Kat Dahlia’s Mirror on American Idol

With the release of her debut album, My Garden in January, Kat Dahlia has been making waves not only in the music world, but capturing the attention of television audiences as well.

Last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy featured Kat’s light-hearted love song “I Think I’m In Love”, an upcoming single from the Miami songstress.

Don’t miss this week’s episode of American Idol to hear one of Dahlia’s earlier tunes that was reproduced by Timbaland for the My Garden release, “Mirror”. Tune in Wednesday, February 18th at 8/7c on Fox and listen to “Mirror” below.

 

Miami Herald Interviews Kat Dahlia

kat dahlia miami herald

Kat Dahlia could have been just another party girl on the alluring treadmill of quick-cash waitressing jobs and alcohol and substance-fueled club nights, with a junkie boyfriend thrown in to keep things interesting. But the 24-year-old Miami-raised singer and songwriter had three qualities to lift her out of that dead-end cycle: a vivid musical imagination, a singularly soulful voice and a combination of grit and naivete.

Which have brought her to the exceedingly rare position of being maybe-the-next-hot-thing, an original artist who has come out of nowhere (i.e. no TV reality shows) with a major label album, My Garden, released last month and popping on the iTunes charts; videos with millions of Youtube views; performances on the Today Show, a Super Bowl event, and the upcoming SXSW; and salutes from NPR, Entertainment Weekly and Latina Magazinefor her sultry, defiant and emotionally fraught songs and gutsy, bluesy voice.

“I think it was all the bad stuff that happened to me, some good stuff had to happen to me too,” Dahlia said recently over an espresso at the Buena Vista Deli, near the Design District. “Songwriting for me is always like a movie, but based on true [stuff]. Maybe my life became so dramatic because I always imagined life in a dramatic way. I love relationships. I love love. I love hate.”

Her life has had its share of drama. Dahlia, whose real name is Katriana Huguet, grew up in Miami with six siblings, from her Cuban exile parents’ marriage to each other and from other relationships. After the couple divorced, Dahlia’s father started spending much of his time in casinos, while the kids lived with Dahlia’s mother, moving annually as the couple’s successful moving business failed. During the Elian Gonzalez controversy, they sold Cuban flags on the street. “Yeah, we were that family,” Dahlia says, rolling her eyes.

She got into music in part because she and her siblings were always home, making up raps to entertain themselves in lieu of watching cable TV the family couldn’t afford. But Dahlia was obsessed with music, starting with Britney Spears and Disney soundtracks, moving on to classic rock — Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Ramones; and from there to jazz and blues. As Dahlia became a rebellious, black-clad teenager, she began writing songs and shutting herself up with her music, often because her infuriated mother had grounded her for sneaking out to South Beach music clubs like Jazid and Purdy Lounge.

“I’d sit in my room and let my mind go — listen to B.B. King for hours, over and over, just lay in bed and imagine things and sing it out,” she says. “I had a lot of angst.” Miami Beach Senior High School was a major source. “I hated school — I just thought ‘what is the purpose?’ Learn this so you can pass this test, so you can go to college, get a piece of paper, get a job. I’d say ‘when does it end?’ And the teachers would be like ‘just learn this chapter!’”

She was still in school when she started waitressing at high-end South Beach hotels and getting deeper into nightlife. But after getting fired twice, she jumped off the merry-go-round. “It’s a really fun lifestyle — and I was young and making money,” Dahlia says. “But you’re just treading water: paying your rent, going out partying, going to the beach, going to work, partying again. It’s a never-ending cycle.”

A month after losing her job Dahlia, 20, was off to North Bergen, New Jersey, where she could crash with her father’s relatives and live just across the Hudson River from New York music fantasies. But she was soon floundering in a toxic, abusive relationship with a boyfriend addicted to cocaine and alcohol. She managed to leave after a year, then struggled, waiting tables and trying to make music.

Her frustration overflowed a day after fighting with her manager about working yet another double shift. She sat down at the restaurant’s bar and wrote Gangsta, a throbbing, soulful blues-hip-hop hybrid where Dahlia veers between confessional despair over hard times and her desolate family history to a defiant chorus of “I do it all myself, I don’t get no help.” She recorded it in one take in a session she paid for with the tips from all those double shifts; the video, with Dahlia slinking through Little Havana, has now gotten more than 17 million Youtube views.

