The day is November 9, 2019, and I live in Calgary Alberta, Canada. I grew up in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, the same town as Justin Bieber. Belieber it or not I actually babysat him once and played music with him a few times before he became the hugely famous, hated, loved, etc etc .etc .superstar kid-adult that he is now. That being said the youth culture that I grew up in that town a few years before he was not at all like what you would think a town that Justin Bieber partly grew up in would be…
My name is Danny M. Cohen, and I’m one half of the Chicago-based gay folk-rock duo They Won’t Win. My “music husband” is Greg Lanier and we wrote and co-produced our debut album over a few years of life’s ups and downs. For me, parts of ‘Lost At Sea’ reflect what it was like to witness a dear friend fall into a dark, frightening place, but, ultimately, our album is about finding your way out.
I know I’m supposed to promote myself, but before I do that, let me break down why my latest project is bigger than me.
So. I am born, raised, and artistically based in Queens, New York City, USA. The borough of Queens as a standalone city would be the single most diverse place in the world; something like 200 languages are spoken here. In high school, I knew this girl who spoke English, Spanish, and a specific dialect of her family’s motherland (I forget which specific country it was – sorry mija). And it gets way more diverse than that around here.
I started recording my own music about seven years ago, when I was 14, by myself in my bedroom – like a lot of people do. I haven’t formally released anything over this period of time, but I still organized my songs into albums and made artworks for each of them. I’ve got about 11 of these ‘albums’ which I’ll probably never release, but they are certainly a good way to document my evolution as a singer-songwriter.
That being said, this first LP Postponed Arrivals means a lot to me – not only because it’s the first one, but it’s also the most uncomfortably personal thing I ever wrote.
Like they always say, “nothing good comes easy” as true as it sounds. It takes hard work, patience, resources, and most importantly, time. Just like refining gold from its ore requires a lot of work, so it is with whatever venture we embark on.
I hear music in my head; it writes itself for me. It feels as if I have been dialed into a radio frequency of sounds, words, images and stories, and my body is just the antenna. My life from that moment on became who I was before and who I am now.
My second album is somewhat of a time capsule. These are the songs I wrote between realizing I needed to get better and doing something about it.
My alcoholism and dependence on other addictive behaviors (weed, sex, etc.) had progressed to a point where they had begun destroying every semblance of a good life I’d managed to build despite them. To preserve any chance I had at living well, I needed to change the way I spent each and every moment of my time. In order to honestly document these in musical form, I stripped away every instrument other than my voice, guitar, laptop, and tape recorder.
If there is anything for you in these songs, you will most likely find it outside of what I have to say about them. All I really have to say is thank you so, so much for listening. So much.
That said, in case it might inform your listening, here’s what I have to say:
The different settings for my latest album, Desert Cities – Part One, span from Denver to Seoul. Track three, Brooklyn, is a love song for the gritty and enigmatic Bushwick neighborhood and track four, Coming Home, rides the metro north to Midtown where home is not a place but a person (and a lovely oasis at that). Track two, Lost in Seoul, reflects on the foreign shores of South Korea, “the crowded streets, the angry East Sea, don’t mind if I belong here for a while.”
Only track one, Hold out Thirst, mentions a dry, barren, lifeless, sandy desert. Its brief and stark first refrain, “I went to the desert and held out my thirst,” captured something much bigger in me when I first listened back to the completed album. The desert, in this case, is where one goes to reflect deeply, to test themselves against the elements, physically and emotionally and to experience thirst as a fundamental sensation of life, to feel acutely alive. The remainder of the album (part two included, TBR Fall 2019) is born of this same desire.