Lifelong journey

Danielle Duval talks about growing up with South African jazz influences

Danielle Duval says growing up in a musical family helped shape her own personal musical style.
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Danielle Duval says growing up in a musical family helped shape her own personal musical style.

“I used to play piano recitals and run away into the washroom when it was done.”

While six-year-old Danielle Duval may have suffered from the occasional case of stage fright, she’s come a long way since her beginnings as a musician.

“It’s definitely a journey. But the more you do it, the more you have people around who believe in you and the more confident you get in the music and yourself,” she said.

Duval’s had a successful sophomore year in music, from playing this year’s North by Northeast music festival to doing a set on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight!

And she shows no signs of wanting anything less.

Compared to other musicians I’ve spoken to, Montreal native Duval is more outspoken about the rewarding nature of music. “It’s pure survival. Music is just something that I have to do. It’s how I express myself. My ultimate goal would be to have a life of just travelling the world, recording albums, whenever and however I can, and in the most interesting ways,” she said.

“I love working with interesting people and always challenging myself — a life that revolves around music 24/7.”

Tracing some of her roots as a musician back to childhood, Duval speaks of an upbringing that fostered the artistry she enjoys today.

“My dad was a musician. He had guitars lying around all the time, as well as a piano,” she said.

According to Duval, these instruments would be put to use, especially at family gatherings.

“Every time we would have a family get-together, those guitars would come out, and everyone would sing old blues songs, Beatles songs, South African jazz song,” she said.

While some musicians discover their love of music later on in life, Duval said music has always been a presence for her and her family.

“It was just always a part of my life.”

Duval attributes some of the stylistic qualities of her music to her father.

“My Dad is South African, so I grew up listening to a lot of South African jazz and I was very heavily influenced by big rhythms,” Duval said.

She said the way she plays her music also stems from her dad.

“Even in the way I play guitar I sense that African rhythm in it,” she said.

Duval claims her personal brand of music is also informed by an insight about the nature of emotional transference.

“You just have to let go and give in. The more you give, and the more you’re willing to tell people in your songs, the more they have to appreciate.”

Danielle Duval plays the Mansion Thursday at 9 p.m.


Danielle Duval, North by Northeast, The Mansion

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