Writing songs became an emotional outlet — a way to process her past and present. I Think I’m in Love tells of her fear of being trapped by love. “I’m falling for this guy and I’m terrified, and when I’m terrified I tend to push people away and put on this tough exterior,” she says. “But really I’m going crazy, like I’m hallucinating. It has those moments where I hate that I’m falling for you, because I don’t want to get hurt again.”

Dahlia says she was clueless about the music business. “I didn’t know anyone or anything,” she says. “But I started realizing there are so many artists inspiring me and people who actually do this. So I started to ask, ‘How do you do this? How does this work?” She began fumbling her way, paying for studio time and an engineer to record some of her songs, throwing her own celebration of the EP she recorded in a single day. She was at a party at a New York recording studio when her music came on and Dahlia saw a woman eyeing her with peculiar intensity.

“She’s staring me down, and I’m thinking does she want to [have sex with] me or fight me? I’m like what the [hell] is wrong with this [girl]?” Dahlia says. But the woman turned out to be a representative for a new label, Vested in Culture, a subsidiary of Epic Records. Both are headed by Sylvia Rhone, a legendary veteran music executive who has headed several major labels and overseen the careers of a host of major artists, including En Vogue, Missy Elliot, Natalie Merchant, Erykah Badu, Jason Mraz and India.Arie. Rhone was so struck by Dahlia’s music that she met the singer and began the process of signing her the next day.

“I felt she was one of a kind,” Rhone says. “You could hear she had artistic integrity, a great voice, soul to that voice and emotion in her songs. She was one of the most authentic and original artists I had heard in a long time.”

Rhone thinks Dahlia’s outspoken personality and gritty background will help her stand out in a world of media-groomed video vixens.

“Look at Amy Winehouse and Adele — they didn’t fit into any cookie-cutter pop formula,” Rhone says. “I’ve been in the business a while and signed a lot of different artists. I’m always attracted to people who have a story and are honest about who they are and can engage emotionally. Kat has lived a life, and it has informed her art.”

(Though VIC is promoting Dahlia as a Latin artist, My Garden has only one song in Spanish, Tumbao, a hip-hop homage to Celia Cruz’s La Negra Tiene Tumbao. Dahlia, who idolizes Cruz and the Spanish flamenco-soul singer Buika, says her next album will focus on Latin and Cuban music.)

Despite her lack of performing experience, she loves being on stage. She has done one short tour, with another slated this spring. In concert she can bring the audience into the emotional fantasies of her teenage room, expanding the soul-baring relief she gets from songwriting.

“Someone suggested that I should tell my story through the songs,” she says. “I was like omigod this could be like a one woman show, but musical. I connect all the songs and it becomes a story.

“Ironically, the more honest I am about myself with people, the more comfortable I get on stage. … It’s always about bringing them into that world and bringing them into that room, getting people immersed in the music and the story.”

www.katdahlia.com

Examiner.com Calls Kat Dahlia “The Artist to Watch in 2015”

Story courtesy of Examiner.com

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Kat Dahlia is quickly winning over the nation with her fierce musical honesty. The Cuban-American artist has a raw, intoxicatingly throaty vocal delivery that is instantly addictive. She is a fearsome life-warrior with her share of battle scars, yet possessing a completely vulnerable side to her soul, as well — it’s not unheard-of for Kat to careen on the edge of tears while lost in a reflective moment on stage. A one-on-one with the artist reveals her refreshingly engaging, poetic, and profoundly contemplative nature. All of these wonderful aspects converge in this young talent who is quickly captivating audiences around the country. With the recent release of her debut album, My Garden, and the video premiere of the title track less than two weeks ago, plus the phenomenal response to her iTunes “Single of the Week” (Sony’s second highest download in recent history), 2015 is poised to be the year of the Kat. This week not only is Dahlia appearing on NBC’s “Today” show (Monday, January 26, 10 a.m. ET), but she will also be a part of the Super Bowl Fan Fest in Phoenix, Arizona on January 29.

