Interview – Desirée Dawson

Photo Supplied by PR

Coming up on the release of her newest single “Just Fine”, Desirée Dawson has a voice that could help lift you up on a bad day or wind you down when it’s time to call it quits. With a goal to heal with her music, it’s safe to say she’s well on her way with those vocals not to mention her overall musicality and emotionally-charged lyrics.

Most of your music thus far has featured the ukulele, though your new single “Just Fine” switches it up for more of an R&B style. Was this a conscious decision or did it just happen in the creative process?

I don’t really hear Just Fine as R&B although I do acknowledge that the sound on this track has a different vibe than the songs off my last project, Wild Heart. The Baritone Ukulele was still a big part of writing this song, but producer Cody Taylor of Fiend Recordings really put a lot of his magic into taking this in a more upbeat Pop zone. I really love collaborating with people, like Cody, who can understand the feeling I am going for but bring their own unique gifts to the project! Its so fun making all kinds of music and I’m happy to have a song that gets people thinking but also moving. In a few weeks following the release of the upbeat pop version of “Just Fine” I will be releasing a more acoustic version with the Ukulele as well. I am excited about this because I feel like there will be a version for different moods and I love them both equally and both of them are very me!

Would you say being based in Vancouver has helped you shape your specific sound(s) or would it be the same if you lived elsewhere?

I am blessed to be in a career where I spend a lot of time on the road so I feel my sound is inspired by being all over the place. Inspiration is also ignited by the feeling of coming back to the familiarity of Vancouver each time I leave. Vancouver is such an interesting place. Us Vancouverites have lots of work to do, and things to acknowledge but the land itself is so beautiful and powerful. I feel very grateful to be able to live, work and create on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples.

Just two years ago, you won the 2016 CBC Searchlight Competition with your previous single “Hide”, which also made it onto top 100 songs of 2016 and hit over 1 million streams on Spotify this past winter! Besides the exposure that Searchlight gave you, what did you personally take away from the experience?

CBC Searchlight was such an amazing and life changing experience for me. I had been performing and writing and putting myself out there so much right before the big win and I feel like it was so reassuring to know that many people across the country were seeing, hearing and loving what I do. I can be incredibly hard on myself and sometimes it’s helpful to get out of my head and have someone on the outside let me know that the music I create is speaking to them. I think the most important message was that I won this huge contest being completely authentic to myself. Everything from what I wore, to the stripped down ukulele performance, was just so me and that’s what people loved! That experience ignited something in me that I now carry with me through-out everyday life. I am so grateful for CBC’s continued support of playing me on the radio and inviting me to be part of events. I’ve made some beautiful connections and friendships through the experience and I feel very supported and that is such a special feeling that allows me to keep creating and making more music!

I came across your newest project That Friend! Tell us more about how that came about.

That friend is a project that I’ve created with one of my best friends, Matt Storm. It happened so naturally as we have been writing and playing together for a few years. Its not always easy to find voices that just go together perfectly and Matt and I have very different tones but they go sweetly together. We just decided recently that the music we make needs to go out to the world but it is rather different than our solo projects so we decided to just become a separate band. We played our first show as ‘That Friend’ recently and it was really amazing. We’ve gotten some great feedback from many people including some folks at CBC Music and we are feeling really excited to share our First EP with the world Fall 2018. If you don’t already know Matt Storm the go check him out asap. He is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer and producer and overall lovely human that I feel lucky to call my friend. He just put out a new single called You Still Stay and will be dropping his new album any time now, so go follow him and us! @desireedawsonofficial @Mattstormsound @thatfriendmusic

What’s next for you?

The release of ‘Just Fine’ will be really big and a lot of exciting stuff is happening around it. I have over 40 songs to record and I am writing new ones every day so I am just waiting for the right time, the right place and the right people to collaborate with. I have lots of tour plans coming up and some really exciting collaborations in the works.

I facilitate private and group sound healing sessions online and songwriting workshops online and in person, and I am excited to explore and share more of this work with people all over the world. I believe music is medicine and the state of the world is proof that healing is really needed so I feel very blessed to be able to be a part of this work.

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