A beautiful, calming piano intro marks the beginning of Take Me Higher, the first official single by Dafney, an incredibly hard-working singer-songwriter that is set for nothing but success.
Dafney’s voice reminds me of the great staple singers of the 90s and 2000s such as Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Sarah Brightman, Laura Pausini. Dafney is the type of artist that knows her voice is her main instrument and goes above and beyond to show THAT before anything else: before the makeup, before the clothes, before the body, before the sultry looks, before the worldly things. Indeed, a high caliber singer that deserves a spot in the limelight.
Take Me Higher has so much soul into it that you might experience a slight guilt. You read that right: guilt. Guilt that you have turned a blind eye to medley songs these recent years, guilt that you’ve focused on fast paced tracks that gave a you a quick fix in your mood, guilt that you are so disconnected with your inner self that you are actually uncomfortable listening to deep stuff. You see, this is what the short attention span did to us as humans: disconnected us from immersing ourselves completely and totally in the ONE feeling that stands at the creation of all humanity: love. And we are hella lucky that there are creative souls out there like Dafney who take the time and create masterpieces on their own dime: ”Like a ghost in the dark you stole my soul/ froze my fears, woke me from my dreams/ where for so long I drew the lines of your face”.
Monica Cialona’s artist name very much stands out. I have interviewed many talented people and am somewhat used to hearing different monickers, but Dafney sounds very mystical to me. ”My parents, especially my dad, wanted to call me Dafney. They are Italian-Eritrea and they grew up in Eritrea, which has an island group located in the Red Sea, named Dahlak Archipelago. One of those islands is named Difnein, but pronounced as Dafne/Dafney. In the end, they thought that it was too uncommon a name in Italy so they chose Monica instead. However, I always liked the name Dafney and I always thought of it as my second name, so I decided to keep it as my artist name.” talk about meaning and history! and a lesson in geography too!
If you’re curious, just as I was, regarding the story behind Take Me Higher, Dafney shared with us the special significance it has in her own life: ”I wrote the song in 2014 while I was studying Songwriting at NYU. I was trying to find the right time to produce the song and work with the right people. I had a hunch this is THE song, and it was pretty obvious it best represents me as an artist, as a vocalist, and also, it is the perfect debut for Dafney, my new alias.” You see dear readers, this is how you KNOW you’ve got a timeless song on your hands: you DON’T rush. You patiently wait until everything is in place. It took 4 years for Take Me Higher to be officially released and if you ask us, well worth the time.
‘‘What was the inspiration behind the lyrics of the song?” I want to know, as the song felt very personal to me. ”I’ve always wanted to write a love song. But I honestly never had the courage to do so before, because I don’t think it’s easy to write about love, or about someone you love, or how you feel about it. I was also sincerely scared of sounding too predictable or clichéd. So I started putting my emotions on paper and tried thinking of how being in love makes me feel. The words slowly but surely started coming to me” shares Dafney.
Now, if you’ve clicked the video and watched it on YouTube, you’ll most likely have noticed the impressive caption, and I just have to address it: ”There are a lot of people involved in the video production of the single, as described in the YouTube caption. Did you hire yourself each one of them or you were friends prior to this project?”, and Dafney proceeds to share with us details about the amazing group of people that made this music video happen: ”The people involved in the video production are professionals, as well as friends. We shot it at Studio 42 in Brooklyn, which is owned by Alessio Romano, a dear friend of mine. He is a great sound engineer, skilled videographer, and an incredible photographer. I had a very specific idea of how I wanted the video to look and I really liked the space at Studio 42. With the help of Vitor Hirtsch, the visual director, as well as another friend, we found a way to create the right atmosphere”
Now let’s dive into Dafney’s personal music journey: ”I moved to the States in 2010 from Milan, Italy. One of my biggest dreams was to study at Berklee in Boston, so I auditioned in the summer of 2009, and when I received my acceptance letter, I cried. I was over the moon because I never thought it’d happen for real.” Talk about materializing one’s dreams! ”I owe my most important musical growth to my time in the US, especially while at Berklee. Coming from a musically narrower reality, it had made a huge impact on me. I’ve met many artists who come from all over the world, each with a different personal and musical culture. I’ve found that really inspiring and enriching.” This is so important in a musician’s mindset: see the world as your stage. Dafney took a major step in furthering her career by diving fearlessly into another culture, another language, another world.
One last thing that has been on my mind ever since I read Dafney’s bio, was this right here: ”In 2014 she was the first international artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame Scholar Award, a significant recognition of her work as a songwriter in the United States”, is it just me or is this actually a huge deal? ”This Award came as a surprise to me. At that time, I was still a student at NYU. In collaboration with The Songwriters Hall of Fame, they were looking to give this award to a songwriter. Without my knowledge, one of my Professors submitted a track of mine along with Take Me Higher. The first I knew about it, was when I received an email congratulating me for the Award! Therefore, in the summer of 2014, I had the privilege to go to the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York, as part of winning the award. It was an amazing experience. My songwriting professor was really the first person to believe in this song.”. – wow. This sounds like a movie scene. A Cinderella of the music industry.
”Any special thanks?”, wanting to know who Monica credits for getting where she is: ”The first thanks go to my family, because without their help, I could not have pursued my dreams and it is thanks to them, that I am here today. Then, I want to thank all the people involved in the creation of this song that helped me bring it to life: Giosuè Greco, who worked with me in the arrangement and production of the song; the musicians Alex Talarico, Andrea Belfiore, Marco Montenegro, and Melody Giron; the sound, mixing and mastering engineers Vitor Hirsch, Roy Hendrickson and Gavin Lurssen; Studio 42 and Vitor Hirsch for the video production; actor Beau Bonhom for being an incredible companion by my side in the music video; make-up artists Anja Pralica and Sara Cordella; and the photographer Micaela Martini for her beautiful work taking photo and cover art of the single.”
To truly support this spectacular artist, go Subscribe to her YouTube Channel HERE, like her Facebook Page HERE, follow her directly on Instagram HERE, and discover other interesting achievements of hers on her website HERE. Also, make sure you add her to your Spotify Playlist below:
Interview conducted by Mariana Berdianu
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2020