10 Minutes with Danny Mercer!
Danny Mercer didn’t attend his high school graduation. Instead, the Colombian-born singer/songwriter was on Good Morning America performing ‘Outta Nowhere’ with Pitbull; his collaborator, friend and mentor. He’s written songs for some of the biggest names in the biz like Celine Dion, Nicole Scherzinger, Afrojack and The Wanted, but now it’s time for Danny to step into the spotlight and build his public profile.
Enter, ‘Who Are You Loving Now?’ It’s the heartbreak anthem to end all heartbreak anthems. It’s a song about those moments at end of a relationship, whether they be fleeting or lingering, where you haven’t quite moved on or let go of the person you once loved. It’s about that jolting sting you get when you realise they’ve already met someone new. God damn, where's the kleenex?
Danny hit our shores to break the incredible track last week and has been stoked with the endless support he’s been getting from his Aussie fans. We spoke him to find out what he was really all about.
You’ve just released your debut single ‘Who are You Loving Now?’ How have you found the Aussie reception?
It’s been great! People have been so supportive. You guys in Australia test songs so early, even earlier than we do in the US. You guys are so great about supporting new artists and that’s a beautiful thing. I’ve had nothing but good reactions and I’m really excited that this is the first market that I’m releasing my music.
‘Who Are You Loving Now?’ is such a breakup anthem, who inspired it?
I was coming out of a very long relationship where I had graduated from college and I was still dating this girl. I had to move out to LA to pursue my music career and it’s hard to keep it together when you’re so focused on your career, so the relationship just kind of fell apart.
It all just coincided [with] where I was trying to find my sound, my single when I was going through the break up and I was just so broken hearted and doing that thing you do nowadays when you’re still friends them on Facebook and you’re seeing them with someone else. You have to be ok with them moving on and I just hadn’t let go of her yet.
You’ve written tracks for some really big names. When you write songs, do you have a particular artist in mind?
No, no, because I come from a very DIY approach. I started out just writing songs for myself in my college dorm room, I was just writing because I wanted to be an artist myself and that’s how I started. Then I saw the Bruno Mars approach which is, start writing for other people and let your artist stuff take a back seat and then you can work your way up until you’re in the spotlight yourself.
For me it’s all about writing from the heart, it’s about emotions, I don’t really think of who the song’s going to. Once I finish a song, I ask myself, ok, is this something only I could sing? Is this very personal? Or can I let someone else sing it?
You’ve been writing from a very young age, like 7 or 14. Where did you get passion for music? Are you from a musical family?
I’m not from a musical family, but my dad’s a very avid listener and he turned me on to all the right things from an early age. I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses at like age seven or eight, picked up a guitar at age seven and just started learning. I then learned how to play Led Zeppelin riffs and stuff like that. At the same time I was discovering my love for Michael Jackson and that’s when I started emulating [him] vocally and then once I turned 15, I started writing my own stuff and I was a big Beatles fan, those were huge influences for me in terms of song writing.
You’ve worked with Pitbull a fair bit, what’s the best advice he’s ever given you?
I remember one time I was on a tour bus with him and we were all in a bit of a party mode, just having some drinks and he giving us a preview of his upcoming album and we were all dancing. Then I was like, “Ok Pitt, Pit, let me show you some new stuff I’ve been working on.” I connected my phone up to the system and played a little voice memo of an idea that I’d been working on. He turned that off immediately and said, “Papo, papo you can’t do that, you can’t play just an unfinished idea. You have to wait until the record’s done and mixed before you show anyone. Because people aren’t going to understand the vision you have in your head, so never play an unfinished demo.” That’s the greatest advice I’ve ever gotten.
What other artists in influence you? You’ve got such a mixed sound; you’re very pop with a Latin feel.
Yeah, it’s a little bit of a broad-spectrum crossover. Definitely Santana’s a huge influence - I grew up in a very Columbian family. My first language was Spanish and you grew up with salsa, merengue, bachata, beautiful Latin music, so those rhythms are very deeply engrained in me. It’s that, mixed with the rock ‘n’ roll roots of being a guitar player, and then I grew up with Max Martin, ‘NSync, Britney Spears, all the brilliant song writing that happened there. It’s kind of just a conglomeration of all those things.
Is that how you and Pitbull connected, because you both have those Latin roots?
Definitely, you know, you just instantly start speaking in Spanish. You just feel like you’re with someone familiar, I just feel like he’s my uncle or something.
How did you guys meet in the first place?
We met because I was doing an internship in New York city and that internship lead me to meet my manager who was managing Pitbull at the time. My manager passed along my demo to Pitbull and he ended up liking three of the songs that I had written and so he picked them up for his own album. That was before I ever met him, it was just an email, indirect thing.
Once he kept me as a feature artist on one of the songs, that’s when I met him, and now I get to perform with him at several shows in the US. Instead of graduating with the rest of my college friends, I was actually performing on the GMA show in New York city with him, so that was a kind of surreal moment for me.
What would you say has been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment in your career has been?
Definitely being in a dorm room and getting an email with Celine Dion’s vocals on one of my songs. I was just jumping around in my tiny dorm room, like running around in tiny circles. I couldn’t believe it.
Another was being in school and suddenly having to miss class to be flown out to go perform with Pitbull in LA on the Tonight show, which was crazy too. I was just kind of living a double life, I felt like Batman, I was student Bruce Wayne by day and songwriter Batman by night.
What about in terms of other collaborations, who would be your ideal collaboration? Dead or Alive?
Probably Santana would be an awesome collaboration for me, as a Latin rocker. Shakira, as a fellow Columbian, I’m such a big fan, I would love to collaborate with her. I would [also] love to work with Mark Ronson, cause he has that sort of old school, classic approach to pop. I love Bruno Mars, as well as Hayley Williams from Paramore, one of my favourite vocals nowadays.
if you could live your entire life by one hashtag what would it be?
#rocknrollbitch for sure.
Danny's single is available on iTunes now, get involved!
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