meet gap-toothed gucci muse and nyc punk frontwoman dani miller
She freakin’ rules.
Photography Miriam Marlene Waldner. Styling Kelsey R.
You’ve seen Dani Miller about. You recognise her smile. But where from? Why, it’s that glossy 80s-inspired Gucci Beauty campaign of course! In it, her gap-toothed grin is lined with blood-red lippy and shot up close and personal by legendary photographer Martin Parr. Sharing the campaign on her Instagram, she described its release as a “coming out party and a reiteration of feeling comfortable and proud to be myself,” as well as “a celebration of the beautiful freaks shedding even more of my insecurities and doubts.”
When she’s not hanging out with Jared Leto’s severed head and partying hard, the Brooklyn-based musician can be found performing with her scuzzy punk band, Surfbort. Named after Beyoncé’s Drunk In Love lyrics, she calls their output “freak music”; a response to our wild-ass times, her lyrics deal with politics, mental health and addiction. Her bandmates, a bunch of old Texan punks, discovered her a few years back after they happened to be in the audience of her first ever show. It was the night of her 21st birthday, she threw up mid-set (never eat burritos before showtime) and they knew at once that she was something special.
Obsessed with her face, her records and her badassery, we slid into Dani’s inbox and quizzed her on all the important stuff. Discover how she replaced hard drugs with hard music, why you shouldn’t go to art school, and the good advice she’d give to her teenage self. Read on and weep over just how cool she is.
First up: your teeth rule. Are you an admirer of any other gap-toothers?
Ya, duh! Everyone knows all gap-toothed lovers go to heaven, hehe. Gap teeth make the world go round. It’s real as fuck, but if ya got perfect teeth you are killin’ it also.
So how'd Gucci find you?
I was leaning up against a Roman statue eating lunch and Alessandro was admiring the statue and at the same time he turned the corner of the statue. I started singing to the moon and our presences collided, and we have been creating together ever since.
And how’d you find the whole Gucci experience?
Amazing! We first collaborated when we played the opening of their Wooster St store in NYC and it was incredible. They let us be ourselves and we did what we normally would do at a show -- go as hard as we can and scream and dance with the freaks! Also, Surfbort was just in the Gucci pre-fall campaign that was shot in Sicily by Glen Luchford. It has all been a giant dream come true. Alessandro and the entire Gucci team supports artists and gives them a place in the world to thrive and shine and continue to make their art, so it’s a blessing to be a part of the Gucci family.
Did you feel like an all-powerful god holding Jared Leto’s severed head in your hands?
The godly power was coming from the head, because Jared Leto is god. I did brush his hair and accidentally spilled some champagne on him though.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
My mom was playing The Knitters records when I was born, but what I remember is my dad playing a Fantasia record and inspiring a living room dance party.
How'd you first get into punk?
I had a crush on Johnny Thunders but didn’t get my first huge dose of punk music until I started hanging with Sean Powell, Surfbort’s drummer. I’ve always been a sucker for Patti Smith and Debbie Harry though. The more you get to know yourself and let the true you shine, the more ‘punk’ shit happens, hehe.
And what was it that drew you to the scene?
Pure friendship! A meeting of all the freaks and lovers enjoying life and having each other’s backs.
Do you reckon music helped you deal with addiction?
Yes, I got off hard drugs and went head-first into hard music. But really, you don’t have to follow the classic themes of drugs, sex, rock and roll to enjoy music and make music. To me, that’s cheesy. Health, sex, and rock and roll is cooler.
We need more music to soundtrack these wild-ass times. What've you got for us?
A second Surfbort album is in the works! Coming soon.
Got anything you wish you could tell 16-year-old Dani?
That I’m worthy. And to just be myself and embrace my freak dorkness. Also, that haters don’t mean shit and if anyone is trying to stop you, don’t give them any credit, just let them fade away. Oh, and whatever you’re into, go for it. Make art, learn about the world, don’t wait to do what you want. Don’t go to college for art, only for science, because it’s a scam. I could write a book on advice to my 16-year-old self.
What’re you obsessed with right now?
Tyler, the Creator’s new album, Amyl and the Sniffers, Gucci lipstick, lime green biker dad sunglasses, Shawn Powell’s paintings, my dad’s garden and his beehives, Old Town Road, Nina Hagen, The Plasmatics, Gnarcassists, going to the beach, Kilgore’s one-year-old daughter, salads, The Voidz’ new song The Eternal Tao produced by Kirin J Callinan and Mac DeMarco, sunflowers, the park, Sienna Scar, Faux Real, Beyond Jesus, Cumgirl8, Dev Hynes, Nadia Lee Cohen, Ho99o9, Starbursts, Viagra Boys, sparkling lemonade, Whatevernbd, taking just my film camera out leaving my phone at home, anything sparkly or bedazzled, the mindset that anything’s possible, healing myself.
@aliensarereal but how can you be so sure?
Beep boop bop beeeep.
What would you call your autobiography?
Eat Shit and Die: a novel about friendship, music and love.
What’s something not many people know about you?
Kurt Cobain is my third cousin and I like turtles.
Finally, what’s next on the cards for 2019?
We are gonna play a bunch of sweet shows around the world and then record our second record and dance with ya -- so watch out!