Dawn Richard has found a heart of gold the unconventional way in today’s ever changing music industry. Competing for a coveted spot in what would be multi-platinum recording group Danity Kane on national television in Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Making The Band reality TV series to transitioning into a Hip-Hop group with Diddy Dirty-Money, Richard has managed to not fall victim of most “here today, gone tomorrow” stars. In Spring of 2012, Richard announced her decision to part ways from Bad Boy with Diddy’s blessing to pursue a solo career and released an EP, Armor On.
On March 27, 2012, Richard released Armor On exclusively on iTunes and within three hours, the EP landed in the #1 spot on the iTunes R&B/Soul Charts and debuted on the Billboard Charts at the #4 spot on the Heatseeker Charts, #15 on the Independent Charts and #28 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Charts respectively.
During the end of 2012, Dawn released several videos from her successful EP including the Eugene Lee Yang (Marina & The Diamonds) directed “Faith”. The singer dropped a buzz single from the Goldenheart project titled “Pretty Wicked Things” which MTV Buzzworthy helmed as their “Song of the Week” and “…the most sophisticated song from a member of Danity Kane.” Currently, her videos including “Bombs” and “Automatic” can be seen on BET, MTV Jams, MTV Base (Africa), MTV UK and MTV2.
Goldenheart (released in January) has since charted on 5 different Billboard charts including #2 spot on Heatseeker Charts, #10 on the R&B Albums Charts, #21 on the Independent Albums Charts, #22 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Charts, and #137 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. This was all done independently with very little promotion. Richard is completely redefining the term “independent artist”.
Recently Aries from UrbanBridgez.com caught up with Dawn Richard and spoke to her about her trilogy of albums (GoldenHeart, BlackHeart and RedemptionHeart), her decision to leave Bad Boy, Danity Kane‘s reunion, being an independent artist now and much more!
UrbanBridgez.com: What type of album did you set out to make when you started recording GoldenHeart?
Dawn Richard: Something that was legendary, a classic. Just timeless music. I wanted to make an album that wasn’t necessarily the mainstream but would be manufactured more towards people who just appreciate great music. Now we’ve moved to the BlackHeart era and I’m excited because they’ll be a lot of announcements coming in the next couple of months. People will kind of be like, oh I get it! Pieces of the puzzle are being put together that people may not understand now. Once it’s put together at the end, people will be like oh now I see! This is a great move, this is a bad move. Whatever it’s going to be, it will be a aha moment.
UrbanBridgez.com: What will connect but yet separates the trilogy as a whole once all three parts are released?
Dawn Richard: Well they’ll all have a story. It’s like reading a trilogy of novels. It’s one of them things where each record will have it’s own sound. But they’ll all come together through the lyrics & visuals. That’s something that I’ve always tried to make sure I do with every video and every chorography piece that I’ve done. Or every outfit or costume or visual. You’ll see the connection to that and each album will have it’s own personal items that’s attached to it. With GoldenHeart it was the Coco & Breezy sunglasses. With BlackHeart it will be my collaboration with Andre. Which is a new urban wear that I’m really excited to work with, great items for the fall coming. Then with the RedemptionHeart I’ll do another item that’s attached to it. What I’m trying to do is take art and bring it all together in one piece and try to mesh the world together. Not just through genres because with my albums you hear multiple genres, but I wanted to do it with all of it. From the visuals, the costumes, fashion, you’ll start to see this thing where independent to me is not only a beautiful thing but no longer a crutch. You can carry yourself as the label and do amazing things, that a label can do as an independent artist. So what I’m trying to do is make it look chic and the visions beautiful. So it’s one of those things where I’m colliding music with fashion and visuals create that.
UrbanBridgez.com: What made you decide to finally leave Bad Boy?
Dawn Richard: It was time. I think 7 years is a long time to be on a label, a great label. I think it ran it’s course and I had did my duties as an artist. Puff is doing other things and I was able to speak with him and talk to him about the direction they were going in. It wasn’t necessarily the direction that was good for me. So we thought it would be best…I asked to leave. Puffy was grateful for it and I was surprised that he did exactly what I wanted him to do. I think that was one of the things people were counting him out to do and I was counting on him to do. He did it and I was very proud of him for that. So we left on amicable terms and I had a great run with Bad Boy and I’ll never forget the opportunity that they’ve given me.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve dropped quite a few independent releases recently since parting from Bad Boy, as far as a EP, videos, etc. What’s the best part for you doing it independent?
Dawn Richard: The best thing I think is the creative freedom you know. People always have their opinion of what they think I should do. Oh, the outfits are too ridiculous, or they’re not clean or your chorography looks like this. Everybody has an opinion, but what I love about it is because I’m independent it forces me to push the limit. Find out what works for me and reroute things. Make mistakes and get it right and get it wrong. Sometimes when you’re signed to something bigger, that one mistake can cost you your career. Where as independent, that one mistake can teach you something and create a lane for you that you didn’t even know you had. A lot of my mistakes have become beautiful opportunities and I’m grateful for that.
UrbanBridgez.com: With the pictures of members of Danity Kane surfacing recently everybody wants to know, what’s the latest with the group?
Dawn Richard: As of now, we’re talking. We’re cool and we’re in the works of something maybe great, I don’t know yet. I think the fans have made it very difficult to ignore the fact that they want us back (laughs). So we’re paying attention and very grateful for that. That’s something the fans should be happy about is this time, we’re paying attention. We understand that we should never take something for granted that’s so good. I mean after 7 years, we were trending on Twitter straight for two days after we had a lunch. I think that’s a positive thing and we should definitely see the possibilities of it. And really we owe it to people like you guys for giving us that love to at least revisit the possibility.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of your favorite recording artists right now?
Dawn Richard: I haven’t really been listening to people while I’ve been doing my BlackHeart project. I’ve been only listening to Sounds, so no artist particularly. So I’m a little bit out of the loop to what’s great right now, I’ve been only really listening to sounds in patterns like south African drums, European drums, etc.
UrbanBridgez.com: If you could only listen to one R&B album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Dawn Richard: Oh man (laughs). Let’s see, I would have to say Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album even though it’s Pop. Just because of Quincy and Berry Gordy and what they did and created with Michael. Michael’s sound was so evolved back then that even though it was pop records, musically it was still incredible. So even though you asked about R&B, it’s R&B & Pop done so nicely and musically. I would have to say the “Thriller” album or between “Thriller and “Bad.” Oh man, that’s hard! Or maybe “Thriller” and “Dangerous,” yeah those two because he evolved with “Dangerous.”
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for you?
Dawn Richard: That’s a good question. BlackHeart is coming in the fall and that’s exciting. I have a fall line that I’m launching with a collaboration with Andre on my single “Riot” that’s out. Right now, they did an amazing tribute to Trayvon Martin and you’ll be able to get them soon. I’m really excited about the launch because I think people will be really pleasantly surprised to see that we just have two or three people working on this team. But manage to build these relationships and do these great things in business and colliding fashion and music. In a way I don’t think people will expect from me. We’re doing it consistently and each time working with new and upcoming talent. So that’s coming this fall and more, stay tuned!
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Dawn Richard: Thank you to all of my fans that have been supportive of me, this whole time I’ve been out!