Talking with Daphne Willis at The Basement East, Nashville

If I knew nothing else while watching Daphne Willis perform on stage, I would know this girl has some serious stage presence. But lucky for us, I do know more about Miss Daphne Willis. I got the chance to chat with her before her show and get to know her and what she’s about. Last night she hosted a soft release party of her latest EP, Get It at The Basement East here in Nashville with some friends. Get It will be available to the public on Friday. Kyshona Armstrong, Chris Gelbuda and Sonia Leigh shared the stage and all put on spectacular shows. Gelbuda worked with Daphne on her latest effort by co-producing this bad boy. Gelbuda has recently celebrated going platinum working with Meghan Trainor and producing some of her latest works, “3 a.m.” and “Love You Like I am Going to Lose You”. Daphne was also able to work with Trainor, who co-wrote the single “Done With Bein’ Done”. Listening to her sing that track I would say that was simply perfection putting them two together.

Rushing in to meet Daphne, I had so many questions. This girls bio is full of a rich history in music. Growing up with two musical parents, the art is just flowing through her veins. She gets it. She knows what works, she knows how to write hits, she knows how to perform. Her voice is smooth and rich with little earworms that dig in and leave you fascinated and excited. She is polished and radio-friendly, completely confident in what she is doing.

As I met her she was going over the guest list, playing in your hometown gets hectic when you want everyone you have known to show up and watch you release your latest work of music. With a big smile she led me into the green room and we began our interview. Sitting on the couch with her she was completely in her element, ready to tell me whatever I wanted to know. Getting over a cold recently, she told me she wasn’t even able to speak two days before. She had been downing these health shakes constantly. I think she has found the fountain of youth or I guess I should say the fountain of health, because I couldn’t even detect a rattle in that beautiful voice.

So tell me about your new EP.
This EP is really exciting for me. It is the first project I have worked with a different producer. I got to work with Chris Gelbuda who has been a really good friend of mine over the past few years from a songwriting sense, he’s my bro, my boy, my dog. We co-wrote a couple of the songs on the record. He is just awesome.
How did you meet him?
We are both from Chicago, but we didn’t really meet until we were both living here through mutual friends. He played with a friend of mine from Chicago, ran into one another in a bar and the rest is history.
He’s also playing tonight?
Yeah so this whole night I have been thinking about for months. Sonia Leigh and I were really wanting to play The Basement East and I knew Gelbuda was dying to play too and Kyshona, who is just amazing. So i have been trying to get this bill together for awhile and I knew my release was coming up, so I was like I am an independent artist why don’t I just release it then? So this is a soft release of Get It, then it comes out digitally on Friday.
What was it like working with Meghan Trainor?
Yes she is fantastic, just as brilliant as you would expect. We co-wrote “Done with Being Done” in like an hour and half, we just clicked.
This EP is more “pop” than what you have done in the past.
This record is very much more straight ahead pop, but there is still that indie vibe and there is still that soul vibe, so it’s like a cross between pop-indie-soul.
Is that what you were going for?
Yes, totally. For me, I want every project to be a bit different. As an artist it’s important to me that there is still that same theme, and as long as I still have the theme and the message of that very positive, self-empowerment music then I don’t think it changes too much. I could just put out an orchestral pop record and still have the same message and my fans might love it! [Laughing] I am totally joking, I don’t see that anywhere in my future.
What do you see in your future?
I recently signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. So I am doing a ton of songwriting and I have all these side projects going. Some are taking off more than others and that’s very very exciting. All different styles and types of music, super rock n’ roll, electropop. I just signed a booking contract with Buddy Lee Attractions, so that is a big step for me. I will be able to tour and its kind of a game changer for next year, especially next spring. I love traveling and it is probably my favorite. I get that connection with my fans, making people smile.
Who has influenced you?
Always listened to a ton of Beatles, I am a Beatles freak. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder. I still listen to Frank Sinatra and rotate all those records. I pretty much listen to the viral Spotify playlist constantly and also to keep my ears fresh. Adele’s record is coming out, so I am sure I will dive right into that pool swim around in that for awhile. The BØRNS are amazing, do you know them? There is just so much music out right now.
So if you could work with any artist, who would that be?
Oh! Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, I would love to work with Elton John, Pharrell…
See, I love that, go big!
[Laughing] Hell yeah.

So here it is, her latest single “Done with Bein’ Done” on her not even yet released EP!! It will be available digitally tomorrow so Get It!

Hanging out with Jenn Bostic, Kyshona Armstrong after the show.

Hanging out with Jenn Bostic, Kyshona Armstrong after the show.

Keep up with Daphne on her website. Many thanks to her for this great interview and many, many thanks to The Basement East for allowing me to run around snapping photos again and again!

Photo credit to Rebecca Ward for the feature image. All other photos are by yours truly:)

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I am a Nashville girl who loves any kind of music you can throw her way! If I can write about that experience, you will see my passion.

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