Written by: Frank Iacono
New Day Dawn is an American rock band whose music is “anthemic…with big, bold choruses.” This is due, in part, to the band’s recent work with platinum-selling songwriter & guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down), and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on their EP release entitled Rise Above This. But this is mostly due to front lady, Dawn Botti’s belief of doing “whatever it takes” to follow one’s dreams.
Over the years, Dawn has successfully juggled a career in law with her musical passion; however, sometimes certain people haven’t been entirely supportive of her jourmey. Dawn recalls one particular boss who asked her to quit music. “My boss thought I’d never be taken seriously as a corporate executive if I was also in a band, but I just don’t believe that people are that closed minded. I have many passions and talents. Law is one of them and so is music! And in fact, I believe that I’m a better executive because of my creative side, and a better musician because of my business side!”
New Day Dawn isn’t Dawn’s first attempt at rock success either. Her previous band, Slushpuppy, received early airplay from Matt Pinfield on WXRK 92.3FM, NYC’s K-Rock, but broke up in 2003. Determined to never quit, Dawn started New Day Dawn which released their first full length album entitled The Company We Keep in 2008.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Botti and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her time in the band Slushpuppy, her life as a career musician, her work with Chris Henderson and John Moyer, and her latest EP Rise Above This.
The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?
Dawn Botti: Being a musician isn’t something that I “aspired” to be when I grew up, it was just something that I was, something that I am… just like being a woman. But I guess it was about at age 12 or 13 that I thought about wanting to make a living as a musician and specifically in the genre of rock. I think music itself inspired me… I loved to sing and play the piano… I loved the idea that I could create my own music and write my own songs… I discovered that when I was about 10 years old and that opened a whole new world up to me.
TCS: For readers of The Creative Spotlight, who have never heard of your band New Dawn Day, can you please introduce us to the lineup and describe for us your musical genre?
DB: New Dawn Day is a quartet featuring two guitars, bass, and drums. We play guitar-driven rock. We are melodic alternative hard rock along the lines of bands such as Shinedown, Otherwise, and 3 Doors Down, but with a female lead voice. Because of the female voice we are more often compared to other female fronted rock bands like Halestorm or The Pretty Reckless.
The band is comprised of:
- Dawn Botti (Lead Vocal / Guitar)
- Gary Szczecina (Drummer / Backing Vocals)
- PJ Angeloni (Lead Guitar)
- Elo Hernandez (Bass Guitar)
TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands are among your early influences and how do you think they shaped your music style and song writing?
DB: I grew up in New Jersey and while I wasn’t more than 60 miles from Manhattan, I lived in a pretty rural community – as such I had no idea about local clubs or independent music – I only listened to whatever was on Top 40 radio or what my parents listened to and they were huge fans of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, the Moody Blues, and bands like Supertramp! Luckily Top 40 radio was filled with great rock back then like The Police, Led Zeppelin and female trail blazers like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Heart, and even Madonna. I think they helped shape my music because I was always a “melody” junkie. I am a sucker for a great catchy “hook”. I strive to have that in my songs and also to have big soaring choruses.
TCS: In what ways did your first attempt at rock success with the band Slushpuppy help prepare you for New Dawn Day from a singer/songwriter and musical perspective?
DB: In a lot of ways New Day Dawn just took over where Slushpuppy left off. In both bands I was a major part of the song writing. In Slushpuppy, I co-wrote with our guitar player and I sometimes miss those collaborations – but I learned a lot from him and he had an entirely different style of influences (bands like RadioHead, Catherine Wheel, and Portishead) which helped expand my own style. Also with Slushpuppy we often played with bands that were “heavier” than us in terms of musical style – that was intimidating – especially because I was also a woman who felt like she was being sized up against all these bands made up only of guys. We always strived to be “heavier” to help bridge that gap. I think with New Day Dawn, I am now older and wiser and with that has come more confidence, and now I just play the type of music I like. Sometimes the songs comes out heavy….but sometimes they are more “pop” in their melody or style and I no longer feel the need to apologize for that!
TCS: How thrilling was it for New Dawn Day to have performed at a number of major music festivals including South By Southwest and the Millennium Music Conference?
