22-year-old Katriana Huguet, popularly known under the stage name of Kat Dahlia, rap-sings with conviction. Whether it’s her husky vocal tone, hard-hitting lyrics, or both; her music is bound to stir something in you – if you’re a human with emotions, that is. Kat Dahlia’s growth started in Miami and ended up in NYC, but her firmly planted Cuban roots has contributed much to her musical make-up, blending elements of Latin music with jazz, pop, and hip-hop to form a strong foundation. Just listen to her breakthrough single, the swagtastic “Gangsta,” and you’ll catch on to her vibe instantly. Signed to Epic Records’ Vested In Culture imprint – headed up by legendary music exec, Sylvia Rhone – the young starlet is hoping her forthcoming debut album, My Garden, will solidify her name as an honest artist in an industry full of “fake people.” We hope so, too.
“Gangsta” has been a great success for you, especially online. It’s become like a new ladies’ anthem, but the fellas be humming along too [laughs]. Did you ever expect it would do as well as it’s done?
[Laughs] I strived to make a connection with people, and to touch people’s lives with my music in an emotional way. I wanted to alter their emotions, and make them feel something. I met a driver on the road, when I was travelling, and he told me that my song was the connection to his relationship with his daughter. Music is so powerful!
Indeed, it is. Your parents are from Cuba, you grew up in Miami, and you later moved to NYC. To what extent is your music a product of your heritage and experiences from your surroundings growing up?
I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing now. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. I was very much into songwriting and, as I got older, I left Miami and went to New York. There I was in a toxic relationship. About a year after that, I put an independent EP out called Shades Of Grey, and that’s when I started getting a buzz. The Latin influences weren’t necessarily conscious. It’s influenced me, absolutely, because it’s part of my culture, but I don’t consciously think, “I want to do Latin.” I grew up on a lot of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Damian Marley, Bob Marley, Brand New Heavies, and Jackson 5. I liked pop music when I was younger, got into classic rock as a teenager, and fell in love with jazz as I got older: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, etc. My music is a melting pot of all of that.
Which three songs of yours would you suggest people listen to in order to get a real feel of who Kat Dahlia is?
“Gangsta,” “Mirrors,” and “Lose You.” “Gangsta” is real, raw, and ultimately tells my story. “Mirrors” is inspiring and talks about higher love, while “Lose You” is a relationship song and, I guess, my much more emotional side when dealing with going through a break up.
Your debut album, My Garden, is scheduled for a September release, right? What kind of things are you covering on it?
Yep, it’ll be out in September. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! I cover loads of different things, which is why I named it My Garden. I’m covering different subjects, different meanings, different stories and, ultimately, they’re all from personal experiences. The message and details of the stories might be real, or they might not, but it’s all storytelling. I have so much fun creating poetry and putting it to music, and I felt like I wanted the diversity to be shown along with the dynamic of both myself as a person, and as a creator of music.
And who have you worked with on it? Any unexpected collabs?
There’s aren’t any featured artists on the album but, producer-wise, I’ve worked with Synematik, J. Dens, Salaam Remi, The Young Boyz, and Danny King.
The LP will coming out on Epic Records imprint, Vested In Culture. How did the deal with them come to be?
I was at the studio and we were having a party, and the head of Vested In Culture, Sylvia Rhone, walks in. My music was playing, I was sitting in the corner at this point, and she was like, “I need to sign her tomorrow!” Ultimately, she did. Sylvia heard three songs and signed me there and then. Being a signed artist is extremely challenging. I doubted myself, constantly, and I still deal with certain pressures. But I work a lot, I meet a lot of real and amazing people, and I meet a lot of fake people too. It’s an amazing experience, though.
With a record deal in place, and a growing fanbase, what are your hopes and dreams for the foreseeable future?
I really want to travel the world, and spread my music for more people to hear. Deep down, what I really want to do is influence the world in a way that will change it. That’s my real hope and dream. I’m really looking forward to performing at Wireless in the UK soon, and I’ll also be doing a few shows in Paris. Catch me when you can!