Songstress, actor and lover of all things anime, ex-Danity Kane member Dawn Richard gives us the low down on taking complete charge of her solo career!
Ex-member of famous girl group “Danity Kane” to now paving streets with gold as she empowers women across the globe to take charge of their own destinies. Dawn Richard’s sparked her way as a global superstar from her notorious audition on “Making The Band 3” back in 2004, and found herself floating from Bad Boy Entertainments to Own Dawn Entertainment where she reins high in full creative control of her magical sounds.
Originally from New Orleans, Dawn Richard’s blood has been flowing with musical harmonies ever since she can remember. With a family who were heavily involved in the music and performing arts industry, this seemed like the path destined for Richard’s arrival. Now flash forward to the 21st century and Richard’s has escaped the patriarchial music industry of the 2000s and crafted her own sound. Fusing her passionate love for myths, magic, comics and spirituality DAWN has an angelic yet immensely powerful distinctive sound she has perfected alongside her conceptual visuals. Delving into manga, anime and fanatical stories, DAWN carefully crafts her spiritual thoughts and sci-fi fanatics into her high energy production, giving her supporters a sound and a visual they cannot find elsewhere. With five albums under her belt as well as slowly making her way into the big screens after her appearances in “Izzy’s Way Home” (2016), “Kinky”(2018) and “Five Weddings” (2018), DAWN has a crafty eye and is always on the lookout for more creative ventures, be it music, acting or fashion Dawn Richard with her stage name as DAWN is a name that will roll out of everyone’s lips if not now, very very soon.
We sit down with the myth herself to dig a bit deeper into how the magic begun…
Originally rising to fame from a talent show and a commercialised girl group in the 2000s to now moving to a distinctive experimental artist, what was the highs and low’s of this shift from mainstream to solo artist?
The high was gaining creative control of my career. Not compromising my vision or aesthetic. I became an entrepreneur as well as an artist. The low was being boxed and not supported because I was a black woman owning my own lane. I was received in pop culture only when I was among white girls in a girl group. The moment I stepped out on my own i was viewed as an oddity for pushing pop and electronic with soul music. That was new for me. But that shit didn’t stop me… It fueled me.
As a lover of animation, comics and manga have you been able to incorporate this creative style within your work, and how has the concept of Japanese art influenced your artwork?
In every visual I do you can see those influences. I named my girl group after an anime character that I drew in high school. I started out the gate applying my influences. You can see a lot of it in my use of tech as well. Working with VR long before other artists were experimenting with it. Releasing my album as a VR piece was a huge homage to Japanese tech design and animation. Working with Adult Swim is yet another example, collaborating with them on animation and music has been a highlight in my career and an opportunity to push women and POC in a space they have been marginalised in.
What is your favourite manga, comic and anime?
Bleach. One Punch Man. Assassination Classroom
Your music is hugely conceptual, filled with a grand amount of spiritual meanings, cultural and historical beliefs down to the lyricism, set design and production. What type of experience are you aiming to create for your listeners and why is it important to you that they experience this?
I’m creating hopefully a cathartic experience for them. One that invokes pride of culture, heritage, and love of self. For those that have been oppressed or may have been cast out. The others. It’s about liberation. It’s freedom. And for women of colour, it’s an opportunity to see themselves any way they choose without limitations. As a robot. As queer. as binary. As an anime. As an entity. As a god. As a King.
In what ways has your childhood influenced who you are as an artist today?
New Orleans taught me survival through culture. My family taught me tenacity through love. That’s a mean ass combination for a black woman. I was built for this because of them.
Becoming vegan way before it was a trend, what does this way of life mean to you as an artist and an individual?
It saved my family. It gave my father new hope when he was diagnosed with cancer. I went on that journey with him. And I never left. The karma, my love for animals, the way we feel, and the enlightenment is something that works for me. I encourage people to at least try the journey. It isn’t for everyone. But it damn sure works for me.
Could you tell us one low and one high of your musical career and how have you grown from these experiences?
The high is always the fans. The movement. The people you touch and who touch me. That’s priceless. To know we are healing each other, that’s a real feeling. The low is the uphill battle for independent artists to get more opportunities. Things are changing. But I’m greedy. I want shit to happen faster. We work too damn hard to not have more access or platforms. But believe I’m working to change that.
Travelling around the world and working in the studio all hours, how do you find your peace of mind and what are your methods of self-care?
I’m telling myself to know when to stop. That’s been something I’ve had to practice. Black people sometimes feel guilty for taking a break. Like we have to always be working to stay ahead. But that leads to stress, a soul worn, and an early grave. We have to know when to breathe and take in the journey. I used to work so hard I’d forget to sleep. Like literally 3 days no sleep. I felt guilty or lazy if I didn’t take up all 24 hours of the day. Especially doing everything DIY. I felt I had to stay ahead to stay with the pace of the industry. But as I’ve grown I’ve learned that loving yourself is also taking care of yourself. External success can’t be appreciated without internal progress. I’m learning that daily. I’m still a workaholic, but I’ve learned to take time too. I’m not really concerned about the industry anymore. I’m concerned about creating a legacy I can be proud of. That’s success for me.
Could you give us a few words on the meaning, concept and ideas behind the music video “new breed” (why is this track important to you)?
We changed the Robert E Lee statue in New Orleans into a black native indigenous woman. The idea was purposeful. In Louisiana there is extreme racism still happening today. The fight to not take that statue down, or the fact that we have streets in New Orleans named after him is one of the reasons I’m so vocal about helping our culture progress forward. New Breed is a “Fuck You” anthem for black women who have been treated like they haven’t been the gatekeepers to important moments in society. We will no longer pander or be quiet. We are Kings. And I wanted a visual that spoke to that attitude. So I said fuck it and removed Robert E Lee my damn self and put a true leader there and I dare anyone to think I care how they feel about it.