Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions with Danke Shane

Madeline on October 3, 2016

Danke Shane. Photo by the Artist.

Danke Shane's debut D.C. show premieres this Thursday, October 6, in the Luce Foundation Center as a part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly concert series. In partnership with D.C. Music Download, we highlight musical acts within the District that create unique and innovative sound. With a new album releasing this winter, we sat down with Andrew Burke from Danke Shane to learn more about the launch of his musical career.

Eye Level: When did you begin making music? What inspired you to start?

Danke Shane: It took off when I started making home recordings when I was about twelve. My family bought a Mac computer with Garageband on it; and I became obsessed with it. I'd been wanting to play in a band since I saw School of Rock. But none of my friends could really play music at the time. So being able to record all of the instruments myself and layer them was really exciting. That's something interesting about my generation; a lot of us grew up with recording equipment of some sort at our disposal. This has affected not just our ability to record and share music but, more fundamentally, how people my age learned to approach songwriting.

EL: How did you think of your band's name, Danke Shane?

DS: The name Danke Shane is a reference to one of my favorite movies, Ferris Beuller's Day Off—specifically to one aspect of that movie, when Wayne Newton's song,"Danke Schöen" randomly appears throughout the whole film. Ferris and his sister hum it to themselves a few times in different scenes and then, at the end, he gets up on a float and starts singing it. It's such a random choice! Why did John Hughes make that song a focal point? But even though it seems out of place in the movie, it somehow feels so perfect, funny, and cool. Stuff that is strange on the surface but feels really good is something I love in all types of art. So it's an homage to that in general. Then I just changed the spelling to make it Google-able and to connect it more to the American pronunciation you hear in the song.

EL: Could you briefly describe your music-making process?

DS: I don't think I've had a consistent process in a long time. But one thing I believe is that ultimately making music or doing anything creative is a meditative process, which sounds really contrite and cheesy. But it's true. Once you get to a certain point with a song, you can break your work down into a process; but to get the nucleus of something going is really random and difficult.

EL: Do you collaborate with other musicians in D.C.?

DS: I'm still fairly new to D.C., so I haven't had a lot of time to do much collaboration. But there are really cool artists from the area who I've seen or listened to, so it's something I'd love to do. And I brought in several people from around D.C. to record parts for the EP I just finished.

EL: Who are your major influences for your music?

DS: I have to figure out a way to answer this question because I really don't know. I tend to see points of influence more as individual songs or albums rather than a band in general. So, for example, I remember really well when Sufjan Steven's "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" came out. Listening to it with my friends I thought it was unbelievable. But then, I haven't necessarily kept up with most of his newer stuff. I really got into Fantasma by Cornelius when I was quite young. I felt like it had a big impact on me; but I wouldn't say the same thing about his other albums. One of my all-time favorite recordings is John Coltrane doing "My Favorite Things." But, again, I don't really listen to him very often. I remember some of my first favorite CDs were film soundtracks and genre compilations, so maybe that's where it comes from.

Hear Danke Shane play Thursday, October 6 at 6 p.m. after a staff-led talk on the Industrial Waste Teapot selected by Andrew. Check out more details on Luce's Facebook page and access Danke Shane's tunes here. See you Thursday!