My Garden is pretty much Kat’s autobiography. If you have seen her live show, you understand how all of the pieces fit together and you probably walked away from her performance with a greater understanding and a deep respect for this artist’s life and talent. Unlike her live show, however, Kat revealed in a recent interview with Examiner that the songs on the album do not appear in chronological order and thus offer a completely different experience than her concerts.

“The order of the songs on the album was more of a vibe thing,” she explained “I really liked the idea of opening up with ‘My Garden.’ It just felt like it was right because the song comes in so strong.” Kat proceeded to sing the opening lines of “My Garden” to demonstrate the songs power. On that track, the artist really sinks deep into her throat and sings with a brawny defiance that demands respect.

“The whole concept of ‘My Garden’ was basically me becoming this woman who is just in it for the money and the glam. This money-chasing woman is a persona that I took on for a short while, but it didn’t really last. But it was definitely something I tried out! I thought, ‘You know what, I want to be heartless! I want to do things for me! If a guy wants to fly me out and spend all of his money on me, well, I’m going to let him!’ I’m not really a materialistic kind of girl, but I thought I would just take advantage of what I was being offered and see if it could fill the void that I have within me. I quickly realized it did not fill any void whatsoever. If anything it made it bigger! I ended up falling for the same person all over again. I was trying to be tough and heartless, but it just didn’t work out.”

“Not a lot of people see that side, though,” she added. “If you don’t go to the live show, you won’t get that inside scoop, and you won’t understand how it all really connects.”

Kat went on to point out that since her song “Gangsta” had already made such a big impact on fans, that had to be the second track. “And then, we went on from there.”

My Garden is a solid debut featuring songs that truly reverberate with the human experience. Some tracks drift a little closer to mainstream hits, while others are firmly rooted in her cultural heritage. It is important to note, however, that not a single recording strays from the core of who Kat Dahlia is. The album is an expansive world with each song being a point of entry to a different neighborhood in Dahlia’s story.

With so many facets of herself represented on the album, Examiner wondered, if people could only pick one song to listen to, which song would Dahlia want that to be?

“That’s a really good question!” she responded. “I think that my instinct would say to listen to ‘Just Another Dude’ because it’s so honest and raw. Also it’s something I did very impromptu. When I recorded it, I just went into the booth and I blacked out. Most of the song came out in that one take. I didn’t write anything down, we just went in and captured the moment. That song is literally just me and my emotions.”

“It has this crazy balance of being so vulnerable, but there is also so much strength in that song,” she continued. “It’s so vulnerable because on one hand it’s like, ‘F*** you! You got me so f***ing bad!” But at the same time it’s saying, ‘You know what? I really don’t give a s*** because you’re just another f***ing dude!’ It’s not always about getting sad and crying, sometimes there’s a strength that follows the pain.”

When asked what her current romantic situation was, Kat declared, “I am so happy being in absolutely nothing right now. I am in the desert… and it’s the best desert that I’ve ever been in! No water, no problem. I will survive,” she laughed.

In closing, Kat offered a huge thanks to her fans for following her through all that she’s been through leading up to this moment. “Hopefully, I’ll get to see everyone again on the second leg of this tour!”

Kat Dahlia’s My Garden is now available on Vested in Culture, a division of Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment. Be sure to watch her this Monday morning (January 26) on NBC’s Today show. For more information, visit her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: ‘MY GARDEN,’ KAT DAHLIA

Less than a year ago, singer, songwriter, and rapper Kat Dahlia’s fate was uncertain. She canceled a worldwide tour, changed her phone number, and essentially disappeared from a once very active social scene. She could hardly speak, let alone sing. “It took a big emotional toll on me. I went to the doctor, who said it was a pseudocyst [on my vocal chords], and I literally put myself into a cocoon for four months,” she says. But after four months of near solitary confinement, Dahlia’s voice suddenly came back.

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Born in Miami to Cuban parents, the 24-year-old artist began rapping at the age of eight and writing original songs by age 15. Three years later, she packed up and moved to New York without a plan, soon thereafter becoming involved in a toxic relationship that became the basis of her just-released debut album, My Garden (Vested in Culture/Epic Records). Her sultry and raspy vocals are paired with music produced by Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Salaam Remi to create tracks imbued with catchy loops that verge on the edge of dark pop, but simultaneously evoke notions of Rihanna-meets-Nelly Furtado and resonate on an emotional level.

