OUR 2021 WOMAN OF THE YEAR: DAWN RICHARD!
No other independent artist works as hard as Dawn Richard. THERE, I said it! She's a light in this world & is unselfishly illuminating a path for every woman in male dominated industries, tirelessly working to create paths that ‘he’ said she couldn’t! Since 2004 this light has been on & though it’s had it’s fair share of both luminosity and veiling, it’s core filament is IN-extinguishable! From pop, to r&b, to Danity Kane, Dirty Money & DK3, one undeniable vein persists; TALENT. Pure, unadulterated, voice like honey, vision & aesthetic light-years ahead, Dawn Richard is a sum of these incredible things. Since launching her solo, independent career on her terms, it’s as if at each project she metamorphasizes from butterfly to butterfly, discovering, exploring & sharing her new selves with us along the way. I personally remember the first time I heard her teaser single “Vibrate”, I knew then that this would be a voice we would hear forever. Today her journey takes her to places not often visited by women of color, unapologetically creating space specifically for black women in the electronic music frontier. While this expression may seem like it may not easily track with her initial core pop/soul/r&b audience, if any seeking ear would just have a listen, they'd soon realize that Dawn takes "Dawn", the soul of Dawn, the delicious SOUND of Dawn with her, BEYOND genre. When you visit her socials there is an almost endless flow of out of this world aesthetics, sonic & visual artistry. She produces content in a way that many artists can’t. There’s an eye for art there, hints of architecture, understanding of tapestry & landscape, modern, bold, loud, soft, immediate & intriguing. One can only imagine what drives her, fueling the magic that we’re all lucky enough to bear witness to in this lifetime. We wanted to find out this & much more from our deeply inspiring Woman of the Year. Tumbling around her past, present & future, this is the herstory of King Dawn Richard:
Photographed by: Alexander Le'Jo
As told to: Corey Guevarra, Editor In Chief
LET’S START FROM YOUR BEGINNING :) WHAT WAS BABY DAWN LIKE GROWING UP?
Hmmm baby Dawn (smiles) you know, I’ve always been in my own world, I’ve always seen things a certain way. -Not to my mom’s happiness btw, because if she said something was green, 9 times out of 10 my response was… “but it MIGHT be red” [lol]. I think she might’ve thought I was being defiant, it probably came off as “defiant Dawn” but really, it was… “dreamer Dawn”. -For me , it was less about it being green & more about “what could it be if it was red”? I don’t think I could articulate that curiosity as a kid, I was honestly just curious, but it might’ve come off as well… troublemaker. Really I just wanted to see if I could stretch the idea to something else! -That was ‘baby Dawn’ in everything. If I saw an opportunity to create something, make it it’s own world, that’s probably where I was.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER THIS BEAUTY IN YOUR THROAT? WHEN DID IT CLICK THAT YOU COULD SING?
Here’s the thing [as a kid] I never “LOVED” my vocals. I didn’t think I had a good voice. My father however, who is a music director & musician with a Master’s in music theory, HE could HEAR me. At the time he was the director of the choir, my mom was a dancer, she put me into dance school at 2, but when I was 5, my dad thought it would be a good idea to have me sing in our choir. We were catholic, but our choir had ‘soul’ :) -At the time I thought it was such a weird idea for him to put me in choir, I didn’t think my voice was good, but I think my dad KNEW, he knew. I didn’t understand what he was seeing or hearing from me, but he continued and began playing me songs by Otis Redding, Sade, Chaka Khan, etc., It wasn’t until THEN I realized “Ohh okay, its the tone!” I thought my voice was too deep, I thought I had no range, so my dad, with HIS ear again, put me in the choir as a soprano. The brilliance of him. I couldn’t sing as a soprano, so… I had to push and learn and eventually my falsetto got SO strong and my tone and my ability to stretch my vocal range grew…because of my dad!! He knew long before. It all fully resonated with me once I started listing to Delores from the Cranberries & live rock bands & all of the alternative indie kids that I loved, like Biff Naked. Those kind of voices with body & grit, sounding like cigar smoke and cognac [lol]….THAT’S when I knew I may have something really unique that I could work with. By then I was in my teens. I didn’t think I could make a career out of it, I just knew that I could sing these songs and they were dope to me. Songs like “Zombie” & the whole Cranberries album & like K’s Choice, those voices weren’t “perfect” they were gritty & it was in that time I thought “Ok, I’ve got something here”.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE YOUNG GIRL FROM 2004 AUDITIONING FOR MAKING THE BAND TODAY?
