Interview: Amanda Danziger & Filipe Michael

Nov 04 2022

Amanda Danziger has released her highly anticipated Seasons EP alongside producer and co-writer Filipe Michael. Louder Than The Music spoke to Amanda and Filipe about this unique worship album, and the way they work together to produce this creative soundscape.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

Amanda - I started to get really involved in music when I joined my 4th grade orchestra. I started off learning the violin and continued to play it through high school. It wasn’t until middle school though, I started to teach myself how to play guitar and then I gained a lot of confidence in singing when I joined the middle school chorus.

Filipe - I began to get involved with music at the age of 5 when my parents bought my first acoustic guitar. After a couple of lessons, my mom decided to start a kids band at the church they pastored. Ever since that day, my guitar has never left my hands. I continued to do that throughout my teenage years. I loved guitar so much that I ended up joining my high school jazz band and several rock bands. Once I knew that music was all that I wanted, I decided to further my music career by attending Berklee College of Music.

Tell us about your new EP 'Seasons' and what the inspiration behind it was?

Amanda - It was actually an accident. I started writing music with my friend, Filipe Michael in 2018. Last fall (2022), I gave him the song Vindicate where the chorus lyrically is: “winter is just a season…”. It wasn’t until we finished the song that Filipe approached me and said, “we should release one song a season this year and we’ll add soundscapes before each song to help the listener figure out what season the song is from.” I took it further by saying “let’s make it into an EP and combine it into a full experience.” Some accidents are beautiful.

Filipe - When I work with Amanda, I never try to work with musical references, my goal is always to create sounds and chord progressions that bring the beautiful imagery in her lyrics to life. It’s rare if Amanda sends any instrumental compositions when she gives me a new song. I always love to work with her raw vocals and do my best to translate each word into the music score. My focus is more mood oriented than style, that is why I like to call my work with Amanda “Musical Painting.” It also helps that Amanda has a background in visual arts, she is always able to convey the idea of the songs so well, that I can always understand the direction.

Which is your favorite track on the EP and why?

Amanda - That is a really hard question for me to answer. Incredibly hard. If I had to choose only one it would be Refining Fire. It is the most unusual track to the EP and it shows off two artists really collaborating together. It’s the only song in 6/8 which gives it a break from the others, and it’s also my favorite lyrically because it started off as a prayer on my bike rides through the summer of 2022. I also got to bring in my friend Josh Burgos to join me on some BGV’s and he’s honestly one of my favorite humans to sing with. Best part is the epic score that Filipe added to the song… again, telling the story of our collaboration with this project.

Filipe - I completely agree with Amanda, it’s hard to choose one since all the songs have different feels. We always joke about this, but every time we work on a new song it becomes our new favorite. I would say that “Be Still” has become my favorite song and it happens to come from one of my favorite Bible verses. When Amanda and I were discussing the song, I remember that it needed to have sounds that helped the listener to experience the calm and peace that comes from God - to experience the Awe of God.

What message would you like people to take from your music?

Amanda - I hope it feels devotional and gives the listener a time of reflection and enjoyment. The songs are not meant to be simple, they’re very complex in their layering. My hope is that it brings the enjoyment of listening back rather than being background noise.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

Amanda - Perhaps it’s pop, alt, lo-fi (sometimes), but it’s also worship. It’s not a corporate worship, but they are prayers and I do sing scripture.

I really enjoy a variety of music. In the Christian world I enjoy Steffany Gretzinger, Jonathan Ogden, Bethany Barnard, The Royal Royal, Loud Harp, The Brilliance, Kari Jobe, Amanda Cook, Brandon Lake… oh there are so many! Outside of Christian music I enjoy Radiohead, Imogen Heap, Coldplay… but then you’ll notice I listen to Louis Armstrong and a lot of jazz influences from his era. I’m all over the place as to where I’m influenced. All over!

Filipe - Pop, Ambient LOFI, Indie Rock.

I am a guitar player, so rock has always been in my veins. Some of the bands that influence my style are: ColdPlay, U2, Martin Smith, Amanda Cook, Brandon Lake, Michael Gungor, Sigur Ros, Hammock, Boards of Canada, Tycho, Ruelle.

But I would say that one of my biggest inspirations in creating Seasons, as a producer, have been movie and tv soundtracks. They move me to feel what I am seeing.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

Amanda - I’d love to write with Steffany Gretzinger one day. I want to sing prayers and scripture and just let go.

Filipe - I love songwriters that explore other styles and do not conform to the radio friendly box. Among those I really enjoy the solo work of Brandon Lake, Amanda Cook & Steffany Gretzinger. It would be really cool to work with one of them one day.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

Amanda - Success is a funny word. As an independent artist I think I’ve done pretty well and have reached those who want a different type of Christian music to listen to. And if it’s influencing and helping people, then I’d say that’s successful. When one or two are gathered in His name… that’s success.

What is your favorite album of all time?

Amanda - Radiohead’s OK Computer. I also own it on vinyl. If I own something on vinyl then it’s an album I want around forever in my house.

Filipe - That is a hard question since my favorite albums are always shifting. One of my favorite concept projects that inspired me in this past season has been “Everyday Life” by Coldplay.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

Amanda - Oh that’s hard. There was a point where my spotify told me I listened to this song too much - Be Still by Steffany Gretzinger. I don’t think you could listen to that song too much. I love how it points to God even in self reflection.

Filipe - I would put “HELP” by Brandon Lake and build up faith until someone gets me out of there.

Amanda - I’m laughing so hard reading Filipe’s response to this question… I really love that song as well. I think we should do a cover of it, what do you think?

What does the next year hold for you?

Amanda - Filipe and I plan on doing more music. We’ll start January off with some surprises, and then we’ll be diving back into some music making. Each track we create does take months… the layers, the details, we don’t just record something and put it out… we like painting our songs and cultivating them.

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