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Take 5 With Dani El-Rassi

Back in March Sydney artist, Dani El-Rassi released her touching single, Till you Run Out Of Words which received love from some big tastemakers all over. Today we threw Dani the aux cord to show us some of her favourite tunes of all time.


Ben Abraham – New Record “Friendly Fire”

Ben has been one of my greatest writing influences for many years. I first heard him opening for Missy Higgins back in 2016, and it was life-changing. I was really excited when in 2018, he asked me to come up and sing a duet with him – it was one of those moments where I couldn’t really believe it was happening – but then it was just a totally normal experience as well! It was a moment where I realised everything is connected.

There’s some lyrics in one of his songs I heard live and unreleased (Too old too young), which says “There’s so much that you’ll never know, and nor will anyone” and “Just like joni says…” and “That longing in your heart won’t leave, that’s true for everyone”. I heard this song live so many times and it was the song that initiated me wanting to learn guitar – prior to that I was a piano/ vocalist only. I took on the challenge and last week I released a cover of that song on my tiktok… crazy how time can change things! One of my other favourites on this album is “Love Myself” – the lyrics are mesmerising.

In 2020 during the first lockdown I released a song “This is what it means to be human” in which I reference that unreleased lyric of Ben’s. “Like Ben says these challenges are true for everyone”. On the same day as me releasing ’til you run out of words (“TYROOW”)’ in 2022, Ben released his record with the track (mentioned above) titled ‘Too old too young’. It felt like such a full circle moment! On the same release day as TYROOW, Ben references Joni Mitchell and then I mention Ben… I wonder if someone out there will reference my lyrics one day.


Coldplay “Let somebody go”

I recently heard this Coldplay and Selena Gomez duet and have not been able to stop listening. There is something about the production on this song, the synth, the bass and the rhythmic section just hits home. The lyrics are just stunning. The melody is unexpected. The story is real, and relatable.

The lyric “You gave everything this golden glow. Now turn off the starts, cos this I know / that it hurts like so / to let somebody go” really gets me!

But I think most of all, Coldplay will always bring back memories for me of someone I used to love – Coldplay records were a huge part of that relationship. Chris Martin’s voice is so genuine and I feel so connected when I heard him sing. Another of Coldplay’s songs I have always loved is “O”.


Ruston Kelly as an artist overall but specifically his entire record “Shape & Destroy”

Ruston Kelly is a phenomenal, raw and honest songwriter and storyteller. His chord combinations, open guitar tunings, voicings of his chords and melodies, harmonies and lyrics…. what a magical combination. I recently moved out of Sydney (up the coast) and now I spend a lot of time driving. The last 2 years I have spent many hours playing this record on repeat – every song is a story and a masterpiece at that. I admire Ruston’s honesty so much and there is actually some influence from his sound in my new track TYROOW, particularly where the bridge comes in and I say “if it hurts, let it be there…”. The chords and the feeling behind that section originated with a Ruston Kelly listening sesh.


Adele “I drink wine” 

Adele is, has been, and always will be, one of my greatest role models. She is so honest, so pure and real in her songwriting, so humanly human. Her voice is striking, and her stories are relatable – something that is a grounding part of my musical journey. When Adele released her 2022 record, there was this one song “I drink wine” that I couldn’t get enough of. “I hope I learn, to get over myself… stop trying to be somebody else” – What a feeling! What an honest truth. Her melodies always go places that bring out the best in her voice as well. Hugely inspiring. Her song “someone like you” was one of the first songs I ever covered as a 13 year old and it was when people started to say things like “oh wow, you can sing, hey?”. It’s kind of funny to look back on that time – so much has changed now – I’m doing national tours with my band and releasing records, meeting musicians from all over Australia and the world, making money in music and doing what I love every single day – how lucky am I?

Zoe Wees “Control” 

Zoe is an incredible German artist whom I discovered a few months ago and haven’t been able to look back. She has so many amazing songs and stories to tell but this one song in particular “Control” just gets me every time. “Early in the morning I still get a little bit nervous, fighting my anxiety constantly. I try to control it…”. Mental health awareness is something that is growing and will continue to grow as time goes on – but this is a song that hits the nail on the head so to speak. So many people are out there suffering with anxiety or depression and they are afraid of losing control. A huge part of managing my own anxiety is listening to music like this that makes me feel less alone in a world which can convincingly make you feel like no one else is anxious. In fact, so many of us are, and you are never alone! Also, the way the melody begins raspy and intimate and then rises up for the big chorus in this song, the way the production comes in, but still has that beautiful deep piano foundation…. just wow. I’m so excited to explore how this might influence my future music. The work is already in progress but it will take some time….



Written by John Zebra