Out musician Dani Shay has had a big year. She was part of the second season of Oxygen's The Glee Project where she found love with fellow contestant Ali Stroker. The couple recently made their relationship public with the premiere of Dani's single "One" and are promoting equality with The Ally Coalition and Be More Heroic. Dani is currently working on a new album, to be funded through a Kickstarter campaign, with plans for more personal behind-the-scenes content to come. Check out our interview with Dani to learn more about her last year and her plans going forward, and learn more about her new album at her official Kickstarter page.
GLAAD: A lot has changed since we last talked before The Glee Project premiere! What made you decide to announce your relationship with Ali (Stroker, fellow TGP contestant) in the video for your single "One"? Were you nervous about premiering the video? Excited?
Dani Shay: Well, the idea for the video just sort of came to me a few weeks after I wrote "One." I was in Florida at the time, and Ali was in NY, and I just called her up one day and said, "I have an idea! Let's announce our relationship in the form of a music video!" She was a little apprehensive at first, but in the end, we both felt like it would be a great statement to make together. Then we had to keep it a secret while the EP was being finished, which was definitely the hardest part. I couldn't wait to release it!
GLAAD: How has fan reaction been? How did you come to be involved with FUN. and The Ally Coalition to promote your message?
DS: The fan reaction has been extremely supportive-- some people were shocked, some people don't "accept it," but overall, most people are just genuinely happy for us. FUN. and The Ally Coalition came into play because Ali grew up with Jack and Rachel Antonoff, who are all about standing up for equal rights. When they heard about our relationship, they were ecstatic! They care so much for Ali, you know, so it meant a lot to them that she found someone who really gets her and how wonderful she is. When they saw our video, they jumped right on board with helping us share the story.
GLAAD: You've got a Kickstarter campaign running for your new album. Can you tell me a little about the music you're writing for that? Any cool collaborations fans should watch out for?
DS: Yes! I plan to do some of my popular songs, like "Girl or Boy," along with some brand new material that I'm really excited about. I'm going to play some covers as bonus tracks also, and even get a bunch of my The Glee Project 2 cast mates involved! I'll be producing a few songs with YouTube sensation Kurt Hugo Schneider & some too with J.Viewz, who is also very talented. I mean, he can play music with fruits and vegetables! I'm really stoked because people can get the entire album download, with the bonus tracks, for only $5 on my Kickstarter. That's crazy.
GLAAD: You said you hope to do a behind-the-scenes DVD and a limited edition activity book with the album release. What kind of insight into your life can fans expect from these?
DS: Fans can expect to have a lot of their more personal questions answered in the DVD & activity book. I'm going to talk about some things from my childhood that I've never really discussed, along with my coming out story, how I almost got married when I was 18, how I left the Mormon Church and basically changed my whole life... Lots of stuff!! I'll also give my two cents about relationships. Some of it'll be funny, some of it will be deeper and thought-provoking. I'll give insight into my creative process as well, and show what it's like making the album. It's definitely going to be fun and interesting!
GLAAD: You and Ali both work with a group called Be More Heroic. Could you tell me a little about that?
DS: I like to call Be More Heroic a "pro-love approach to the anti-bullying movement." We are a small, creative organization - passionate about helping young people of all different backgrounds to feel understood, important, and accepted. We believe that if we can inspire kids to take more positive action, and strive to do good for themselves and their communities, they will feel better about themselves - more purposeful - and be perhaps less susceptible to bullying. We've been touring over the last year, performing at school assemblies for thousands of kids and young adults, and it's been amazing. To know that I'm able to give a teenager hope when times may be tough for them, and I've totally been there, it makes me feel awesome.
GLAAD: Any projects planned for you and Ali past recording and release of this album?
DS: I'm sure there are so many things to come! Ali and I have been talking about moving to LA, and starting a web series for kids, but nothing is set in stone just yet. We may also take a trip to South Africa this summer with a group called ArtsInsideOut. Be More Heroic will be coming out with a documentary sometime in the next year or so, which will be really cool. A lot of things are up in the air, all I know is, I'm ready to take a step forward and make some awesome freaking music. :)
You can keep up to date with Dani through her official website, DaniShay.com.