Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Dana Williams

Volume 24 of Disfunkshion Magazine has recently hit newsstands and it's chock full of my writing. I say this so boldly because I am deeply proud of these published works; both my interviews and free-form topics of my own musings. To have a beautiful, thought-provoking publication like Disfunkshion magazine support my creativity alongside empowering women all over the world, makes my heart burst. 

For this volume, I had the pleasure of interviewing singer/songwriter Dana Williams as she shared both love and loss threaded with hope and triumph, and what it means to contribute your art to the world. 

Leah Lou Style + Dana Williams
Leah Lou Style + Dana Williams Disfunkshion

The Wisdom of Dana Williams

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

From the first time you hear or see her perform, singer/songwriter Dana Williams will not only mesmerize you with her soulful voice, but hold you with her presence, her poise, and her depth. She is transfixed as she transfixes.

“For me, singing is very therapeutic. It takes me to a place of satisfaction and peace. No matter what is going on in my life, I can use singing as a release,” she explains. There is a consistent dynamism to her performance, made clear in both her stunning original tracks and her clever covers of more modern influence. As Dana describes, “I think the direction and vision that has always guided me is jazzy and retro, and I think moving forward I will continue to explore those styles.”

With inspiration drawn from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Carole King, Amy Winehouse, Sam Cooke and Patsy Cline (to name a few), Dana transports her listeners to a different place and time; perhaps, a dimly lit lounge where swirls of smoke envelope smartly-dressed guests poised atop velvet armchairs. Her vibe and vocals are romantic, dreamy, and give her obvious youth an “old-soul” quality. When you watch her get lost in the strings of her guitar, she comes across as a friend who will meet you where you are, while providing gentle wisdom and love to overcome any hardship. She is a confidant because she too has felt hurt and tragedy alongside hope and triumph.

Dana finds a release and a comfort in writing and singing about loss. “I think I, along with most people, have experienced loss to some capacity, losing my father was really hard for me.” The beauty of her exploring her talent and writing “for [herself] and anyone who can relate to what I’m going through” is that she is able to keep the memory and support of her father, living and breathing through melody and string. She explains, “Anytime he taught me a song or a riff he’d say, ‘practice this and make it your own.’ He taught me that individuality and authenticity were important and that finding your own voice is what sets you apart from the rest, so now anything I do I try to make it my own.” To this personal mantra Dana adds, “In a visual age where there is so much emphasis on imagery and beauty, it is important to know who you are, so that no one can tell you who you are and what you are capable of.”

Talented both in dreamlike vocals and seemingly effortless guitar rhythms, Dana supplements her original songs with equally captivating acoustic covers and delightful collaborations with other artists--most notably, is her duet with Leighton Meester, covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Nearing 4 million views on youtube, the women had not anticipated such a strong positive response to this recording, “so we decided to do it again. But [Meester] mostly is just really fun to collaborate with and it’s really cool how well our voices blend.”

Whether solo or supporting another artist, Dana Williams is inarguably magnetic. When she performs, “sometimes, my mind is entirely clear and the only thing I am thinking about is the story I’m telling, and other nights I spend much of it watching the audience to see their reactions.” To explore more of her talent, start with Dana’s single “Fooling Myself,” but don’t be surprised if you lose track of time and browse through any number of her videos, songs, and alluring stories. 

Learn more about Dana Williams >>here<<

Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

seriously....go get lost in the chill-inducing magic of her voice. You'll find a couple of my favorites below:

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Dumblonde

When Disfunkshion magazine requests an interview, I always "do my homework" on the subject. I browse the internet to see what I can learn about them, to ground myself in who they are and what to showcase, and to judge if I am connected to sharing their depth. It's google search & gut check!

Dumblonde presented a new challenge for me: an electro-dance/pop musical group. Plus, these women started their musical careers as members of P.Diddy's girl group "Danity Kane" from his show "Making the Band." They had since parted ways with the group and it's "old guard" and were committed to carving their own place in the industry, on their terms.