DB: The festivals are always fun. First, you get to go expose your music to an entirely new audience in a new area like Texas! But secondly because you get an opportunity to hang out and listen all these other amazing bands. I am CONSTANTLY amazed at the number of really really talented musicians out there. Seriously, the world has a bunch of jokes about how there are two many lawyers in the world – in reality I think there are too many talented musicians in the world and not enough “ears” to go around to hear all of them. I guess that is why I am always so so so thankful when we make new fans. I recognize that every person has an almost infinite amount of choices out there in terms of music so I am always so honored and thankful when someone choses to spend their time and hard earned money on mine!
TCS: Personally, one of my favorite New Dawn Day songs off of your 2013 EP release entitled Rise Above This is the track called “You Are My Everything” so can you share with us the meaning behind it as well as the music video?
DB: I wrote “You Are My Everything” for my husband (and drummer), Gary. We have been married for over 20 years (yes, you read that right!). We started dating when I was 15 years old, and were high school sweethearts. Gary has always been my biggest supporter. It’s truly one of those “wind beneath my wings” type of stories. I always gravitate to the spotlight and Gary has been content to stay in the shadows to a certain degree…..poor guy even sits physically behind me during our shows (since he is on the drums) and often times I end up “blocking” him in photos when people take pictures of the band on stage. Anyway, he so deserved this song. He truly is my everything and I don’t think I ever tell him enough.
As for the music video – I wanted a video that told the “age old” story of “boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get married, have kids, etc…” but I didn’t want it told in a way that seemed obvious or trite. We decided to tell the story using only feet (and no faces) to represent the fact that this is a universal story of many couples and it doesn’t matter what “face” you put on the couple – doesn’t matter race, gender, etc. This could be ANY couple. Second, we wanted to convey that mature love is so much more than just romance and sex. True love has to endure the doldrums of the everyday chores, and the stress of just living life. There will be fights – over money, over taking care of children, maybe more horrendous things like addiction, infidelity, life-threatening illnesses, taking care of elderly or dying parents. This is what real life is about and this is what true love can endure, but it’s not easy and certainly not all unicorns and rainbows.
TCS: What’s the most unusual place that New Dawn Day has played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?
DB: I can’t really think of an “unusual” place … but certainly the circumstances around a performance will effect the performance. We once played in Maryland where we got to play a song that I wrote for a dear friend / fan of ours. She is struggling with cancer and the song is called “Rise”. The lyrics are very personal and taken from all of her facebook posts from the past year. So to be able to perform it for her in person and see the look on her face was quite an honor and definitely puts you in a special mind set where you feel like the music has taken on a life of its own and is truly transcending.
TCS: Describe for us what it was like working with platinum-selling songwriter/guitarist Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down) on “Lay Your Head” and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob) who each produced tracks on Rise Above This.
DB: It was truly amazing and eye opening to work with both Chris and John. They have each achieved so much success in the music industry and so I had great respect for both of them just going into the project. And having each of them interested and excited to work with me on my songs and with the band was also a great honor and in many ways made me feel like I had achieved something really special because musicians / songwriters that I had always looked up to now wanted to work with me. But the best part was once I got over my initial nerves and started to get to know each of them better…the celebrity part fell away and then it was just “chris and dawn” or “john and dawn” as friends and fellow musicians working on some music together and that is when the magic started to really happen with each of them. Chris and John have very different styles and different strengths as producers, but what they both share is an extremely strong work ethic and a total immersive passion for creating music.
TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does New Dawn Day use?
DB: My go-to guitar is my Schechter Temptest. It’s very reliable and sounds and looks great. I have other more expensive guitars but prefer my Schechter. Gary plays a DW drum set. Elo loves his B.C. Rich bass. PJ plays a bunch of different guitars, but mostly his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster through his VOX. We don’t use samples or computer tracks, nothing fancy
TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite track off of Rise Above This called “Whatever It Takes”?
DB: “Whatever It Takes” is really a song about “searching for the deeper meaning of life” – It’s about recognizing that we are each here for a purpose and in truly believing that we are so much more than our lives here on earth and that we need to be willing to do “Whatever It Takes” to live a life with purpose….and when you reach that point that you realize that you are living your life for a greater purpose than the day-to-day it is both scary and exciting… that is what the line “Can you feel my heart pounding in my chest, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes, Whatever It Takes…”
TCS: Share with us what happened in June of 2012, which caused you to stop leading a double life as a senior corporate executive by day and a rock musician by night?
