Danielia Cotton is ready to confront what she doesn’t agree with and fight back in song. Her latest single, “Cheap High” tackles the evils of money and the social stigmas of income disparity. The scorching rocker, premiering here today on American Songwriter, is taken from her upcoming May 29 release A Different War, a record which finds the New York artist examining social, racial and personal issues.
“Cheap High” carries with it a message of overcoming addiction and insecurities. “I look good outside but it’s all falling down/I wanna be better than I am/Help me find the door a place to unload my sins,” she sings over the guitar-heavy track. Cotton’s raspy voice is tinged with anger and frustration, but she channels her powerful vocal delivery into a cathartic triumph by the song’s end. “Money was never a good friend of mine/I used it to get a cheap high/And then it’d be gone.”
“I was initially describing my relationship with money and the overrated cheap thrill of emotionally motivated purchases,” she says. “Spending was a powerful drug for me that substituted other substances that were less desirable to me for many reasons. I’ll never forget when I was in junior high and my sneakers were ‘done,’ and my single mom had to buy me cheap no name supermarket sneakers. I cried in the middle of the store aisle and, to this day, I truly hate how I made her feel that day. To top it off, when I showed up in gym class, I’ll never forget how I felt when the more well-off kids in their name brand shoes laughed as they knew mine were cheap Shop Rite sneakers. I wanted to draw a picture of someone grappling for meaning and substance who eventually goes down the path of trying to be happy via superficial means.”
Cotton has faced several difficult personal battles in recent years, including cancer and the tragic loss of twins at birth. These struggles undoubtedly factored into her state of mind when creating A Different War.
Raised in New Jersey, Cotton now calls New York City her home, a city that, at the moment, is not ‘the city that never sleeps.’ But the fighter in Cotton didn’t let the quarantine bring her down when it came time to film the video. In her words, “necessity became the mother of invention.”
“Because of the shutdown, we were limited to filming inside my apartment and on the roof deck of my building. There was no one else around, and the videographer and I were socially distanced from each other during the entire process.”
“The song is about isolation, after all − the isolation that comes with any addiction. In this case, it’s the ‘cheap high’ you get from spending, and the isolation that comes about whenever any of us are besieged by self-doubt. I think the video, courtesy of COVID-19, conveys that sense of isolation, and also emptiness, pretty forcefully.”
Cotton tracked A Different War in a short amount of time with a solid team (including Aaron Comess, Ben Butler and Andy Hess) who rose to the occasion and delivered a solid foundation for her inspired, blues-based vocals to shine. “My new Church Boys − Emmanuel Rosillo, John Lopez and Seth Nicholson − inspired the new take on the song, and it was seamless in the recording process. I had been performing it with a different approach and they were new to it. Their fresh ears helped me take a leap in a new direction that I felt was more in line with the message of the song.”
The album will be celebrated May 29 by RadioWoodstock 100.1 with a “Sofa Sessions” Livestream Concert Event at 7 p.m. ET. Watch it here.
Danielia Cotton (photo credit: Chia Messina)