Follow Us
Manifesto Radio


Manifesto Presents: Seven Pillars - An Interview With Danny Severance

Danny Severance is someone who has already spoken to
your soul, but you don’t realize it until he begins to sing.
And sing he does, exceptionally well. Danny’s voice, whether
it be as the lead man with the Na Capellas, the house band
of NYC’s Street Poets Open Mic or with SWANK, a group he
was the frontman for in his home state of Illinois, Danny
Severance brings forth finely-tuned Americana with all of
its soul with his music. In addition to that, Danny is also a
trained classical violinist, a gift he also employs in his music
as well as being a poet and writer. Manifesto Magazine got the
chance to talk with Danny as  he was finishing up with the
This-Or-That Tour in Los Angeles, California The tour is a creation
of Off The Wall Graffiti, a non-profit that encourages young
people to utilize their art in a positive and legal manner. 
Check out his music and get more information at his website, and follow his band page,


Manifesto Magazine:  What drew you to both poetry and
                                    music as your means of expression?
                                    Why those two forms?

Danny:      It’s a very organic answer for me…I think that
                  especially as a writer, it’s a process where it just
                  kinda comes out. So I started writing partly for my own 
                  personal catharsis as a 13-year old boy you know, maybe
                  younger than that. At first it was kind of just prose, poetry,
                 scribblings, and then it developed.And then when I went
                 to Bradley University, they have a very strict creative writing 
                  program, that really encouraged me in poetry, it’s a
                  poetry focused creative writing program. I did have thoughts 
                  on going back to school for poetry. As far as music, it’s also a
                  kind of weird transformational, organic moment for me
                  because I started violin when I was 5. I started classically -
                  I was so fortunate to have gone to an elementary school
                  that was basically a fine arts magnet elementary school in
                  Illinois. It’s basically a school that was founded for gifted kids
                  per se, in an urban area. So I was very fortunate to go there.
                  So I started at age 5, taking lessons in school and then private
                  lessons in middle school. But by age 18, I went through some
                  personal struggles and I started writing blues and started
                  expressing myself that way. And then I started singing as well.  

Manifesto:  In listening to you, one thing that I get is a great deal of depth.
                    That’s what stands out to me and I’m sure everyone else
                    that’s heard it, the depth of it. The other term that comes
                    to mind is, ‘old soul’. Do you feel that the term fits your current
                    styling of music at this point in time, because I’m sure there’s
                    going to be a continued evolution as you grow within the 

Danny:        Well, thank you for saying that, first off! I think I’m
                    definitely going for depth. Coming from the perspective of
                   someone who writes poetry and music, I’m very serious
                    about my words. I want them to carry meaning, I want
                   them to hear those words, and…not to badmouth
                    anyone else’s music, but sometimes the lyrics are not as
                    heavy, and it’s cool and it’s fun music and I dance to it & that’s
                   fine. But personally, I just have trouble writing those kind
                    of lyrics. They have to hold some weight in and of themselves.
                   And at the same time I really appreciate ambiance and the
                   atmosphere and going for, to speak on the ‘old soul’ point, getting
                    under people’s skin. But then also going for..I definitely like getting
                    into blues type styles, getting into soul, into Americana, digging
                    around in history a little bit. Coincidentally, I have a bachelor’s in
                    history so that’s kind of an inspiration for me too. Just kind of
                    looking through Americana.


Manifesto:   Well, that leads me to my next question which is, what
                     is the breadth of your musical influences? You mentioned
                     some Chicago soul, blues…what else influenced you?

 Danny:        Well, first and foremost, Howling Wolf. There’s other
                     Chicago legends, but specifically Howling Wolf. He really
                     influences me to go for texture and be okay with the
                     scratchiness…you know, even Louis Armstrong kind of
                     had that too, Howling Wolf was kind of known for that.
                     He was an influence on the Rolling Stones, I kind of look
                     to that thread of American music, I drew a lot from that.
                     Rolling Stones, I grew up a lot on The Beatles for sure, I
                     kind of raised myself musically on The Beatles from when
                     I was pretty young. I’m constantly trying to push into
                     jazz, learn more about jazz. I was raised with classical…and
                     I’m always trying to pay attention to Bill Withers, Otis
                     Redding, Al Green, just to name a few, Sam Cooke is huge
                     for me…as soul influences. ‘Cause I’m coming to the point  
                     where I’m defining myself more and more as a soul artist, not
                     as a blues artist. So, that’s a process for me.

Manifesto:    And with that definition, the voice that you have is the
                    key thing. It’s very distinct and resounding, and in my
                    mind at least, has an impeccable, rich sound to it. I’m
                    sure you’ve gotten a lot of reactions to your sound
                    and how unique it is. Has it ever thrown you for a
                    loop or amazed you, even now, to hear the reactions
                    as long as you’ve been doing it?

Danny:        Yes, absolutely. I think I’m a very critical person,
                     and self- critical. When I’m in the moment, it feels good,
                     I’m expressing and singing. But I’m always critical and 
                     wondering where, if the tone isn’t quite right you know, 
                     and focused on getting all the elements right at the same 
                     time. I get kind of lost in that and then I come out of the 
                     performance and I’m asking very sincerely, ‘was I good?’ 
                     People are blown away…it continues to amaze me, absolutely.

Manifesto:    What do you feel is the message that lies at the core of
                      your music ultimately?

Danny:         I think there’s always an attempt for me in my
                     music, and also in my poetry too, to explore things
                     that are unsaid. Or getting under people’s skin and kind
                     of pushing them to a point, bringing them to a head where
                     they have to kind of start those conversations themselves
                     that maybe they’ve been avoiding in their personal life
                     or confronting their role in society or whatever it is,
                     things I believe in I guess. Also, just kind of being loving,
                     love…not being  afraid of beating people over the head with
                     tough love.

Manifesto:   You had mentioned at the outset about reuniting
                     with your old band members…will there be any
                     new music this year from you on the horizon?

Danny:         On both projects, or anything in New York?

Manifesto:    Anything you’ve got coming up!

Danny:         Absolutely, absolutely. I have a new soul/electronica
                     teaser out, called ‘Thank You’ on my Soundcloud. It’s
                    called ‘Thank You’, it’s produced by Smash Daisaku.
                    I actually have a couple other beats from him that
                     I’m sitting on and we’ll be putting out this year. In
                     addition, I have plans to record with Danny Severance
                     and the Na Capellas in New York, and aside from that
                     I will definitely be working more with my old projects,
                     especially SWANK which was my most recent project
                     before moving to New York. We’ll probably be playing a
                     festival or two this summer, though I’m not sure what
                     that means for recording with that project but potentially
                     that’s good.

Manifesto:   Last question that I have: what words of wisdom
                     would you give to someone looking to travel your
                     creative path?

Danny:         Accept help. Don’t be stubborn. Don’t be stubborn
                     about accepting help and also hearing that someone
                     else is right.



Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.