Saint Mesa, 21-year-old Danny McCook (DM), has been hitting charts since his single, “Jungle” went live. In “Jungle” and throughout his debut EP, Saint Mesa’s dream-pop sound uplifts the deep lyrics which tell narratives of personal triumphs. He hits heavy topics, but will have you saying yes as he transforms battles into positive energy.
Where does the pseudonym Saint Mesa originate?
DM – The “saint” in Saint Mesa is more of an honorific, but it’s also a reminder to be the best person I can be. Mesa has a couple meanings. First, I have a huge connection with nature, so the visuals of the flat topped mesa mountains has always beautiful to me. Second, I come from Chilean heritage, and mesa in Spanish means ‘table’. I grew up having dinner with my family every night around our dinner table, and every night there would be new faces, and new friends welcomed in. That’s something that is really important to me, in all aspects of my life, but I wanted to bring that welcoming and inclusive mindset into my music.
What inspired your debut track, “Jungle”?
DM – “Jungle” was inspired by the overwhelming feeling of being in a terrible relationship, and not being able to see a way out.
What made you eager to describe a relationship through the metaphor of a jungle?
DM – I think the visual of a “jungle” made a lot of sense to me. Things were dark and heavy, thick and hard to see, making it confusing and overwhelming.
The music video for this song is so interesting. There are so many stark contrasts in the locations, emotions, and characters represented. Could you give us some insight between the cinematography and music?
DM – It was really cool working out conceptual stuff with Kevin Clark. The characters basically represent different parts of my life– sickness, manipulation and relationships. The main character represents me, and how I got pulled off my path in life and sucked into this dark situation. I was almost completely overtaken, but somehow I pulled through.
I admire the ambient quality your tracks carry. What influences your sound?
DM – That’s always a hard question. So much inspires me, whether it’s movie scores, new or old artists, nature sounds, visual arts, etc. I would say that some of the artists that inspire me lately would be Radiohead, Glass Animals, Bon Iver, and Animal Collective, to name a few.
Let’s talk about your other track, “Head Clouds”. It’s as heavy as it is uplifting. I particularly love the last lyric “But when the sun goes down and I let myself believe /That the stars will rise and the world will let me be”. There is so much strength in those words. What motivated you to make this track?
DM – That’s probably my personal favorite off of the EP. The motivation behind this track was really the sickness I dealt with for a few years. There was a lot of hopelessness and depression that I dealt with in all of it. I had to learn how to conquer my demons and my depression, otherwise I would have lost myself to depression.
Let’s say you have one day to create a new track and you can create it anywhere. Describe the location and ambiance of this place.
DM – Oh, that’s a hard one. On a mountaintop in a Peruvian rainforest, overlooking the whole jungle. Just me, lizards and birds making music all day long. That would be perfect.
DM – Music (to me), is anything tonal and created with the intention of being as genuine as possible.
Is there an experience that solidified your passion for music?
DM – I would say teaching myself piano solidified my passion for music. Discovering things for myself like what a chord, or an octave is, or the circle of fifths was just so exciting and fulfilling.
When and where can we find you in 2017?
DM – A lot of really exciting things happening in 2017. The dates that I have announced are:
4/13 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Woodward Theater*
4/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit Pittsburgh*
4/21 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement*
4/22 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar*
4/23 – Nashville, TN @ Third and Lindsley*
4/27 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird*
5/27 – Napa, CA @ Napa Valley Expo (BottleRock)
5/28 – Wincy, WA @ The Gorge (Sasquatch!)
* (on tour with Nightly)