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June 7, 2012
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Danielle Ate The Sandwich is ready for Primetime

By Chad Taylor

Danielle Ate The Sandwich plays Vaudeville Mews with Brendan McKnight and Eden Stokka on Wednesday, June 13 at 6 p.m. The all-ages show is $7.

“In person, I’m very quiet. I don’t tend to look at people or say a lot,” said Danielle Anderson. “(So) it’s nice to be able to get on stage and be loud and funny and to do what I want. And if people don’t like it, tough shit, because I’m the one with the mic tonight, so it’s kind of my show.”

It’s sometimes hard to reconcile the 26-year-old Anderson with her on-stage persona, Danielle Ate The Sandwich. But it’s impossible to divorce them. Once Anderson was just one of the countless appreciably-cute, glasses-wearing girls posting ukulele covers on YouTube. That she was better than most of the others didn’t seem to matter, until one day when YouTube featured one of her videos on the site’s front page and a dam broke.

“I felt sort of like a beauty queen for a day,” she said. “It’s like, ‘I’m popular!’ I don’t think I cried, but my hands were definitely shaking.”

Fast forward a few million YouTube views, and Anderson has quit her day job, while Danielle Ate The Sandwich has become a full-time thing. The income generated through her YouTube persona has afforded Anderson the opportunity to write and perform full-time, and with two CDs in the can and a third releasing this week — in addition to a touring schedule that keeps her on the road almost a third of the year — there’s no question that she is taking her craft seriously.

But with her YouTube roots and unconventional stage name, fighting the label of “Internet novelty act” is difficult. For some the stigma will always be there, hanging over her work. In a review last year, The Village Voice savaged her as “…(bringing) to mind those who use humor as a defense mechanism” and “…the twee version of rap skits.”

For Anderson, Danielle Ate The Sandwich is something of an obligation, a manifestation of the desire to stay true to her original core of YouTube fans. But the obligation is also a welcome escape.

“I definitely have a persona on stage,” she said. “It’s what allows me to act silly.”

The quirky, empowering persona not only allows her to connect with her established audience in ways she might not normally be able to, but it’s also helping to draw new fans in. And those fans are discovering that Danielle Ate The Sandwich also happens to be a really good songwriter.

The same Voice article that treats her sense of humor so roughly also conceded, “(her) tracks unraveled like especially personal songs that are deserving of being heard and related to on their own vulnerable merits.”

Anderson’s voice is delicate and pleasant; her lyrics are achingly disarming and touching. A trip through her discography unveils a young woman who’s growing as a person and a musician. Where her first songs are low-fi, solo affairs — reflecting their DIY, YouTube genesis — she added backing musicians for the release of her second album. Her new release, “Like a King,” was professionally recorded and arranged and features some of Anderson’s most well-rounded songs to date.

Through the maturation, Anderson has remained steadfastly independent, reaching out to fans through Kickstarter and eBay auctions to fund her music and ultimately deciding her own path.

“I have a publicist and a manager who work with me now,” she said. “I have some really great people working for me, but I like being able to consider their opinions but still say ‘I’m going to do this.’ ” CV

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