Danielson is an American rock band from Clarksboro in East Greenwich Township, New Jersey, that plays indie pop gospel music. The group consists of frontman Daniel Smith and a number of various artists with whom he collaborates. Smith has also released solo work as Brother Danielson.
When joined by his family the band is known as Danielson Famile or Danielson Family, whose members have included Smith; his "siblings Andrew, David, Megan, and Rachel; wife Elin; friends Christiaan & Melissa Palladino; [and] daughter Lilly". Sufjan Stevens has also recorded and performed with the group.
The band is known for Smith's squeaky falsetto vocals, innovative musical arrangements, and matching nurse uniforms, "that act, according to Daniel, as 'visual reminders of the spiritual and emotional healing taking place' within audience members." During some performances Smith has "worn a nine-foot tall, hand-made nine-fruit tree to 'bear the good fruit,'" in reference to the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In 1993, while attending Rutgers University as a senior, Daniel Smith experienced a spiritual reawakening:
"This was the year I stopped running away from home, picked up my acoustic guitar again and changed from being Dan back to Daniel. I woke up to the fact that I have an amazing family, an amazing childhood and I began to relate everything I was thinking and doing with this in mind... I began reading the Bible and praying again and songs and art started flowing. I would meet with my dad and talk philosophy and theology and I became a child again."
Smith has cited the major influence his musician father had on him growing up and the importance of lyrical content. Smith began recording songs that would later comprise the album A Prayer for Every Hour: "some from my solo 4-track, some with my friends Jason Faunce and Missy Forsyth backing and some with my brothers and sisters backing. Danielson became the name of the songs that I write. I had become "Daniel" and realized that I am a son." He submitted the album as his final thesis (and received an 'A' grade) and performed, joined by his siblings, at the senior art show. Smith then sent the album out to several indie labels but only received a response from Tooth & Nail in California, who picked up the album and released it in 1994.
Daniel Smith, his siblings, and friend Chris Palladino began to perform in New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia as the "Danielson Famile." The group released Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha) and Tri-Danielson!!! (Omega) in 1998 and 1999 respectively, earning them further college radio play and broadening their indie audience. Both LP's were recorded and produced by Kramer. The band became known for their onstage costumes (initially nurse uniforms with large red hearts sewn on) as well as their homemade t-shirts and other merchandise. While the lyrical content was unabashedly Christian, Danielson Famile nevertheless received strong press and support from secular audiences due to their musical inventiveness.
Danielson signed to Secretly Canadian Records in 2001 and released Fetch the Compass Kids, which was recorded by Steve Albini. Smith then released a solo record in 2004 (Brother Is to Son) as Brother Danielson. It was followed in May 2006 by the ambitious Ships, which featured contributions from a total of 20 musicians, including Deerhoof, Sufjan Stevens, Why?, Serena Maneesh, and Half-handed Cloud.
The band was chosen by Matt Groening to perform at the edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival he curated in May 2010 in Minehead, England.
In 2011, Smith released Best of Gloucester County, the first Danielson album released solely through his Sounds Familyre Records label.
In 2014, Danielson will release an as yet untitled album with Jad Fair of Half Japanese as part of Jad Fair's Artist In Residence project with Indianapolis label Joyful Noise Recordings.
Daniel Smith has cited his musical influences as including "T.Rex, Rapeman, B.A.L.L., Syd Barrett, Bob Dylan, Bongwater, My Bloody Valentine, Beat Happening, Cypress Hill, Ween, Donovan, Sonic Youth, Royal Trux, Beatles, Half Japanese, A Tribe Called Quest, [David] Bowie, Can, Pixies, Minutemen, James Brown, Tom Waits, Daniel Johnston, Brian Eno, Larry Norman, Captain Beefheart and more."