Hot off of releasing their EP, Hot Mess, Dodie was kind enough to lend us some of her time to let us pick their brain about all the interworkings of the record. Of course, like so many of you, we’ve been fans of Dodie for years, so don’t you worry, we talked about all things coming out, living life online, and live shows as well!
We hope you enjoy our conversation with the incredible Dodie as much as we enter enjoyed having it!
Stream Hot Mess here!
So many of us grew up watching your content online. Do you think that having that platform before becoming a full-fledged artist who tours, puts out original music, etc, creates for a whole different kind of relationship with fans than artists who had a “mainstream” start to their career?
I think it makes it special for sure! I was such a big fan of documenting my life (I still am!) so it really is interesting that you can trace all the way back to me finishing school, feeling clueless, posting music online, and growing as a musician and as a person. I can understand how it makes people feel like they’ve joined me in my journey. How lucky am I!
We want to talk about all things Hot Mess, When did you start working on the EP? Is there a particular song you’re most looking forward to sharing with your audience?
Hot Mess is a collection of fairly new songs! Which is very rare! The title track just came out, and I was super excited to share that one but – I think my favourite on the EP is a song called ‘Lonely Bones,’ which I wrote in lockdown. It’s so warm and waltzy, whilst having such dark feelings weaved in. There’s a big gang vocal section I wrote in as a promise to myself, knowing that eventually, I would record this in a studio surrounded by people singing with me. So in the demo, I made by myself, I recorded gang vocals by layering overtakes of me swaying around my room, putting on different voices to simulate more people. It’s so sad! But I was right, I’m far away from that place now 🙂
When you look back at releasing Intertwined in 2016 and compare the artist you were then to the artist who is now releasing Hot Mess, what is the biggest creative growth you can see or hear?
Oh man, leaps and bounds. I think I really stepped into my own and started to realize what my ear craves in my music – and more importantly, how to communicate that with collaborators. I expanded my musical knowledge in harmony and arranging and explore far more ambitious ideas – I’m so proud of myself! And sort of annoyed it took so long haha, but it does! It takes years of writing and trying and releasing and hating and loving.
The way you explain ‘Hot Mess,’ despite the song being quite upbeat and feeling sun-soaked in parts, seems deeply personal! Is it a conscious choice to put a happier backing track behind heavier lyrics?
Hahaha yes. I LOVE juxtaposing feelings against music! I will say, though the lyrics are frustrated and heavy in parts – the overall feeling I think is manic. Which I think the ending section really nailed, with the rising strings, the repetitive chugging of the chords and my banshee yelling “LET ME LET GO” lol
Hot Mess is bound to turn heads, what is the message you want your audience to go into listening to this EP with?
Being a woman in your mid to late twenties can be hell on earth. It can also be fun and full of feelings! But know that if you’re not there yet, it’s coming LOL and if you are, you’re not alone!
The ‘Hot Mess’ lyric video feels like it was a very freeing and cathartic experience even watching it. What are the most important elements for you to include when you’re coming up with the concept for your music videos?
I think I’m pretty visual when I’m writing music in general – sometimes verses can make me feel cold, or middle eights feeling like I’m spinning around, or choruses where I’m floating down, or bursting through something. So it’s pretty instinctual when thinking about visuals as to what the energy should be, and I always want to make sure to follow that. I think videos should elevate the music! It opens up a whole other realm of meaning that deserves as much craft and care as the music itself.
Back in 2016, you came out in a Youtube video, and then in 2017, you posted ‘I’m Bisexual- a coming out song’ which we know had such an impact on so many people, how did you feel your life changed after posting these videos? Do you think revealing all parts of what makes you you, allows you to be the most honest version of yourself in your art?
It’s funny – I think I shared so much more outwardly back then, but I think I’m being far more vulnerable now than I ever was. I was discovering things about myself so fast and I wanted to blast it everywhere because I knew I had people watching – but now that I don’t have to talk so in-depth outwardly about something I’ve just learned I get to sit on it for a little while, process it with myself and with friends and my therapist, and then find a way to craft it into a song. I’m so grateful for that time in my life and so so grateful that I know those videos really resonated with people.
Do you think that letting people view these vlogs and letting the world in, in that intimate way again has impacted the way you write? How has giving that loose context to your audience informed the way you share music now?
I really enjoy it! It feels like the perfect amount of sharing. When I write, I’m processing a feeling of course – but I’m also creating a time capsule that I’m comfortable with putting out there – protected by poetry. I will say I don’t really write with that in mind, it’s just a delightful benefit.
We love the song for each month project you’re doing. ‘Hot Mess’ was the first song of this series and is now one of your latest singles. You often post demos of your music on youtube, how does your audience already having heard the songs impact your creative process when creating the studio versions?
Thank you! It’s such a handy project!
I think they get attached to demos like me – there are just so many happy accidents in a demo that are hard to recreate! So with something like ‘Hot Mess,’ me and my producer Peter Miles combined a lot of the parts I recorded for the demo into the song. There are a lot of my original harmony parts, my clarinets are in there, and the NYE countdown – I think I’m finally starting to understand how to build on a demo to grow it but still keep the magic; for both me and my audience!
Ciaran O’Brien worked with you on the lyric video for ‘Hot Mess,’ but it’s not the first time you’ve collaborated. How important is it to you to work with a group of creatives who understand you and have a deeper level of trust?
I’ve really been enjoying expanding my creative team recently! Though it is so valuable to work with people you trust (I’ve worked with my friends on so many creative projects) I’m learning the value of trusting new people’s creative visions. I’d been working with director Tash Tung on a big project (shh!) and it’s been amazing to leave the music in her hands and watch her create something so fresh out of it. I’m enjoying the mixture recently! Ciaran is obviously a trustworthy, super talented DOP and I’m so lucky to get to work with him – my flatmate Greta Isaac is an incredible creative director and best friend and brainstorming
We’ve got to say, your shows have some of the best energy we’ve experienced. You’ve created a very wholesome safe space for your audiences. Is this something you’ve consciously curated and do you think the intimate nature of your work has contributed to the vibe of your fanbase?
Ahh, that’s so lovely to hear. I feel the same! I feel like you receive what you put out – so for me, I’ve collected a wonderful fanbase of usually queer, music-loving people who are trying to navigate life and big feelings! And there’s nothing better than sharing the weight of said big feelings among so many of these people in a room. I miss it ALWAYS – I wish I could play shows all the time.
And lastly, we’ve had Dodie yellow, the Dodie buns, and Dodie dots. Is there a specific aesthetic you’re channeling for the Hot Mess era?
Haha! I know, I feel like I’m always trying to define my identity. My friend Shannon told me I was in my “gossamer” era – I don’t really know what that means but I put a lot of trust in my creative directors Greta Isaac and Karina Barberis who helped tie in the messy, fraught, intimate, tactile themes that run throughout the EP into the whole aesthetic. It feels like a little more grown-up than my usual look – and I love it!
Dodie is such a lovely person, and we’re so excited we were able to chat with them!
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