So long as I didn't have to mention ANY of that history, or pretend to have expertise on "electro-pop," I was willing to take the assignment. I began this interview with the desire to showcase who these women are TODAY, who they want to be for their audience, and who they are for one another. Plus according to videos online and radio interviews alike, they were constantly being asked about their past. If I was moving forward with such force and success (and a badass sisterhood), the last thing I would want, would be to continue to address what was behind me. 

Your Roots are Showing: A Closer Look at Dumblonde

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

With pure soul, depth, courage and trust in one another, the women behind the independent alternative Dance/Pop group, Dumblonde, are making music their way and unapologetically.

From initial idea and sound, to vision and artistry, the duo Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex are touching every part of the creative process and balancing each role effectively. As Shannon explains, the creative execution comes from “above all, staying true to your vision and not allowing complacency, negativity, others opinions, or being tired to rule the outcome.” Which may sound easy for some, but with 48+hour video shoots, city tours, practices and performances, these women choose to lean on one another and balance their strengths. For Aubrey, their partnership means “[they] each excel in what each other lacks; and because [they] are VERY smart blondes, [they] are always paying attention to how powerful that message is.”

The balance the pair achieves so brilliantly is attributed to two central themes the women shared separately: Passion and fearlessness. These elements drive who they are day-to-day and the bigger picture of their reach and influence. Shannon cultivates the desire to be, “remembered for my compassion and love. Nobody is perfect, [she] prays to be known for how [she] accepts others for how imperfect they are but true to their heart.” This compassion is exactly what Aubrey looks to Shannon for. “She taught me that unconditional love is real and reminds me daily of the patience that is required to achieve it.” As an artist who continues to evolve, Aubrey wants Dumblonde to be remembered for, “fearlessness to constantly overcome and reinvent professionally and personally, and being unafraid to step outside the box and take risks with our sound, brand, visuals and overall creativity.”

Their candid soul and drive for unadulterated artistry carve a point of view that transcends music alone. It is Aubrey’s hope that independent creators gain more opportunity and access in the music industry. Especially because for her, “The entire point of art is creation and exploration and stepping outside boxes. When the business becomes more important than the freedom of that, the art suffers…when the art suffers so do the people that are inspired by it.” The lesson she shares applies to anyone following the depths of their creativity and those who are then willing to support and empower others in doing the same. As Shannon aptly states it, “Just believe in your own beauty and light. What you bring nobody else can or ever will. There is power in that knowledge. Don’t get in your own way and always encourage your sister…your journeys are unique and your God given purpose is real.”

*The lovely ladies even indulged in some quick "fun facts" with me, at the conclusion of the interview.

Favorite Food/Drink  

  • Shannon: Really good Italian & a glass of wine
  • Aubrey: sushi and a moscow mule  

Favorite Guilty Pleasures

  • Shan: riding horses, vodka martinis straight up
  • Aubrey: Dog parks, vending machine snacks

Favorite Book

  • Aubrey: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Shannon: Girl Boss (currently reading)

 Your Spirit Animal 

  • Shannon: I would have to say a horse. I’ve always been drawn to them in a deep way. To me they are regal, elegant full of strength and yet striking and full of grace. They are independent, trusting, loyal and can only be tamed as far as they allow. Forever wild at heart they are still humble and meek enough to serve others needs. 
  •  Aubrey: bird. They soar.. roam.. have a view of the overall picture more than the specifics. Are the link between heaven and earth.  

How would you describe your personal style?

  • Aubrey: constantly evolving, and I love taking risks. 
  • Shannon: Simple/Classic

Who wears the pants in the relationship?

  • Aubrey: Shan. Ewe I don't like pants. 
  • Shannon: depends on the day

Describe the other in one word.

  •  Shannon: She is “passionate”
  • Aubrey: she is "compassionate"

 

You can explore more of the talent and creativity of Dumblonde >>here<<

Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<