Local Current Blog

Ask a Cool Person: Danielle Cusack of Bruise Violet

Danielle Cusack (Andrea Swensson/MPR)

Each week on the Local Show, we’ll meet a new person from the Minnesota music community who has some fresh discoveries to share in a feature called “Ask a Cool Person.” These people will come from all corners of the scene, including record store clerks, recording studio engineers and producers, artists, writers, bookers, photographers, and fans.

This week’s “Cool Person” is Danielle Cusack, drummer and singer in the bands Bruise Violet (who are playing the Current’s 11th birthday party this Saturday!) and Cherry Cola, and drumming instructor at She Rock She Rock, a summer rock ‘n’ roll camp for young women.

How do you discover new music?

Danielle Cusack: I have a lot of friends in the MN music scene, and they are always like, “Oh, you’ve gotta listen to this band!” Or they’ll play it in the car. My favorite way, personally, is if I go to a show and they have local openers or other openers that just totally surprise me. I get so excited if there’s a really good opener. And then I just let it go from there — I research the band to see if I can get in contact, and if they’re like my bands I’m like, “We should play together sometime!”

So you’re mostly seeing bands live, and that’s what excites you.

Yeah, I spend a lot of time going to shows, scoping out things and seeing things. I’m the oldest in Bruise Violet and the only one of legal age, so I go out. [laughs]

And do you pick who you’re playing with?

Yeah, usually bands contact us. We’re super open to it. We run everything by ourselves. I’m the self-proclaimed manager of the band, so I handle everything.

You brought in three bands for us to check out. Tell me about them!

My first band, I think this one’s pretty obvious for me, it’s Kitten Forever. I love them. Bruise Violet owes the absolute world to them. We played a show back in February 2015, it was a cover show called “Pretty Good for a…” And we covered Sleater-Kinney. And I saw Laura [Larson] across the room, and I went to Emily [Schoonover, guitarist and singer in Bruise Violet] and was like, “Oh my god, that’s Laura from Kitten Forever!” And Emily just runs to her and is like, “We want to play a show with you!” Not even saying, like, “Hi, my name’s Emily.” So we organized a show with them, and honestly, they put us on the map.

And they are all so talented. Ugh, that band. Every time I see them it’s like a nice recharge. “Yes! Girl power!” I just absolutely love them, and I’m so excited for their new album. It’s going to be so good. It was produced by JD Samson from Le Tigre, and that’s insane. I just get so proud. I’m like a mom, even though I’m not even as old as them. [laughs]

The next band I brought in is called Royal Brat, which is Clara [Salyer] from Babes in Toyland and Prissy Clerks, Nikki Jean from Teenage Moods, and Alex Uhrich. They just blew me away. Right away. They are just so good. I can’t even put into words how good they are. I just love that they’re getting attention and the ball’s rolling for them.

And Swimsuit Area — they actually got us, Bruise Violet, playing our first Entry show. We really wanted to play the Entry, and they were supportive, right away. Usually bands are just kind of standoffish to Bruise Violet — like we used to walk into venues and, since we were wearing the dresses and looking super girly, people would just avoid us. It was kinda awful. But right away, as soon as we walked into the Entry they all introduced themselves and were super awesome.

Rebecca [Leigh Nordling] is like the sweetest woman alive, and she’s also so talented. That voice is just massive. They just have so much going for them. They’ve got the two basses, Manny [Castro] plays that little mandolin, and the violin — it just sounds so different, and it’s just really refreshing.

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