Ha. What would I tell gold weave, 2004 Dawn from “Making the Band” -Cause she had a gold weave, like full on yellow hair!
Um…. (pauses)…I would’ve told her to OWN it. I would’ve told her “you got this”! …I was so afraid because I was from the 9th ward of New Orleans, then randomly going to Orlando, to try out for a pop group! No-one [I knew] from my city had ever been on a television show of that magnitude, there were no “pop” stars from New Orleans -It was either rap or jazz. But I would’ve told myself “all those things that didn’t exist yet”? -That is you. Own it. Honestly I think I would’ve had a much better execution & maybe my personality would’ve shone more. I was just so focused and during the show you could see it because for me, I had one shot. So there was no fun, no playing, it was every moment mattered & though it got me here, I do feel like I would’ve told my younger self “nah but they can see that 9th ward Dawn, you can play a little, live in your sauce a little bit”. At the time I didn’t think I had the option to do that because I felt like I had New Orleans on my shoulders and I just didn’t wanna mess up that shot. But in all, in 2004 I would’ve said “Own that thang! own that yellow hair, own that gold weave girl!!” :-)
Jumpsuit: L’jai Amor @ljaiamor
Earrings - Ashley Bebley @itsallculture_statementjewelry
IF YOU COULD GO BACK & CHANGE ANYTHING IN YOUR ENTIRE JOURNEY WOULD YOU? (IF SO WHAT/WHY?)
Whether it was Dirty Money or Danity Kane, I feel like the universe sets you on a path specifically for you. I know that sounds hella cliche, but I think that I was supposed to go through all of that. Now it hasn’t been easy, my God it has not been easy, I have dealt with loss, homelessness, group breakup after group let down, BUT I wouldn’t change any of it. It made me this creative, It made me the “Woman of the Year” that you chose to pick now, It made me qualify to be a apart of so many experiences. I feel like, had I changed even the tiniest part of the journey, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. So I’m gonna let the universe have that and say I wouldn’t regret anything. It made me Dawn, it made the projects I have now what they are, It made me the creative I am!
WHAT IS THE BRAVEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
Hmmm….. I think the bravest thing I’ve ever done…. was getting in that [Making the Band] line. At that time, my parents weren’t feeling me doing music because it had let us down. I literally had $200 to my name, I was dancing in the NBA, I was in college, I was a senior. I was doing 21 hours each semester & I was set on living a completely different life. But honestly, I just took a chance. My parents were very clear telling me “do not go standing in that making the band line, they’re gonna let you down, you’re gonna fail, nobody wins those things”. But I GOT in that line. And though it was the wildest ride, my life would be COMPLETELY different had I not gotten in THAT line. I stayed like 5 miles away from where the auditions were being held because I couldn’t afford to stay close by & I WALKED to the auditions. I stayed in roach motel, it was so disgusting that hotel, but again $200 was all I had and well…. It changed my life forever.
IN ALL OF YOUR YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I’m proud that I was able to save my mom and dad from homelessness. Not the music or the entertainment, THAT is my biggest accomplishment. I will never forget. There is something truly powerful about watching your family work severely hard then lose EVERYTHING. That was the first time I saw my parents not know what to do. Parents do a very good job at protecting. Kids never know if they’re broke, we’re going to the best schools, rocking the best clothes, meanwhile your parents are struggling. So they did a great job protecting my brother and I from that. After Katrina, that was the first time, I knew they didn’t know what we were going to do, I saw that fear. And to be able to buy them their first home after that with the Danity Kane check, that will forever be the coolest shit I’ve ever experienced. That’s my biggest accomplishment, to be able to save my family when we had nothing.
WHAT’S THE FUNNIEST OR MOST COMEDIC THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE INDUSTRY THAT TO THIS DAY STILL MAKES YOU CHUCKLE?