In the titular track from the album, Dahlia croons “I’ll let your rain fall down if it sparkles like diamonds / just let me wear the crown / my garden’s appetizin’,” speaking frankly about a woman inviting men into her life solely for the sake of money. In the video for the song, which is exclusively premiering below, Dahlia surrounds herself with nothing but snakes, flowers, and objects of desire. The visuals allow for multiple interpretations, echoing the lyrics’ inherent duality.

We spoke with the artist about the concept of the video, producing the album, and what’s to come.

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EMILY MCDERMOTT: What made you want to be the only person in the video rather than including other people?

KAT DAHLIA: [laughs] I don’t know if you’ve seen Great Expectations–the 1998 version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert De Niro–but basically Miss Havisham is this older, super glamorous woman living in this old, old house by herself. It’s this big beautiful house, but it’s overgrown with vines and bushes. She was heartbroken years ago, left at the altar on the day of her wedding, so the house is literally left as is since the day of the wedding. She hasn’t touched it. She kind of went crazy, living in this house alone. I was inspired by the whole idea of this glamorous, over the top, very dramatic woman that lives alone in this house with this garden and she’s inviting people in. As glamorous as she is, there’s also a darkness, eeriness, and sadness to it. That’s where I was inspired originally for the treatment and when I got with [Michael] Garcia, the director, he took it on another level. He found this amazing location in Miami and we started from there. I didn’t think too much of it; I didn’t really see other people in the video, you know? I saw more of just this story of a woman.

MCDERMOTT: That comes through in the lyrics, how this woman invites men into her life because of wealth instead of any real feeling. But then the snake–snakes can represent so many different things. What does it mean for you?

DAHLIA: Honestly, snakes can be interpreted in so many ways. I’ve had some snakes in my garden that I’ve had to run out of my life, but snakes can also be very strong, a strong image. Snakes in their nature are very independent. They don’t have many dependencies on anything, right? They eat like once a week, they aren’t very attached to anything worldly, so the dynamic of snakes and then this woman that is attached to all these worldly things, I like those together. It’s a really strong, eye-catching image. The video and the song can be very sexual, but these snakes make it a little scary and eerie. It’s like you’re scared, but turned on at the same time. I like those two emotions together.

MCDERMOTT: I know there were some snakes you had to wrestle with in your life. I read the album was inspired by an abusive relationship you were in. How did that influence you and how have you grown since?

DAHLIA: Well, I got into a relationship years ago–at this point it’s been like three years–and it wasn’t what I expected. Sometimes you get into situations and they’re big illusions. When you start peeling back the layers, you start to see the truth. In other words, there were a lot of demons in this person that I didn’t realize were there. I saw myself in this world with him and taking on all of his demons as well. It was hard to let go of that because, as a female or as people in general, we like to feel needed. So it’s so hard to walk away because I did feel needed in that situation; I felt dependent and dependable. It was a really rough time, it was hard to get away, but ultimately as long as you put a person on a pedestal and are like, “I’ll never meet anybody that I have a connection with, da-da-da-da,” those things aren’t as special as you make them out to be. It took a long time, but I finally found happiness within myself and not in a relationship.

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MCDERMOTT: So were you writing these songs while you were in the relationship? Or after?

DAHLIA: It was during and after the relationship. A lot after, a little bit during, but it was so hectic during I didn’t have a lot of time to think about writing.

MCDERMOTT: It’s obviously difficult to walk away from a relationship, but what were some of the things that helped you walk away and move on?

DAHLIA: Initially it was just the physical distance. He moved away, so that really helped. It really sucked and it hurt and I felt lonely and all that crap. But I think what ultimately got me out of it was I went back and he was with this other girl. This other girl hated me, and then he got back with me, but then I found out he was still talking to her. This girl was in a very dark place, their dynamic was really weird. I looked at the whole situation objectively and was like, “Why did I get myself into all of this drama? I’m at a good place in my career, everything is going well, and I’m just fucking around, just messing around with this, even though I know it isn’t going to work out.” I think that’s what got me to finally walk away. It’s one thing if you’re a drug addict, but I won’t stick by you if you’re talking to another girl. If you’re cheating on me with drugs that’s one thing. If you’re cheating on me with a girl, mmm, I’m good. I don’t want any bullshit.

