Danielle Pollari knows exactly the vibe she’s going for with her music. Not just in terms of her sound, but in the way her songs connect to her audience. The musician describes her music as “raw liquid honey,” her songs being “like a tight hug after a good cry,” and more than anything, she wants her music to be meaningful for herself and others.
“I feel like it’s really important what energy I’m putting out into the world,” says Pollari. “I think there’s a lot of music that is just out there without intention, and I really want my music to be healing.”
The Thunder Bay artist first discovered a love of performing in high school, having a secret passion for music that blossomed while doing theater.
“I kind of saw myself as Hannah Montana, this undercover rock stuff no one really knew about,” she says. When I got to play the role of Annie, I finally got to just belt out to all my peers, my family, and people in the community. Then I fell in love with that.”
Pollari would go on to attend the Toronto Film School for acting in TV and film, where in her spare time she started writing and performing music in-between auditions.
“I just was sort of waiting around for my agent to call, so I would go to open mics and write music. I knew it was something that I had a passion for and I love to do…but it was sort of on the side,” she says.
Unfortunately, there were heavy difficulties in Toronto, too. Pollari survived a sexual assault, which she says left her dealing with PTSD. While recovering, she says music became a type of therapy for her. This summer, she released a single called “Ain’t Good For Me,” a slow and groovy reverb-drenched guitar-based track with R&B flavors and haunting vocals. She says the song is about realizing the need to leave Toronto and return to Thunder Bay.
“My world was just starting to shrink more and more, because I didn’t really know how to take care of myself, or how to heal from this traumatic experience,” says Pollari. “When I was writing it, it was sort of those moments where I was like ‘Okay, I need to make a change. I can’t keep ignoring this, or I can’t keep pretending that I can get through this on my own or tough it out,’ so it’s time to acknowledge that this is serious.”
Pollari says writing music is empowering for her, and it lets her get different perspectives on things when coming out of dark places. She’s been working with Toronto producer Tennyson King, bringing her songs to him as she completes them and letting him help make her musical visions shine. She’s performed alongside King, though now she usually appears solo with a guitar and ukulele in tow. Hoping to return soon to stages in Thunder Bay, she says getting to play her material live creates deeply special moments for everyone.
“When I get to perform my songs and other people get to hear a little bit about what the songs are about, a lot of people will share stories with me, or just let me know that they really felt that, or needed to hear it,” she says. “That’s probably the most healing part because it’s like I am doing this for a reason. Like it’s not just my own pain…this is like a collective.”
Pollari says she writes for her audience of “warriors of heartache and anxiety that deserve a trophy for braving the darkness every day.”
“I want to leave people feeling more in love with the parts of themselves they’ve been too afraid to visit,” she says.
By Will Moore