“The ‘like’ button is the equivalent to a shot of dopamine. It’s like a drug,” says Danielle Schwob, leader of new cinematic experimental alternative band DELANILA. The acclaimed composer, arranger, and guitarist has returned New York after spending a year in Los Angeles, pulled back by interesting projects in the city
The sad side of society’s affair with screens and constant connectivity gnaws at Schwob. Not one to let preoccupation sit undisturbed, she explores, pokes, and prods a worry, and then emerges with music that makes us think. That’s exactly what she’s done, yet again––only this time is different. She has upped the personal and professional ante, and instead of staying in her established space and creating a concert work to be performed by an elite trio or penning and arranging a score for a provocative film, she has stepped out to found and front DELANILA, an independent band with an experimental bent, capable of moody precision and somber grace.
Co-produced by Schwob and three-time Grammy-winning super producer David Bottrill (Muse, Tool, Peter Gabriel), Overloaded serves as DELANILA’s stunning debut. Complex electro-pop arrangements swirl under her bell-like soprano that slips between conversational clarity and eerily angelic musings, which all combine to create a 12-track collection of gorgeous human pushback and perspective in the throes of the digital age.
In addition to Bottrill, the list of DELANILA collaborators on Overloaded jumps musical spheres with freewheeling glee, from mainstream hit wizards to club provocateurs to elite members of the composing and arranging world, including Grammy-winning engineer Emily Lazar (Sia, Coldplay, Haim), top beat programmer and producer Pearse MacIntyre, drummer Aaron Steele (Portgual, The Man), Nick Semrad and Adam Agati of Cory Henry’s Funk Apostles, Jim Orso (Hot Chip), Jennifer Choi (John Zorn), Cornelius DuFallo (FLUX), and more.
The sophistication of DELANILA’s songs makes sense, given Schwob’s other work and background as an arranger, guitarist, and composer. Her credits are substantial and too extensive to list here. A Sundance Film Composer Lab Fellow, she has created music featured at Lincoln Center, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, Philip Glass’s MATA Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more.
Highlights of her roles help tell part of her story: a booth orchestrator on Johann Johannsson’s score for the ambitious film mother!; an assistant musical director of a workshop for the musical The Pogues are developing with David Simon (The Wire, Treme); composing jazz-guitar-steeped cues for indie feature How to Follow Strangers; an arranger and player on songs for mezzo-soprano Tara Hugo’s album made with Philip Glass and his team, which then included Trevor Gureckis. Schwob's guitar arrangement of “Cabin in the Rockies” made the project, and she says she remains indebted to the experience. “I like unusual progressions and don't think I would have written ‘I Get Bored’ (a track on Overloaded) if it wasn’t for ‘Cabin in the Rockies,’” she says.
She also counts an interdisciplinary dance project with Roya Sachs and choreographer Dušan Týnek that was supported by Google and Spring Place as a favorite, as well as two composer concert of premieres with John Zorn, Jennifer Choi, Vicky Chow and Mike Nicolas. Awards and honors from New Music USA, the Aaron Copland Fund, the American Composers Forum, BMI, ASCAP, and others line her résumé, as do collaborations with groups such as American Modern Ensemble, Janus Trio, PUBLIQuartet, Metropolis Ensemble and numerous members of the nation’s major orchestras.
DELANILA’s Overloaded soars thanks to Schwob’s diverse and immersive history, as well as the artist’s dogged determination to challenge herself. While Overloaded has crystalized as a coterie of statements magnifying the effects of television, social media, and computers during a dark time in her life, she did not originally set out to narrow the focus so specifically. “In my life, I tend to become fixated on a particular idea,” she explains. “It ends up coming out in my writing, even if I don’t necessarily set out to make something with any kind of deliberate intention.”
When screens replacing in-person human interactions began creeping up again and again in the songs she was writing for the DELANILA project, Schwob embraced the thematic dilemma, which allowed for wrestles with loneliness, the idea that a creative individual must be isolated in order to be productive, and more. Recorded with a live band and 12-piece strings section that was then combined with programming ingenuity, the album’s composition mirrors the innate tension between humanity and technology.