Meet Danny Dwyer, the rising genre-defying artist who’s collaborating with emo favorites
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It is not surprising that singer-songwriter Danny Dwyer's music is essentially genre-less. The St. Louis-born multi-instrumentalist was not only classically trained in piano, trumpet, and violin, but also cut his teeth playing guitar and drums in the local punk circuit — all informing the juxtaposition of styles in his music today.
“There was always pressure that the only way out of Missouri was to go to college, and for some reason my mom really wanted me to play trumpet and get a musical scholarship,” Dwyer says, speaking from the comfort of his home studio in the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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While he dove headfirst into jazz and music theory, he knew he needed another outlet for his adolescent energy. He says, “My brother and I had a punk band and we would go out to bars, even when I was super young — which I felt super cool doing — but that was really the first time that I fell in love with music and knew it was important.” From there, Dwyer’s life changed, and instead of just studying jazz trumpeters in band class, he immersed himself in bands like blink-182 and Sum 41, the latter of which Dwyer proclaims as his “favorite band ever.”
“Genre has always been a tool to say what I want to say — more than lyrics, music, or anything,” he says. He's no longer afraid to stick to one genre and has “learned to turn that voice off." In turn, it has allowed him to discover who he is as an artist — one unbound by limitations and excited to tap into everything from indie-rock and emo to hyperpop and R&B.
[Courtesy of Amir Hossain]
Dwyer spent the last few years trying to make music with a “coming of age” narrative — chronicling his move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, relationship woes, and defying his parent's expectations of a collegiate career in favor of being an alternative artist. After finishing his 2022 EP Losers in Stockholm, Dwyer had a moment of clarity and realized that his mission of writing that narrative had “completed itself.” Now, he is looking into the future.
On his 2022 single “Mortal Kombat,” for example, Dwyer is able to make peace with his past. “I grew up playing [the Mortal Kombat] games and they were so focused on encapsulating brutality in an almost comical way," says Dwyer. "This was a cool example of me using something cartoonish to show how brutal it feels to be torn apart and have a part of you still with [someone after a breakup].” Sonically, Dwyer wanted to go “harsher” and was actively thinking about blink-182’s 2001 hit “Stay Together For The Kids” and bands like the Used to bring that heavy guitar-driven energy into a “tightly written” pop song.
A recent remix of the song, which dropped in February, just so happens to feature Dan “Soupy” Campbell from the pop-punk group the Wonder Years. “It was really cool to see [Campbell] take this whole world that I had created with the song and put this new perspective on it,” Dwyer says. Going forward, he has his sights on continuing to dive into his love of ‘90s and early 2000s pop-rock and fulfill dreams of working with everyone from Smash Mouth and Wheatus to Incubus.
In the meantime, that influence comes through on his 2022 EPs Losers and Disbeliever. The title track “Disbeliever,” for instance, feels like a modern hyperpop track that's a spiritual relative to Wheatus’ hit “Teenage Dirtbag.”
Following the release of the double EPs, Dwyer assures that he's looking forward to touring, and hopes to “continue diving deeper into content, visuals, and creative to tell the story of the project.” In other words, as he shows no signs of slowing down, it seems like we're only just beginning to dive into Danny Dwyer's eclectic, genre-less universe.