How the Myspace era helped Snowblood (ex-Millionaires) come into her own
You may remember scrolling through Myspace around 2008 and finding it nearly impossible to not hear “Alcohol” blaring through someone on your Top 8’s music player. Studded belts and shutter shades may be long behind us, but former Millionaires vocalist Dani Artaud is still thriving with her own solo project, Snowblood, and utilizing what she learned as Dani Gore along the way.
Artaud is progressing through the music scene by creating a new entity within herself as Snowblood. Being no stranger to creating music on her own, she released her debut self-titled album in 2017. Now, Artaud is really coming into her own and feeding off her newfound creative energy as she gears up to release her next album, I’m Ready, which was produced by Mystery Skulls, the new moniker of the Secret Handshake’s Luis Dubuc.
Snowblood is premiering the last single before the album’s release, “All Around The World,” exclusively with Alternative Press. We caught up with the solo artist to talk about I’m Ready, her home-studio experiences with Dubuc and tapping into her old Millionaires’ self for even more tracks off the upcoming record.
You’ve been part of different acts such as the Millionaires and Mr. Downstairs. What would you say makes Snowblood stand out from your past projects?
Well, it's the first project where I'm solely writing all the songs. I work with my producer, Mystery Skulls. He mixes all of the tracks, and I write all of the songs. Then I record them myself. So that's different. This is my first solo project. So this is just the first time that I felt like I'm really running everything on my own. It’s hard to transition to [being a solo artist] because I've always worked with other people. It felt like it took some time to get used to and to get things up and running.
I had to figure out my style and what I want to write about in my whole new process. With Mr. Downstairs, it was a band. We wrote songs in a practice space with the whole band, and I wrote with my friend Asia [Whiteacre]. With the Millionaires, we all wrote with different producers and together. So, it's just been a completely different experience. Definitely really rewarding to put in all that work. And the result is just cool. It's just me, so I love it.
You made music with the Millionaires while Myspace was exploding, and you recently reminisced by posting a throwback picture on Instagram. What did you learn from that era that you’ve applied to Snowblood?
The whole Myspace thing, we had no idea what that meant. With self-promotion, there was no end goal. There wasn’t anything you were selling or anything. So there was definitely a different vibe back then. The whole idea of creating an online persona and decking out your whole profile, we were learning how to code with HTML. You built your whole online persona—what it looks like and what music you listen to. I feel like that translates to now. Obviously, there's Instagram and everything, just creating a new online persona. Because I've considered Snowblood to be that new persona of my own. It’s like creating Dani Gore back in the day was like training on your bike without even realizing it at the time. I've just learned how to use social media from a really young age.
There are plenty of pros to working independently. Are there any cons?
At first, it was difficult to find self-motivation. If you don't motivate yourself to get something done, like writing new songs, nothing is going to happen. Before, if you're having a gap in motivation, your bandmates will be like, “Hey, we need to do this,” and they'll keep you going. When you're solo, it's all on you. That was a little hard at first. Just having that self-motivation. Once I got in the groove, I couldn’t stop. It just kept going from there. So that was all hard at first. I feel like I've slowly been overcoming that.
Your new track “All Around The World” really brings in that early electronic sound while still adapting to the current state of music. What inspired the track sonically and lyrically?
We actually made that track like two years ago. I completely forgot about it somehow. I wanted to make some songs that were more like big-room dance tracks, something that sounded like a big EDM track. We eventually found “All Around The World” again, and I was like, “Holy shit, how did I ignore this track? This is the coolest thing I've ever heard.” So I sat down and recorded it, basically within the same day. This was literally the day before I personally went into lockdown. So the lyrics to me seemed like they were becoming more and more relevant, like each passing day, but at the time, I didn’t realize that. “All Around The World” was a continuation of the story set up in my previous single out called “Crazy Fuckin' Robot Body.”
