Photo courtesy of Dani-elle Kleha
I had a really fun chat with Pennsylvania country artist, Dani-elle Kleha during CRS 2021 via Zoom. Join me to see what she’s been up to and what she has planned for 2021.
Patti McClintic: Hi, how are you?
Dani-elle Kleha: Good, how are you?
Patti McClintic: So, are you in Nashville right now?
Dani-elle Kleha: I’m in Pennsylvania.
Patti McClintic: Well, I might as well be in Pennsylvania because it’s just not “Nashville-ish” weather right now.
Dani-elle Kleha: Right, I’m like, “What is going on with you guys down there?” (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: I don’t know, but it’s just not right. I look out the window and think, “Let’s just close the blinds.”
Dani-elle Kleha: It’s funny because my parents and I are planning to move to Tennessee, and my mom and I were talking about those 4 x 4 trucks with the plows on them, and off-roading things. We were talking about how one of those would be really good for my dad to get, but then my mom said, “Although we won’t need it in Tennessee,” but watch, this will be how winters are once we move there. That’s what’s gonna happen. (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Could be. My husband has a big truck and he’s been doing nothing but carting people back and forth to work. Like, our next door neighbor is a nurse and he’s been taking her back and forth to Vanderbilt. Nobody really knows how to drive in this stuff here and we’re originally from Buffalo, New York, so we do. Nobody’s really prepared here, so it doesn’t hurt to have a big truck in these freakish moments. So, what’s going on? Obviously, you’re from Pennsylvania, that’s been established. Where in Pennsylvania are you?
Dani-elle Kleha: Jermyn, Pennsylvania. It’s a really small town, I think there are under 2,000 people here and it’s near Scranton. We’re like 15 minutes away from Scranton, that’s our biggest city that’s near us. So, I’m about as much of a small town girl as you can get.
Image courtesy of townmapsusa.com
Patti McClintic: So, that’s pretty country.
Dani-elle Kleha: You know what? It is, but it’s not. Where I’m born and raised, we’re actually like, the “city folk,” believe it or not. (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Okay, so there’s more rural than you?
Dani-elle Kleha: Yeah, and that’s saying a lot because we’re super small here. So, once you go out to the country it’s even smaller, but a bigger area, it’s strange.
Patti McClintic: So, there are people that would look at you and say you’re a “city girl.”
Dani-elle Kleha: Absolutely. You have no idea! They’re like, “You’re from the city. What are you talking about?” (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: I was reading your bio and you’ve done some interesting things. Considering the fact that you’re from a small town, you’ve done some cool things. You’ve opened for some interesting people. How did that happen?
Dani-elle Kleha: That was all what I like to call, “the snowball effect.” You talk to one person, who talks to another person, who talks to another person, and before you know it, I’m getting a phone call asking me to open the Jason Aldean show, or Dierks Bentley. We did a Darius Rucker show. Those were so cool because they were all summer, outdoor country concerts. It was amazing because they were like June and July nights, the sun was setting, and just thousands of country music fans . I remember at one point there were beachballs flying through the air and it was just super cool.
Patti McClintic: Were these all up near where you are in the Scranton area?
Dani-elle Kleha: Yes, these were Live Nation shows, and they were in the Montage area.
Patti McClintic: What’s currently going on with you musically? What’s the latest project?
Dani-elle Kleha: Obviously, we haven’t been able to play live shows, it’s coming up on a year now and it breaks my heart to even say that. It’s weird to say that.
Patti McClintic: It is, it’s so sad.
Dani-elle Kleha: Right? I was talking to my guitar player the other night and we’re just so ready, it’s so weird, because this is just what you do, for anybody in this industry. It’s not only what you do, it’s who you are. So, I struggled for a little bit there, this huge part of who I am was just taken away, you know? It’s definitely weird and difficult. So, obviously I’m looking forward to when it’s safe to get back out there again, and tour and do live shows. In the meantime, I’ve obviously had a lot of time to write, as I think all of us have. So, I’ve just been writing a bunch and looking forward to when we can get back into the studio. I’ve done a lot of cool things, like we built a whole new merch line, and we got to have the fans involved in that and have them design a couple things along with it. So, that was really cool.
