Danielle Ate The Sandwich (aka Danielle Anderson) is a fantastic singer-songwriter from Colorado, USA. Her often hilarious, always poignant YouTube videos have garnered tens of thousands of fans (aka Fanwiches) all around the world. This is her ukulele story…
What was your first contact with the uke?
I rarely thought of the ukulele until I was at the home of my friend Brandon. I noodled around with his uke and loved it so much, I asked if I could take it home for a few days. I kept it for too long and he bought me one so he could have his back. After that, it’s a runaway love story! I never expected the ukulele to take over my songwriting or shape my career in the way it has. It’s been an amazing tool and an amazing way to meet new people and get out in the world and enjoy music!
How do you approach songwriting?
I don’t have a rigid or formal approach. I try to be open to however a song might come to me. I usually start with an idea or subject, or something that’s been on my mind. Then I noodle around on the ukulele, trying to find a good set of chords, then I play them over and over until words and melodies start to fall out of me. In my process, starting a song is more of an exercise in letting go. Trying anything, singing whatever comes to mind, some of it sensible, most of it gibberish, until there’s some form or outline. Finishing a song, then, is taking those loose ideas and whittling them down to make more sense, be more poetic, fit better in the line and stand nicely as the expression I intended.
Making good YouTube videos is a lot harder than it looks. What’s your top tip for anyone who’s just starting out?
I strive to make videos that are engaging and sincere, so I believe strongly in delivering a passionate performance. If you’re able to lose yourself in what you’re doing, as if you were on stage in front of actual people, you’ll give off a level of comfort, ease and intimacy that the audience will hopefully be drawn to. It’s just you and a camera in a room, but it’s good to give it all you’ve got!
And technically speaking?
Technically, I think it’s important to record a little audio and video, then listen back to make sure you’re a good distance from the camera or microphone to avoid clipping or distorted audio. It’s also good to make sure your camera is focused and centred and is set on something steady, with a light source of some kind pointed at your face. It’s easy to get caught up in the fancy lights and cameras, but truthfully, some of the most charming videos I’ve seen are very low-fi! At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever moment is captured and how people respond to it.
You play Mya-Moe ukuleles. What do you like about their instruments?
I think their ukuleles are gorgeous. They sound amazing acoustic and plugged in to a sound system, which is important for me since I’m performing a lot. They hold their tuning, they’re expressive, they’re well built. And aside from the instruments, I really like the team at Mya-Moe. Gordon [Mayer], Char [Mayer] and Aaron [Keim] are good people. I trust them and I enjoy their company – they’ve cooked me dinner! It’s nice to feel close to the instruments and the people who are building them.
What did you do before you became a uke star?
I was a seamstress at an alteration shop. I went to school for apparel design and production and wanted to own a store where I sold the things I made. The alteration shop job was the first ‘real job’ I got after graduating and was the one I decided to quit to pursue music.
You tour a lot. What’s the most important item you’ve forgotten to pack?
I’ve packed my car so many times, I know the way it needs to fit together. One time, something just wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure out why. About six hours down the road, I realised I forgot to pack my sound system! Inevitably, I freaked out and assumed the tour was ruined, but it all worked out okay. I’ve tried to stop worrying. Most anything I need can be bought or borrowed. Pyjamas, deodorant and my phone charger are the things I always make a point to remember. I always have a hard time packing, even though I do it so often. I should be really good at it!
Have you got a message for your Aussie Fanwiches?
HELLO! And thank you for being my fans from so far away! I’ve always had some really strong YouTube friends in Australia, so there’s a very soft spot in my heart for you. I would love to come and play in Australia some day, but until then I’m so honoured to be in KAMUKE!
Finally, why did you choose the stage name ‘Danielle Ate The Sandwich’? We need to know!
I chose the name because I thought it sounded fun and interesting. I didn’t want to be another singer-songwriter with a boring first and last name. I like my first name and I like sandwiches – how they look and taste and come in different shapes and sizes – so I thought it made perfect sense. I’ve got so used to it, sometimes I forget how strange it is! I pulled it right out of my head!
City: New York (but I also like my city, Fort Collins, Colorado!)
Hungry for more? Add danielleatethesandwich.com to your bookmarks bar today!
Photo: Kaela Speicher
This article first appeared in Issue 9 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store