MCDERMOTT: I know the album was originally supposed to come out last year, but then you had problems with your vocal chords and had to have surgery?

DAHLIA: It happened about a year ago. My voice was not feeling right. You know, sometimes you go out drinking and wakeup the next day–”Oh yeah, I’m hungover. My voice is a little raspy, but whatever. It gets back to normal and I can sing the notes.” But this time it wasn’t happening and I knew something was wrong. I was like, “I’ve been working so much. I’m just over-singing, working, working, working, and not sleeping enough.” Then one day it hit me. I was like, “Something’s wrong, guys. Something’s wrong.” We had to cancel the tour, which was devastating. I changed my number. I completely cut almost everybody out of my life so I could breathe and reflect and focus on what I needed to. I’m kind of a people pleaser–I take on people’s interests and desires in front of my own, and I needed to not focus on anybody, kick off bad habits, and relax, work on my voice. I got vocal therapy for a few months, got really, really healthy, and all of a sudden I got my voice back. It was a big rollercoaster. Some days I was like, “I’m gonna get it back, I’m gonna get it back.” But there were other days where I was worried I would have to start waiting tables, like, “I gotta start looking for a job.” There were a lot of ups and down, but it worked out and was really the time that I needed.

MCDERMOTT: What would you say you discovered about yourself in those four months of isolation?

DAHLIA: I realized a lot of things about myself, one is that I put other people’s needs ahead of my own. I really like to be social and go out, and I guess my priorities weren’t right. I tend to keep my mouth shut too much and then I’ll write a song about it or I’ll end up overworking myself to the point that I can’t sing anymore. A lot of those things I’m still working on. A lot of times I’ll still let things pass, and pass, and pass, and I won’t say anything, until one day it will blow the fuck up. I need to work on that. [laughs] I realized that the only thing I really did love was music and that was the only thing I wanted to do, not this other shit. There isn’t really anything besides music that makes me feel wholesome and nourished. I feel like the only thing that nourished me was music. There was nothing else. If I didn’t do music, I was gonna be really fucking miserable.

MCDERMOTT: You started rapping when you were eight and then started writing when you were 15. How did you first become interested in rapping and music?

DAHLIA: Me and my brother and sisters used to just mess around and make these stupid little raps at home when we were bored. We loved making stupid songs and making things rhyme. I always had an affinity for poetry and words. I loved it. So really, it just started off as a fun hobby that we loved to do. Then I took it a lot further.

MCDERMOTT: What’s one of the songs you and your siblings wrote?

DAHLIA: We wrote a remix to the Sublime’s “[Waiting For My] Ruca.” It was talking about how we were bored at home waiting for the pizza. Literally, one of the lyrics was like, [starts singing] “And we’re bored. We’re so damn bored. And we’re waiting for the pizza.” We were really young. We just wrote dumb stuff, man. We wrote another song, it was a rap, talking about how I pick on my sister. We did both sides, so I was like, [starts rapping] “My name’s Katie and da-da-da-da,” and then Valerie was like, “Hey I’m Valerie, the little sister that she beats,” [then I would be like], “I never did anything! She’s so special to me.” [laughs] Every other weekend we would be with my dad just hanging around the house, watching TV. We’d get bored, you know? So we started pulling up instrumentals–on dial-up, we’d sit by the computer and wait for the [makes dial-up noise], then login, and do stupid remixes to songs. It was really just a way to pass the time.

MCDERMOTT: Does your sister still do music? Would you ever consider doing something with her now?

DAHLIA: She’s in school now. She’s in college. My other sister, my brother, everyone honestly got very business-y on me, except my older brother. He’s writing and still plays the guitar, so sometimes we’ll jam out. And my little sister, she comes on tour with me sometimes. She’ll travel with me and she does love to sing, but I think she’s still trying to figure it out.

MCDERMOTT: Do you play any instruments?

DAHLIA: I don’t. I played the drums for a little while, but we moved into another tiny apartment and then I kind of got nothing out of it.

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MCDERMOTT: So this album has been a long time coming. How do you feel like you’ve changed since you first released “Gangstas” in 2013?

