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Baby Dayliner created his own musical niche in New York's alternative rock and rap scenes in the early to mid-2000s. His offbeat, cabaret-lounge vocal style has elicited comparisons extending from Frank Sinatra to David Bowie to Ian Curtis, and yet his musical influences include an even stranger gamut: '80s synth pop, underground rap, folk songwriting, '50s rockabilly and pop, and Japanese kabuki theater music. Juxtaposing these normally incongruous genres, he obtained a small but varied following.
Dayliner, aka Ethan Marunas, was born in the N.Y.C. borough of Manhattan. He went to Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the school featured in the movie and TV series Fame) and then attended St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, for undergraduate school. Disheartened by terrible band experiences, he took the solo route and began recording and performing his own songs. Dayliner became known for his one-man show routine, which only included his suitcase of musical and performance gear, his dance maneuvers, and of course, himself. He pressed and released his first album, High Heart & Low Estate, on his own in 2002. Members of indie rock band the National caught a glimpse of his shows and eagerly signed them to their label, Brassland Records, which subsequently re-released his debut in March 2004. In the meantime, Dayliner beefed up his producer résumé, executive producing the comedy rap album Let's Get Serious by Def Jux duo the Party Fun Action Committee in 2003; producing on Cut to the Chase by underground rap artist Chase Phoenix in 2004; and co-executive producing and playing violin on Music by Cavelight by distinguished underground rap producer Blockhead (who also happens to be a long-time childhood friend of Marunas). A more refined second album, Critics Pass Away was released in May 2006, garnering more acclaim, and having toured with the National, he widened his audience.