Posted On 17 Feb 2017
After suffering from a rare disease at a young age and being hospitalized innumerable times over a span of two years, 21-year-old Danny McCook embraced his forced-isolation to sketch some ideas that would eventually become the sonic cornerstone and vision for Saint Mesa and his spiritual debut EP, “Jungle.”
Thankfully now healthy, Saint Mesa’s tracks reflect lyrics of hardship, yet personal triumph, with uplifting melodies and choir-like vocals that help define his songs’ dream-pop atmosphere. Soon after releasing a single and rapidly garnering licensing synchs with brands like Wayfair, Puma, H+M, and Electronic Arts, McCook signed with Interscope Records, and infamous booking agent Carole Kinze of CAA (Radiohead, Maroon 5, Tori Amos, etc.).
The Southern Californian, fashion-forward and self-taught musician has been making waves ever since with his EP title track “Jungle,” which has garnered over 1 million streams on Spotify and landed TOP 10 on Spotify’s Viral Chart and TOP 10 Hype Machine’s Popular Chart.
Learn more about Saint Mesa in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?
I would say, inspiring, growing, my genesis. It’s been the best year of my life. Highlight would probably be playing my first live show ever with my band on my 21st birthday. Or hearing “Jungle” on Spotify for the first time ever. 2017 is going to be incredible. I’m writing/releasing an album, and I’m so so very excited to show that to everyone. Also going to be touring and playing a lot more shows which is always really fun. I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions, simply because I don’t think they really work, and I don’t wanna get bummed at myself when I fail to do it. I’m more so focusing on having time to myself to really take care and listen to what I need. Self–care is awesome.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
No. I’ve always been a dreamer, but not specifically about music until my teenage years. I definitely wanted to invent hover shoes back when I was 10. Definitely wasn’t smart enough to do so. (Laughter)
My earliest musical memory would have to be listening to my dad play songs he had written on piano, and hearing that he was self–taught. It was always so inspiring. It’s really hard to see myself doing anything else today. If this was an alternate life I could see myself doing something in the visual arts, photography, painting, or graphic design.
I’ve read that for two years when you were younger, you were very ill and spent a lot of time in the hospital. Can you elaborate on how you spent this time writing and creating what would be your debut EP?
I got really sick when I was about 17, and it completely changed my life. I was essentially bedridden for 3 years, and in that time I taught myself how to make music. A lot of the songs took inspiration from what I was feeling at the time, the production was more experimental and exploratory. Seeing how things worked and how far I could push sounds.
I’m curious to know why you decided to not be known as your own name but Saint Mesa instead? How did you come up with this name?
The Saint in Saint Mesa is mostly an honorific, but it’s also a reminder for me to be the best person I can be at all times. Mesa has a little bigger of a meaning. The first, and simpler of the reasons is based off the Mesa mountain structures, and how beautiful they are. The second, is family. Mesa means table in Spanish, and I’m half Chilean so Spanish is also a big part of my childhood. I grew up in a family where, every single night, we would all have dinner together around the table. And we would talk, and have community with each other. They would usually be one or two new faces joining us because we opened our home to anyone and everyone. Mesa reminds me to be welcoming and inviting to people in all scenarios. Whether on the road touring, meeting new faces, out running errands, anything. Be kind, be loving, be genuine.
Let’s talk about your current hit single, “Jungle.” Where did the inspiration for it come from? It has so much momentum right now. What do you think it is about the song that appeals to so many people?
I think the inspiration for “Jungle” is really just bad relationships, the feeling helpless and confused. I like to think people hear the genuine tone of the song. I can’t really speak for people, but I hope that that is what resonates with them.
What was it like shooting the video for “Jungle” with your brother and creative director, Isaac McCook? Has he done something like this before? Do you work with him a lot? What’s the best part about making a music video?
Shooting photos and video with Isaac has always been a treat because he’s always growing as a visual artist. It’s really cool to see growth like that while it’s happening. We go out and shoot pretty often, just because we enjoy it, and it’s a good excuse to hang out.
You currently have several licensing synchs with top name brands like Puma, H+M and others. What’s that been like for you? What’s been the most exciting brand to be connected to?
That’s been a pretty cool experience, to have songs taken on by companies and brands. I think H&M was definitely one of the cooler things for me, just because I shop there semi frequently.
Congrats on getting onto the BottleRock lineup! Are you excited to play that festival? What other shows do you have coming up this year?
Thank you so much! I’m seriously really excited to play BottleRock. It’s actually my first festival ever, so that’s gonna be really fun. We’re actually playing the Sasquatch Festival the day after we play BottleRock. So we’re finishing our set in Napa, immediately packing up and driving 12 hours up to Washington to play the next day. It’s gonna be fun! (Laughter)
Who are some of your favorite musicians? What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
Ah that’s a really hard one. My classic favorites would be like Phil Collins, or Chris Martin, or someone newer like Lorde. It’s really hard to choose.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
At the end of the day I really hope the music brings some form of hope. I strive to be genuine. An excitement for life.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Care for yourself, love others and never stop listening to what makes you happy.