DAHLIA: I’ve learned a lot about the industry. I’ve learned a lot about making records. I’ve learned about myself. I’ve had so many life expriences and those experiences create you little by little. You’re never going to be the same person you were yesterday, right? I don’t think I’ve changed so, so much, but I’ve definitely gone through some more traumatic things that really changed my way of seeing.

MCDERMOTT: Aside from the thought of losing your voice, what is one of the biggest struggles you’ve overcome?

DAHLIA: Not worrying about other people’s judgment. I used to not give a shit, and then I started giving a shit, and then I stopped giving a shit again.

MCDERMOTT: When did you start caring?

DAHLIA: The pressure from people’s expectations starts to sink in and then you start worrying about whether you’re good enough, all this stupid, superficial bullshit. I have to stop and remind myself, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I’m kind of the shit. I’m good.” No mater what, people are gonna fuck with me, then they’re gonna fuck with me more, and I don’t really care. I’m not gonna be there just trying to create something that’ll make everybody feel like, “Oh my god this is a hit!” That pressure of making a hit–no, I’m just going to make a fucking amazing album and something that the fans enjoy. I’m gonna be loyal to the fans. I’m not gonna be there trying to make some generic shit that the masses are going to love for the moment. What does that really do for anybody? What does that do for me? Is that going to make me happy–this generic, formulaic little hit that’ll make everybody bob their head? No. It’s going to be the shit. When I stuck to that, other things fell into place.

MCDERMOTT: What are you working on now?

DAHLIA: I just finished a song yesterday, actually, that’s really fucking good. I don’t really want to talk about it because I want to focus on this album! [laughs] But I mean, I think it’s really good and really huge. I don’t wanna wait three years for everybody to hear it, so I’m working on the second album now and really getting it out, probably, by the fall. I just want to have another album out. I don’t want to wait a really long time, because you never know when a pseudocyst just pops up into your life and decides to lag everything.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE ARITST, VISIT HER WEBSITE.

 

Kat Dahlia Welcomes You to Her Garden of Fresh Music

It took almost three years for Kat Dahlia’s potent and heartfelt music to bloom. The Miami-based powerhouse is ready to kick a** in 2015 with her debut studio album “My Garden.”

“We put together the best 11 records I’ve made in the last three years,” Kat Dahlia told VOXXI about her new production for which she recorded over 100 songs. “In a way it’s kinda like my greatest hits.”

After dealing with health issues and a rough year in 2014, the 24-year-old urban artist is off to a good start.

The first gem of the year is the release of her first studio album called “My Garden.” “The fans have been waiting for it. Everything happens for a reason and the timing is right,” she said.

Kat Dahlia is a rapper.
Kat Dahlia poses for a portrait at Hits 97.3 radio station on November 5, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

For Dahlia, all the tracks in the album are her babies, primarily because they all have a different story to them, but one of the records that really hits home for her is “Just Another Dude.”

“A lot of people can relate to that record,” she said of the song that speaks of an abusive relationship. “It’s really special to me.”

Another single that stands out, aside her hit singles “Gangsta,” “Crazy” and “Mirror,” is the only Spanish-language tune on the album, “Tumbao.” As a Cuban-American, Dahlia told VOXXI that she definitely wants to “put out a project in Spanish.”

In addition to the launch of “My Garden” out January 13, Dahlia embarked her first-ever headlining tour ending last year, recalling the multiple gigs around the states as one of her favorite experiences ever.

For Dahlia, the new year is a chance to find balance and set her priorities straight.

“I want to find balance in having my priorities right, but also having a good time and making sure that work is always at the forefront,” she said of her new year’s resolution.

She also stated that the key to success is always staying true to yourself –“as cheesy as it may sound.”

Kat Dahlia Talks Debut Album with Miami Times

It’s been a tumultuous three years for singer-songwriter Kat Dahlia.

In 2012, the fledgling recording artist and former waitress signed a recording contract with Epic Records. A year later, she released her first single, the piano-laced hit “Gangsta,” which ranked 47th on Billboard‘s Hop R&B Songs of 2013 list and has garnered more than 15 million views on YouTube so far.

