[Interview] The Triumphant Return of David Dann

Legendary music curator, founder of Mind of a Genius Records, and prodigal producer David Dann emerged from self-imposed isolation in the studio with his first new music in seven years. Following back to back Grammy-nominated projects under Zhu for ‘Faded’ and Gallant for the album ‘Ology’, the self-produced track is the latest zig in a road of zags that make up a 15-year career tradition of perking ears and rubbering necks. From label boss, to music curator, to music producer, and more, Dann effortlessly wears multiple hats. Over the last five years he has been featured in Resident Advisor, Complex, Hypebeast and more. Billboard has honored Dann as well, including a coveted 5 On The Rise feature in their prestigious 40 Under 40 list. 

David Dann’s ‘You & Me’ feat. NICOLAS is his first new music in seven Years, and boy was it worth the wait. The song combines French vocalist NICOLAS’ innate stylings with Dann’s iron-forged creative acumen for a timeless, blissed out track that bridges the ecstasy of romantic longing with lavish celebration. Dann’s chilled tempo and casual nostalgia pours like a waterfall of emotion from behind the dreamy vocals. You definitely do not miss adding this song to your playlist.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dann to discuss more about the song and Dann’s return to music scene as an artist:

You’re back! Where have you been? 

Haha…man. I decided to hit pause on the solo artist career because I was so fed up with the scene in the early 2010s and wanted to pursue something I was always passionate about building, which was a record company. Beyond launching Mind of a Genius and its artists, I got married, have two dogs now, and am currently living in Westwood, Los Angeles.

What prompted the return to making music now? Was the pandemic a factor or were there other reasons?

It was something that I was thinking about privately a lot for quite some time. I spoke to a lot of my friends about it at length, too. One conversation in particular with my friend Joey while we were in Morocco really gave the push forward and made me feel like I should go for it. The pandemic oddly enough gave me the opportunity to do this – it was the best timing ever in that way. It allowed for full reset and gave me the space I needed to create. I also needed the time to fully process what it would mean to relaunch my music. I wanted to make sure that I was 100% ready to step into those shoes again. I had to get over a lot of doubts about myself. I was also able to use this time to build my new team to do this, and that has been the most important factor in this journey.

How did you go about making the new track ‘You & Me’? If you compare this process/methodology with your earlier releases what stands out to you the most?

The song was originally a demo sent to me in a different form, but when I heard it I knew that it could be something amazing. From there we took it and brought it to the next level. This is my favorite way to work – once an idea is a bit flushed out I can come in and really take it to the promised land. I have and continue to build ideas from scratch, but I love getting inspiration from fellow collaborators and artists to spark an idea just as much if not more than starting from nothing. I’m in a completely different headspace and time in my life than when I last released music, and I think that made a huge difference going into this new chapter. From sound design to subject matter, I’m focusing on some key themes that are important to me – like trust, being a rock for your family, etc. – and weaving them into the music. It’s been exciting to see it all come together.

How has mentoring and producing for other artists on their rise to infamy informed your plan for your own career?

Mentoring other artists on their own paths taught me so much. Through that experience I know now that it takes a long time for the rest of the world to catch on to your stuff even when you think it’s ready. Timing is so important. And just staying consistent and true to your craft as well – not letting too many opinions drive your creative process or output is also so valuable to artists. I know that with my own music, building a tight team of people around me that I trust for feedback and creative inspiration was critical out of the gate. I’d love for the records to be overnight successes, but I’m also a realist and simply hope that we tell the story well enough that the song will become a classic in the years to come.

What tips would you offer to someone trying to break barriers with their music?

Breaking barriers is really tough. I think the key is to be authentic to yourself, but also find a way to differentiate yourself and your work at the same time. One thing I always think about is building support and love at a local level. Most successful artists have a strong connection to their hometown and their roots – doesn’t matter if it’s New York or LA or Atlanta or wherever. Start with your town or city and get those people invested and watch it spread. Don’t try to capture the entire Internet at the same time. You have to work hard and build piece by piece. 

What’s the most important thing to understand about the vibes behind ‘You & Me’? What would you tell a friend about it when you go to put it on so they can hear it for the first time?

The song is meant to capture an intimate experience between two people – that’s how I imagined it. If you listen to the lyrics you can really hear the tug of war happening between the main characters (tell me, tell me how you feel…it was supposed to be only you and me). There’s a lot of heartache in the song, but obviously I wanted to create something that can hopefully get played in all scenarios (club, car, bedroom, etc.). To be honest, I don’t love explaining music in words, though. Listening to a song is a feeling that one must experience for themselves.

How does it feel to be back? What’s next?

It feels great. The support I’ve received already is so overwhelming. I’m going to keep putting out music until we can tour again. I’m so excited to get back out there and play in front of people all across the globe. We’re just getting started.

Be sure to check out David Dann’s ‘You & Me’ feat. NICOLAS below and out everywhere now!