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When I was a kid, I always wanted to play an instrument, but my parents couldn't afford to get me lessons, so I tried the tactic of teaching myself to play on an old keyboard. I never got anywhere with it, but in the process, I did develop a great deal of respect for those who can play instruments, whatever they happen to be. It's a lot harder than it looks! Today, we've got a musician who plays and sings her way along with tracks from video games, original song compositions, and parodies of contemporary music, to boot.
Daniela, or Starwarspunk as she's known on YouTube, has been gaming for a long time and creating music even longer. In addition to creating songs, she also collaborates with other YouTube artists who remix her work with an electronic flair -- I love watching the contrast between raw version and remix. Dani was kind enough to sit down and have a chat with us about her musical background, her influences, and of course, World of Warcraft.
World of WarCrafts: Hello Dani! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Dani: Hi, everyone! My name is Daniela, but you might know me better as Starwarspunk on YouTube or Dani the Girl on Facebook.
I am a pretty huge Star Wars fan (if my name didn't give it away!), and am a video games/music aficionado. When I'm not playing WoW, I am usually on my piano or guitar singing about playing WoW. I also love writing songs about people, whether it's someone I have a crush on (such as the lovely Prince Caspian), or even an entire WoW guild (such as Dara Mactire from Darkspear!).
Some of the songs I've written have been featured in gaming videos by a famous YouTube user and Razer-sponsored WoW player named Swifty, PVP montages, and even a Machinima Realm video! I have also been fortunate to collaborate with some talented artists such as Ephixa and Maklibek. I am hoping to become even more involved in the video game music industry, since these are two things that are very dear to my heart.
I used to participate in Halo dorm parties every week with some WoW-playing friends. They knew I was a big Lord of the Rings fan and were convinced that I would love being a Blood Elf mage in the fantasy world of Azeroth. After much resistance, peer pressure won, and I've been playing ever since. I am a Blood Elf fire/frost mage named Leglyse (see that Lord of the Rings influence? haha) on Tortheldrin. I am extremely into PVP, especially arenas. There is nothing more rewarding than owning a paladin in Blade's Edge Arena! I love my 2s team the most -- enough to write a song about it -- but I take 3s most seriously. For 2s, I play with an arms warrior, but sometimes we have been known to do prot warrior/arcane mage just for the lulz. You can imagine how far we've gotten!
What kind of musical background do you have?
My dad is actually a very talented musician who sings and plays piano and guitar. When I was very young, he introduced me to the piano by teaching me some scales and chords. After my parents saw that I had a real interest in the piano, for their sanity, they enrolled me in a music school to transform the noise I was making into actual music.
Although I watched my dad play acoustic guitar for several years, I did not pick it up (literally) until I was 16 and saw it lying outside of its case. I attempted to fingerpick the Star Wars theme, the Imperial March and started plucking some bass lines by ear with songs on the radio. Eventually, I learned how to play chords from guides on the internet and began writing simple songs. Since the guitar to me is basically a strummable piano, it wasn't as hard for me to pick up. I would love to learn how to play the violin and the harp one day. I am also hoping to become a pro at the harmonica (a piano for the mouth!) so I can showcase my inner Bob Dylan in a future song.
Where would you say your musical influence comes from?
I am a big fan of musicians such as Emiliana Torrini and Damien Rice. I love watching people play an acoustic guitar and tell emotional and captivating stories through songs. I'm definitely a fan of clever lyrics and strive to make my songs the same.
I am also very into classical music and video game/movie soundtracks. Currently, I have been obsessed with the Chrono Trigger soundtrack. It's very inspirational and amazing to hear so many instruments blended together to create such powerful themes. They are also so recognizable and distinct and have the ability to make you smile or make you angry, because you can't stop thinking about that moment in the game or movie when the song was played. I can only hope that one day I am able to do the same.
Do you prefer writing original music or doing parodies?
Parodies are much easier for me to write since the music already exists. I also have some idea as to how many syllables per line and a rhyming pattern to follow. I'm also able to do catchy, mainstream music that is normally uncharacteristic of my acoustic style. I used to want to be the female version of Weird Al Yankovic. I absolutely love his Yoda parody of Lola by the Kinks. (Future video, maybe...?!)
However, I do love writing original music. I like having the ability to play exactly what's in my head. Writing lyrics is much easier for me than writing music. I always want to make sure that my songs can stick and resonate in a listener's head. It can be a great, frustrating challenge for me to make sure that my music fits perfectly with my lyrics, but accomplishing the end result is so fulfilling and rewarding.
Any more parodies or songs in the works that you'd like to tell us about?
I am currently working on some instrumentals. I recently attended a fantastic video game symphonic concert that featured everything from Castlevania to World of Warcraft. After hearing Elune's Theme live, I am determined to reproduce it on the piano. I am also hoping to do a rendition of Call to Arms, which is one of my favorites from the WoW soundtrack. I'm not quite sure if I will be able to make it as epic, since I won't have a full choir backing me up, but I am totally down for this challenge!
I have also been writing some songs for other YouTube users to use in their videos. I'm really excited for them because it is the first time I've ever composed music for a specific story written by someone else.
I'm hoping to do some new collaborations, both parodies and originals, with Maklibek since we work so well together. I absolutely love our remix of I'm So Cold, and I think it would be really cool for us to have an entire remixed World of Warcraft-themed CD.
Any advice for other songwriters and musicians out there?
It is a great idea to make sure you always have something to capture your ideas no matter where you are. Creativity can strike at any moment! I carry my notebook with me wherever I go, just in case I come up with an interesting riff or potential lyrics for a song. It has come in handy whenever I am not near an instrument or in an inappropriate place to hum in public, like the library. Since I make sure to write everything that comes to me down in my book, it is full of a lot of unused material. Maybe one day I'll make a Grammy-winning song full of my reject lyrics!
I also record every melody I come up with. When I first came up with the Hey Swifty! Song, I actually forgot to record it and completely forgot how the tune went the next day. I was heartbroken but luckily started humming it several days later. I'm so glad I did! Ever since then, I have recorded everything!
Please don't give up! If you're having fun making music, then don't stop. People will always have something to say, but the most important thing is that you're enjoying yourself.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much to Swifty for helping me out with my YouTube! I recently hit the 3,000-subscriber mark and am so excited for the future videos I have planned. Thank you to all my friends and fans. They are truly fantastic. Also, a big thanks and shout-out to Maklibek for being a fantastic collaborator and musical counterpart. Please make sure to check out his channel for some epic music and collabs with me!
I recently entered my original version of I'm So Cold for the BlizzCon 2011 Original Song Contest, so wish me luck!
Finally, thank you to Anne and WoW Insider for the interview! It is really great being able to see all the creativity coming out of my fellow WoW players, and I'm really glad I could take a part in it.
Good luck with the contest, Dani, and thanks for taking the time to chat with us!
If you'd like to hear more of Dani's work, you can check out her channel on YouTube or follow her on Facebook. World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.