Say hello to Barbados artist DWN in the latest instalment of Clarks Originals’ 'Clarks In Jamaica' inspired story, highlighting trailblazing female artists making Island Pop.
On a mission to share their unique love affair with Jamaica, Clarks Originals’ latest campaign highlights four of the Caribbean’s emerging female artists – NAVY, Arii Lopez, BlvckHaze, and DWN, ready to revolutionize female empowerment and unity in music.
A new year marks a new campaign for the number one footwear brand in the Caribbean – Clarks Originals. Holding a special in the hearts of islands for the last 60 years, Clarks Originals have set trends across several islands, especially Jamaica. Launched in 1825 in Somerset, England, the Clarks trend in Jamaica started back in the late 1960s when the emerging youth culture adopted the footwear as part of their school uniform. Becoming a prominent piece of attire in Jamaican street culture mostly for the ‘rude boy movement’, Clarks Originals has remained in the hearts of islanders for almost 60 years and has no plans on stopping anytime soon. Helping to rebuild what it means to be free and comfortable, their latest campaign is their best one yet.
With Clarks Originals no longer being limited to Jamaica, the footwear has crossed over to several islands including Dominica, Trinidad, Tobago, and St. Lucia. This year, their new campaign is all about telling their astonishing connection with Jamaica and its culture rooted in richness, grace and bold rhapsodic confidence. Through the eyes of four women signed to the Pretty Boy Worldwide – the first Island Pop label, Clarks Originals is destined to show in 2021 that the female lead story in the Caribbean is no longer going to get lost.
The power of female empowerment is deeply embedded in Clarks Originals’ latest campaign, Clarks in Jamaica, wants to showcase how important it is to find the next wave of women in music and support their story growth in the music industry. Sitting down with singer/performer DWN via Zoom from Barbados, we discussed how she got started in the music industry, her love and admiration for Stevie Wonder, the pros and cons of being a woman in music and working during COVID. As the most recent signee to Pretty Boy Worldwide, DWN is ready to go global and take centre stage. With the release of her most recent single “Wrong Turn”, the red-headed singer is proving that hard work pays off as her unique and powerful vocals have not only caught the eyes of many but landed her on Spotify’s official Fresh Finds: The Wave playlist.
Born and bred in Blackrock, Barbados, DWN (pronounced Dawn) spent her childhood falling in love with music thanks to her grandfather who used to be a guitarist. Building up the confidence to eventually learn how to play herself, DWN would practice the guitar every time she would visit. “He would start singing songs by Elvis Presley and all the different icons from back in the day. My grandfather was the one who taught me how to read music notes, finger the guitar and where to place my fingers to how to play”. After majoring in music at BCC Barbados Community College, DWN decided set off on her career path. Influenced by Jazmine Sullivan, Brandy, Charlie Puth, Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill as her main idols, DWN expresses her appreciation for Stevie Wonder and tells us how he has played an essential part in her moulding as an artist.
“When it comes to Stevie Wonder, I feel that he and I have common characteristics. His way of putting different genres together and fusing and making a good sound is amazing to me. You can’t put a genre on his music, it’s a crazy creative way of mixing jazz, funk and pop that he does so well and so does Bruno Mars”. She continues, “their versatility is what fascinates me because they can make a reggae song one day and a ballad the next and they will both become hits. They don’t lose themselves when they create music. One of the main things I admire about both of them is how confident they are in their work. They always leave that stroke of genius in their music and what they produce never sounds the same. It always sounds like something that takes years to construct, and that’s what makes it timeless”.
Since March last year, the global pandemic has changed the way music is not only recorded but distributed. Telling me about her experience, DWN reflects on how she manoeuvred during this difficult time.
“Before I signed to Pretty Boy, I was a backup singer for a lot of our local artists, and since the beginning of lockdown all the studios and venues shut down which all stopped their events. It became tough, especially financially, because we didn’t know how we would survive. We were all in ‘What are we gonna do now’ mode, but luckily for me, after meeting Trevor and becoming a part of this team, I’ve found myself musically and can now support myself. When it came to recording new music, we as an independent label had the privilege of living and working with our producers. We have our resources, which is recommendable. We always find the lead and find a way to make it work. That made working during COVID easier. We all remained positive and kept the hard work and dedication at a high level”.
Asking her what is most important to you when it comes to breaking down barriers as a female artist in the music industry, she tells me “It’s annoying that the first thing people in the music industry see before they even hear my music is that I’m a woman. People think that this barrier has broken before with people like Lizzo and Rihanna, but it’s still kind of hard and needs fixing”.
She continues, “With me being a Barbadian, it’s important for me not just to be stuck in a certain type of genre but being more versatile with my body of work. Not allowing people to put me in a soca category or a reggae category but be more involved in pop and R&B; being allowed to be confident in my skin and comfortable with who I am. I don’t want to change for anybody or change to fit a certain mould of what people say is acceptable in the music industry. I want all my fans, especially the young girls, to know that you can do whatever you want by just being yourself and remaining true to who you are”.
Joining her label mates BlvckHaze, Navy and Arii Lopez in the Clarks in Jamaica campaign, DWN stands out for all the right reasons with her big and bright trademark red hair. Telling me what excites her the most about joining her label mates in the campaign, she says: “Growing up, all I knew was Clarks, and if you didn’t own a pair, you were a nobody. It’s such an honour to be a part of this not just because they are a big name and they hold a special place in our culture but because they have changed fashion footwear. “Being able to be a voice and representation for my generation is exciting. Standing alongside my home sisters Navy, Arii and Blvckhaze, it’s surreal, and I wouldn’t change this feeling for anything”.
With her first EP, which is coming in two parts ‘Volume One’ and ‘Volume Two’, DWN is ready to share her talents and creations with those that have supported her from day one. “For ‘Volume One’, it focuses on me getting out of a relationship and the pain of that and ‘Volume Two’ is all about me being the bad bitch that I am and living life without that person. I can’t wait for my fans and the rest of the world to hear what I have made”.