It's Dinah Jane's Turn
V caught up with recently solo artist about all things Dinah Jane and her new single "Bottled Up".
V caught up with recently solo artist about all things Dinah Jane and her new single "Bottled Up".
Photography: Luca Repola
Text: Raf Tillis
Picture this: you’re in a conference room, seated at an empty table for 12. Dinah Jane walks in, sits right next to you, and hits play on her brand new single “Bottled Up”. It starts with a simple beat that keeps a sense of mystery, before blossoming into an ultra-catchy chorus. You try to refrain from dancing, but her excitement fills the room as she moves and sings along to her song, and it becomes infectious. It was the first time we experienced the Dinah Jane effect. V have bottled up a few feels about Dinah Jane since then and now, we’re taking them public.
We were first introduced to Dinah back in 2012 as a member of Fifth Harmony, the group formulated on the second season of The X Factor. They quickly became a household name, and perhaps the biggest American girl group of the past few years, as they racked up four VMAs and produced hit after hit after hit: “Bo$$”, “Down”, “Sledgehammer”, “That’s My Girl”, “Worth It”, and their most successful, “Work From Home”.
That streak came to a halt when the girls announced they would be going on hiatus for the time being, but this hasn’t diminished their shine in the slightest. Post-separation, Dinah has rediscovered herself and is feeling stronger, sexier, and more confident than ever, getting ready to command the stage all on her own.
The debut of Dinah Jane as a solo artist will be on everyone’s lips. Her spark, appetite for success, and carefully crafted music are immediately apparent, and signals that this 21-year-old singer-songwriter has the potential to become a music industry staple. If you haven’t fallen in love with Dinah Jane already, you’re about to.
Tell me about how and when you first fell in love with music?
I fell in love with music at the age of four, and I remember my grandmother being on the piano teaching me some church songs, some primary songs. I used to live in a very big musical home, it was my grandparents, and their five kids and their spouses and their grandkids – so there was always music revolved around me and I found that motivating because no matter how many arguments or differences we came across, we found that music united us. I just found that to be very important and a very good lesson learned and I carry that with me and value that so much. Music has always played such a huge role in my life. My mother is a singer herself. She plays the piano and she sings, so ever since then she’s taught me things she’s learned, and here I am.
Is there anything currently that you really love about the music industry or really dislike about the music industry? Is there anything you’d like to change about it?
I know this comes with the territory, but it used to be privacy. When I first got started I used to say I just want to stay in the studio, I want to make good music, I want to sing my heart out and I didn’t think I’d have people following me to a grocery store, or following me home, or stuff like that. I didn’t get it at first, and now I do. I would freak out if I saw Beyoncé. I wouldn’t follow her to a grocery store [laughs] but, I didn’t know it could go to that extreme. Being 15 and 16 at the time, it was a bit overwhelming, when I first kicked this off with my girls, and now that I’m here, I kind of grew out of that and appreciate my fans because I know it is all out of love and support.
It’s 2012 and you’re walking into the X Factor. Would you have ever thought that you would be a part of one of the biggest musical groups in the world and then venture off on your own, with a solo career?
At 15 years old, we all walked into that not knowing that Fifth Harmony would be Fifth Harmony. We all walked in as solo artists and we all kept that individuality throughout our group career. Now that I’m here, I had to take some time to find that girl all over again because she was put away for six years, she was put into a drawer for six years. Now that I’m bringing her out I’m venturing off exploring ideas, just rediscovering myself is the beauty of it all, and I’ve evolved into a whole different woman from when I was fifteen to now. I’ve been exposed to so much, experienced a lot, and have been inspired by so many things. From then and now, I feel like my music has definitely elevated and I’m excited for you all to hear it.
Who is Dinah Jane as a solo artist? How would you describe her?
Dinah Jane is a performer, because I love the stage so much. I love the stage more than the studio. I feel more beast mode when I’m out there because there’s no holding back, ever, when I’m out on the road, and I just love the energy that pops up out of nowhere and takes over me as I’m singing my songs. Dinah Jane is someone who is unafraid, confident and a badass bitch. [laugh]
Tell me about the single, why did you decide on this single as the introduction to you as a solo artist?
I have so many favorites off of my album, but of all the records I’ve recorded, I found myself coming back to this one the most and I’ve had this one the longest. There was just something about this record, I never got sick of it. I found myself replaying it over and over. There’s just something catchy about it. If a year later, I still have the same excitement about it, then it’s something special, so why not release this as soon as possible, and people can fall in love with it as much as I did. I also feel that it has a great message that’s vulnerable and honest. Who doesn’t turn to smoking and drinking to get their feelings out? I know a lot of people that go through things and they’re internal with their feelings and they don’t know how to express it and turn to smoking and drinking, and they bottle up their feelings. I found it so relatable with today’s generation.
Why pair with Marc E. Bassy and Ty Dolla $ign on this single?
