Dawn Duchess Interview
SBS: The notorious Dawn Duchess! Welcome home my friend – it’s great to have you up on our pages once again. We’ve been rockin’ solid with ya for about three years now…and according to what I know, you’ve been doin’ your thang for about eight-plus at this point. What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned throughout your career that helps guide you even to this day when it comes to being an artist & making music? What would you say sets you apart from the rest out there?
Dawn D: Hey, man! I know it took me a while, so thanks a lot for your patience. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning new business aspects and wanted to make sure I sat down at a time my mind was clear to relax and have fun while I answer these questions.
That’s something I’ve definitely learned is to have fun with the music. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up trying to make a dollar and the heart and soul gets taken away from the art!
I used to try so hard to be “relevant,” as time went by I realized I was losing my drive.
I didn’t know how to balance the art with the business part. Me having that rebellious spirit that, “I’m gonna do it MY WAY and my way only,” caused a lot of setbacks but it taught me a lot of other skills. I had to learn how to be more than just an artist. So when it comes to being different there’s no lane like mine; completely as an independent artist, I get to create my own sound and image and its one that hasn’t existed yet.
SBS: Let’s crack into what’s good & what’s up right away here…how’s your summer been? How have you spent your time in 2019 and what’s been happening lately with the music of Dawn Duchess? Last time we had you up on our pages was back in April with the release of your single “Take No Loss” – fill us all in on what you’ve been up to since then!
Dawn D: I really had fun and put time into doing “Ready.” I had to travel to Atlanta a couple times to work with my good friend Austin Taylor. He’s a film graduate, and has shot music videos for me in the past that came out really amazing. See, he knows all the technical things and basics to really putting a scene together so I like that it came out looking like a horror movie.
“Ready” is off an old mixtape (B4iBreak), which I wasn’t happy with so it got snatched off the internet. The song was still one of my favorites cause I loved the lyrics and felt it still needed visuals.
My last single, “Take No Loss” was important to me cause I’m trying to get back into that classic storytelling music vibe, but “Ready” had a lot more unapologetic, gritty energy!
I want more people to check it out and let me know which vibes are THEIR favorite!
That’s mostly what I’ve been doing lately, is studying what people respond to or demand more of. I’ve got so much unreleased material I want to put out so I’m updating my website very often and listening to the feedback of my audience.
Oh, but it’s all kind of stuff on there now like blog articles and short stories (I’ve been doing all kinds of writing lately), Youtube video blogs featuring behind-the-scenes recording sessions with some new artist I been working with, and a lot of Live Show Performances of places I travelled during the Summer.
SBS: Here’s where I’m at…this is what I see in you Dawn Duchess, take it or leave it. I’ve always felt that, when it comes to making music, you’ve had your head in the game from day one – or at the very least, since we jumped onto your bandwagon back in 2017. In my opinion, I’d easily call you a ‘serious’ artist…don’t get me wrong, we’ve heard some party-vibes from you too along the way, but for the most part, it’s always felt like the music you create comes from the heart & you truly consider your words – know what I mean? I’m sure you can throw down in a party situation til the damn sun comes up, but my point I suppose, is that you’ve always taken your career seriously…you plan the moves you’re making & you’ve genuinely got something to say on the ol’ m-i-c. Now…maybe I’m right about all that, maybe I’m not…I’ll leave that with you, that’s just my impression. But according to the notes I’ve got here and what I’ve seen in the new video/single for your track “Ready” – you’ve headed into ‘darker’ terrain this time around & you’re putting a different aspect of your writing, mindset, and lyrics on display with this latest cut. So what caused the shift? “Ready” itself technically comes from the B4iBreak mix-tape does it not? You’ve put out several singles past that record that aren’t on it since it came out back in 2017 – what made 2019 a better time to shift the focus back to that song…why is now the time for “Ready?” The previous version of “Ready” from back in 2017 was produced by Khalid Music…and now this latest version is produced by ParadiseNovmber – did you feel like the song still had room for improvement between then & now? What’s changed about “Ready” – aside from the fact that it’s got a video now?
Dawn D: It’s literally the same song, the producer’s name changed on the title so it could be searched through social media for the video. I redid the vocals @BruceBennettStudio, so the sound on the video is much better but it’s still the same song though.
It almost took a year to complete the video cause I had to go back and forward to Atlanta a couple of times to redo some scenes; we were really trying to give it that ‘look,’ so after looking at the first cuts, it was Austin’s idea to, like, create a small set in the bathroom and add the tub scene.
Before we started shooting I just told him what was on my mind when I was writing the lyrics and it’s like he dug into my imagination and just brought the whole concept to life.
I feel like the time the song dropped until the video was released was perfect timing.
I just wanted to be different during a time in HipHop where the partying, and the twerking, and the drugs, and let’s just live fast, now worry later mentality is outshining the true story behind where it all comes from. I just want the music to get people thinking, and feeling something again. Most of my music comes from a dark place, lyrically, but the message is sugarcoated by aggressive beats and fun, catchy hooks that make’em “party songs.”
“Ready” was just straight bars to the point.
My way of manifesting to the world that I’m ready for the next level.
