“Through each transition we have to be ready to rediscover each other, and that’s not always easy.”
In the most unlikely of events, Danilo and Lauren Perez fell in love. Having never met before, they began playing music together in a band nearly ten years ago. Almost immediately upon playing together, they felt a connection to one another. However, in an attempt to keep things professional, they tried to keep their bond under wraps. But as they spent more time working together, their unassailable affinity for each other only deepened. Fast forward 12 domestic tours including two European legs, 11 albums, and an infinite amount of gigs, the two Angelenos are now married and parenting a seven-month-old son. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that they’re working on a new musical project together. “(When we were first married)… we were still irresponsible. We partied hard. We drank too much. We spent too much money. It was awesome. (But now) we aren’t holding each other accountable to be the same person who we met 8 years ago. We’re constantly changing and growing and through that we’re learning how to love over and over again.”
Hear their five-year journey below, from the two who lived it.
How would you describe your first date?
Since we met by playing in the same band, and we weren’t allowed to date, we can’t really remember our first date. Working together a lot turned into hanging out a lot. After a while that turned into trying to hang out alone…and then secretly waking up before all of our roommates to get coffee and bagels every morning. It almost feels like our honeymoon was our first real date. Mainly because we finally felt alone and truly focused on each other.
Lauren, what attracted you to Dan right away?
He was (and is) a true original. He did his own thing, he had his own style, and he didn’t seem to be influenced by anyone or anything. He was who he wanted to be and didn’t think twice about it. Even better, he would never describe himself that way — he just is.
You guys were playing in the same band — how did that go?!
It was unreal. We got to travel together, be creative together, work together 24/7. We got to connect with each other in such a creative and intimate way that most couples might not be lucky enough to experience. Anyone in a band will tell you that your bandmates probably know you better, or at least differently, than most people. Seeing how perfectly we clicked in that environment set the standard of how we interact in our daily lives now.
Can you share the proposal with us? Dan, what was going through your head?
D: It was Lauren’s birthday (so original, I know) and we hadn’t really discussed marriage at length. We were at a restaurant in Malibu and had plowed through appetizers, entrées, and dessert…and nothing had happened. Just when I started thinking that maybe tonight wasn’t the night, “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire (so original, I know, but it was 2010…) came on. I can’t remember if it was the the magic of the song that triggered my speech or my musical-OCD wanting to have the upbeat ending of the song commence our engagement. Also, “speech” is a generous categorization. I stumbled through some words and ideas, dropped to a knee, displayed a ring, and said, “marry me,” forgetting to phrase it as a question. Lauren said yes and, as I stood up to hug her, I expected applause, high-fives and a few “atta boys.” We celebrated in silence, immediately followed by a skeptical server who found it suspicious that free champagne should follow our free birthday dessert. We left the restaurant quietly smiling and have been quietly smiling ever since.
How would you describe the first year of marriage?
Financial negligence. It really wasn’t much different than before. We were still irresponsible. We partied hard. We drank too much. We spent too much money. It was awesome.
What has been the toughest part (or most surprising) thing about marriage?
Deciding on a restaurant. This year has been particularly tough because of the changes we’ve gone through. This is the first year since we’ve known each other that we haven’t played on the same stage together. Also, with our son, René, we’re having to work with each other in a completely new way. Realizing that there’s always going to be changes has been important. Through each transition we have to be ready to rediscover each other, and that’s not always easy.
You guys had a baby last year — congrats! — how has that changed your marriage?
We’re working together in a brand new way. But also, we have an adorable crawling, drooling, giggling reminder in front of us every day that our decisions no longer just impact ourselves. That sense of joint responsibility has forced us to focus on things we probably wouldn’t have thought about for a long time.
As musicians, how do you differentiate between husband/wife and artists?
We’re not sure that we do. Maybe that’s why we’ve always worked well together. There’s no “shop talk” rules at home. Our art is our lives, as much as our son is, and as much as we are to each other. It’s something to be worked on, and taken care of. We fall asleep talking about choruses and lyrics as often as we do looking at pictures of René we took that day.
What is the most rewarding thing about working together as musicians?
It’s probably that we have no reason to lie to each other about our music. If something sucks we tell each other. If something is awesome we tell each other. If something needs work we help each other fix it. In this industry it’s really rare to get an answer about something and not have to worry about what’s being left unsaid. Then we make out.
Anniversary number five is coming up! Any special plans?
Since we couldn’t convince either of our parents to watch René overnight, we’ll probably do a little family brunch and accidentally fall asleep before 9:30pm.
Five years is a long time — what have you guys learned about each other?
D: I’ve learned that Lauren needs time. I tend to be an antsy-nancy about everything, and when I rush Lauren, I don’t get the real Lauren. Questions deserve to be answered thoughtfully. Decisions need to be considered carefully. Lauren walked down the aisle to John Lennon’s “Love” (the acoustic version is way better, BTW). The song opens with “Love is real, real is love.” If I don’t give Lauren everything she needs to be herself, I don’t get the real Lauren. And that’s not love, and I don’t want it.
L: I’ve learned a lot ABOUT Dan, but more importantly what I’ve learned FROM Dan is that it’s ok to change. Change your mind about how you feel about something, change your belief about something, your opinion, your diet (Dan was once paleo and vegan in the same year…) We aren’t holding each other accountable to be the same person who we met 8 years ago. We’re constantly changing and growing and through that we’re learning how to love over and over again.
What do you see happening in the next five years?
We don’t know. We were pretty wrong about the first five years. So…
Thank you so much for sharing your lives Lauren, Danilo and Rene! We’ll catch up soon!
+For more love stories, check out FP Ever After on the blog.
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