Danielle Durack doesn’t want to listen to sad songs right now.
“I don’t need to fuel the fire,” she says.
The born-and-raised Phoenix singer-songwriter announced in February that she is leaving the Valley for Nashville in May. The departure is stirring up more than enough sentimentality.
So for now, she’s sticking to bumping The 1975.
Durack settled on heading to the Music City six months ago, but says only recently has it started to sink in, perhaps because she’s started tying up her nostalgic loose ends. A few weeks ago, Durack stopped by Saguaro High School — her alma mater — to speak to a choir class about the music industry, a favor for her former teacher GayLin Tutnick.
Durack credits Tutnick with helping her appreciate music on a deeper level, and revisiting the old stomping ground was a reminder of just how important a local network is.
“It reminded me of where I started,” Durack says. “It made me so nostalgic and made me feel so lucky to have the experience I had at my high school, hearing [Tutnick] talk to her kids and seeing their faces, how inspired they are and were — and I was.”
The 27-year-old musician formed her first band with members of her high school choir class. An old classmate still makes Durack’s paper flyers for shows. She has crashed with fellow Saguaro alumni while touring new cities.
As she thinks about her time in Phoenix, Durack knows she will miss the familiarity of local venues, where seeing the same faces every time can make a show feel like home. More than anything, she’s grateful for the career advancements she’s been able to make in her hometown.
After all, just a day after her interview with Phoenix New Times, she caught a flight to Austin, Texas, to open for indie rocker (and Daisy Jones & The Six star) Suki Waterhouse.
“I’ve had such a supportive community here in Phoenix,” she says, before pausing to try to find the right words. “It’s everything.”
Durack has worked at a local pizzeria for the last three and a half years, but doesn’t have anything lined up for work in Nashville. She’s hoping the move will put the pressure on to pursue music full time, because of course, there’s more to the industry than writing songs.
With radio hits driven by TikTok presence, a big piece of the equation is creating social media content, which Durack says can be frustrating and time-consuming.
“I spend like 30 minutes composing this stupid little video that maybe some people will find funny,” she says. “It feels like buying a lottery ticket, but you’re spending 30 minutes buying your lottery ticket.”
Durack is hoping the extra free time in Nashville will also help her find a booking agent. Planning a tour is something she describes as “a puzzle that all has to come together at the same time,” so getting help with that process is at the top of her to-do list.
For Durack, it’ll inevitably feel strange making career strides in a new city. So before leaving, she wants to keep reminiscing. In the coming months, she plans on making a trip to the Heard Museum, hiking Flatiron, and revisiting old journals, where she’s been writing songs since she was 10 years old.
“It’s fun to look back on what was so emotionally fraught as a seventh grader,” Durack said. “Sometimes there’s wisdom in there that doesn't feel very potent while you’re writing it, then you look back and it makes more sense now.
“It’s a nice grounding exercise for me, reminding me where I’m from, who I am.”
Also planned on Durack’s nostalgia tour is a farewell show with local jazz pop band Palo Brea, who is also moving to Nashville this spring. The concert will serve a dual purpose: an opportunity to celebrate both acts’ time in Phoenix … and a fundraising yard sale for some of Durack’s plants and household items.
The co-headlining "Pharewell, Phoenix" show will be tonight — Friday, March 10 — at The Venue on Washington, 1520 East Washington St. Doors are at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m.
As for what listeners can expect from Durack, she has finished a forthcoming album, which she says is sonically similar to 2021’s No Place. On it, there are songs about loss, and relationships old and new. Naturally, Durack also expects songwriting inspiration to come from the emotional whirlwind of leaving the Valley behind.
“It’s usually the bad things in my life that end up getting written about, because I need to process through them,” she says, before issuing a correction. “Not bad — challenging, I guess, is the better word.”