UO MUSIC: DAWN RICHARDJanuary 19, 2017
Dawn Richard is not just a singer and songwriter, but an artist adding more and more strings to her eclectic bow. Her passion projects include animation, emerging technologies, fashion and film. With the release of her latest album, and the final part in the trilogy, Redemption is a tale of recovery and understanding after the ecstacy of Goldenheart, her first album and the fall in Blackheart, the second album. We took the opportunity to catch up with Dawn about her ambitions to combine music, fashion and tech on a global scale, creating worlds through VR and realising many achievements through hard work and an unwavering vision.
UO: How do you think growing up in New Orleans shaped you, your influences, and your sound?
New Orleans is a pulse. It’s a culture. That in itself is what has shaped my music. The culture, the cadence, the fashion in each trilogy is in the seams of my music.
UO: How important is it for artists to make observations on the world through their music? Or is it more about telling personal stories for you?
I think to confine artists with opinions of what they should do with their art would be counter intuitive to the very message my music sends. The only important thing any artist should do is to create what they feel.
UO: What is your biggest musical aspiration?
To combine fashion, tech, and music on a global level. To keep innovating and pushing the perspectives of the viewer and listener.
UO: The visual story of Redemption is particularly striking. Can you tell us a little about the concept and ideas behind the finished aesthetic?
The VR piece is meant to take you on a voyage of liberation. To put you in an atmosphere and let go. It’s tribal, it’s futuristic, it’s ethereal.
UO: What is the role of visual art in your music?
Visual art is the narrator of the entire trilogy. It’s the “person” telling my story, even while I’m the writer.
UO: You have an interest in VR and emerging technologies – how do you hope to harness new technologies to work alongside your music?
There is a fascination and respect I have for creating worlds. I appreciate augmented reality as it allows you to bring someone into a space you control and generate a far more honest emotion. Feel what you feel and see what you see. I think in music you already connect through sound. Lyrics can tell a story to create a feeling. To bring those worlds together to me creates a pure reaction that I’m all too ready to give. By creating the USB Album and giving listeners and viewers the option to wear an album is only the beginning. They can also wear the VR experience around their necks and take it with them to share with others. I love that we are doing this and much more.
UO: What is something you have achieved that you never thought you could?
3 albums 4 EPs 15 visuals, Live VR performances, A VR interactive experience, and putting an album on a USB, all with no major funding, no management, no major label, no radio support, no cosigns. Just a small team and a vision. We didn’t know it would be this amazing. We only hoped and believed.
UO: Redemption is a fantastic blend of sounds and genres. How do you make these seemingly disparate elements work together? And what kind of narrative did you hope to convey by combining all these elements?
I know what I hear in my head and I just ask that my amazing team trusts me. Sometimes they question it but then they believe in my direction. I’m lucky to have a great producer that works with me and trusts my ear and my production as well. Machinedrum and Noisecastle III are complete dreams to work with.
UO: How do you feel Redemption is a progression from the previous albums in the series, Blackheart and Goldenheart? What has changed?
Life changed. I became. That made Redemption different.
UO: You have many interests and ambitions outside of music – what are some other passion projects you hope to begin or complete this year and in the future?
Animation is huge for me. Working with Adult Swim has been a dream. I have some great animating projects on the way. Acting as well. I have a few films coming our in the new year.
Shop: Dawn Richard: Redemption Vinyl