ABOVE: KAT DAHLIA. PHOTO COURTESY OF EPIC RECORDS
Kat Dahlia, who burst onto the scene via Sylvia Rhone’s Vested In Culture imprint on Epic Records, brings old-school hearty vocals to today’s street-strong sound. Her first single, “Gangsta,” capitalized on her unique blend of soul singing. “She’s so unique. I knew that when I heard her, I had to have her,” explains famed record exec Rhone, who’s noted for signing such acts as Erykah Badu and Lil’ Wayne when she was at Universal-Motown in the 90s. “I think I heard the single and within the day we were in the office signing papers with the lawyer[s]. She transcends everything from Rihanna to Adele—not only in her voice but also her subject matter.” Hailing from Miami, Dahlia fuses sing-song hip-hop with her Cuban roots and love for reggae on her latest record, “Fireman,” out exclusively today on Interview.
MARCUS HOLMLUND: You grew up in Miami, Florida. Has that shaped your sound?
KAT DAHLIA: Of course. Growing up in Miami, I had all these great, strong influences. You know, being Cuban and the Latin influence, but also the strong hip-hop influence. I know that people everywhere listen to hip-hop, but especially being from the South, you really get that influence. You go out, you party, and it’s just always there. Also, I grew up listening and loving reggae music, too.
HOLMLUND: Tell me about this new record, “Fireman”…
DAHLIA: It’s just something really, really different. Especially from what else is out there right now. The label had told me to hold off, you know, wait until I had an album [out] to release it. I was always really adamant about this record. We were going back and forth, but, finally, it’s coming out. It’s definitely a good follow-up to “Gangsta” and that whole sound. I did it with a producer I’ve been working with for months now named Cinematic.
HOLMLUND: “Gangsta” really straddled the lines of hip-hop, R&B, and soul. Is that how your album will sound?
DAHLIA: Almost done with it [the album]… but it’s really a mixture of everything I’m about. But there’s no one specific sound. It’s a bunch of what I know and love. There’s a mix of different genres. It’s all the sounds I can tackle and a reflection of the sounds I can do. I wrote a lot on this album, it’s very personal.
HOLMLUND: You released an EP awhile back under the name, Kat Hue… how did you end up changing your name to Kat Dahlia?
DAHLIA: Honestly, I probably am supposed to say, “It was a new beginning and whatever,” but honestly, I’m not one for names, so, I don’t really care. It was the label; they didn’t like the name and it seemed right to change it and what not. Neither are my real name, so whatever. [laughs]
HOLMLUND: You’re new to the scene, but is there anyone with a career in the business whom you respect and admire enough to want as your own?
DAHLIA: That’s tough. I respect so many people, but I guess I’d have to say Madonna. Not being cliché or anything because she and I don’t share a similar sound, but I truly respect how she’s been in the game so long and developed so much over time and really did it her way. It’s admirable. I want something like that.
HOLMLUND: Is she someone you’d want to collaborate with in the future?
DAHLIA: I’d want to collaborate with Eminem, of all people. Maybe even Lauryn Hill. But career-wise, I’d say I’d want to have something most like Madonna. I work with a bunch of really great producers on the album. I have a few tracks with Salaam Remi and I just cut a new track with Timbaland for his album. Really excited for that to drop. I’m just glad people will finally be able to hear what I can do and all of the sounds I can tackle.
FOR MORE ON KAT DAHLIA, VISIT HER FACEBOOK PAGE.