I first wrote this record with Marc, and I’ve always been a huge fan of Marc and Ty. I first discovered them off of Sound Cloud, off of this record called “That’s Love”. Oh my gosh, when I tell you this song is the shit… It’s the shit. I knew one day, I was like I have to get on a record with both of them. Fast forward, two, three years later, it was the perfect time for me to slide in that collaboration that I’ve always dreamed of.
Is this song about anyone particular in your life?
No, I think it’s more of a general thing. I see you trying to dig into my love life right now [laughs]
[laughs] No, no, I promise what I was meaning to ask is if when you write a song about someone, do you tell them or do they already know?
I tell them. Like ‘hey, I wrote this record and it’s about you. Hope you like it’. And then right when I see them jamming to it, I’m like ‘yeah, that’s right, cause I’m the shit.’ [laughs] But yeah, I have a couple records that are about someone, and then there’s a couple records that are about a group of people. I get super personal with my music and there’s no filter. I’m not censoring anything. It is who I am now and you can’t compare me to who I was six, seven years ago. I can’t still be that baby image that people still expect me to be- because I’m twenty-one now! I’m thriving! I’m living my best life! I’m happy. I’m stepping into my sexy and I’m embracing it! Confidence is sexy.
You exude so much confidence, personality, and passion for what you’re doing. What inspires you to be that way?
I think during the self-discovery journey I’ve been on, I don’t think it was anything that inspired me, but I knew that there was someone inside, like how everyone has a little alter ego. There was just like this force in me that I was afraid to bring out and afraid to bring light upon. So after all these years, I just somehow jumped out of the box and said ‘you know what, I’m tired of hiding this girl because you know damn well you ain’t shy. You know damn well you like to party. Stop holding back.’ I just pushed myself to step out of the box and stop acting like everything has to be perfect. Being on the road with so many people back then, I started realizing ‘oh my gosh, I probably need to be a certain way, I probably have to be this way so it fits the image’, and now, I’m by myself, I feel so unstoppable. So unstoppable and so in love with myself. I’m stepping into my own finally and I’m embracing it. It just really took all these years for me to stand on my own and say that ‘you’re a big girl now, you can say whatever the fuck you want, you can say it however the way it feels, and no one can tell you that it’s wrong.’
What comes first for you, the lyrics or the sound? What is the creating process like for you?
It’s the sound I just really like to play on an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. I start off simple then I build off from there. If there’s a sound that’s hitting me that night, I’ll save it if I think I want to run back to it later to run with something else, then we’ll run with that particular sound. I usually go with whatever I am feeling. The more I try to compare my music to someone, or inspired by someone, it can be great but it can also hurt me because if I try to sound too similar or too close, I kind of lose the feeling and the excitement of the record, and then it really doesn’t excite me anymore. It’s kind of like a science at times, like a formal. If we minus this, and add this, it will equal this. The whole process can be exciting, I just try to take it very slow. My favorite records though are probably the ones that I write in about less than an hour or two.
What can we expect the rest of the year? We have ‘Bottled Up’ as your first single. What else is in store for the rest of this year?
We are just going to find out together because your girl is interested in that too! [laughs] But honestly, there are many more surprises to come, because there are so many different layers that are starting to peel off of me, and you start getting deeper and deeper into who I am as an artist and as a human. So as far as music goes, I would say, to be continued.
Aside from music, now more than ever, there is just so much advocating for mental health awareness and substance abuse. Is there any message that you are trying to incorporate, whether it’s in your music or just personally out to the world, with subjects like this?
Yes. Touching base on the substance abuse, hearing the news, as of late, is just heartbreaking to hear artists falling into these things. Me, personally, I probably will write records about these things, about what I’m seeing on my own, just to bring awareness to the youth especially. It will come soon. Thank you for bringing that up. There are people that are dealing with demons and nobody even knows. You can’t get mad at them for taking these things, because it’s probably helping them at the moment, but it’s their choice, their decision, their life, their body. There is not much you can do about it but be there and love them, and shower them with so much love, and be that friend so that they don’t feel alone. Because that’s all you can really do for someone who is going through things like that. The more you try to push them away from those things, aggressively, it will push them to take it even more. I’ve dealt with family members who have gone through that. So much personal shit that I’ve experienced, that I haven’t touched base on, but I’ve seen it happen. All I can do as a person is just reach out and be a helping hand, and just tell them that I love them.
Have you thought about how you’d like to remember? What will be the Dinah jane legacy?
Oooh. Okay well, for me, it’s world domination. [laughs] I love to work my ass off. If I’m at home for more than a day, I get really bored and antsy. Hard work has always been instilled in me. My Grandmother used to work like four jobs, my mom used to work two, on top of being a mother, there was just so many things that I experienced back at home. I was always surrounded by people who pushed me to work hard for what I wanted. I’m coming for a Grammy. I want to do a world tour. I want so many VMA’s. I want plaques all over my house. [laughs] I want so many homes. You name it.
Hair: Justine Marjan
Makeup: Kale Tate