Denquar -
                            Extraordinary Words 

My friend Eve sent me an email with "911" in the header.  It had been a relatively boring day up to that point but the email had a link to Denquar's video of her song Nothing Like You.  You know an artist is good when as you're watching or listening it hits you and you know you'll remember this moment for the rest of your life.  It was this bluesy thang and the singer radiated charisma along with being so pretty that I had to stop and make sure I was actually listening and not just falling in love.  haha   Well no, I closed my eyes and this was the real deal - the singer was indeed sultry and powerful and unique, she was using words you don't hear in this kind of song.   In fact it's fair to say she milked out every ounce of mystery contained in that song and outa me too before it was over.  In a good way, that is.   This is not a talent that could possibly remain hidden.   Turns out she also had sort of a storybook rise, is from Kong Kong and has been around the world and was even a lead in a huge Disney musical at Hong Kong Disneyworld.  Yes one of the first things you notice is that she does appear to know what she's doing and then some.  Clearly her future is enormously bright and we are thrilled to have her at IMP. If the music business suits could get their heads out of their you-know-whats, the great lady artists in our neighborhood would surely be mined for major label signings.  For now though, they're only part of the greatest influx of indie female singer/songwriters this world will ever know.


Scott:   Do you remember your absolute first exposure to the blues in your life?

Danielle:    I do, my dad was a Rock n Roll/Blues/Jazz guitarist and I remember him practicing scales everyday before opening the Jazz Bar, ‘Unplugged’ our family owned in Phuket, Thailand. There were posters and vinyl on the wall of the great Blues legends and my dad would play on stage every night jamming all sorts of Blues songs. I was only about 6 or 7 at the time, but I had already grasped the general structure of a 12-bar Blues.

  Take us thru your songwriting technique.  Start with lyrics or music?  Does it come easily or do you see it as more of a craft?

Danielle:    To be honest, my songs usually find me. I don’t think I’ve ever said to myself “Okay, I’m going to sit down and write a song today”, it usually start with a random tune or melody that I can’t get out of head of which I find myself scatting or singing all day. Sometimes it even starts to get a bit annoying!  It’s only then that I feel the urge to get my guitar, pen and paper out and start to write and arrange it in some sort of structure. I have about 100 of these sort of drafts in my note book, but I only really end up pursuing less than 10 of them out of 100, the ones that I think are really good. I’d say songwriting comes quite naturally to me but still requires a lot of focus, time and love to develop a simple idea into a great song. 

  I had wondered why since you were just coming into the indie world how you seemed so polished, then I read the bio about performing in Hong Kong Disney World.   The Golden Mickeys, eh?  When you first started with that, were there any growing pains?  Performing in ensembles sometimes has a cruel underbelly.  Any experiences like that, or with jealousy issues being a lead player and such?

Danielle:    The Golden Mickeys Show at HK Disneyland was in fact my first ever job in the industry. I had trained in Musical Theatre at college prior to receiving the job offer straight after graduation and boy, was it an amazing feeling!  Being 18 at the time, and given a major role in a Disney stage show, was a bit daunting at first. I played the host of the show, “Bebe” and spoke Cantonese throughout with songs sung in English. Working with more experienced performers was very intimidating at first, but taught me to grow and be better.  As a cast, we were like a family, we all supported each other and I loved the show so much!  After two years at the magical kingdom, I decided to take off my princess crown and seek other musical styles. It was then that I discovered Jazz…

   You mention you'd like to write a soul and jazz record.  What do you think of American soul music, particularly in the early 70s era?

Danielle:    Growing up, I listened mostly to Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and other phenomenal American vocalists of the 90s.  I’d say it’s only been in the last 5 years that I’ve been more exposed to artists in the 70s era.  I love American soul music!   I remember being very fascinated by use of phrasing and sophistication in lyrics.


Scott:    At what age did you know who you were?

Danielle:    That’s such a hard question!   I’d say that with each day that goes by, I find a little piece of the puzzle… I think that now, I’m less afraid to be myself and express my thoughts than I was last year.  I guess that goes for everyone, we all develop and learn from our experiences, life is like “trial and error” - if you don’t try then you never know what it is you want.

   You're very attractive (don't worry I'm married :) ), I am curious about your love life because I sense a purity in you.

Danielle:    LOL thank you! Unfortunately, I don’t have time for boys… but I do believe in love.  :)

photography by Niel Anthony

Scott:    How on earth did you get the nickname Cucumber and did you ever get yourself into a pickle?

Danielle:    In Thailand, everyone has a nickname given when they’re young.  It could be anything depending on your personality, what food you liked to eat, or what you look like.  The day I was born, my mum had complications during childbirth and apparently I came out long and green…. So my dad decided to call me cucumber!  

    What do you think of the Beatles?  Have you ever written pop/rock style songs?

Danielle:    I haven’t listened to much of the Beatles’ music to be honest.  I do get asked to perform repertoire from the Beatles so I have studied some of their songs.  I started out writing pop songs as a teenager and still have a few demos saved on my computer!

   To do the blues requires intensity, focus.  Are you an intense person outside of music or mainly just when you sing?

Danielle:    It’s interesting that you say that, because I find Blues (and Jazz) styles quite free and relaxed.  I’ve been told I’m a very down to earth and chilled person but when I’m set on a goal or target, I do become quite intense and focused because if I not, I’ll never get anything done!

   I see one of your bandmates played with Amy Winehouse.  How have you been able to make connections in the early phase of your music life?

Danielle:    I believe in serendipity.  I first arrived in London about 2 years ago with a pocket full of dreams but no contacts whatsoever.  I was the new girl in town who no-one even knew about… I would gather information about where the best musicians played and jammed at, so one night I simply just turn up at a Jazz Bar called Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec, on their Monday night Jam night. I was introduced to Robin whom I had seen multiple videos of - playing with Amy, and was slightly star struck. He was really humble and friendly! I happen to be holding a song chart of one of my favourite songs to sing and he asked me if I wanted to do the next set with him!  I remember thinking, “What, you wanna play with ME!?”.  We got on stage and performed a couple of numbers together, when I got off stage, it was like everyone wanted to know who I was all of a sudden and how I knew Robin… Since then, we’ve been working on song ideas together including my song, Nothing Like You as heard on my IMP profile!

   I only have dealt with one other person from Hong Kong in my life, do you find it hard to adjust to the various cultures that are almost required when getting into music?

Danielle:    What inspires me the most to write music is the dynamic world we live in.  I’ve never really felt like I’ve been nailed down in a particular race category.  Yes, I am from Hong Kong, but I’m half Thai and half English so I’m used to different world’s and cultures.  Recently, I finished a contract working in Seoul, Korea!  Koreans have a very unique and sacred culture, which I respect a lot.  More than anything, I feel very grateful to have experienced and lived in different countries, which I have taken a lot of inspiration from.

   We ask this question to all our spotlight interviewees.  Have you had any experiences of high strangeness like with UFOs or the supernatural?

Danielle:    None whatsoever yet… But who knows!

   I read several places that you have more music coming.  Can you give us a hint of what's in store, or a cliffhanger maybe?  :)

Danielle:   I have another live video coming out of my new Jazz/Pop/Soul song called Without Further Ado.  Shot in the same studio and by the same team as my previous video, Nothing Like You, but with a much different feel and vibe. I had the great privilege to work with an amazing team and filmmaker, Margaret Kaliszczak who captured the dynamic vision and energy for both songs, despite them being so different from one another!  I’m grateful for all the support and interest Indie Music People have given to me at this important time and start of my journey and can’t wait to share more of my music with you in the near future!