Danielle Aument is a high school senior from Chicago who’s balancing both school and a blossoming singer-songwriter career. Our intern, Remy, spoke with her last week and got the scoop on her body image struggles, how she overcame them and what it’s like to be a teen trying to break into the music industry.
Remy: So Danielle, you started off in local music theater productions before moving on to becoming the singer-songwriter you are today. What is it about songwriting that drew you to switch?
Danielle: You know, there was just this time in my life where I just started really being interested in CD’s, you know, when you want to buy every CD in sight, and its just so exciting. I remember there was one day that I was having a lot of trouble with people in school because I was not the most popular girl in school at all. So I sat down and wrote down my feelings and thought I should turn this into a song just for fun and it ended up being pretty legit, I don’t think I would record it now, but that was the start of everything.
Remy: What do you usually write your songs about?
Danielle: So I write some songs about boys, of course. There’s always boys going on, they make up the bulk of my material. I also have the song “You’re Beautiful” and recently started working on some just about the journey of being a singer-songwriter – it’s a very hard business to break into.
A lot of times you get down on yourself and you just want to give up and there have been so many times when I have something to do and don’t think I can do it well enough. At the same time there’s a lot of people saying no to you in this business, so I’ve written some songs about the journey and the process.
Remy: You have the song “You’re Beautiful” as you mentioned and you also have “Stronger Now.” I feel as though so many of your songs have such important and inspiring messages – what do those messages mean to you?
Danielle: “Stronger Now” was one that I just wrote about a boy but the more that I’ve listened to it the more I’ve realized that it doesn’t just have to be about a boy. It can be about my music career. I’m graduating this year and am going to be going to college next year, and I’ve learned so much from the good and bad experziences in high school and I feel like [“Stronger Now”] really relates to my life.
Then “You’re Beautiful” is actually very, very close to my heart; I wrote it about myself actually. I have had ups and downs with my body image and my weight, and there was one day when I was just not feeling good about myself at all and it’s a song to convince myself that I am beautiful, I am worth it.
Remy: What helped you pull through to find your inner strength and handle all the stress and pressure so you can be happy and stay true to yourself?
Danielle: There’s definitely a lot of stress to say the least, but I really just try to find things that I love to do and try to surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself. I do a lot of running- it’s a stress reliever and I love it so that’s one thing that I do. My parents have been an amazing support system for me. All my friends are my biggest fans, I don’t know what I would be able to do without them.
When I need a lot of help I really go to my family and friends.
Remy: It’s clear you have such a strong support system. Do you have anyone you really look up to as role models?
Danielle: Well, I always say that my role model is really Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood because they are two very upstanding ladies who have gone through so much and had so much fame but you never see them in the news about cocaine this or drugs that or anything about them. They’ve really been great role models for me and if I do make it big in the future I hope to have people look up to me and are like, “wow, you never see her in the news about anything bad that she’s done.” I think that’s a great thing for not only myself but for other girls too.
Remy: Well I think just being a successful young woman who has followed her dreams, you yourself are truly a role model for teen girls everywhere. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for all of the young adults that look up to you?
Danielle: It’s so cliché to say this, but honestly you just have to be yourself because I, like everyone, have had times when I wasn’t true to myself and those are the times when I feel the most down on myself because it feels like there’s something missing. And you just have to find what you love to do and, whether your friends think that it’s cool or not, you have to go out and do it and make yourself feel good about yourself because sitting around and feeling bad about yourself isn’t going to help you and trying to be someone else isn’t going to help you. You’re only going to be able to succeed in what you love to do and being yourself.
Remy: What inspires you?
Danielle: I’ve always had a love for music, I don’t know if there’s anything in particular that inspired me though. When I was really little, I went to go see a theatre show and was like “Mommy, I wanna go do that when I grow up!” Ever since then music has gotten me through so much and I honestly don’t know what I would do without music in my life. I’m pretty sure every single day I sit down in my room and just write and write and write about everything I feel and even about my friends’ experiences too.
Remy: How would you describe your music?
Danielle: It’s definitely pop. There’s a couple of songs in there that might be kind of rock but they’re mostly pop songs.
Remy: I always run into plenty of people who want to become musicians and who love singing or music. What advice would you have for teens who want to pursue a career in music and how did you get to where you are now?
Danielle: Well, there’s really no one right way to do it. There’s so many paths you can take. I have just tried my best to get myself out there. I have a couple of videos on YouTube and some my songs on iTunes. I am nowhere near being famous or anything, but for anybody who wants to make it in the music business, you just need to find what’s unique about you and pursue that. So for me, I’ve kind of pushed the part of me that’s very innocent and sweet because that’s who I am, I’m not a loud and obnoxious person – I’m a little shy and soft-spoken, so I’ve had to learn how to work with that.
YouTube is a great tool for showcasing my music it’s also important to find open mic nights or times when you can go out and play in front of people festivals are another great place to perform! Just have fun with it and get out there.
Remy: So I was watching your video, “You’re Beautiful”, and noticed that there’s a lot of different people in that video. I was wondering if you could talk about that video in particular?
Danielle: It was actually the most interesting project I’ve ever done. I put an update on Facebook to all my friends, family members and fans saying, “If you want to be in my music video, send my pictures that you’d like to be in it!” I had this huge long list of my friends who told me to “go through my Facebook and choose a cute picture!” It was so nice because some people were sending me pictures of their grandparents or their friends with disabilities and I have some family members with disabilities so I put them in there. A lot of my guy friends also wanted to be in it! I was so surprised but they wanted to be in it so I put in pictures of them in their football uniforms and it was great – it was really fun.
Remy: That’s awesome, I love that. What has been the most rewarding thing so far about your journey?
Danielle: The most rewarding thing is definitely when people will come up to me, especially at school. It’s very interesting because, especially when guys do it, they’ll come up to me and be like “you know, I listen to your song last night, it was really good!” And then they’ll, like, walk away so it doesn’t look like they listen to my music. But it’s just so cute and so nice to know that my music affects people because that’s why I do it. I do it because I love to do it and because, for those 3 or 4 minutes that my song is playing, it’s putting somebody in a good mood and making somebody feel better, and I think that’s the most rewarding thing for me.
Remy: And is there anything else that you want to say or mention?
Danielle: I just want to say thank you to all my fans, especially to those who wanted to be in my video, because I had so much fun looking through pictures and literally would not have been able to do that video without the help of all my family and friends and people I didn’t even know were sending me pictures, so I’d like to say thank you!
Remy: Well congratulations on everything! Enjoy graduation and prom and everything that comes with this season. We look forward to hearing more from you soon!
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