Dawn Richard is a successful solo artist, formerly a member of the groups Danity Kane and Dirty Money. She is now independent with a distribution deal with Altavoz, and promoting the release of the first album within a trilogy. "Goldenheart" is coming January 15th, and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Dawn spoke with Examiner.com's Brownie about her influences, the album, and the independent artist grind.
I love seeing independent artists out here grinding without the label backing, doing everything on their own. That must make the success of your EP, "Armor On," that much more fulfilling for you.
Dawn Richard: It's exciting. Going #1 in three hours was one thing, but we just put out a Christmas EP that's available on iTunes right now called "Whiteout," and it charted in nine hours at #7 on iTunes on the R&B charts. So we continue to chart with no label, with no features, just kind of us going hard in the paint. And like you said, it's so rewarding. And now, coming up January 15th-- we were able to get a distribution company, so we're able to put this album in stores, and that's huge for us. So I'm really excited to be able see people buying it on the shelves.
I really found out how talented and versatile you are as a part of Dirty Money. I loved the sound of the group-- that sort of "futuristic soul" as one Bad Boy A&R described it. But not just the music, but the way Dirty Money dressed, the style of the music videos, all of that. How did those things influence your current look and your current sound?
It's just different looks. With Dirty Money, that was a distinct look that Puff was going for for the group and we had our say in it. It was kind of this edgy, kind of New Age soul-type vibe that Puff was going for as far as the group is concerned. But as a solo artist, and especially with "Goldenheart," with this trilogy, I'm going for a way different look. And the armor has a lot to do with it. For me, my influences for this album are Tilda Swinton and Grace Jones. Those are my two favorites. I want to push the adrogyny level with this look for this album so we're incorporating a lot of armor with couture. Mixing Alexander McQueen with say, custom armor pieces. That's really what we're going for. Something a little bit more... me.
Your EP "Armor On" was released back in March. The critics loved it, your fans loved it, I really liked the track "SMFU (Save Me From U)." For your fans, how is the sound of "Goldenheart" going to be different from "Armor On"?
"Goldenheart" is the actual full-throttle, no reservations kind of version of what we've put out so far. "Armor On" was kind of a sneak peek or a tastemaker to what you were going to hear from "Goldenheart." All the influences and the sounds that we used in "Armor On" will be amplified in "Goldenheart." I think everybody who's followed me from Danity Kane, and then to the newcomers to the movement later on, there's something literally for everybody. And I think people who wanted that same sound that they loved from "A Tell Tale Heart" (the mixtape that I put out), will fall in love just as much as the people who loved the music from "Armor On" and "Whiteout." So what we've done is kind of like a book. We've incorporated everything into this album.
The following albums are going to be "Blackheart" and "Redemptionheart." Why the decision to do it as a trilogy?
I'm a fan of series, and I feel like the journey of what I've gone through can't be told in one book, can't be told in one album, and it can't be told in one story. Everything has a rise, a fall, and a recovery. And that's kind of what my story has been. I feel like what better way to do it, instead of trying to throw it all on one album, is to do it in parts, where people can fall in love with it as it progresses. Similar to how you love a series. If you look at the "Twilight" series or the Harry Potter books, or if you look at all [of] those series books that have these cult-like fans, I wanted to do something like that... similar to it, but with an album where people can revert back to the first album [and] they can really dissect how much passion was in the words-- in the lyrics of the story.
The single is "'86," and to "86" something is to get rid of it, to throw it out... why did you choose that for the title of the single?
I felt like it was a double meaning. 86 of course is to get rid of something, and the other part of it is the song has an '80s influence. We took some sounds from Cyndi Lauper and Prince, that '80s sound, and kind of incorporated it into this record, and put a historical delivery that was more modern on top of something that was classic. And that's what we came up with [for] "'86." I'm really proud of it because it really does seem like a classic and timeless record.
It's almost ethereal. Very unique in its sound; great lyrics.
And I'm proud of that because I feel like the album, and really the sound of what we're going for, is an ethereal R&B sound-- it just has way more movement. You can dance to it.
I know your fans are looking forward to seeing you-- are you going to be performing soon? Touring at all?
I will definitely be touring. I will be touring [at the] top of the year, right after the album drops, so I'm real proud of that. And we'll definitely be going overseas as well because we've been receiving a ridiculous amount of love from the U.K., from France, and Australia. And it's really surprising because we haven't really gone out there or supported that market yet, and we charted with "Whiteout," with the EP, as well as the "Armor On" EP out there as well. So there will definitely be a tour overseas as well as domestically.
I know your fans are looking forward to that, and I know they want to keep in touch with you in the mean time. They can follow you on Twitter @DawnRichard...
On Twitter @DawnRichard, and DawnRichardBlog.com. And actually you can pre-order "Goldenheart" right now; it's on Amazon.com, you can pre-order the album right now. Also, I love for people to want to get involved. Kind of like when "Twilight" is about to come out, you go see the first and second one because the third one is about to come out-- if you guys want to brush up on the sounds, both the EPs are available on iTunes right now.