This was the next step in that story. Sometimes when I write, I picture a story like a comic book and picture myself as the main character. In “Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body,” the main character is an AI robot, and she's trapped in a lab for a long time. She's really intelligent, but she's not free. She's experimented on all the time. One day she realizes that she has the power to destroy her keepers and release herself, which she does. And then in this song, “All Around The World,” I picture her being free for the first time and gathering forces of other AIs who have been oppressed by their oppressive government and rallying them together to revolt. So that's where the motivation came from. But little did I know that all this crazy shit was going to happen this year. I feel like these lyrics are becoming more relevant with each passing day because we're currently experiencing crazy lies and oppression with our government.
Is the storyline you used for “Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body” and carried out through “All Around The World” the theme for the record?
No, I broke free from that storyline. It just got me motivated when I started writing. Once lockdown hit, I stopped writing for two-and-a-half months just because I was feeling crushed by all the things going on. I didn't want to sing or write anything. Then in May, a friend of mine sent me a track, and I was like, OK and I just sat down with it. I sang something that is not at all like my music, but it somehow loosened up my writing and my creativity. Then I started writing more songs, and that's why I finished the album. So the other songs don't necessarily follow that storyline, which I'm glad I did. Sometimes I put myself in a corner when I come up with a storyline idea.
So after that, I just started writing whatever I wanted to, which was really freeing and fun. The whole record doesn't all follow that storyline, but that would've been cool if I did. I really love My Chemical Romance, so I always love how they would do a whole storyline for their album. So I took a page from Gerard [Way]’s book there. I don't know if I could have done it and made a whole album [with] this really elaborate story. I just like that style of writing. It's cool.
What message do you want fans and new listeners to take away from “All Around The World”?
It's like a calling out for like-minded individuals who I guess feel powerless to what's going on around them. I know we all feel that way right now. And I feel really down about things a lot. And I feel like I can't even move because I feel so much anxiety, and I feel like I have no power over anything around me. So basically with this song and basically any song I write sorry, I broaden the question. For me, it makes me feel powerful listening to it. So I guess my only hope is that when people hear that, they will feel powerful as well, which may seem silly. But it's like a transfer of energy, I guess, through music so that hopefully people can feel like they have some power, at least when they're listening to it.
You said on Instagram that I’m Ready is homing in on a new era. Can you expand on that?
I just feel like this new record has this whole new advanced sound for me. I feel like I got some sort of new writing and singing powers somehow. It feels like this is the next step up from here. It feels like it's me [and] the best work I've ever made. I'm just excited to take my project to the next level and then continue from there. This is like a whole new era, especially since my whole writing and recording process was totally different this time. I spent a lot of time just by myself recording my own vocals and going into the studio with a general idea for a song. I would figure it out behind the mic and write it right there, which before I would have it all figured out before I even stepped behind the mic. It allowed for more creative freedom. I feel like it's unlocked something new in me, and I'm really excited about it. So I'm hoping people will hear that in the new tracks and hear the advancement of the sound.
How will this album be different from your self-titled debut?
With the first album, it was harder to get out because it was the first album. It was my first solo music ever. I was really trying to figure out who I was as an artist. I'm still working on getting better at even singing in general, let alone songwriting. My producer Mystery Skulls makes these crazy tracks with these crazy chords that I've never sung to. It just took a while for me to figure out how I was going to make it my own. At the same time, I was creating a character. So I felt like I roped myself into a corner. Like I said before, I was trying to create a character in all the songs that fit this certain theme and everything. With I’m Ready, I let go of all of that. I wrote about whatever the fuck I wanted to. This could be anything. Snowblood could be any being or any entity. It's constantly evolving. This time I really let loose and just went with whatever I wanted to say. I feel like I even tapped into a little bit of my old Millionaires self. I rap on one of the songs, which I haven't done in a long time. I feel like I'm tapping into my past as well as my future self. I've been recording myself, and I feel like I just tapped into this new energy that I've never felt before. I'm just excited about it.
Did you try anything new in the studio this time?
Just the fact that I like engineered myself, vocally, and produced most of my vocals for the album. I felt like I could play around more and experiment. Which was different for me. The whole thing came together really organically. We would have been on tour this summer. If that happened, I don't even know if I would if this album would have come together this way. It would have been something completely different. But since the lockdown, I was able to like to work on it more and think about it more. And I feel like that actually was pretty beneficial for me. A little silver lining, given the situation. I definitely feel more confident in myself this time than the last record.
