Time and Space: The Process & Perspective Behind Danielle Durack’s ‘Escape Artist’

Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck
Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck
Singer/songwriter Danielle Durack discusses hot dogs, heartbreak, young love, and moving on in her deeply reflective album ‘Escape Artist’ following Valentine’s Day.
Stream: ‘Escape Artist’ – Danielle Durack

I’ve been in a number of relationships where I don’t allow enough time or space and it’s like picking a scab instead of just letting something heal.

Between slow-builds like “Worms” and “Dean” and gut-wrenching soft tracks like “The Door,” Danielle Durack’s songwriting and sound achieve an album that is simultaneously distant and intimate. “Jackson” and “Shirt Song” come after time and space, where perspective can render big things small again, while “Good Dog” feels so present, so close to home.

Escape Artist - Danielle Durack
Escape Artist – Danielle Durack

The album, Escape Artist – the Phoenix, AZ-born and Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter’s third full-length LP – almost mimics this act of moving on, where at times heartbreak can feel like it is almost forgotten, and other times it can feel like it is breathing down your neck. It is at once that urge you have to pick the scab, and the slow-gained, hard-fought control that allows you to resist.

Escape Artist is independently out February 16th, with tour dates starting in Phoenix on February 9th. Dive into the record – and Durack’s continuously evolving artistry – in our interview below!

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:: stream/purchase Escape Artist here ::
:: connect with Danielle Durack here ::
Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck
Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck


Escape Artist - Danielle Durack

Atwood Magazine: I am so fascinated with the concept of the album, Escape Artist, and really felt the thread of escapism in the songs. I am curious about how you find the writing process to be, as escapist but also as a reflective practice?

Danielle Durack: It was named after all the songs were done. The record was done and I was looking for the throughline, and every song had a little bit of it. It is a retreat into my own mind, I guess, so the reflective element is one in the same I feel like. That escape into myself, maybe it doesn’t even have to be an escapist thing, maybe it is solitude. Not to have a negative connotation for it, but it has always been the same since I started writing music as a kid.

This album was heart-wrenching and delicate and really just what I needed this week. I was so interested in the line from “Shirt Song,” “Now hand it off to time and space / oh it’s doing its cruel magic / feeling better every day.” I guess I just wanted to ask you, what is your advice for making it through that initial wave of heartbreak? Is it really as simple as time and space?

Danielle Durack: Gosh, I feel like it really is. It is that simple, it’s just not that easy. I’ve been in a number of relationships where I don’t allow enough time or space and it’s like picking a scab instead of just letting something heal. I don’t know, it’s a strange, beautiful, sad thing. Even if something is not necessarily aligned with your life and maybe it’s not meant to be, grieving that era and moving on is just so painful, even in the most positive circumstances. But yeah, that line is just like the irony of “I’m feeling better, but it feels weird that I am feeling better.”

Is heartbreak a generative emotion for you? Or what emotion brings you to writing the most?

Danielle Durack: I have an annoyingly analytical brain, especially when things are rocky, my brain just constantly troubleshoots. And I think when things are going well, it’s peace, it’s stasis, it’s like everything is fine, my gears aren’t spinning. I am present. If not heartbreak, I think just negative experiences and negative emotions. I feel the need to unpack those way more than I feel the need to unpack happiness or joy.

Can we just talk about the “Good Dog” music video for a second? Listening to the song before watching the video, I was totally expecting something like the Phoebe Bridgers “Saviour Complex” music video, but I ended up in an emotional sausage party! I would love to know how you came up with the idea?

Danielle Durack: (laughing) Oh my god, yeah. I really struggled with a concept for the music video for quite a while. This is such a sad song, I was like I don’t know how to make something that isn’t just an ASPCA commercial. I had a show in New York and I was staying with my friend’s sister who I knew very casually, I guess, but I spent a bunch of time with her cause I was staying with her. She is a puppeteer in New York, she’s in the puppet scene and she is such a fun presence, and she was showing me some of the things she’s been working on. In her bathroom, actually, from the toilet, you can see the whiteboard she has in her shower, and on that whiteboard it said “hotdog orchestra” and I asked her about it. She was like “that is my idea board, all of the best ideas come to me in the shower.

Okay, first of all, such a beautiful idea to have the whiteboard in the shower. I might need to take that. So the first image this was built around was the scene of the hotdog orchestra?

Danielle Durack: Me too, the whole shooting and editing process, I was giggling the whole time. It was so much fun to make. But yeah, so she [friend’s sister] was like I can come down to Nahsville and we can do something and I was like yes, let’s do it. I just had to conceptualize, what is the most cliche way I could take this video, and instead of me it will be a hot dog, and that’s kind of where the idea came from.

I also wanted to ask you about “Jackson.” As a writer, I feel like I have this constant dread that whenever I have a “you” that I’m addressing, when/if something gets published they are going to read it. I’m wondering if you are ever afraid to release music because you know the “you” is going to hear it, or if you send it to them beforehand?

Danielle Durack: This one is probably the most nervous I have ever been. It’s a very long story, but long story short, I started talking to this guy when I was 15. I was introduced through mutual friends, he was supposed to move to my town, I was supposed to be someone he would know when he got there. Whatever, ten years go by and I never met this kid and we had this romance when we were 16/17 where we were talking every day over text. He may or may not be real, I don’t know. So if Jackson is real and he hears this song, I don’t know. I don’t know how he would feel, whether he would be upset. I haven’t talked to him in a very long time, I don’t know that he’ll even see it. Especially using his name.

I was wondering, you didn’t change the name?

Danielle Durack: Nope.

So he’s going to come out of the woodwork with this one. There is such sweetness in the song, I think it would have to produce a good response.

Danielle Durack: If he is, in fact, real.

Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck
Danielle Durack © Eunice Beck

Right, if he exists. Tell me about the move from Phoenix to Nashville. Have you been playing in Nashville?

Danielle Durack: It’s been good, it’s been good. I’ve played a handful of shows, especially when I first got here. There’s been a little break, it definitely slows down here in the winter. But people are listening here. There’s venues in Phoenix that achieve that, but it’s everywhere here, you’re never really background noise. It’s really cool, as a songwriter, you know, you have to pay attention to get the full effect.

Definitely. And speaking of songwriting, I wanted to ask you: What comes first for you in your process of writing a song? A line? An image? Or does it change from song to song?

Danielle Durack: It varies a little. The song “Start” off of Bashful, I remember I had a mountain in mind, a hiking scenario. I used to write just lyrics and melody before playing any instruments, so that’s usually how it goes for me. I have an idea, either a lyric or a concept, I start humming, find some chords that go with it, and it’s off to the races. But sometimes it’s the guitar that comes first, I find something I really like and I start ad libbing, basically scatting, something clicks.

Escape Artist - Danielle Durack
‘Escape Artist,’ Danielle Durack’s third album, is out February 16, 2024!

That makes sense. I am also curious about the album cover, I feel like that really brought the concept of the album together for me. Was that your idea for the cover?

Danielle Durack: Yeah, that astronaut concept. The juxtaposition of having the astronaut in the mundane, day to day setting. I have a music video coming out for moon song that is basically that, a day in the life of this astronaut. I’m very excited. But yeah, I had my friend take all those photos for the vinyl and the cover and the inserts and everything and I got to work on photoshop. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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:: stream/purchase Escape Artist here ::
:: connect with Danielle Durack here ::

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Escape Artist - Danielle Durack

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