Kat Dahlia is a firecracker. Known for wielding her voice “as a weapon” the Cuban-American singer-songwriter is hitting the charts strong this year, first with her hit single, “Crazy” and then with her new album, set to be released this summer. With so much going on this year, it’s going to be hard to catch this shooting star sitting still for more than five minutes in 2014. Luckily, we were able to have a quick conversation with her, so we could bring you the scoop, straight from the star’s mouth.
é: Your parents are Cuban, but you grew up in Miami. How did that blend of cultures affect you and your music?
KD: Both my parents were born in Cuba, but they came here to live out the American dream. They met here in the U.S. in Miami. I think it affected my music kind of unconsciously. I wouldn’t say that I try to blend Latin influences and American influences. The genres I listened to were mixed – Seria Cruz on one hand and American Pop, like brittany spears, on the other. Then, as I got older I listened to classic rock, like Janis Joplin, and then I started listening to jazz and then I circled back to Latin jazz. For some reason I’ve always been interested in all kinds of music, and they just blend when I create a song; the genres just come together into their own creation. I don’t know if you can categorize my music into one genre- I don’t know what it is- it’s just a mix of what I listen to.
é: Who influenced you the most in your journey to become an artist?
KD: BB King – I like his grittiness and his rawness and his vulnerability, and then there are his really strong vocals, and his relentless deafening of his guitar every time he wanted to touch it. Led Zepplin, with the amazing vocals. Peter Tosh, who had such political lyrics, and everything had meaning and everything was a message and everything was meant to teach people. And I learned so much from that – I loved that. They all had a really strong voice, and that’s usually what I’m attracted to at first. That’s what pushed me and made me obsessed with music and gave me a passion for it.
é: Tell us about “Crazy” – what’s the story behind the song, what was making the video like?
KD: I had never done a big budget video like that before, where you fly out to Europe and really make a video. Obviously, working with Rankin was amazing, because he’s just an amazing guy and an amazing director and he’s so cool and down to earth. He knows how to make you feel comfortable right away. Everything about him – the way he talks to you and the way he works – is really genuine. There’s no facade. Bringing the story to life was really cool. I wanted to take this girl who doesn’t really know what she wants from life when she meets this guy, and it’s driving her crazy. I know I’ve met dudes and I’m putting myself out there and it’s hard to tell how the other person feels, and it’s hard. I tend to take the risks a lot, and I love to love – I’m a big believer in following emotion. So when I meet somebody that I like, which is rare, I tend to really get involved. And sometimes the other person is not as willing to open up as much as I do. I’ll be vulnerable, which lets me engulf myself in all the feelings and the joy of the moment. Some people are afraid to show that, and sometimes, that tug of war, is what makes the moments and the relationships fun. But it’s also what makes it scary, and that sometimes makes you feel crazy, which is what the song is all about.
KD: It was a great project. Rankin was great; London was great. It was just a wonderful experience.
é: Your new album comes out this summer – are you excited? Nervous? What do you want fans to take away from it?
KD: I’m excited about the record; I feel like it’s long overdue. I think it’s going to be something people haven’t heard, whether that’s in a long time or ever. It’s probably not going to be something people are expecting. In fact, don’t expect anything. It’s very emotionally driven, and it just talks about human events and things that people go through everyday.
é: What advice do you have to any young people trying to break into the industry?
KD: Fame isn’t everything – stick to what you believe in. Speak truth, and once you speak truth the picture will become clear. Anybody can just sing a song, but to be an artist you have to have a message. We need more people to send a message. If you speak truth you can really make art. And trudge on. Trudge on and never give up. Because those who give up never succeed. Life is a celebration; we all have to trudge on. So don’t give up.
é: Any messages for your fans?
KD: I just want to give them such a humongous thank you, and for following me and continuing to support me – they really are the reason that I do this.
To learn more about Kat Dahlia you can follow her on Twitter @KatDahlia