Diana Gordon Sheds Her EDM Upbringing, and Gets Back to Her Roots

Diana Gordon Sheds Her EDM Upbringing, and Gets Back to Her Roots

V & D K N Y present Diana Gordon, the Beyoncé-tapped songwriter saying goodbye to Wynter in the spring of her career

V & D K N Y present Diana Gordon, the Beyoncé-tapped songwriter saying goodbye to Wynter in the spring of her career

Photography: CHAD MOORE

Styling: Havana Laffitte

Text: Whitney Mallett

“I threw away all of my things and moved into a house in the woods,” says the singer-songwriter formerly known as Wynter Gordon. “I was just like, Let me strip my life back. Let me rewrite this story. And, as soon as I did that, Beyoncé called.”

Gordon is reinventing herself under her given name, Diana. And although the 31-year-old has co-written hits for Jennifer Lopez and Flo Rida, Beyoncé became intrigued after hearing an unreleased track. Gordon recorded that song one summer afternoon with a friend, who passed it along to the mogul years later. “It’s weird how the universe works,” says Gordon.

Today, Diana Gordon is having a personal and artistic renaissance. She has three writing credits on Beyoncé’s surprise spring release, Lemonade, including the country-infused “Daddy Lessons,” which has since been covered by the Dixie Chicks. “That was very legit. I mean, they’re country royalty. I love what they stand for—they’re ’90s bitches,” Gordon gushes. She also co-wrote “Sorry.” By the way, that line about Becky the with good hair? It was inspired by Dolly Parton’s pleas to the fictional Jolene, says Gordon, all but quelling juicy rumors about who Becky might be. On the heels of all the excitement, Gordon decided to relaunch her own solo career with two new singles: “The Legend Of” and “Woman.” Both are a departure in the direction of rock and roll. Her biggest musical inspiration right now, she says, is Tina Turner.

Gordon’s mother and stepfather were pastors. She grew up singing at church with her five siblings. “I didn’t do gospel like what everyone’s always thinking,” she says, adding that she listened to a lot of Christian rock—bands like DC Talk and Jars of Clay. She attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia, a renowned performing arts high school on the Upper West Side, a few years behind Nicki Minaj. “That’s where I was first like, Oh shit, I’m good at this,” she smiles.

After high school, Gordon got a job at a nightclub that hosted a lot of music industry parties. “It was like a movie. I was this young girl, living in Brooklyn, working as a coat check girl, and one night I passed my CD to someone,” she says. Next thing she knew, the 19-year-old Gordon had a writing credit on a triple-platinum Mary J. Blige album and a record deal with Atlantic. The next chapter of Gordon’s story, though, belies the fairytale career these auspicious beginnings suggest.

CLOTHING AND BOOTS DKNY

“I went straight from my parents’ house into another adult’s charge,” Gordon explains. “A man who I barely knew and a team of management were telling me, ‘This is who you are; this is what you should be singing.’ I felt pressured. All my life, I’d been obeying people.”

She was on the label for several years before her debut album came out, and when it did, Gordon’s team marketed her with a sexually charged dance hit, “Dirty Talk,” while the songs she really wanted to release were put on the back burner. The stresses of being “Wynter Gordon” took a physical toll on the artist. “I used to have this pressure right here,” she says, pointing to the space between her eyebrows. “It felt like my face was going to explode.” Anxious and depressed after a decade of being “Wynter,” she finally quit.

Since Gordon left her stage name and old management behind, she’s embarked on an Eat, Pray, Love-style journey. “These last years have been a path of discovery: traveling, dating,” she says. And now, especially after being a part of Lemonade, she’s ready for what’s next as Diana. “It’s a chance for me to breathe—because I’ve been holding my breath for 11 years.”

Credits:

Makeup Maud Laceppe (Streeters)  Hair Kei Terada (Julian Watson Agency)  Manicure Holly Falcone (Kate Ryan)  Set design Orly Anan  Photo assistant Adam Levett  Stylist assistants Rochelle Adam and Jay Hussa   Makeup assistant Aya Watanabe  Hair assistant Mario Sisneros  Retouching Vision On  Location Root Studios

UP NEXT

Sonia Rykiel, Fashion Designer and Industry Legend, Dies at 86