Dumblonde finds creative freedom after Danity Kane split, see them live at Virginia Pridefest
It’s hard to not see the musical and social impact Danity Kane had in the late 2000′s. Between the reality TV exposure of MTV’s Making the Band and multiple chart topping singles, the all female group will forever hold a position in the lexicon of pop music.
But all good things must come to an end, and such was the case last year when the four members finally called it quits. There was drama, a punch was thrown, there were public apologies – but just as time heals all wounds, it also allows for greatness to develop.
Enter Dumblonde, the new project of former DK members Shannon Bex and Aubry O’Day.
After the very public DK breakup, the two women are at the top of their game with this new project.
“We’re in a good place and we’re so happy with where we’re at right now,” said Bex in a phone interview with GayRVA. “DK was a big part of who we were, but all things happen for a reason and I feel like Dumblonde was that reason. It’s been an amazing journey of growth and discovery of our artistry.”
Bex said the duo was grateful for the journey they’d been on with DK, and that they learned a lot of about the music business from their time with the band, but Dumblonde is ready to set itself apart visually and musically.
Harking back to the visual and sonic cues Lady Gaga got famous for, but incorporating modern EDM elements, Dumblonde has created a powerful new sound. Tackling topics like love and never giving up on your dreams, I found myself surprisingly pleased with early singles from their yet-to-be-released self-titled album, due out Sept. 25th.
The hard electro beats are punctuated by powerful vocals from the two sirens as they lead me and my SO through a solid round of pre-gaming this passed weekend.
Is it groundbreaking music? Maybe not, but the creative nature of their videos and the heart and energy these women have put behind the project is staggering and deserves your attention.
After the DK break up, O’Day and Bex came home and dwelled on the loss for a few weeks. This was not the end of the music careers that either performer wanted, and they both refused to go quietly into former-pop stardom.
“We didn’t get the chance to be the business women we wanted to be, the artists we wanted to be, the creatives we wanted to be,” O’Day said. “It was devastating what we went through, but we looked at each other and said ‘We don’t have to stop… we don’t have to see this vision of us together come to an end.’”
The pair had grown close during production of the last DK album, and they thought they worked well together solving problems and using each other as support systems to get through good and bad days together.
“Shannon and I are lucky enough to love working together and having the same work ethic,” said O’Day. That work ethic was key because Dumblonde has been almost exclusively handled by the two of them. They’ve had lots of sleepless nights leading up to this release, but they were both always on board with seeing it through.
“We still see a group platform together, and we can still make that dream of what we wanted,” she said.
They came up with the name first, then they compared what they loved and what they hated musically and decided to capitalize on those differences, creating two voices in the same band which highlighted their specifics interests.
“We want to create the most authentic art possible to Shannon and I,” said O’Day. “When we went in to the studio, we turned off our phones, and we separate and disconnected and we didn’t look at anyone else’s art… it causes you to stray from your natural artistic place.”
They weren’t totally isolated – friends and boyfriends helped along the way, but the musicians hand picked who they wanted to work with.
This independence lead to amazing creative freedom, but a hell of a lot of work. The pair found themselves not only involved, but responsible for every part of both music and video production.
It would be 3 AM and they’d be calling friends to come help get them prepared for a video to be shot in three hours. Every part of the process was their brainchild, from storyboards to learning how to shoot, and even setting up lighting and framing shots.
“We did everything on our own… Everything you could think of and more that goes into being an artist. The good and the bad.” said Bex who in the end was grateful for being so hands on with the final product. “It forced us to refine who we were and the vision we had. We were grateful for the chance.”
And that hard work paid off for Dumblonde – they’ve created something they are proud of and should be proud of.
“Other artists will never admit this, but everybody has a fuck you element in their art,” O’Day said. “Even when we created Dumblonde the whole things started with us saying no one was gonna take this away from us, no one is going to define us or what our exceptions are – this entire project has been about exceeding those expectations… Then waking up the next day and thinking ‘how can we do better tomorrow.’”
Before their album releases later this month, Dumblonde has their second-ever live performance here in Richmond as part of Virginia Pridefest, something they had in mind from pretty early on in the groups development.
“You travel from city to city and you have a variety of audiences – some are excited and some aren’t – but at Pride, there is such a love for everything that is happening in that moment, there aren’t other distractions,” said Bex about why they wanted to start with shows at Pride events. “When you’re at pride, everyone is there for that moment, to enjoy themselves, and maybe find that person you’ve been trailing on Grindr as well – but the energy is different. It’s rowdy and exciting and you get to perform for people who remind you why you perform.”
The girls said their live show will take many elements from their music videos – that mix of fashion, pop music, and dance music that makes their studio work so good is sure to translate live on stage well.
“We’ve created everything we’ve wanted to see out of a live show,” Bex said.
Their support for the LGBTQ community is key to their interest in Pride events too.
“After everything that’s happened over the last year, with people questioning something that should never have been a question in the first place,” said O’Day. “We’re just happy to be able to be part of a wonderful time where people are starting to recognize and love each other equally.”
Your chance to catch the lovely women of Dumblonde happens Sept. 12 at Brown’s Island.
“Once more people realize same sex attractions do not mean you have to be any kind of label, just yourself…”September 19, 2016
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