Thanks to Nikki, I had an opportunity to speak with Dawn Richard on one of the most exciting days of her career thus far. Dawn, best known for being a member of the Bad Boy Entertainment groups Danity Kane and Diddy Dirty Money, released her first solo EP yesterday. She is sharing her newly found independence with the world with her EP titled, ARMOR ON and expressing her freedom with her super chic, short hair cut.
I’m loving this short cut you’re rocking. What made you go shorter?
I used to wear it shorter before and as time progressed, a lot of people followed suit, so I wanted to try something different with the hopes that I could revisit the look after it died down a bit. So I decided to revisit it for the album because the inspiration behind it was more of a strong, independent women. I wanted to give everyone a strong Joan of Arc vibe and this was the perfect haircut for that- – more erogenous sound and look. That’s why I wanted to get away from it so I could bring it back! I believe it’s the perfect look for that.
Are you team natural?
Yes! I’m team natural all the way, holla! I’ve been team natural for 6 and half years after a long-term transition.
When you’re not getting your hair styled, do you ever wear your natural hair out and curly?
Yes ma’am I do. Whenever I get a break for holidays and stuff, when I go home, I usually wear my hair curly. For an everyday look, I usually wear weaves with my natural hair braided up underneath. Not for the purpose of loving weave, but more for the purpose that I never like to damage my real hair… I’d rather have weave to work with. So of course when I have time and I go home, I can wear it curly, out and in an afro. Kind of like what you saw– I wear a really curly fro hawk.
Oh I’d love to see that! What products do you use when you’re wearing your hair natural?
The great thing is we just came from Miss Jessie’s who has really good products for curly hair. I went to an event and that’s how I was first introduced to their products. It works really well on natural hair and I’m becoming more of a fan of it each day. Outside of that, I usually use Ojon, another product that’s really good for your hair. I typically apply the conditioner and let it sit for awhile and it conditions really well. I periodically color my hair and I notice that it helps with damage– I’ll treat it with Ojon and have Miss Jessie’s on deck.
Typically when performing, we see you rocking your hair a bit longer. Do you prefer long or short hair?
I don’t have a preference. I think because I’m a woman, I love everything from short to long. I think it just depends on the feeling and the vibe.
I think one of the benefits of being natural is the versatility…
Yeah you can style your hair so many different ways. My texture is super curly, coarse in some places, but it’s fine as well. And although my hair is braided, my weaves don’t last as long as someone else’s would. My hair starts to slip out after a while, so I have to get my weaves done a little more frequently than I’d like to. But that’s the reality.
Not only is your hair always fly, but you’re very fashion forward. Do you style yourself?
I have an amazing stylist, her name is Olori Swank. It’s funny because people never really understand… one minute they’re on board and the next minute they’re like ‘we don’t really understand is… we don’t get it’. It’s great to find a stylist that you enjoy their personality. You know, I come from New Orleans and everything is hot, sweaty, and muggy. It’s a different type of vibe so I grew up where barefoot and blowing in the wind also meant you could be great. I love couture but I also love that un-doneness about fashion and I love the fact that you can break rules. So Olori and I push the envelope with fashion… we just like to put patterns together, trends, textures and play with it. Fashion wouldn’t be fun if you couldn’t take risks, so across the board we’re taking risks, musically, the look of who I am… a brown girl in the industry with short hair. Yes! We’re taking risks across the board so it would only be right if we did it in fashion as well because that’s apart of who we are.
Definitely. I often see your looks and think that’s hot. You have the perfect body type to be able to experiment and try different looks. Watching your SMFU (SAVE ME FROM YOU) video I thought that jacket, those shoes, those shorts… she is just bad all the way around. Who was the designer of the shoe you were rocking?
I think it was Jeffrey Campbell. I told the stylist I wanted simplicity because sometimes I feel like records are overshadowed by the fashion and you lose sight of the lyrics and what the song is about. I wanted people to love the song because of the story and not the fashion. Not have people say, “Oh they look beautiful but I have no idea what this record is about.” I wanted people to be in touch with the record, so I told him to give me one dope piece but let it be the shoe or the jacket. I knew people who are fashion heads would see that, that was all we needed. People got it so; I thought that was pretty dope. I always want to do those things that if you really dig deep you will see it. People really didn’t even notice that the shoes were really showcased as well. If you paid attention to them you would notice that they were structured, they were super dope. We had glass on the back of them and you really didn’t even see it if you didn’t pay attention. But that’s the dope part it’s pushing you to pay attention.
What was it like working with Diddy all these years?
He was kind of like my coach, the professor, or whatever you are experiencing on your job or your school, whoever that mentor is for you, that is kind of what he’s been. And I have been able to experience things that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to do under him.
Watching your progression from Danity Kane, to Diddy Dirty Money, and now your solo project, I think you were definitely able to capitalize from that relationship. Your projects have been so successful! Will there be another Diddy Dirty Money album coming out soon?
I don’t think we’ll have another Diddy Dirty Money album. What I do know is that there’s a thousand songs in the vault, so if someone releases something, people will be just as excited to hear. But I don’t think there will be another album.
So are you still with Bad Boy?
No, I’m no longer with Bad Boy, but they are my family for life, I adore them, I love Puff for allowing me to be released because I asked to be released. Not only did he support me, but he let me do it, and I’m forever grateful to them. I would never ever have anything but amazing things to say about them because; they gave me not one, not two, but three huge opportunities in my lifetime so I’m forever grateful for that.
You recently dropped a hot new single BOMB. What is your inspiration behind it?
The direction behind it was a follow up from A Tall-Tale Heart Mix tape. The whole reason I remained with ‘ARMOR ON’ was because I wanted people who have gone through things not to feel like victims, but to feel like warriors. The journey that I have gone through… people have watched me. So I felt like I didn’t want this to be about me, I wanted it to be about us. Everyone who has been on this journey has gone through something. I remember doing a Golden Heart essay asking people before me how they have survived some of these issues, and some of the stories I got, made me humble myself to my experience. People have really gone through some awful things, and I wanted them to know the reality is that this is life. So they should suit up and get ready because it’s a battle. Whoever is shielded the right way could really win this thing. So the EP is to gear up and have everyone put their ARMOR ON and the album will be the battle itself. I think when people listen to it, they will see me fighting with the journey of falling in love with the music industry and then getting the trade, getting hurt, falling down and getting back up. In the midst of this, they’ll see why I chose to say I needed amour in the first place.