SheiFunmi Interviews Dawn Richard
We first met her six years ago, on the third iteration of MTV’s Making The Band where and when she wowed Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, the nation and the world over with her beauty, amazing vocals and super star qualities as she competed for and won a spot on Diddy’s female supergroup – Danity Kane.
She would go on to release two consecutive Billboard chart topping albums with the group before it’s disbandment in 2009 – a feat which put Dawn and her group in Billboard history as the first female group to ever debut their first two albums at the top of the Billboard album charts.
Last year – as part of Mr. Combs’ Diddy-Dirty Money – she released the commercially and critically acclaimed album Last Train to Paris and earlier this year, she put her solo artist foot forward with the release of her debut mixtape The Prelude to A Tell Tale Heart to great reception.
With her major label debut album GoldenHeart scheduled for release in the Fall of 2011, we catch up with DAWN RICHARD for a compelling chat about “heart music”, manga , the making of Diddy-Dirty Money and so much more…
You first burst unto our screen on the third series of MTV’s Making the Band, can you tell us about that time and what you took from that experience up until this point?
Making the band was a risk for me. Coming from New Orleans, there aren’t plenty opportunities. I saw one and took it. And it was the best decision I ever made. It prepared me for all the obstacles and rewards I’ve had through out the years.
As part of Danity Kane between 2005 and 2009, you’ve had two #1 albums and two top ten singles, can you tell us a bit more about that time and how it was working with the rest of Danity Kane?
It was a great journey! We broke records and knock down walls people put up in front us. They thought we weren’t going to sell! We fought for better! No one can take those numbers, sales, and records away from us.
What was the creative process like in making those two albums – Danity Kane and Welcome to the Dollhouse?
The first album, no one gave us the chance to write, the second album we made sure they knew we could write. I wrote over 20 records. I was persistent.. I wanted them to know we weren’t just a manufactured group. We were artists.
Going further from Danity Kane, you began writing for Cassie and Diddy as we heard and then Diddy-Dirty Money comes up, can you tell us how Diddy-Dirty Money came about?
After Danity Kane was over, I refused to think my career was done. So I got into my writing even more. Started submitting like 6 records a day to Puff. I wanted him to know his hustle was no different than mine. He asked if I would write for his new project. I heard the tracks and I knew.. I dreamed the way the music sounded. It was an easy “yes”. I guess he loved the way our energy was in the studio. All 3 of us. What started as us just being writers, became us being a group
I know you must get this a lot but what’s it like working with Diddy?
Its the best learning experience any artist could have.
You’ve just been on a nationwide tour with Diddy-Dirty Money, do you have any favorite tour stories for your fans at SheiFunmi.com
When puff and I both ripped our pants first show. We go hard! I looked at it as good luck. Bad shit happens out the gate, means a great tour hahaha.
OK let’s talk about Dawn Richard – the solo artist. Earlier in the year, you released your debut mixtape – A Prelude to A Tell Tale Heart and we’re expecting a major label release A Tell Tale Heart. Can you first of all tell us about that title and the significance of that title?
I’m a huge Edgar Allen Poe fan. And “A Tell Tale Heart” is my fav of his works. I felt like my journey was similar to the moral of the story. I wanted people to fall inside my heart literally… And feel my journey. I call it “heart music” – music of and from the heart.
What’s the creative process like making records from a solo point of view – for Dawn Richard – as against for Dirty Money or for Danity Kane?
Its pretty similar. I’m really picky about records. It has to have substance. I need the story sonically and lyrically to make sense. The only difference, is I can be more creative. More myself.
What’s your major label solo debut sounding like? What’s the sound, vibe and feel of the album? What should we expect from this record
Raw and B, its an experience. A call to arms.. Its a conceptual album. The visual goes hand and hand with the sound. Dance is just as important as the melody
Looking at your blog, it comes off as a very creative space – loads of great fashion, photography and also the music you list as your favorite – how did you develop such a great level of style and creativity?
I just love art in all forms. I’ve always been this way.
Going back to Danity Kane for one brief second, can you tell us about the Danity Kane comic which you created?
I’ve been a fan of manga and japanese art since I was a kid. Always wanted to have a comic and animated series. I joined forces with eigo manga and we created the comic. The graphic novel is now on sale at barnesandnoble.com
Is there anything you cannot do???
Probably but I refuse to think so haha
Taking a slight travel back in time, can you tell us about the 2005 album you released as Dawn Angelique – Been A While. Not many people know of that record, can you tell us how that record came about?
My father was my manager and as a solo artist I wrote and produced my own album with my father.
That was my first solo album.
A lot of people might not know this but you were an NBA cheerleader with the New Orleans Hornets, tell us about that? You were studying at University of New Orleans at the time, can you tell us what you were studying and why?
Marine Biology. My parents were strict about education. So school was important. I loved the ocean and dolphins and manatees. So that was my concentration in school. I studied in the morning and sing and danced at night. the grind
Interview Edited by: Ayodele Adepoju