CC junior Danny Murcia—or as he’s credited on Pitbull’s track “Outta Nowhere,” Danny Mercer—signed with Columbia Records and has worked with the likes of Will.i.am, Nicole Scherzinger, Dr. Luke, and of course, Mr.305. An English major, founding member of the campus a cappella group Sharp, and one degree of separation from Beyoncé, the Renaissance Man sat down with Bwog’s nut butter aficionado, Katherine Nevitt, and even agreed to play a round of finish the lyrics.
Bwog: So Columbia Records…how did you manage to do that?
Danny: I’ve done music my entire life—my background is jazz guitar. I was just always making music and playing around with different instruments. When I first got to Columbia University, I was trying to do my own independent thing and then I started an internship at Atlantic Records in the spring of my freshman year. I just started to learn more about the music business and I was intrigued by a particular case—Bruno Mars. He got his start by writing for other people. I thought, that seems like a really wise idea. So I started writing pop for the first time and started emailing people being like, “hey check out this song, this could be good for this artist.”
Bwog: Did you reach out to Columbia records or did they reach out to you? How did that whole process work?
Danny: Basically this was at the level of not label but more like production teams. They do all the production of the records and operate outside of labels. A freelance team tried to sign me so I looked for a lawyer so that I wouldn’t get taken advantage of, and my lawyer happened to be Pitbull’s lawyer. So he introduced me to Pitbull’s manager. Once you have someone to vouch for you, that’s a big game changer. So I went out to LA for the whole summer and worked with him in writing sessions.
Bwog: Does Pitbull go by Pitbull or Mr.305? Does he have a real name?
Danny: He has a real name. It’s Armando. He introduces himself as Armando. He doesn’t say “I’m Pitbull.” He’s a nice guy. I started working with his manager and since he was working on Pitbull’s album I said “well this is a good way in”—to write stuff for Pitbull’s album. So I ended up writing a bunch of songs and three of them made it on the album.
Bwog: So you wrote not only the one you’re featured in (Outta Nowhere), but you also wrote two other ones?
Danny: Yeah. One of them is called “Have Some Fun” and the other one is “Everybody F*cks.” For “Outta Nowhere,” we initially were trying to get other artists to sing that song but Pitbull was like, “I don’t like anyone’s version except for Danny’s.”
Bwog: Columbia, Columbia. Is that more than a coincidence?
Danny: And I’m Colombian too.
Bwog: You’ve worked with Will.i.am. Does he work with you in the flesh or as a hologram?
Danny: [Laughs at Bwog's horrible reference]. Fortunately I worked with him a little bit over the summer and he’s the one who gave my songs to Nicole Scherzinger. So I got to work with her because of him. Actually funny story, you know that song “Scream & Shout?” He had that beat, and he kept playing that beat over and over and over the day I was working with him.
Bwog: Major? Music?
Danny: English. I’m more interested in getting universal ideas that I can use for my songs.
Bwog: Alright, so music and literary inspirations:
Danny: Ryan Tedder—he’s the lead singer of One Republic. He wrote “Halo” for Beyoncé, “Battlefield” for Jordin Sparks and all these big songs. Also the producer Dr. Luke. He produced everything for Ke$ha and Katy Perry, like “Teenage Dream,” “Tik Tok,” and “Party in the USA.” I’m actually just starting to work with him now. Authors…probably Hemingway. But I don’t focus on specific authors—I just try to get ideas from everything that I read.
Bwog: How do you balance being a student and recording artist?
Danny: A lot of what I do I can do in my room, I produce a lot of stuff from my laptop or I set up sessions in the city and work with producers. I’m basically taking one or two days a week to work on that. The rest of the week, I’m just like, swamped.
Bwog: Okay so we’re going to play a round of finish the lyrics: Where is Joey Fatone when you need him. First one is Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable.” Mmmm, to the…
Danny: To the left, to the left…everything you own in a box to the left. In the closet, that’s my stuff…[hesitation, Bwog cringes]. If I bought it please don’t touch.
Bwog: Good job. Now for this one you’re probably going to want to punch me in the face. One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful.” You’re insecure…
Danny: Don’t know what for…something like turning heads when you walk through the door? Uh…You’re being shy? I don’t know why? I don’t know I feel like that’s the second verse or something.
Bwog: Yeah, that’s the gist of it. Okay so Lifetime is making movie about your life. Who is playing you?
Danny: Um…What’s his name?
Bwog: Nic Cage?
Danny: Nooo. No. That guy from Gossip Girl…Penn Badgely.
Bwog: What inanimate object would you come back as in your next life? (In retrospect, Bwog realizes that you cannot come back to life as an inanimate object)
Danny: An airplane.
Bwog: Any closing remarks?
Danny: This has been a great interview. Thank you very much. I love Bwog.
So do we, Danny. So do we.
[Interview edited for brevity]
[All videos via Youtube, all images via Wikimedia Commons]