[Smiles] Ok so... Danity Kane has had a LOT of funny things happen to us because we were the most “celebrated bootleg group” you will ever meet in your life! While everyone thought we were fly, the underlining fact was that no one thought that we would succeed, therefore we had to sew our own costumes specifically on the [Christina Aguilera] “Back to Basics” Tour. When I say sew I mean literally, our outfits were from Forever 21 (shoutout Forever 21! ;-) & we were in the back literally sewing our purchases into “costumes”. You could tell our personalities based off of what we would buy. My dumb ass [pauses...laughs]…I wanted a bustle! I wanted this like 1950’s bustle behind my outfit [I know y’all lol] …So Shannon being the better seamstress of the group sewed up my bustle for me. When we were on stage, ALL of the cotton and stuffing from the bustle came out in full dance, full performance! I look over, I could see Shannon’s threads unraveling on her skirt, I look over to the other side and I can see half of Drea’s collar falling off. All I could think was this was real life [lol] like we are on stage in front of thousands literally falling apart at the seams in real time, giving a good vocal and a good choreography and honestly it felt like “that” was always our situation, like this was by no means an isolated incident. There was never a time when we didn’t look like “sis your shoe string is coming out or your heel has fallen off or that weave -lets lock it in” [lol]...These things were consistent! Even the [MTV] VMA’s when our car couldn’t pick us up and we had to walk… like 6 miles we trekked to get our car in the cold. I swear I’m not making this up! -Mind you we were an MTV show and we couldn’t even get our car to go to the MTV VMAs! How were we this group that everybody loved yet we couldn’t buy a vowel to save our lives?! These times will always go down in history for us and I think that even though we’ve had our differences, we’ll always be able to sit down and laugh at those time when we look back. We were literally seamstress, hairstylists, makeup artists and duct-tape experts all at the same time and it was MAGNIFICENT :)
Cape - L’jai Amor @ljaiamor
Mask & Jewelry - Laura Estrada Jewelry @lauraestradajewelry
WHO IS DAWN? WHAT’S YOUR TRUE PERSONALITY LIKE?
Dawn is constantly in flux, constantly finding who she is tbh. I chuckle at people who say they “know who they are” because I think that we’re all constantly evolving. I am many things on any given day and I think it bleeds into my art that way. For what it’s worth, I’m still trying to understand who I am. What I DO know, is that I am a lover of creation, I am someone who appreciates possibilities and I am someone that wants the underdog to WIN. I believe I am a voice and vessel for those that feel marginalized and underappreciated because I understand that language, I spoke that language, I am that language. So if anything, though I am still discovering who I am, I know that I was built and made to open up opportunities for people…like me.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO SPACES OF ELECTRONICA, AFRO-FUTURISM & ULTIMATELY TO “I AM THE GENRE”?
If you’re from New Orleans, that answers the question right. We’re infusions of Sun Ra and the concept of funk and voodoo culture and African culture & Haitian culture and Native American culture. The headdress and the costume and the concept of the feather and this beauty of a melting pot is real in New Orleans. There are many nationalities, we were colonized by French, Spanish, rooted in Native American ancestry, there are so many things that encompass new Orleans as a gumbo. It’s not surprising that I would become a mini melting pot artist myself. So New Orleans is the core where I start and then I happen to be a black kid from the lower 9th ward who also loved electronica and alternative music. I grew up loving raves, I grew up being a punk kid, punk bands were my influence, my first concert was Green Day. So I was already the odd girl out. I had green and purple hair, loved anime, comic culture, gaming culture, etc., As I grew up though I found that not everything I loved was reflected directly in front of me, so I found it in music, in the bands that I loved. When I got in to Making the Band I wanted to be in A BAND, I had grown up loving bands! Cranberries, Bif Naked, No Doubt etc., but then I get into a pop band and we’re stifled. I had all these things I wanted to bring. Even the name, Danity Kane was not a “conventional” pop girl group name. But I remember pushing like let’s do something different, lets be like the rock groups that name themselves Hoobastank, why can’t we just be like...superheroes? -I never thought in a million years Puff [Daddy] would OK it. So a name that was an anime character became a pop girl group! Even back then, that was who I was. Once I got to Dirty Money, we started playing with electronica & European music and [boom the light bulb went on] I found my tribe!! Finally, I was doing the music that I’d always wanted to do. We were working with Rodney Jerkins, doing records that would easily play in Ibiza, like it was so Euro-sexy, so Euro-black & people hadn’t yet understood that concept. But dance music started in black culture! -Detroit, go-go music, Chicago, these were the elements of dance music, so we’re just doing what already embodied who we were. By the time I left Dirty Money, I knew what my journey was going to be. I had spent 3 years making some of the most innovative music & I didn’t wanna stop! So after leaving the groups I felt like the only way that could be the artist I’ve always wanted to be was as a solo artist & I just started going balls to wall! Finally creating all of the images and music I’d always grown up wanting to be. So electronica, anime, animation, virtual reality, headdresses, New Orleans culture, all those things that made me what I am, came together and I put them all into the artist I am now. You think about all of those things & they’re not linear, they’re not all one thing, so I couldn’t possibly be in one genre. Instead I created this melting pot genre for myself based off of all those influences and because no-one gave me shot, since they didn’t give me a lane, I made my own!
