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A Dirty Dozen with DORIANA SPURRELL – August 2022

| 24 August 2022 | Reply

Photo credit: Donavon Garrett Photography

According to a recent press release: “Durham, North Carolina-based Americana artist and songwriter Doriana Spurrell is set to independently release her debut EP, Forward, on August 19, 2022. Forward offers the world a glimpse of her keen perspective through a series of five stunning, Spurrell-penned folk-Americana tracks about the small things in life. Each song presents a hyper-focused story about the kinds of exchanges and events that, combined, make up the intimate fodder of daily living. Despite her training as a classical guitarist, Spurrell’s songwriting process is uniquely language-focused: Her musical arrangements are built around lyrical lines, not vice-versa. For her, the words are what matter most. Now studying creative writing at Emerson College in Boston, Spurrell is delving deeper into her love of writing in service to her music.” We get Doriana to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

In the past two months, I released two brand new singles. The first of which is a song dedicated to my grandfather who passed away from Covid in 2020. The second is a song which is heavily influenced by family and the love of family. I think both of these songs come from such a powerful spot; I get excited explaining the meaning behind both despite it perhaps being dismal. I’m grateful to be able to share my grandfather through a song, and also have it so listeners can mold themselves in whatever way to the song as well.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My dad played guitar for my brother and me growing up, just a bunch of old folk/bluegrass songs. Being in North Carolina and around the Appalachian Mountains, I felt like we were always listening to some cool, live music. At family parties, someone would whip a guitar out, and lots of our friends held jam sessions. There was always just lots of fun-loving music, really. I wanted in on it, real bad. So, one day in middle school, I finally decided to learn guitar. It kept progressing and soon enough I was writing songs (not great ones, I’ll admit), but I got more and more passionate. By high school, I knew I wanted to pursue music, so I left public school for art school and studied classical guitar to get the basics down, and that led me to eventually recording this EP.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Plenty of classic country music has guided the way I write and sing. Back home in North Carolina, we would go to the Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh, which I believe moved to that location around 2013. I would listen to a lot of amazing guitar players and stare in awe. I also listened to Old Crow Medicine Show, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Neil Young. Around middle school, right when I was getting into guitar, I found Brandi Carlile, and she has been my musical idol since.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Drawing on my last response, I would go with Brandi Carlile. She is such a huge inspiration to me. I’ve learned a lot from her music, and I’d like to think that my style is very reminiscent of hers, probably because it is. One thing I appreciate about her music is how she’s able to just let loose. I think it would be incredibly fun to collab with an artist like that!

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I’m a big lover of poetry and writing, and I keep a journal and a songwriting journal. They’re good places to pick out of when I’m writing songs and searching for inspiration. I really enjoy going outside to read and/or write. Sitting in the sunshine is a great way to refresh myself, so I do that often when weather and the calendar permits.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would say that I’ve got a folksy feeling to my songs, absolutely. I also like to say singer-songwriter a lot to people, because I think it puts the image of a person and a guitar together in their mind — and that’s what I am, a girl with a guitar if nothing else. The singer-songwriter title also gives me a lot of liberty to do whatever with my songs. I’ve not yet heard a comparison made that has really had me cringe at all. I’ve definitely gotten comparisons which I think are too far —- meaning I’m flattered. I’ve actually gotten Norah Jones a lot for my voice, which makes me blush, because she is an absolutely wonderful musician and singer.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Considering that my band mainly consists of myself, I’m usually the one bringing out the guitar always. I’m 19 years old currently, and we started recording this EP when I was 17/18 — my parents have been a large part of this music journey. They are typically the ones coaxing me to play at family parties, etc. They are also the ones who tried to make the band that I had gathered for recording as comfortable and fun as possible. One day when we held a rehearsal, my parents got everyone Starbucks (which I am unfortunately a fan of, I love coffee so it doesn’t really matter where it comes from). It was so fun and it showed me how much my parents care about aiding me in this process.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

At the beginning of the summer, I saw Ray LaMontagne in concert at Carolina Theater in Durham. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. He’s always been an artist that I thought of as incredibly talented — honestly, kind of ethereal. So it was crazy to me that I would see him in concert, and he does not disappoint. His voice sounds like butter, seriously, that’s the best I can explain. I went with my mom, and when he first started singing we were in awe. He also was incredibly kind on stage and told some really wonderful and interesting stories about his songs that I have now retold to friends who are also fans. It was truly such an incredible concert, and in a nice small, intimate space being at the Carolina Theater, which made it very personal.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part is being able to express myself through music. I feel like I have so much liberty in expressing or conveying my feelings through my songs. In poetry, and songwriting — because I believe the two are very interchangeable — there is interpretation. You’re not always writing your feelings out point blank, if that makes sense. There is a lot of interpretation that goes along with music. I could be saying something incredibly personal to myself about a moment or memory, and someone else could develop their very own meaning out of it without knowing my own personal story. That is so cool to me, probably my favorite part about being a musician. Music is an outlet for so many, and it is honoring when someone chooses you. If I wasn’t able to keep this dream alive and be a musician, I would love to keep my creative writing alive. I am very passionate about writing and about telling stories, whatever form it may be.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I think a really fun question to be asked would be “who are you listening to right now” or “what’s your most recent added song/artist.” I say this because I think it’s funny how much my music taste changes periodically. Not that my interests or likes change, but I’m always delving into something new. If you would scroll through my library you could literally see the changes in genre over the months; it goes from soft folk to hard rock, to the classics, crooners, pop throwbacks, old-school rap. My answer to this question would be Kid Cudi, an artist who I think is incredibly talented. A question like this entertains me, because I have no similarities to an artist like Kid Cudi, so it would be rare that I would ever be able to bring him up in reference to my own work. And with that being said a question I am not a huge fan of is “how would you describe your music” — which I know may seem a little odd, because people want to know what they’re getting themselves into — I mean, what do I sound like? But it’s always a scramble for me to figure out how to describe myself, what category to pick that will best represent me.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I think I had a lot of opportunities at my old high school. For my last two years in high school, I transferred to a boarding art school in Winston-Salem, NC, called UNC School of the Arts. I studied classical guitar there amongst my regular academic school curriculum. As a person who deals with anxiety on the regular, this was not an easy transition for me; it was difficult to go to class let alone break out of my shell and put myself out there as a musician. I did my fair share of things with closer friends at school, but with all the amenities open to students there, I definitely missed out due to my fear. If I could have a do-over, I would try and recognize that and do my best to use all those resources.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to see how the recording was done for Brandi Carlile’s The Story. That album has so many dear songs to me that I also think sound amazing. I don’t remember what specific article this was I read about it, but somewhere I heard that she was encouraged to sing her heart out in the studio just as she would on a stage —- essentially not try and keep the song at its base. I know it’s a fear for some artists that they wouldn’t be able to replicate it to its entirety on stage if they outdo themselves in the studio —- but that’s just wrong. I think Brandi Carlile’s record shows how amazing it sounds when artists let loose. She has such an incredibly strong voice, and it shines through on this record (and literally all of her records, but I just love this one). It would be so cool and interesting to see that dynamic in the studio.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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