Two summers ago, Dahlia got pulled over for a DUI, but that hardly affected her career. In 2014, Complex ranked her debut album as the year’s 46th most anticipated album while she made plans for her first national tour.

See also: The 10 People Who Won’t Make It in Miami

But then things went south. She couldn’t hit her notes. Something was wrong with her voice. She had a cyst on her vocal chord, it turned out, and her singing career, she learned, was in jeopardy. Her tour was cancelled. Her album was put on hold. For 10 days straight, she couldn’t speak a word. She stopped socializing and became a hermit. She even changed her phone number. It took six months for her to fully recover, but by the end of 2014, she was back in the studio. She wrote some new songs. She went on tour. And most importantly, she finally finished her album.

My Garden has been a longtime coming and it doesn’t disappoint. The 11-track album is a heartfelt portrayal of Dahlia in all her manifestations and moods. Like her debut single, “Gangsta,” it’s raw and it’s gritty with a smattering of ruthless honesty and daring innuendo. For a first album, it’s an impressive feat that stands strongly on its own. Dahlia wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album, which originally consisted of over 100 songs that were ultimately culled down to 11.

The songs themselves navigate a range of emotions and experiences from the young singer’s life. Many of the songs, she said, were influenced by an abusive relationship from her past. She sings of falling in love and falling out of love; about anger and unity. Her ballads are introspective and candid, almost to the point of sounding confessional, but therein lies Dahlia’s charm. She doesn’t sugarcoat things or dull her emotions. She tells it how it is, through both her words and vocal intonations. Her throaty voice and storytelling tendencies have garnered comparisons to Joni Mitchell, as well as Lauryn Hill, but one could argue that Dahlia is not that easy to categorize.

Growing up, Dahlia listened to a mélange of different artists and genres. She was a fan of reggae and pop, just as much as she was a fan of rap and soul. “When I was younger, I would sit in my room for hours alone and play my CD’s,” she said. “I’d play a Led Zeppelin tape, then I’d play Jackson Five. I’d play Frank Sinatra and Elvis, then A Tribe Called Quest, and then B.B. King.”

Like her musical tastes of yore, Dahlia’s sound is all over the map. She sings catchy love ballads, but she’s not really a pop singer. She raps, but only in two songs. She’s got a thing for slow melodies and emotive lyrics, but she’s not solely an R&B/soul artist, either.

And yet, despite the smorgasbord of genres in the album–there’s rap, trap, pop, soul, jazz, R&B, salsa, and more–the songs fit together. Dahlia is telling us a story about her life. She’s inviting us into her world, or garden, if you will, and offering an up-close and personal view of who she is at her core. Once you realize this, the mercurial nature of the album–the multitude of genres and styles, the tempo changes, the mood shifts–starts to make sense. My Garden is an evolutionary project, one that took three years to create. During that time, Dahlia lived and learned, matured and changed, so it makes sense that her album would, as well, and the finished product is a reflection of that.

My Garden is available to stream or purchase on iTunes

Kat Dahlia Talks About Her New Album ‘My Garden’ with Latin Times

Cuban-American Singer & Songwriter Kat Dahlia

Kat Dahlia talks to Latin Times about her new album “My Garden” and musical career. Karina Robledo

 

The spirited 22-year-old was raised by Cuban-born parents in Miami Beach. Though fluent in English and Spanish, her French surname, Huguet, is owed to her paternal great-grandparents who came to Cuba from Lebanon. Kat’s parents emigrated to the U.S. as children and their island culture carried over into the language and salsa music that was fundamental to her upbringing, as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Willies wafted through the air in her abuela’s kitchen. “I always knew I wanted to do music. I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.” Kat performed her first solo, “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie, at a benefit when she was 8-years-old and started writing her own songs at age 15. she’s the rare artist who will go into the studio and record nine songs in one day. Tell her she can’t do it and she’ll prove the naysayers wrong.She soon settled in North Bergen, New Jersey, but on arrival in 2010, became derailed by a toxic relationship.

