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Dani Stocksdale explores musical roots and Spanish songwriting

Independent musician Dani Stocksdale blends her cultural roots and explores her musical identity with her Spanish-language releases. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANI STOCKSDALE

Independent musician Dani Stocksdale dove into her cultural roots and Spanish songwriting after a personal experience during her grandfather’s pacemaker surgery. This exploration became a newfound way to express herself in her native language, which she embraces in her new music releases.

Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the Mexican-American singer always had an affinity for entertainment and bringing laughter and music to a Spanish-speaking dinner table. Artists such as Luis Miguel and Paulina Rubio, who sang timeless 1980s Hispanic melodies, strongly influenced her. In Stocksdale’s music, she seamlessly blends her cultural roots with personal experiences, creating a sound that resonates with her authenticity and individuality. 

“As I grew up, I didn’t really sing in Spanish or write in Spanish at all,” Stocksdale said in an interview with The Statesman. “I always associated music and songwriting in English. Maybe just because it came more naturally at that point in my life.”

Through her Spanish-language releases, Stocksdale aims to shed light on an aspect of her artistry that might catch some by surprise since she hasn’t officially released any Spanish-language music as of yet. As she tackles her native tongue and explores her musical identity, she emphasized that her Spanish body of work is undeniably authentic to her true self. 

“I think everyone who knows me personally knows this whole other side to me, but people who don’t know me personally and like maybe have only heard [my other singles], I don’t think they would know [or expect this] at all,” Stocksdale said. “People never expect that for me, and I’m very proud of that side of myself and my culture.” 

She initially leaned more toward her carefree and creative perspectives rather than the business side of the music industry, particularly during her time in the teen-pop girl group, Sonder, which consisted of Stocksdale and five of her friends. 

During Friday night sleepovers, they recorded spontaneous covers that found their way to YouTube the next day. The group garnered attention on social media, accumulating 48,000 subscribers on YouTube for their acoustic renditions and seamless harmonies. 

“We started seeing a bit of traction, and it was so exciting because it was the first time it happened for all of us,” she said, considering Sonder a bonding experience for the six of them. “But we never branched out into [writing original songs].”

Stocksdale’s outlook on being a musical artist shifted when she began her studies at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. She not only developed a passion for songwriting at Clive but also broadened her horizons. This involved delving into the exploration of songwriting and the behind-the-scenes work that comes with being a musical artist, such as designing show posters on Canva and submitting finalized singles to streaming platforms. 

“Going to school showed me that there’s so much more to becoming a musician and being in the music industry than writing songs, recording songs and recording covers,” she said.

She found it challenging to navigate how much “cultivation and buildup goes into artist projects,” but acknowledged that school was an eye-opener. The experience allowed her to explore writing music for others, including music for films and pitches.

In 2023, indie-pop tracks “Swimming Pools” and “Prototype,” were Stocksdale’s first two singles released on streaming platforms and were written during a week-long songwriting session in Los Angeles. Within these tracks, she deftly employs metaphors for romantic relationships and captures the ubiquitous experience of meeting someone during young adulthood who becomes an ideal standard of how she measures her future relationships.

Despite her artistic ventures, Stocksdale remains a perfectionist — meticulously crafting the ideal digital or live drum beats in production, refining music video aesthetics and making sure show posters meet her standards. However, her perfectionist tendencies sometimes pose a challenge in finding a balance, which leads to moments of frustration.

“The most difficult part, without a doubt, for both of the songs, was taking it from that level of the first production day, the demo, to [its] final version,” she said about the production processes of “Swimming Pools” and “Prototype.”

Stocksdale is taking a significant step in her music career with plans to release her upcoming single, “Solitas,” released entirely in Spanish. The inspiration for releasing Spanish-language music sparked two summers ago during a writing session because she thought English would not adequately express what she was trying to convey. This marked an intentional choice to express herself musically in her native language. 

“My aunt cried when she heard [‘Solitas’] because it was the first time she heard me doing music in Spanish,” Stocksdale said. “It was her natural tongue — her language — and it really resonated with my family.”

Through her upcoming Spanish-language single, “Solitas,” and heartfelt melodies, Stocksdale not only redefines her artistic identity but also invites listeners to resonate with the universal language of emotion.

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About the Contributor
Clare Gehlich, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Clare is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor for The Statesman and a senior journalism major with a minor in political science. Since transferring to Stony Brook University in 2022, she has written for both Herald Community Newspapers and WSHU Public Radio.
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