Dani-elle Kleha: We’ve created a virtual fan club, a private fan club, through all of this too. So, that was a really cool area for fans who, whether they know each other, or whether they’ve never met each other, to kind of have one-on-one interaction through all of this. I was able to have more one-on-one interaction too. I’ve just really upped my social media presence, and that’s always been important to me, but I think through all of this, it’s just been so important to let the fans know that we’re still here, and we’re still there for them too. We’ve been sharing music, past performances and just doing everything we can to keep the music alive.
Patti McClintic: It is important because you don’t want to lose that connection. Fans are so, well, you know how they are, if they see something new, they’re gonna move on, so it’s really important to keep that connection. Let them know that you’re still there, and you will be there as soon as you can get to them. So, that’s good, you’ve been creative in thinking of ways to keep them connected, and keeping them connected to each other is really great. When they feel like they’re almost like a little family that really helps too.
Dani-elle Kleha: Yes, and they’ve really been awesome through all of this, I do have to say that. Each and every one of them, they’ve still been finding me, and they’re really, truly amazing. They’re wanting more of this and they’re looking forward to it. They’re going into this fan club group every day, even if I haven’t made a post yet, they’re on there and they’re saying “good morning” to each other, and talking about things with each other. That makes me so happy. Especially in the earlier months of all of this, when everything was just so unknown and so chaotic, there were a lot of people who didn’t have anybody, they were by themselves. So, that was a place for those people. We got a lot of different messages about that. They felt like they had someone. They felt like they had someone to talk to every day and a place to go, which was really cool. I always say that music is the universal language, and it’s cool to see how my music has brought so many people together. Like, you don’t realize that sometimes, until it’s put right in front of you like that.
Photo courtesy of Dani-elle Kleha
Patti McClintic: That’s great. So, that was really important for you. Do you have anything new that you’re going to be putting out soon? Obviously, you’ve been writing a ton, so you probably have a lot of songs you could record, it’s just being able to do that.
Dani-elle Kleha: Exactly! (Laughs) You know, I’m in Pennsylvania and my producer, Chip Martin, he’s in Tennessee. Eventually, what I’m going to do is just compile everything and we’ll be sending the stuff down to him so he can at least start working on it. Then once we’re able to travel safely and do everything again, we can come on down and start working on some new music and get some things released. Until then I think it’s just playing acoustically, because my band and I haven’t even been able to be together because we’re all just trying to stay separate. We had a virtual concert that we did a part in last summer, me and my guitar player. That was the last time, and that was only my guitar player, we didn’t even have a full band. Eventually new music is gonna be coming and we’re working on a really cool project that I haven’t announced yet, but that’s gonna be coming, in probably the next couple weeks. So, I’m really excited about that and I’d like everybody to stay tuned, because that’s going to be something that, again, the fans can really heavily get involved in.
Patti McClintic: That is exciting. What else have you been doing that isn’t a musical thing? Anything interesting going on in your world?
Dani-elle Kleha: You know, I’ve actually started thinking about doing things on the blogging side too. Like, we did a Positive Youth Tour, and that was the last thing that we were on before all the lockdowns happened. That’s when we go out and I talk about my struggles with bullying and things I’ve dealt with. I just kind of share my own inspiration and encourage others to follow their dreams and stay true to themselves. Then we put on a mini-concert, but we haven’t been able to do all of that because we travel to schools when we’re doing it. So, last March was the last show we were able to do. So, even though we weren’t able to be out on the Positive Youth Tour, I wanted to kind of stick with sharing that inspiration, and of course, social media’s awesome for that. So, that’s kind of been a daily thing for me, just kind of taking my own thoughts through all of this and putting them out there as encouragement to others. Just to stay true to themselves and follow their dreams, things like that. So, I haven’t fully released it yet, but I got a bunch of messages about, like, doing blog posts on that on my website. So, I’ve been working on that too.
Patti McClintic: Do you target a certain age group when you do that? Or is it any age of kids at schools?