Luis Dubuc produced “Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body,” and you’ve also worked with him in the past. What was it like to work with him again on this track?
It was cool. We worked at our home studio. We got on a roll for making these tracks. When I said I wanted to have a bigger sound, like a big dance record, I also threw out a lot of hardstyle, like Eastern European [music and] Russian weird electronic music. I really like that kind of sound. I don't always love the vocals of the songs, but I like them sonically. I tried to make a hardstyle/pop song, and that's how “Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body” came around. I wanted to try some weird stuff on it. Sometimes I was getting a little bit cautious in the studio. So [Mystery Skulls] went out for a drive, and I was like, “OK, I'm going to record this hardstyle song while you're out.” When he came back, I was like, “I made this crazy song.” And I was so excited. I just feel like I stopped second-guessing myself, and I'm just going with my creative energy. After we did that, the tracks kept rolling out. He'd make a new track, [and] I’d think it was awesome. I would write a song in like 10 minutes, and I'd go in and record it. It was really quick. I tried not to dwell on lyrics too long. I don't try to sing something to death.
“Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body” showcased a heavy pop presence. Why was that the best song to introduce fans to the new album era?
It felt like the most fun. It's just so outrageous and out there. I just thought it'd be fun, [but] I was a little worried because the sound was so different with the hardstyle elements. I didn’t know if my fans or American fans would be into that. But the response has been amazing. People love it. That was the first one I recorded of this new batch. I thought it was dope. I just put it out, and most of the other songs hadn't been recorded yet. Once I saw the response to that song, I was like, “OK, let's make some more exactly that.”
As your new record approaches, what else can fans expect to hear on the new album?
I think it's full of surprises. I just had fun with it, [and] I think there's a little bit of everything. So there's a little bit of like rapping. There’s crazy tempo changes and metal parts. I'm screaming on a bunch of the songs, but it's also pop. It's all over the place in a really fun way. I feel like there's a little something for everyone. The artwork is awesome. I'm really excited about that. I'm excited to make CDs, and I think I'm going to make vinyl for the first time. I wish I could do a tour or something because I feel like the songs are so fast and upbeat, and they would be so fun to play live so good.
A lot of the artwork for the record so far zones in on cool metallic colors. Can you tell us where you pull your inspiration from?
Just the sound of the music is very metallic. This has this whole sheen to it, and it also sounds very futuristic to me. It sounds like the future of pop music or what could potentially be. I was looking on Instagram through different artists trying to find someone who made something that would resemble the images I was having in my mind because I had just come across this artist, DEVANDVAN, and he just makes these cool face sculptures and these cool letters with the chrome tech. He's from Indonesia, and he's awesome. I've just been working with him, and I feel like he really helped bring my visions to life in that sense. But I don't know why I thought that. Just that’s what the music sounds like to me. It sounds cold, like metal. [It’s] just different from my past. In the past, I felt more warm. But this one, it sounds cool, and it's like punching you in the face with a robot fist.
How does it tie into the concept of the album, or is it not related?
I think it's related to everything. I know it's a different but similar vibe, and I don't really know how to describe it.
Are there any other details about I’m Ready that you want fans to take note of when they listen to “All Around The World” for the first time?
I was considering not making this one a single just because I didn't know it was a single at first, but I just love the chorus so much. I just thought it's a really strong song. It’s also the second part of the story to “Crazy Fuckin’ Robot Body.” I just thought it'd be appropriate to show this one next. I really enjoyed recording it.
The song was first when I did this new style of singing and where I'm mixing the vocals a certain way that it really unlocked something for the rest of the album for me. It has a significance since it's the last song I recorded before I went into the mindset of lockdown, which is surreal to think about because it was so long ago. I just hope people like it and can connect with it and want to punch shit during that chorus and get pissed. I want to make you want to rage a little bit. It could do whatever you want to feel. It's open to interpretation.