WOULD YOU SAY BEING AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST HAS ALLOWED YOU ALL THE FREEDOM TO SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND REINVENT YOUR SELF AGAIN AND AGAIN ON YOUR TERMS?
Being an indie artist…. At first I thought it was a curse, because at the time years ago to be indie was not hot. Having a label was the ONLY way you were making it. -Payola, the radio, we didn’t have the internet playing the part it plays today and to be a black girl, messing with genres, being indie was just like “good luck sis”. But, I had plan and I really wanted to create art I could feel so, I think now after 8 years, being indie is AMAZING!! I didn’t see myself as an indie artist but I had no choice and because I kept getting rejected, I got REALLY good at being indie. I got really good at D.I.Y. -Ok, y’all are saying you can’t afford to give me a stage -NP, I’ll build it. Can’t afford lighting? -I’ll figure out how to program. Can’t afford a music video? -I’ll become a director. That became the pattern and before I knew it, being indie was GOLD. Suddenly I owned everything! I owned my masters, my sound, my creative, & now 8 years later I realize that indie was the best decision I could’ve ever made. It means I walk away as an entrepreneur & not just an artist, because I OWN my art. Thats POWER! That’s Equity. I think the smartest thing now, is to be, is the owner of your art.
HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT YOU’VE BEEN IN THE GAME FOR 15+ YEARS. SPECIFICALLY WITHIN THIS TIME THE BOTH THE SONIC & SOCIAL LANDSCAPES HAS BEEN EVER EVOLVING WITH UNIMAGINABLE MOUNTAINS & VALLEYS. BLACK MENTAL HEALTH IS FINALLY A COMMON PLACE DISCUSSION THOUGH UNFORTUNATELY BIRTHED THROUGH PUBLIC TRAUMA. ON ONE OF YOUR NEW SONGS “RADIO FREE” YOU SUMMONED THE QUESTION “WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN THE RADIO IS DOWN, WHEN THE WORLD STOPS LISTENING? “ -WHERE DO/HAVE YOU GONE WHEN THE RADIO IS DOWN & HOW DID SHE PULL YOURSELF BACK DAWN?
‘Radio free’ is special to me & I feel that it does speak to mental health because I had to question; when you work SO hard and no one’s listening, you feel like you have no voice and sometimes, you’re not even listening to yourself. Trusting self to me is the hardest person to trust. We would rather trust other people’s vision of ourselves before we trust our own. Radio Free for me speaks to me reaching for myself. I had to fall in love with myself. It took a long time, I had no self love because in the industry I had lost it. No-one was rooting for me, nobody believed in me, I was a chocolate girl that started when she was 19. I needed support in the industry, I had my mom and dad, but I couldn’t tell them how crazy it was, how I saw women being abused, I saw women being spoken to -how I was being spoken to crazily. The way women are treated in this industry, the way gay, bi, non binary, trans persons, the way we are treated in this industry is unacceptable. We have to have that conversation. But when you don’t have the insight to have that conversation, sometimes you look to turn to other people. I had to learn to love MYSELF enough to say “I’m gonna step away”. That relationship wit myself, got REALLY good. I worked on it, it was a marriage, I had to fall in love with myself enough to say “alright sis, when it’s not doing good, go spoil yourself, take yourself away from it and prove to YOU that you’re worth it. When you do that for yourself, it sets a tone, others pay attention and they realize your standards & your boundaries. Radio Free spoke to that, “where do you go when the radio is down, when the world stops listening”? Who are you? You play YOUR freedom loud, not anybody else’s, you play YOUR story loud”. You get your healing first & when you heal yourself, you can heal others. That was the lesson I had to learn. I kept looking for others to believe in me, but I had to believe in myself & the moment I did that, It didn’t matter if anyone else did!
