Earlier today TFF had the opportunity to interview the lovely songstress Dawn Richard from recently reunited girl group, Danity Kane. During our interview we discussed a number of topics that shed light on what Dawn hopes to achieve as an artist, and what life is like with DK back together.
After being affiliated with Diddy's 'Dirty Money', MTV's 'Making the Band' and Danity Kane, Dawn has quite the story to tell. Her insight on the music industry was eye-opening and hearing about her love for the city of New Orleans was refreshing. If you haven't already heard their new single do yourself a favor and check it out below. Enjoy the interview and remember to support other Fab Femmes.
TFF: Tell us a little about when you first discovered you wanted to be in the entertainment industry.
Dawn Richard: I never looked at it as getting into the industry. I just loved the music. My dad was an artist and my mom and dad knew how hard it was to make it as a musician. Music and sports were the fore front of my childhood. Singing and dancing were more of a hobby. I didn’t think it was gonna be a career for me but as I got older and started performing more, I fell in love with it and realized that music was something I wanted to do.
TFF: What was it like leaving New Orleans and venturing off into unfamiliar territory to go after your dreams?
DR: I was already doing music but we weren’t popping back then so TV shows weren’t coming to the city and there weren’t many opportunities. When I was living in New Orleans we didn’t have an RNB artist or pop stars that were making it. There were no black girls really thriving as artist and making it main stream in Louisiana. I was so busy trying to get a degree that I didn’t think music would be a realistic possibility.
TFF: After DK split you pursued a solo career and grew your brand as an artist. What did you learn from that experience and how did it change you as a creative entity?
DR: I think I realized how much the business and the art are separate. I never wanted to compromise the art by selling out. I always wanted to create the best work and put it out for the fans. If I incorporate too much business with my art it loses its creativity. For me it was a fight to balance the two out.
Don’t ever compromise your art in the midst of business. My art would have to be compromised every time I couldn’t afford to put something together the way I wanted to. I had to learn how to do things on a budget. The industry is crazy and the quality of music isn’t the same because people have focused so much on the business aspect of it. When you’re an artist you’re consumed by your art. I lost a lot of relationships over great projects because they didn’t care about the art, only how much they were getting paid.
TFF: What was it like returning back to New Orleans after becoming so popular in main stream media?
DR: It was like coming back home. It’s not like everywhere else. I’m still Dawn and everyone on the block still sees me as the little girl I was when I used to come into their stores. I still go to all the same places when I go home. That’s one of the reasons why I love coming home so much. There’s no success out here and money and fame don’t matter. New Orleans people will remind you where you came from quick and that’s why I keep coming back.
TFF: DK recently reunited. Tell us a little about what it’s been like to work with the girls again and how fans have responded to you reuniting.
DR: It’s organic for us. We were worried that it would be different but we got back together and never missed a beat. Our rhythm and the way we got back into the groove was crazy. What we learned is that our fan base is just as strong as it was back when we first came out, if not stronger. We were trending for two days when we announced we were back together. It was a huge surprise to us.
TFF: Your album ‘Golden Heart’ was a huge success. What was your creative inspiration behind it and do you have a favorite song?
DR: The direction was Joan of Arc. I’d done a lot of studying on her message and her cause. I had a message that I wanted to send and it was as passionate, and like hers, it was clear enough that she could reach out and deliver what she wanted to be heard. When I was working on this album I felt like I was going off to war with a lot of people in the industry. I was also inspired by Gustav Klimt who is one of my favorite artists. He would lace his paintings with gold and create beautiful works of art. From that I was inspired to incorporate gold and armor into the artwork of the album and from there; it became “medieval RNB” which was ever heard before.
As far as favorite songs go, “Return of a Queen” speaks volumes about where we are right now as people. It’s timeless.
TFF: The LGBT community adores you. Why do you think your lyrics and artistry resonate with them so much?
DR: Awww. My babies. I think they have a lot to relate to as far as going to war with people who don’t understand them. They have been fighting for a long time to get the respect that they deserve and be able to create life the way they desire. For me love has no color, no look and no gender. I’m also a big fan of androgyny which I think my LGBT following likes. I play with androgyny a lot and I love it, and I love the idea of not knowing whether it’s a woman or a man in a photo. That is art to me. I think that’s why it resonates so firmly with my fan base. When you move, and live, and feel, and you become art, you are accepted.
TFF: Last question. Tell us about one of the strangest or craziest experiences you’ve had as an artist.
DR: Kaleena and I were in Dirty Money and we were in Brazil working with Puff. Things are always moving fast with him and when he leaves his entourage leaves with him. We were getting ready to board a flight back home and Puff told us to give or passports to his assistant. He left on an earlier flight and after a while we realized we didn’t know where he was, we didn’t know where his assistant was with our passports, and we were stuck in Brazil. He had forgotten about us and was chillin in first class. Once the plane was moving he asked where we were and they came back and got us. We thought we were gonna be like Claire Danes on ‘Broke Down Palace’. Just another day with Puff.