For some artists, the perks of being affiliated with a major record label can be few and far between. While fiscal and promotional support play crucial factors in getting your work produced and noticed, if the work being produced and noticed fails to project a genuine reflection of your artistry, the strive to attain wholehearted contentment in your achievements may be all the more arduous. Luckily for Dawn Richard, known professionally as D∆WN, that strive is long behind her.
After launching her career in 2005 as a member in the now defunct girl group Danity Kane under P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records imprint, D∆WN gave another shot at crew life in 2009 by joining Diddy-Dirty Money, until ultimately going solo in 2011. Since then, the singer/songwriter has managed to nourish her craft into something that challenges mainstream notions of how contemporary pop and R&B should look and sound.
With two studio albums under her belt and a third on the horizon, the “intergalactic pop fusion” artist has recently returned with a stellar new EP, titled Infrared, enlisting the talents of avant-minded LA label Fade to Mind, who include genre-bending acts such as Kelela, Kingdom, Total Freedom and Nguzunguzu, among others, in their roster.
We recently caught up with D∆WN in Los Angeles for quick-fire Q&A to learn a little bit more about her style, music and visual inspiration – all of which contribute to her being my personal favorite artist at the moment.
Describe your personal style.
If it feels good on, I’m wearing it.
What are some of your favorite designers right now?
Prabal Gurung, Haider Ackermann and The Row.
Who would you consider to be your style icon?
If Bianca Jagger, Cher and Daphne Guinness had a fashion baby, that would be my icon.
How does fashion/style correlate with your musical artistry?
They are one in the same. My music sets a stage for the fashion to roam.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
Prince is my style father and Björk is muva. The Cranberries, Bif Naked, Portishead were the glitter children I grew up with.
What would you say is the biggest component that influences your work?
Art, paintings and literature. I read a lot and I’m always referring back to my favorite painters for inspiration.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
I’d be a dancer at a company or in animation or comic book illustrations and design .
Visuals seem to play a very important role in your work. Who would be your dream director to work with?
Chris Cunningham and Tim Burton.
What movie could you never get tired of watching?
Hanna and Ong-Bak.
What are your tour essentials?
Epsom salt, Zatarain’s salt (a New Orleans thing), a screw driver (I build my own sets) and my dancers (I never leave without them).
If you had to invent a genre to describe your sound, what would it be called?
Intergalactic pop fusion.
How did you become involved with the guys over at Fade to Mind?
We met through a friend and the chemistry was so amazing that we recorded the first day we met.
Best hidden talent?
It wouldn’t be hidden anymore if I revealed it though?!
What’s the best part of not being signed to a major label?
The freedom to avoid structure. I love being able to release different styles, sounds and visuals as I choose.
What stylistic freedoms can you express now that you couldn’t before?
My sound and fashion. I think many people thought that since I’m black, I should be a certain thing or sound a certain way. I’ve completely broken that stigma being indie.
What story is being told in your latest project, Infrared?
The raw, the in-between and being in the limbo of love and life.
Listen to D∆WN’s most recent EP, ‘Infrared’, below then be sure to read about Grimes’ interactive installation at Moogfest.
Givenchy, ASOS, C/MEO COLLECTIVE, Brother Versellies