It’s a big game out there, I just never want people to get bored or EXPECT anything from #DuchessMusic
SBS: We should talk about that video though yo. “Ready” IS dark, no doubt about it, you know it, I know it, ANYONE that would watch this, would definitely pick up on that. I mean…you’re either passed out or dead on the couch when we see you in those first shots, and then we see ya in the bathtub covered in blood as well…it’s a heavy video Dawn D! Fill us in on what we might be missing though, as best you can…like…are we looking at a possible future here? One that you found your way to avoid – or is what we’re seeing onscreen still something you feel like could happen to you one day? What’s up? Is this perhaps where The Duchess might have ended up if you hadn’t found your way to a music career?
Dawn D: Oh my gosssh, I’m really happy you noticed!
…I thought I scared my fan base off with that one (lol)
I say that because the views didn’t pour in the way they usually do but a lot of people messaged me saying they loved it! Some even asked ‘Why so dark”
Soooo, it’s cause this…
Hip Hop is Dark!
When you go back early on it has always expressed some sort of struggle. Even today, lyrically, these rappers are talking about being heartbroken and angry; this time I just told it exactly like it is, straight forward. The point was to hold a mirror to society and say “Everything we praise, this is what it looks like.”
The particular bathroom scene was symbolic to the music; the pressure it comes with, the journey of finding yourself, the drugs that are used to cope; etc. etc. I’ve really always wanted to make deep videos like this but sometimes it’s just easier to go with what’s popular or more accepted.
This time I just had to get it off my chest so instead of doing a video about partying and dancing, I showed another side to that lifestyle. I’ve had my own struggles with sobriety and of course it’s become very common for entertainers to take it too far and end up in some terrible conditions. So not that I just intentionally wanted to be dark but I really wanted to put something out to show another side of what goes on in my mind as well.
It’s really not ALL fun and rap games, ALL the time.
SBS: Define success as you see it Dawn. Is there a point in your career that you feel like you’d be satisfied with what you’d accomplished & be able to walk away from it, knowing you achieved everything you set out to achieve? Or are you in this right up until you’re six-feet under and there’s always going to be a new goal, new level, new breakthrough, still to be found at every point in your journey as an artist? What will confirm that you accomplished everything you set out to do?
Dawn D: There’s always going to be new goals after every level. Once you stop creating dreams it means you’re dead. And some people die on the inside while they’re still living, that’s the worst feeling ever!
At some point I actually felt dead or bored with life cause I wasn’t doing what I wanted or didn’t feel anything was new or exciting anymore.
Music is just a little stepping stone for me. Honestly, I always wanted to act! Play characters and become different people on the screen, so for me, I use music to practice my acting. I’m really such a shy person I have to pretend I’m on set before I do live interviews or go on stage.
I’m putting more b-roll and stories in the new videos and maybe even some skits, just to bring the mini movie look into my music. I do a lot of background work for TV shows and it really helps me understand and learn more about lighting, angles, controlling stage presence, building anticipation, and that really helps me come up with new ideas to incorporate into my own videos!
All in all, it sounds so cliché but, I want to be a TV star! I used to looove seeing my favorite artist pop up on sitcoms, then go from there to the big screen leading films.
SBS: Now…I can’t imagine a world where you don’t already have something new probably already cookin’ up in the background here…so what can you tell us about the future to come for The Duchess? What’s next on the list of things you’re taking on and what can we hope for when it comes to your music for the rest of 2019 & coming up in 2020? Live shows? New record? New videos? What’s crackin’?
Dawn D: FIRST I want to shout out Gipetto Hodge! He is an indie film director in Atlanta who put Dawn Duchess Music in his short film called, Follow(h)er and it will be showing in one of their theater’s this October. It’s a short horror about a popular social media star who gets stalked by one of the crazed followers!
…right up my alley, huh 🙂
So the music’s there… I’m just waiting to hear back from the fans. I’m open for bookings RIGHT NOW by contacting DawnDuchess@gmail.com
Fans can stay tuned and get updates on that as well as notifications on new music sneak peeks by joining DawnDuchess.com mailing list!
Like I said, I’m just doing all kinds of writing…I got RnB hooks (singers can contact my email too) if anyone needs a writer! But DEFINITELY want people to check out the #InsideMyMind blogs tab on the http://www.DawnDuchess.com site cause I’ll have a new short story up there soon that’s almost a fictional novel version of the video! THAT short story is called ‘A Twisted Tale’.
SBS: Open floor homie – you can say anything else you’d like to say to the people direct, right here in this space below. It has been REAL Dawn D! Always a pleasure to get another opportunity to work with ya & thanks for taking a timeout to answer all these questions – truly much appreciated. I’ll leave it at that for now, because I KNOW we’ll be seeing & hearing you again soon – you never let us down when it comes to having new music for us & you’re still clearly on the way up…I’m positive it won’t be long until we hear something new from The Duchess again…and again…and again. I wouldn’t have it any other way – you’re one of the heroes in our universe – keep up the great work Dawn & keep in touch!
Dawn D: Hey, no problem at all! I love the passion sleepingbagstudios puts behind getting the news out. Let’s keep getting those views. There’s plenty music coming but I’m really waiting to hear more feedback from the people once I leak some snippets, which will mostly be on Youtube or twitter.
I’ll be back sooner than later to talk about new projects 😉
Just want everybody to TUNE IN & help spread #DuchessMusic music!
I’m trying to create a new wave that motivates all!
@Duchessnation via Twitter
Link details to movie https://m.imdb.com/title/tt9243878/