Dress - Pedram Couture @pedramcouture
Earrings & Rings - Reagan Charleston Jewelry @reagancharlestonjewelry
I KNOW EVERY EVERY SONIC CREATION FEELS LIKE ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN. YOUR LITERAL MANIFESTED THOUGHTS TURNED INTO SONIC THINGS. CRITICS EVERYWHERE ARE SAYING THAT ‘SECOND LINE’ IS YOUR BEST ALBUM TO DATE. AS YOU CONSIDER YOUR ENTIRE CAREER, HOW DOES THIS PARTICULAR ACCOLADE MAKE YOU FEEEEEL?
It’s funny because, here’s the thing, every album I’ve put, Ive been blessed to hear that it was “my best” to date and I can’t even describe how wildly honored I feel. Before this they said that ‘Breed’ was my best, and before that it was ‘Redemption’ & ‘Blackheart’ prior. Honestly... it’s just WOW. It’s powerful man. I’m just grateful because people often when you have that one really solid album, the watch is to see if you could possibly do better than the previous & most times artists fail because that 1st album is so magnificent, those sophomore blues can sort of show up. So for the 6TH album to be receiving reviews as “the best”, I’m so honored, so humbled. Cause I don’t always know tbh, I’m out here just making my version of art, taking risks, every, time. Like if you look at the Grammy’s, there are no black women nominated in electronica. I’ve been fighting this fight where I say that black women & black artists still deserve to be recognized in these spaces. I always am concerned that I’m pushing something that people can’t digest. But I HAVE to get it out. So I keep pushing, the gatekeepers are usually predominantly white men, so I never know what the response is going to be. I exist in a space where most times I’m the only black woman or 1 of very few. So for people to not only get it, but also say “this is your best”? WOW. Also this my most New Orleans album. New Breed was pretty thick in New Orleans, but this album from the directors to the dancers, creatives, stylists, everyone was all from New Orleans. This was dripped in NOLA. To be so intentional to show New Orleans in this way and then to get this sort of feedback? Mannn... not bad for a kid from the 9th ward. Not bad at all, I’m indescribably grateful.
WE HEAR YOUR DIALOGUE WITH YOUR MOM AS THE ALBUM DRIPS FROM TRACK TO TRACK. WHAT WAS IT LIKE CRYSTALIZING, CREATING THIS MOMENT IN TIME WITH YOUR MOTHER, INTERVIEWING HER & IMMORTALIZING HER ON THIS ALBUM?
“Oh Debbeh”!!! [laughs] -My parents are everything. Like, they’re the bomb. We’ve had hard times but they’ve always shown up, always been there you know? On the album before this, New Breed, my father was the narrator, I used all his 70’s music to line it all together and if you follow my career you know that I make conceptional albums to purposely be played from start to finish because a story is being told. So New Breed my dad was the narrator & on this album I wanted to immortalize my mom. -And as you hear, she is very much a creole, cajun girl from New Ibera! -New Iberia is cajun country, she was born there and later trickled down to New Orleans creating a life for herself there as a teacher. She’s taught everybody! And so I wanted to show New Orleans that way too, through her eyes & a fusion of our voices. When people think of Nola they think of brass and I wanted to show that there is an electric dance culture there as well and there are people like me who exist that are also apart of the city’s culture. There’s this sci-fi afro-futuristic story being narrated by authentic people from Nola, my mom and dad and their history are soaked in it. This is ALSO New Orleans! So Debbie was all through there, giving her story as only a KING could :) -My mom is WAY beyond Queendom. ANY New Orleans woman is way beyond. They’re Kings. So Debbie delivered! She showed what a Lousiana woman is. Big shout out to Debbie aka Deb-o-rah aka Candy Lil New Iberia aka Lil Cajun!!!! [laughs] :)
WHAT ARE YOU MOST GRATEFUL FOR DAWN?