 

A year later, she emerged confident, strong, running her own game and endowed with the insight to channel her emotions into songs that she wrote. That’s when Kat Hue became Kat Dahlia. “My friend J. Dens—who produced ‘Gangsta’ and ‘My Garden’—came up with the name Kat Dahlia,” she explains. “At first, I was hesitant about it because I thought maybe it was too dark and harsh. But when I looked up the definition of a dahlia, I discovered that it’s a beautiful flower, one of a kind that’s very hard to grow and very hard to duplicate. I also like the duality of the hardness and softness of the name, which is why I feel it’s an accurate reflection of me as an artist.” For years, she waited tables six days a week to save up enough money to independently fund studio sessions, a music video and an EP all on her own. That combination of hustle and infectious vocals is why music industry veteran Sylvia Rhone swiftly signed Kat to her Vested in Culture label with Epic Records the very first time she heard her demos.Kat is a talented Latina artist and a true example of resilience and determination. Take a look at what she shared with Latin Times.

 

 

Kat Dahlia Reps the Darker Side of the Sunshine State

Story courtesy of MTV Iggy

Kat Dahlia My Garden

Name: Kat Dahlia

Where She’s From: Miami, Florida

When She Started: 2012

Genre: Pop

For Fans Of: Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, Nabiha

Sounds Like: coffee and cigarettes with your wise, hungover big sister.

Almost two years since she garnered YouTube fame with her gritty single, “Gangsta,” this week Cuban-American singer-songwriter Kat Dahlia will finally drop her debut studio album, My Garden. An impressive showcase of her smoky alto and no-nonsense rhymes, her new album boasts production credits by TimbalandMissy Elliott and Salaam Remi (who has also produced Amy Winehouse, Nas and The Fugees).

Kat Dahlia’s style is undoubtedly homegrown in the 305, otherwise known as the vibrant, Caribbean landscape of Miami-Dade County. But the genealogy of her sound spans time, space and heritage; she cites musical influences from blues to reggae, classic rock to Jamaican dancehall. In an interview with NPR’s Alt.Latino, Dahlia recounts the time an industry rep pressured her to cater more specifically to the Latin pop market, by flavoring her R&B-cultivated sass with a little more sazón. She, therefore, penned the song “Tumbao,” giving nod to her Afro-Cuban predecessor, the late salsa queen Celia Cruz. “La blanca tiene tumbao,” she bellows in Spanish, attesting to both her own impeccable sense of rhythm and reverence for her musical and cultural roots.

The new album also features songs from her self-released 2013 mixtape, Seeds, including the overcast, cautionary tale of “Gangsta” and the slow burning trap jam, “Clocks.” Despite her big deal with Epic Records, she hardly loses her edge. She has a knack for bookending even the most sentimental hooks with a little bit of spitfire. Take in the rugged romanticism of the following lines of her most pop-friendly (albeit rated R) ballad, “I Think I’m In Love Again”:

I make fun of your belly
And tell you to do some crunches
And you say ‘well, yeah your ass jiggles’
‘Go do some lunges’
I say ‘fuck you’
While I’m thinking of you as my husband.

My Garden is set for release January 13 on Epic Records. Listen to her latest single, “Crazy” below:

Kat Dahlia Premieres Lyric Video for “Mirror”

ARTISTdirect gets up close and personal with husky-voiced chanteuse Kat Dahlia and learning the inside scoop about songs on her flawless new record My Garden, out January 13 [iTunes link], for the next few days. We admit it. We’ve crushed –hard—on Kat Dahlia for the past two years, so we are psyched that she is dropping this platter and that we are able to share these exclusive and intimate videos with you.

Kat Dahlia Tour 2014

Today, we are sharing the clip for “Mirror,” during which Kat Dahlia offers her intimate commentary on the song and her lyrics, followed by the song with lyrics. Now is your chance to dive into these songs and get to know Kat Dahlia and her music a little better, since her star is most definitely on the rise. We expect to hear a lot more from her in 2015 and beyond. #GirlCrush.

So settle in and take a look in the “Mirror,” which is a heartfelt, emotionally oozing song that will still have you bobbing dat head.

http://cache.vevo.com/m/html/embed.html?video=USSM21402201&sbId=346C2586-D3F8-4B75-BA0D-398FDB6E4C08

Tune into tomorrow for an inside look-and-listen for “Just Another Dude,” with more clips to follow next week.

Did you dig Kat Dahlia’s “Mirror?”

—Amy Sciarretto
01.08.15