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Meet Lady Danville: 'Fun & Catchy but Never Kitschy'

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Lady Danville: Dan Chang, Michael Garner and Matt Frankel (l-r). | Photo by Corey seeholzer.


Lady Danville: Dan Chang, Michael Garner and Matt Frankel (l-r). | Photo by Corey seeholzer.
LAist first caught Lady Danville live at a singer-songwriter showcase at the Ford Amphitheater this past summer. We enjoyed the trio’s breezy pop tunes and polished set, and wanted to find out a little more about the former UCLA a cappella singers.

We e-mailed a few questions to vocalist/pianist Michael Garner who was in the midst of prepping for tonight’s show at Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica.

Who is Lady Danville?
Lady Danville is Michael Garner (piano/vocals), Dan Chang (guitar/vocals), and Matt Frankel (percussion/vocals), an acoustic folk rock trio based out of Los Angeles. None of us are originally from LA. Dan and I are both from Danville (Calif.) but we didn’t meet until in LA when we formed an acoustic folk duo, mikey g and dan from danville.

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How did you come up with the name?
A few years later, Matti joined the two of us to make our current trio, but for some reason, we kept our awkward 2-person band name for the 3 of us... until that one fateful day...We were being interviewed by a local newspaper after a show, and the interviewer asked us how/when music first came into our lives. Dan said that he had a kindergarten teacher, a wonderful hippy as he remembers her, who brought fun instruments to class every day for the kids to play. He remembered calling her "lady" (as some kids call older women when we felt no need to honor their proper name). Turns out I had "lady" for my kindergarten teacher as well, albeit two years after Dan, and I was equally as fond of this woman and grateful to her for bringing music into my life. As Dan and I discovered this new connection from childhood, Matti jumped in and said, "Ha, my aunt is a kindergarten teacher in Danville. I wonder if it's the same woman. But her name isn't Lady, it's Gloria." Turns out it was the same woman! This called for a band-name-change. But we didn't like the sound of "Gloria Danville" so we went with "Lady Danville."

Who are your musical influences?
Ben Folds, Guster, Death Cab, The Decemberists, Simon and Garfunkel, Rufus Wainwright

Spoon by Lady Danville:

How would you describe your music in a Tweet? (Use 140 characters or fewer!)
Acoustic folk rock trio, vocal harmonies & melodies in the forefront; supported by guitar, piano, and cajon. Fun & catchy but never kitschy.
(Exactly 140 characters :)

Did saying you're with an a cappella group help or hurt your cred with the UCLA ladies?
The a cappella has always been a double-edged sword in terms of cred. In the end, it usually turns out to be good thing, because we tend to pleasantly surprise people with our tactful usage and integration of our a cappella roots. Most people think of a cappella as cheesy and campy (which for the most part, the three of us agree with), so we try to be a little bit more creative with how and when we harmonize, while still keeping harmonies at the forefront of our sound. To answer the question more directly: the a cappella hurts our cred for people who haven't heard us perform, but helps our cred for people who have heard us perform. The more you know...

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You've been touring around quite a bit. What city/town/stop has surprised you the most?
Hands down, Denver. We all feel like that city does not get nearly enough public adoration. The music and art scene is quite bustling, there are beautiful parks basically every block, and the bars were fun and not pretentious. It has a ton to do like any big city, but it somehow maintains a warm, friendly vibe of a small mountain town.

What are your three favorite places to hear live music in LA?
Hotel Cafe, the Troubadour, El Rey

What's next for Lady Danville? Do you have a CD coming out soon?
Right now we're focusing on writing new tunes and recording, not necessarily a full length (we'll see), but just to get our new stuff captured. We'll be in LA for the next few months, but in mid 2010 we're planning on getting back on the road, spreading our new music throughout the US.

Catch Lady Danville tonight at 9 pm at Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica or Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on Dec. 10.