I’m grateful for…. The love. Cause I could’ve not had the many chances that I’ve had? But I have some of the most incredible people that appreciate my music, and my art and my story. I am forever grateful for those that are still here! Rocking with me. I don’t just mean musically, I mean like the whole story. My “come-up” is SOO unconventional, like I shouldn’t still have a career, I shouldn’t still be able to do this thing, YET the universe and God, keeps putting these incredible artists, my fan base of creatives to my path. People who are just like me and for whatever reason we’re just connecting. It’s giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do, to feed my family. Like I get to feed my family 15 years later doing what I love to do when TWICE it was taken away from me! TWICE. I’m grateful for the love. For the understanding of art and what it can do, how it can move people to stay with each other and teach each other. I’m grateful to just be able to do what I love to do & I wouldn’t be able to if it weren’t for these amazing like-minded people rocking with me. I never would’ve thought a kid like me. My father handed me his torch & I’m now proudly further than he was able to get to & I’m humbled by that, thank you from the both of us. I don’t take any of this for granted.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
I love art. -& I mean that even behind music. I love paintings, I love illustration, I’m a huge Gustav Klimt fan. I love going to art galleries, I’m a huge lover of opera & ballet. I love classical music, I’m a huge [Claude] Debussey fan. So in total I’m a lover of all the arts, fine arts as a whole. I love to find out about culture & humanity via fine arts, so believe it or not, that’s what influences & inspires my life most. I can go a week & read at least 6 books. My grandmother was a librarian, she had a PHD in Library Science, so I grew up in the library (-fun fact: my favorite smell is the library book!) I kid you not, it’s my favorite smell, I want to have a dewey decimal system in my house one day for all of my books -I’m a huge literary fan. So the arts are huge for me, I still love going to plays & not like broadway, I’m talking like old theater; like Hamlet -good stuff.
WHO INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
This answers changes a lot for me, I have different people inspire me in different ways. Like again there’s art and artists, I can open up a book and see Salvador Dalí & say okay I’m inspired today. I can go and see an Alvin Ailey performance & be inspired to then go take a class or feel like I need to get my Graham Norton on real fast and brush up on my contemporary arts & get my body back in shape. I could go to a rave and remember the times I had with the DJs & be ready to go find a new DJ for my performances. It’s just all different, I go through different stages of culture. I was reading Rumi, which led me back to Blake’s work & so on. It varies for me, I have different people who inspire daily. But I am a lover of the old world, I’m a romantic at heart so I enjoy the old romances & compositions. Fully though, I’m really a recluse, you find me alone, I’m reading books & Im listening to DeBussy.
Corset & Pants: Korebelle Kkofetche @korebellekkofetche
Earrings - Styled By Omega Collection
WHERE DO YOU GO TO CHANNEL THESE DELICIOUSLY FULL, CONSISTENTLY UNIQUELY SOUNDING PROJECTS?
I am a true escapist, I take pride in that, I am a dreamer, when I go to sleep I dream in color! Idk how to properly explain it, but it’s visual for me, it’s always been that way, I can see worlds. I can draw them, envision them, then I can almost verbatim tell you what I want it to say, how it looks, how it moves & I get my best work done in water. So when I’m building these worlds, because I’m an architect, I’m building a world conceptually for people to be in, I always want to create something that you’re not only listening to, but you’re escaping to as well. Though I’m the architect, when I bring you to this world, you become the pilot, you’re the master of that universe & that’s where I create from. So when I build the story, the message is always the same; it’s “for us by us.” It’s always about the journey of the black artist. It can live in any color, because we’re all also other, but in the same way, I am my own story & can only tell it from my journey. IRL the other isn’t truly seen, the underdog isn’t celebrated, but in the world I build you’re in your true form, you’re limitless & so I build from that place, for all of us “other” kids. It’s like VR, in VR the designers can literally think of & make anything! That’s where I go, into that place of “anything”, that’s how I build albums, with no lines.
26 OR SO YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER MOST ABOUT DAWN RICHARD?
Hmmmm…. I think most of all, what I would hope people may say about me is that I created a sound? …I wanna be a signature. When people try to explain the genre…I hope just “Dawn” comes to mind. 2 of my favorite artists that I look up to are Prince & Queen, what I admire most is that they created an entire sound from their art. You had Appleonia, you had Vanity 6, Morris Day & the Times, Shiela E., there was a specific SOUND that Prince created, a movement! Queen had created something that sounded like nothing else in rock, it was theater meets blues, soul, broadway & rock. I wanna hopefully be remembered as someone who made a whole lane for herself & ran with it. And hopefully this lane will inspire others to be fearless, as some sort of example to then say, because of that, they’re inspired to do whatever the hell they want!! Hopefully some chocolatey girl can come behind me and end up as the dopest ROCK star of all time!!
WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW, WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING IS SO IMPORTANT. YOU’VE TURNED A LIGHT ON, YOU’RE KEEPING A LIGHT ON. FOR THE LITTLE BLACK GIRLS OUT THERE WANTING TO BUT ARE SCARED TO GO LEFT WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IS GOING RIGHT, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THEM?
I honestly never knew I turned on a light, I just got tired of living in the dark. I had been sleeping in the dark for so long, & I definitely didn’t know that I even turned on a light that anyone could see. I just wanted to see. I’m honored. I promise if I can inspire just ONE other, & not just black girls, the people that support me, are majority LGBTQIA+ persons who are in my corner & I know their told stories. Often times because of who they are they’ve been kept from breaking through & though we’re seeing more visibility’s now, there are still my many trans & non-binary artists that are still being overlooked. If we can start a wave or a movement, if I can help inspire just one of those amazing souls then I have done my job. I just wanted an opportunity & If we start making that light brighter and brighter to where we’re blinding them? -That’ll be the day. That’s what I say, GO. SHINE. It’s our time.
WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF LOVE?
Learning to speak someone else’s love language, even if you don’t speak it fluently. It’s the desire to want to learn that language. It’s a partnership & understanding that that collaboration deserves compromise. That ‘compromise’ word is so important because perspective & compromise have battles all the time right? So it’s understanding perspective, seeing each other & not just looking at each other but really seeing & then loving them exactly as is, for who they actually are, not some possibility, or what you want them to be. Seeing someone as they see themselves, not only through your lens.
The love language thing is massive. If you like gifts & the other person likes words of affirmation & you can shop but can’t speak well, we in trouble!! [LOL].
WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF LUXURY?
Travel! I’ll live modestly everyday if I had to but will gladly spend all the coins on a fabulous trip to Switzerland or to Thailand any day. That’s me! I appreciate day to day luxuries, but TRAVEL?! -That WHOLE trip finna be out of control!! [LOL] To be a little girl from the south now being able to travel the world, hear different languages & eat different foods, for me, that is everything, I’m tryna see every continent, every country & I’m doing it in style!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?
Teal/Turquoise…again water, water themed colors. Blues, deep blue greens, …& my close second is olive.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG?
Damn... that’s hard! [LOL]
Hmmm….. ah! ‘Clair de Lune’ by DeBussy! When I am feeling anything, it’s my go-to. My father used to play it all the time, I would lay underneath the piano & listen to him play it.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO BE?
Somewhere unknown, off the grid, it could be any country, on a hammock, with a book, by a fire. -Thats all I need.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO TAKE CARE OF DAWN?
Bath, book & a candle. I’m easy, give me a good book & I’m outta here! :)
WHAT DO WE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
What people don’t know is that I’m actually quite introverted, super shy & low-key socially awkward LOL. Now I CAN do it, I CAN be the life of the party, but honestly if I could, I would be in the corner somewhere, around a small social circle. My father is like that, my mother is the life of the party, clearly I get that from him!
WHERE TO FROM HERE DAWN?
From here, I want to create spaces for people like me & I will go above & beyond to do it. I will continue this message that goes way beyond my music. I’m working with Adult Swim right now as their Creative Director, I’m bringing black talent to the station every day! My goal is to bring more black animators & storytellers to the station, I said I was going to do that & I meant it! I wanna see more black faces in tech, so I’m making some moves to bring more tech elements to the forefront for people of color. I also have a vegan business in New Orleans, it’s also an art collective, we sell vegan biscuit sandwiches but also have artists who paint with plant based paints, the first of it’s kind in New Orleans. It’s entirely 100% female driven & also 75% queer. So again continuing the message but doing it in different spaces. By the end of the next 3 years I would’ve created an eco-system that can solely run on it’s own that’s for us by us & hopefully illuminating us in spaces we’re not ordinarily seen. My hope is that I’ve created like 360 space for people like me, where we can network, live, feel safe & have opportunities to perform, sing etc., If I’m touring, they’re opening, my female chefs are employed in the mix, our sustainability companies by people of color are driving it. Things like that I’m gonna build beyond just the music. That’s my dream, in harmony with my music, this will be my legacy.