DaniLeigh is rushing from her sound check to begin her New York press run ahead of the Smirnoff ICE Relaunch Tour’s opening night. With ringlets of curls bouncing, her weighty chain adjusted, and a face beat for the gods, the performer signals to her publicist that she is ready. “I’m excited,” she beams to The Knockturnal while pointing to a canned Smirnoff ICE beverage.
The Def Jam signee shares the nostalgia-themed event’s stage with Shaggy, T-Pain, and DJ mOma, while 90s and early 2000s hits power the malt beverage company’s ongoing run of show. Celebrated as a contributing choreographer and dancer for icons including Pharrell Williams, Daddy Yankee, and Beyoncé — the latter artist credit was announced following this interview — DaniLeigh appropriately dons a denim Evisu set before replicating the evening’s 8 counts on social media.
In this fashion, her new Rance and Bongo ByTheWay produced single, “Tasty,” is blowing up on TikTok with momentum following the turbulent yet beautiful chapter enveloped through her last EP, My Same. Still, after becoming a mother, a public separation, and bracing for the release of her next album, all that is evident at Webster Hall is DaniLeigh’s joy.
There is a refreshed conviction fueling the singer’s artistry. “I have to become successful for my daughter to give her everything she wants,” she emphasizes during our sit down. The Knockturnal learned about DaniLeigh’s next big dream, her forthcoming LP, watched her imitate her late mentor Prince’s facial expressions, and more. Familiarize yourself with the star’s growing ambition through the exclusive below.
The Knockturnal: The Smirnoff ICE Relaunch Tour is focused on songs from the 90s and early 2000s. What are some of your favorite tracks from these eras?
DaniLeigh: That is a great question because the 90s and 2000s are among my greatest inspirations in music. I was born in 1994, so that was a part of my upbringing. It was what I listened to, for sure. I am a big fan of Aaliyah, Timbaland, and Missy’s vibes. I loved their style and the music.
I feel like Missy Elliott always came with the craziest visuals [Laughs]. I would always say, “Ahhh! I am so excited.” It was good to see videos of her growing up. Of course, we had Destiny’s Child. Even the rap back then was so cool. I liked Ludacris, Nelly, and that whole era.
The Knockturnal: Your latest single, “Tasty,” and its dance master class are all over social media. How long did it take you to learn the choreography of the song?
DaniLeigh: Okay, Hollywood choreographed that class, but I did learn it in an hour. So, I feel like that’s pretty impressive [Laughs]. It was a really, really fun class. Everyone came out, so dancing to my song and feeling the vibes was exciting.
The Knockturnal: Will a music video accompany this release soon?
DaniLeigh: Yes, we actually just shot the video a couple of weeks ago. I just got the first edit of the visual today! So, it should be coming out very soon.
The Knockturnal: How did you prepare for your Smirnoff ICE Relaunch Tour performance?
DaniLeigh: There have been lots of rehearsals. Yes, a lot of rehearsals. We have been going in. I’m excited. Shout out to Richy Jackson! He was once Lady Gaga’s creative director.
So, I am honored to be working with him. We put this show together in 5 or 6 rehearsals. Shoutout to the Smirnoff ICE team. Go get a drink. It’s so good [Laughs].
The Knockturnal: We are sure it is nice to be embraced by all your fans. New York, particularly, has a massive Dominican population. How does it feel to be embraced by your community in this city?
DaniLeigh: It is crazy. My biggest following is from New York on Instagram. So, I feel like it is always love when I come out here. There are a lot of Dominicans out here. You do not find a lot of us in LA. There are some in Miami, but it is amazing to feel my people around. I can always feel that love and support.
The Knockturnal: You just celebrated Mother’s Day. How has motherhood heightened your focus?
DaniLeigh: It has been great. Honestly, my focus has been so top-tier when it comes to working hard. It is because I feel like I really have a purpose. I have a mission. You know? I have to become successful for my daughter to give her everything she wants. It was a blessing to have a child at this age. I feel I am in a great place in my career and mindset. So, that’s my boo.
The Knockturnal: Last year, you released the EP My Side. When can listeners anticipate your next album?
DaniLeigh: My next album will probably be released around August. I am working now. I just released my latest song, “Tasty.” There will be a couple more singles that will launch the album.
The Knockturnal: Are you still in the process of recording it, or are you narrowing your tracklist down?
DaniLeigh: Actually, I am taking the next month to record more. I have already been recording. I probably have 12 songs that I love! Now, I am going to take a whole month to knock out some more songs. From there, I will start putting it together for real.
The Knockturnal: Who are the artists that you feel are upholding the R&B genre?
DaniLeigh: Oh, my god! There are so many girls killing it in R&B. Okay, there are a few albums that are so good. I love Summer Walker and Tink. There are a lot of girls doing well. Doja Cat, I know she puts out rap albums, but she be killing the R&B, too. Queen Naija is good. Yeah, there’s a whole bunch.
The Knockturnal: Beyond music, what is your next big dream?
DaniLeigh: I want to create businesses. I love fashion. I want to step into that world. I want to work with cosmetics, hair, and makeup. I really would like to use what I can offer. I would like to heighten it and utilize it in all types of businesses. I am thinking like a rich businesswoman [Laughs].
The Knockturnal: You were hand-picked by one of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen. Outside of “Breakfast Can Wait,” what do you recall about Prince?
DaniLeigh: I will never forget Prince. He was just so funny. His facial expressions were extra. If I did something, he would be like… [Laughs]. Prince was so funny. That was the best part about him. He would send me memes all the time. I loved that about him. His personality! He was very passionate about songwriting and his music.
He knew how to play all the instruments. He was just so talented. He always told me, “Make sure you write your stuff. Do not sign anything.” He was very smart when it came to the industry. He was in it for so long. So, he was very supportive. He let me do my thing. Prince loved to encourage me to be myself. That is what I remember most.
The Knockturnal: Would you say he provided you with guidance on how to navigate this business?
DaniLeigh: Oh, yeah. Definitely! Prince made me tap into being in my craft and business versus just letting anyone run it. You know? Artists have a lot of teams. Sometimes people can just run your stuff without your knowledge. So, I feel he was the one who helped me be aware of anything that was going on around me.
The Knockturnal: I habitually ask every artist this. How do you wish to be remembered?
DaniLeigh: I want to be remembered as a light and inspiration. I aspire to be someone who inspires [people] to do some of the same things I have done or achieved. I am a woman! It is super hard in this game for women throughout the industry. Honestly, we have to work twice as hard in any industry.
So, I want to inspire people to work hard. I work really hard, and I don’t give up. I feel like a lot of the time; people can just give up. There are a lot of things that come your way. But I stayed in it for a long time. I guess that is what I want to be remembered as. I am a light and inspiration.