Dani-elle Kleha: We actually started in high school. We started doing 9th, 10th and 11th grade, and when everything started to get really popular, and more parents, teachers and school districts started hearing about it, we were getting emails and phone calls from elementary schools and middle schools. So, we kind of stepped back and were like, “Why can’t we do this?” Obviously, when I talk, I tweak things a little bit, because a third grader is gonna have different bullying experiences than an 11th grader who’s getting ready for their senior year in high school. So, now we’ve opened it up, and I think the youngest was third grade, that we’ve been in front of.
Patti McClintic: That’s fantastic. That’s really a great thing, good for you. That makes me very happy. I have a 5th grade granddaughter, and I know that’s a hard age.
Dani-elle Kleha: Yeah, absolutely. Around the 4th grade point is when bullying kind of set in for me, and I’ve been singing since I was three, and professionally singing since I was nine, so I was always different, you know? So, I kind of made myself a target, if you will. (Laughs) Kids didn’t always know how to relate to me and I think that was a big part of it. So, in the elementary schools, I’m standing there realizing I was their age when this started for me, so this is actually perfect. I wanted to take the things that I dealt with and use them for the good, and try to help others through my message and through my music. Honestly, this has been one of the most amazing things I’ve been able to do in my career so far, and I can’t wait until we can get back out there again.
Patti McClintic: That’s so great. It’s so good to hear. I guess we’re got all of that covered, so next, I have a Chat Pack here. It’s a box of random questions. Is it good to ask you one?
Dani-elle Kleha: Yes, I like this.
Patti McClintic: The card says, “If you could invent a pair of glasses that would allow you to see abstract things (example: the motives behind someone’s actions), what would you want to see most of all?”
Dani-elle Kleha: I think, because you know in life it’s so hard to truly know who someone is, right? Whether that be professionally or personally, so I think to just see truly into their heart, if that makes sense, the type of person that they are, I think that would definitely eliminate a lot of heartbreak in the world for sure. Unfortunately, we come across so many fake people and we kind of find out afterward, it’s that very common theme, “I wish I’d known then what I know now,” I feel something like that would eliminate that.
Patti McClintic: In the music business it would be really helpful, wouldn’t it?
Dani-elle Kleha: Oh, yes, so much so. (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: The fake people run rampant in the music business, so that would be really useful for that, even for that one thing, that would be really helpful. There would be a lot of people out of a job if those glasses existed, wouldn’t there? (Laughs)
Dani-elle Kleha: I think you’re right.
Patti McClintic: It’s been such a good time talking with you. Finally, because we are Think Country, when you “Think Country,” what do you think?
Dani-elle Kleha: Well, when I think country, I think of just real and wholesome, as far as the music goes. Where heart is and where home is. I would have to say that.
Patti McClintic: That’s simply perfect and it’s been a joy talking to you today. I hope you have a better rest of the winter than we’re having in just one week.
Dani-elle Kleha: Well, I’m telling you what, there was like five to six inches of snow last night here too, and it’s still coming down out there, so I feel you girl. (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Thank you. (Laughs) I’ll take the sympathy, I really will. Thanks and hopefully we’ll be talking to you again soon.
Dani-elle Kleha: I hope so and thank you so much for all your support and for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.
Patti McClintic: Thank you, bye!
Dani-elle Kleha: Bye.
As you can see, the pandemic has put a wrench in everybody’s music career. This is a tale that’s been told to me countless times, but I love all the different ways artists are finding ways to keep in touch with their fans. Dani-elle Kleha is certainly doing that and if you’re already a fan, you know that. If you aren’t yet on board her train, you can be by visiting the links listed below. Be sure to tell her Think Country sent you!
For more news, interviews, reviews and features that always bring country closer, please visit thinkcountrymusic.com
Photo courtesy of Dani-elle Kleha
DANI-ELLE KLEHA CAN BE FOUND:
INSTAGRAM: Dani-elle Kleha on Instagram
FACEBOOK: Dani-elle Kleha on Facebook
YouTube: Dani-elle Kleha on YouTube
*Featured photo courtesy of Dani-elle Kleha