Sunday, January 12, 2014

Danny Blu

I recently had the opportunity to interview artist Danny Blu on The Knix Mix in support of his album "Do Your Worst."  Danny calls his combination of the industrial sound he grew up with and danceable electronic beats "Industrial Pop." He blends the theatrical make up and costumes of glam rock with the intentionally provocative flair of shock rock for an overall effect he describes as musical theater.  Danny Blu, the character, was created in 2010 during the writing stage of the album.  "Big Blue" was a childhood nickname that Danny modified to "Blu" to denote a loss of innocence.  Danny's rallying cry is "Remember to live life without hate or regret and without fear of the Freak within."
In exploring Danny's website and online videos, it is apparent he is multi talented.  In fact, Danny has experience as an actor and attended the NYU Tisch School of The Arts in 2009.  The Danny Blu team includes an artistic director and a creative director in addition to the band and sound director, which serves him well in an era where the Internet makes having a consistent and visually appealing web presence a necessity for music acts.  It also doesn't hurt that most of the actors and dancers in his music videos are beautiful people in various states of undress.  Check out his video for the song "Sebastian" to understand what I mean.
Danny is very visible in the LGBT community and is a strong advocate for LGBT rights.  Danny has also given tremendous support to anti-bullying, a topic that has repeatedly been in the headlines in recent years. High school can be a place where a bullying culture flourishes, and we have seen tragic consequences in the proliferation of school shootings and teen suicides.  There is an increased risk of being the target of bullying for LGBT teens.
Danny describes the track "Set Me on Fire" as an anthem against oppression.  The video for the track is a visually stunning short film that forces viewers to confront the issue of bullying by using religious imagery and theatrics.  "Set Me on Fire" takes the story of the betrayal of Jesus, and the role of Pontius Pilate, who sentenced Jesus to be crucified, as a metaphor for the misfits who are persecuted as outsiders in high school. Danny experienced the ultimate revenge fantasy of the left of center kids by returning to the scene of the actual New Jersey high school he once attended to make the video.  Danny was happy to have gained the support of the school administration in his efforts.
I grew up in homogenized Brewer, Maine; the sister city of Bangor, the second largest city in Maine and hometown of Stephen King.  High school in the late 80's was very much like The Breakfast Club without the kumbaya Hollywood ending.  Groups were separate but not equal, and the jocks and cheerleaders ruled the school with relish.  Teen suicide and school shootings were not yet de rigueur on the evening news and the word "bullying" wasn't on our radar, but misfits (which I was) were not well tolerated and homophobia was prevalent.  In 1984, the year I was 14, Bangor was the scene of a dark moment in history that galvanized the community to begin to take a stand against intolerance.
Charlie Howard was a 23 year old Portsmouth, NH native who was bullied in high school for his sexual orientation.  In 1984 he was living in Bangor and was harassed by three teens as he was walking downtown with a companion.  The teens chased the pair and threw Charlie off the State Street Bridge into the water below, even as he pleaded that he couldn't swim.  He drowned.  The incident didn't have the national attention that the death of Matthew Shepard would have, but in Maine there was a strong reaction. EqualityMaine grew out of the aftermath of the incident.
Things have improved since the time that I was in high school, but there is far more work to be done.  Danny Blu is exactly the kind of unconventional role model that LGBT teens are apt to look to for navigating the angst of self discovery, and he takes the role seriously albeit in a very Danny Blu way.  Danny responds to fans personally, and he recently heard from a teen who credited Danny with being an inspiration in broaching the subject of sexuality with family and friends.  Danny described that exchange as the best Christmas present he could have gotten.
Danny's eleven track debut album "Do Your Worst" was originally released on a smaller scale in 2011 and is in wider release now with a second album, "Saint," planned for a spring 2014 release.  Danny Blu performs in the NYC area frequently and is hoping to plan a tour in Japan.  Check The Factory Blu website frequently for updates.  In the meantime, take a cue from Danny Blu and let your freak flag fly!

The Factory Blu
Danny Blu Facebook
Danny Blu YouTube Channel

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