DB: I think here in the U.S. we really suffer from a culture limitation of believing that a person can only truly be “exceptional” at one thing. We believe that you can be relatively good at a bunch of things…but if you are truly exception and talented at one thing chances are that is your “gift” and the other things you do probably you’ll only perform somewhat good at. I am a person that not only does NOT believe that , but I defy it everyday. Yes, I am a lawyer and a damn good one. I graduated the top of my class from one of the top 3 law schools in the country…I trained at one of the best law firms in the world and for many years I was very very successful and very good as an in-house entertainment attorney at a very large media company. Out of fear I kept my music life under wraps. I didn’t want my employer to think that I was not committed to my career. On the flip side, I never told my music friends/ fans what I did during the day — inevitably if someone heard I was lawyer before hearing / seeing me perform that would instantly write me off as probably not being that good. How could I be an exceptional musician when I was already a successful attorney – surely I couldn’t be great at two things? Fortunately or unfortunately social media blew the “cover” off my “double life” – On Facebook and MySpace, I looked like a dedicated, full-time musical artist which didn’t make my employer very comfortable (notwithstanding the fact that my work continued to be stellar and in reality nothing at all had changed from the way I had been living my life for over a decade…….but what changed was the PERCEPTION…and as they say perception is 99% of reality. To this day, I continue to be both a dedicated and exceptional attorney as well as a musician. I think each facet helps make me better at the other…I am more creative in my approach to law than most…and I am more business minded than many other musicians…. I truly believe that we only “go around” this earth once, we have one life to live – so why should we limit ourselves in only trying to be excellent in one thing? If you have the dedication and drive and desire to try something else….TRY IT! DO IT!! And don’t let anyone stop you.
TCS: How do you market New Dawn Day songs, merchandise, and appearances?
DB: I market New Dawn Day however and whenever I can. I have tried to really make my focus about a personal connection with my fans…they are more like my friends than fans. Most of what I have done has been completely organically. I have not yet really tried any professional marketing.
Stay connected with New Dawn Day at the following:
- New Dawn Day Website
- New Dawn Day Facebook
- New Dawn Day Twitter
- New Dawn Day Instagram
- New Dawn Day YouTube
- New Dawn Day ReverbNation
TCS: Was “Misunderstood” from your full-length release entitled The Company We Keep written after a real-life experience?
DB: “Misunderstood” is another favorite and yes – it is auto-biographical… This song was written about one of my former band mates. He was the bass player for SLUSHPUPPY and we used to fight like cats and dogs. It was actually quite exhausting and I always felt like there was a fundamental gap in our communication – almost like we were literally speaking two different languages. We would always both start off with the best of intentions and we truly loved each other as friends and I believe we both WANTED to get along….but sometimes even the simplest conversations…like talking about the weather forecast would turn into the biggest fights. Much of the reason why SLUSHPUPPY broke up was because of the miscommunications and fights between us and so this song was written in reflection after that time.
TCS: Any upcoming shows for New Dawn Day that we should know about and why we should be there?
DB: You should ALWAYS be at an NDD show! Ha ha… no really, since we are not a full time touring band, it takes a lot for us to get out of New Jersey…… so if we are in your area, wherever that may be please try to come see us since we don’t really know when we may be back to that market. We have a show June 5th in Hagerstown, MD with our friends in Saving Abel…then on June 11th we travel to Rhode Island to play with Art of Dying and Another Lost Year. We really try to play shows with other bands that we like both as people and in terms of their music… our hope is that if we like them then hopefully our fans will like them too which means that you won’t just enjoy the 1hr you get to see NDD on stage, but the entire lineup and night of music.
TCS: Now as a career musician, can you describe for us a day in the life of Dawn Botti?
