Homecoming for a Whitefish Songwriter

By Beacon Staff

Danielle Oliver’s homecoming has been years in the making. A self-described musical nomad, she’s been writing and compiling songs for years, a sort of diary chronicling her experiences.

Oliver, born and raised in Whitefish in the shadow of Big Mountain, is returning home for a proper CD release celebration for her EP, “Snow for Sun.” She will play an acoustic set at The Raven on Sept. 9 and a full-band set at the Craggy Range Bar and Grill on Sept. 24.

During a phone interview from Los Angeles last week, Oliver was excited to kick off her northwest promotional tour in Montana. She’s never played a full-band gig up here and is eager to let her hometown in on what she’s been up to.

Her music – catchy songs with little to distract from the vocals and instruments – is familiar to supporters in Whitefish, but Oliver said she has yet to showcase her whole catalog.

That catalog is now the “Sun for Snow” EP, which Oliver recorded and polished over the course of a year at the SnowGhost Music recording studios in Whitefish. The EP was released in February.

“I’m just really excited to get to show the final project,” Oliver said. “Of course I love to play at home.”

Oliver’s parents were both ski instructors on Big Mountain, so growing up she was engrained with an appreciation for outdoor beauty. Her mother, who is Austrian, also instilled a passion for music at an early age, Oliver said.

“She loved to sing and was involved in music,” Oliver said. “So as early as I could talk, I remember singing German songs and yodels.”

Piano lessons came at age 6 – with great enthusiasm, as Oliver remembers it – and her first song at age 11. By the time Oliver was a teenager, she realized the cathartic power songwriting could have on her increasingly hectic high school life.

After high school, Oliver attended Pepperdine University in California, where she earned a degree in creative writing. Though her academic focus turned to writing poetry, screenplays and journalism, the music never left.

“I found myself a lot in the piano rooms at Pepperdine just writing and compiling things,” Oliver said.

When it came time to record “Sun for Snow,” Oliver said it was nice to be back in Whitefish and in familiar surroundings. The actual recording process took about a year.

Oliver said she had to rework some of her material since she was using eight years of music to create one, cohesive EP. She credited her producer, Brett Allen, for helping create a feeling of consistency on the recording.

Life experiences change a person’s perspective, something that Oliver incorporated in her music. One song, “Adrienne,” was written after Oliver’s father passed away in 2003.

She rewrote the song to ensure its message is clear for the EP.

“In that way, it’s kind of things that maybe I was trying to express all along in the last eight years,” Oliver said.

As an independent artist, Oliver represents herself and her work. Her two stops in Northwest Montana are part of a bigger tour that will take her to Missoula, Bozeman, Portland, Seattle and other venues.

Oliver will play with Pterodactyl Plains at the Craggy Range homecoming gig on Sept. 24. Her Sept. 9 show at The Raven will be a solo, acoustic event.

She’s looking forward to playing at home again, heading out on tour and, especially, continuing to write music.

“When I’m kind of on a roll, I feel drawn to it and I love to do it,” Oliver said. “It does help in my everyday life. It’s just a part of me at this point.”

For more information on Danielle Oliver and her music, visit www.danielleoliver.com.