female vocalists trying to get into Metal?

Dani: Well, basically just be yourself and don’t think you should sound or look like someone else to be good or to be accepted. The more unique you are, the better chances you have in the music business, that’s exactly what we need in Metal. We need identity; we need guts, that’s what Rock and Metal are all about. Just practice and work as hard as you can, take good care of yourself and never stop believing you can do it. You’ll face a lot of struggle and it’s not easy at all, but if you really love your art, it’s worth it.

MER: Dani, thanks for taking the time to share your insights with your fans!

Dani: It was my pleasure, thank you so much for the support and thanks to all our fans who have been great to us, we love every single message you guys send us and we hope to see you soon on the road, we put our hearts and souls into every single gig to be sure it will be a kickass evening of fun and good loud music! Hope everyone enjoys both the Theatre Of Shadows and the new album and we’ll rock together soon!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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