DB: I think more and more you’ll find that the smart “career” musicians are the ones that understand that you need to diversify and have multiple skills. Unfortunately for most of us, gone are the days when you can really make a decent living by simply touring and selling your music (especially as so few people are actually purchasing music these days.) We all see the articles on music streaming services like Spotify, they are paying musicians and songwriters a mere fraction what they were otherwise making off of traditional album sales. I speak with musicians every day that tour 200+ shows a year and still can’t afford to pay their mortgage or provide for their families – so unless you are in your 20’s and have no other financial commitments and are content living hand to mouth and sleeping mostly in a van….then you’ll need to figure out how to supplement your musicians’ salary. Luckily for me I still practice law. I have been able to assist fellow musicians and record labels with legal services, as well as small independent film companies. I also very much believe that I can easily handle a full-time corporate job if it was the right company that understood the importance of work/life balance…and the value of taking on non-traditional type of lawyers that are creative, not risk-adverse and who understand how to build and manage a brand and social media marketing (since I do it for the band!) I also have some television projects in the works and have been exploring some projects with other more famous “rock” celebrities. On the music side of things, I try to spend a part of each day doing something creative – writing new melodies or lyrics…. Working on a new t-shirt design or something else. I also spend a good part of the day talking to fans on social media or writing back to fans…and of course I’m always looking for new gigging opportunities and other opportunities to get my music out there whether that be via radio, internet radio, or interviews like this one. Yes, it is exhausting and A LOT of work — but I wouldn’t change a thing!
TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?
DB: I think our toughest challenge was driving across country to Oklahoma in a span of 3 days to perform as part of the ROCKLAHOMA rock festival. Silly me thought we could drive for 10 hours and then perform each night in the city we landed. Having never really driven such long distances, I hadn’t accounted for things like traffic and bathroom breaks…so our 10 hours drives usually turned into 14-15 hour drives… We have to hit the road by 6am…. Drive 14 hrs … to land in say “St. Louis” by 8pm ….rush to unload gear and perform by 10pm….then hang out with fans, pack up and get back on the road by 1am… to just do it all over again the next day…. We did that for 3 days and THEN played ROCKLAHOMA.
TCS: If New Dawn Day could open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be and why?
DB: We have actually been picking the bands that we would “love” to open for and going after those shows…. We have already accomplished many goals like opening for Saving Abel, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, Otherwise and Art Of Dying. My goal is to always pair with other hard rock bands that have a strong focus on melody and all these bands fit the bill. It’s great to perform a set and then get to hang out in the audience as a “fan” and watch the headliners! Three bands that I would KILL to open for are Shinedown, Foo Fighters, and U2…. Maybe even Bon Jovi! These are all bands who are much more established and play big arenas as opposed to the level we are on now. They have all influenced my music and I am a genuine fan of their music, so I would hope that their fans would enjoy us.
TCS: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received about New Dawn Day’s music? And, what makes it stand out so much?
DB: The best compliment is when I hear that one of my songs has a deep personal connection and meaning to a fan…. Especially if it has helped that person through something…. This is better than any pay check in the world…. When you know you have created something that was personal to you and it has now taken on a life of its own and is personal and meaningful to someone else. That is really what life is all about and what keeps me going in this business.
TCS: What does the short-term and long-term future hold for Dawn Botti and New Dawn Day?
DB: I truly do not know. I will keep playing, writing, and performing music until it is no longer “fun” and feels too much like drudgery or work. For now it is definitely a lot of hard work and a real commitment but I love every minute of it so it doesn’t feel like an obligation but a blessing. I try to pray and listen to what God wants me to do. I believe my musical talents are a gift from “him” and that he has a plan for how he wants me to use them to help and touch other people…. So for now, I keep going and I keep praying that he shows me the way. Now I don’t want everyone to turn around and say “New Day Dawn” is a Christian rock band…. We aren’t …. But Dawn Botti is a spiritually guided person and I try to incorporate God into every aspect of whatever I taken on.
TCS: What do you think the world would be like if music was never invented? And, what do you think you would you be doing instead?
DB: So long as humans have hearts and ears there will be music…. I can’t imagine a world without music, because music is in the chirping of the birds, it is in the water flowing through a stream, it is in the sound of your heart beating or a baby crying. If I had no musical talent? Maybe I would be a painter…..oh, and a lawyer
Song List on Rise Above This (2013)
- You Are My Everything
- Lay Your Head
- Life Impossible
- Whatever It Takes
Song List on The Company We Keep (2009)
- Nowhere Fast
- Daddy’s Song
- See Me Fall
- Prelude to Crazy
- Over You
- We Are
- Misunderstood (’91 Time Machine Remix)
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.