Danity Kane: Show Stoppers, Pt 1

Click here to check out Danity Kane’s AHHA exclusive acapella of “Ride For You”

In the “sell or die” climate of today’s pop music scene, Bad Boy’s girl group Danity Kane had their skeptics. Two previous seasons leading up to Making The Band 3 failed to spawn a group with longevity. Sure, O-Town had their run, but if you watched Ashley Parker Angel’s show, it’s quite apparent that being former member of a formulated pop group can be more trouble than it’s worth. The second run of the show was a virtual train wreck of dysfunction. Granted, some members of Da Band are still doing their thing on their own, but Diddy’s heartfelt attempt to make a successful cross-genre group was futile.

As Making The Band 3 ran through three full seasons of seemingly endless trials and tribulations, it was ultimately Aubrey, Aundrea, D. Woods, Dawn and Shannon who were chosen to fulfill the dream. Despite the odds and unnerving criticism leading to the album release, Danity Kane came out on top, debuting at Number One on Billboard’s Top 200 in their first week.

We spent some quality time with the ladies to talk about their new lives in the spotlight… or shall we say, their time under the microscope.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You guys all came from different performance backgrounds before you came to Making The Band, yet a lot of people question your authenticity. Anywhere from the media to just regular viewers, people will say “They just got lucky” or “I can do that too.” How do you guys address that criticism?

D. Woods: Well, we’ll let them know that it’s not an overnight success, we’re not a fly-by-night sensation. Yes, the process of putting this group together and recording our album has been very quick, because a lot of times you’ll get signed and you’ll sit at your label for a long time; we were signed and then right away started working and now we’re being put out. Yes, that process has been very fast, but the process to get to the show, our individual paths and coming through – we had a lot of doors slammed in our face. Those situations didn’t work out the way we wanted to back then, but it was only in preparation for this situation right here.

AHHA: Given the criticism that’s been thrown at you from different angles, particularly watching you go on Miss Jones show [during the season of MTB3], how have you developed your thick skin? What kind of process has it been for you emotionally to have to deal with the fact that people are going to be purposely mean to you?

Aubrey: I feel like the thick skin has developed slowly but surely, I’ve been doing this for three years – the rest of the girls came in season two. We’re all developing our thick skin, because struggle and overcoming fears creates strength for the next time it comes to you. The only way that you can ever be a better person and a stronger person is through that struggle. And as much as everyone despises struggle and feels like there’s no other place in the world that they can turn to when they’re in those low moments in their life, those are the moments that really generate their character, and that really make them who they are. All of the superstars and names that we’ve been inspired by – Prince, Madonna, Mary [J. Blige], all of those artists [have] been through struggle. They’ve overcame it; they’ve faced adversity, they’ve faced fear and insecurity and they’ve risen above. It’s about that soul, that strength, that power that they have as a person.

All of us are developing that so quickly because we’ve been forced to live out all of these insecurities in front of millions of people every week, and that’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy when you’re alone crying in your bed at night by yourself, [laughs] it’s definitely not easy when you have mass media. Getting back to your question in situations like Miss Jones or anything, I mean you can not imagine – Miss Jones hasn’t even said the worst of what’s been said. She’s really just like good entertainment for 20 minutes when we go to her. That was shown as over-dramatic on the show for good television purposes, but that’s not even anywhere near what we have been through, or have seen or will continue to see in worse ways. So for us it’s just [that] we’ve come to a place where we learned to accept what we believe could help us grow as better people, and then moreso focus on the positive – focus on what we do and focus on what is working in our favor and follow that light. If we constantly worry about all of the other stuff we’re gonna be becoming part of that.

AHHA: How much have you guys had to work together with each other, because you didn’t come in all being friends, just to help each other through those months?

Aundrea: It’s a growing process, and we’ve all [been] coming into this because it was a competition and we had to change our mindset that we weren’t competitors anymore. Now we’re a group, the living 24/7 together helps because now we know each other 24/7. I know different things about each of the girls, and it’s like sisters. You’re gonna butt heads, but then you’re gonna be okay and you’re gonna have your happy moments. It’s a family, and you just have to learn to grow with that, really a lot of compromise and taking things with a grain of salt. From criticisms, knowing who you are and knowing who these four other girls are.

AHHA: Do you think that being all in the same boat forces you to come together?

Shannon: Definitely, as D [Woods] was saying, we’ve all been doing this type of stuff our whole lives so we all have a very professional aspect to our character and respect for each other. That’s really what a lot of it comes down to is respecting each other. My choice to be here is affecting all of their lives and their decisions, individually being a part of this group is affecting each other’s lives. So you have to be a team player to be in this situation.

AHHA: When you guys have situations with lineup and songs changes and you’re removed from tracks, has it caused any tension within the group?

D. Woods: I would say no, once you get past that feeling of, “Aww man, I really wanted to try that” you can’t take that out on the next person because it wasn’t her decision or it wasn’t my decision, or anyone’s decision in the group [when it comes down to] who should do what. You know, these are things coming from the powers that be, so we kinda just have to respect their vision and go with it, and then just comfort that person like, “Girl that’s only just one song” or, “You know he’s gonna change his mind next song.” He’s gonna change his mind because Diddy changes his mind quite a bit [laughs] and just let it ride, let her do it, try the next one and just step up your game improving yourself and telling yourself, “Okay you aint gonna take me off the next song.”

Dawn: The great thing which is really good about this album, and that’s why I think we’re all pleased with it is, because at first we were starting off that way. That was the thought, but the thought process has changed, because now when producers come in they already know, because there aren’t any lead singers in this group, so the formats have changed. Each song everyone is putting in 100% in the album, so the great thing about that is that created a sound for us.

AHHA: That’s good that you were able to take control of that, because on the show there was a certain type of, for lack of a better word, “sonning” going on.

Aubrey: Even in that [on the show] you don’t get to see all of the footage, like those producers at the very end were like, “You guys are one of the best artists, you are so efficient.” We’re such hard workers, we never give up on anything. When it’s three-o-clock in the morning and they’re just like, “Yeah yeah yeah it sounds good,” we’re like “No let me do it again.” You don’t get to see a lot of the glory that we have had in the studio because this is a TV show and they do need those suspenseful moments in order to have a victory at the end. But every producer that we worked with is very impressed with our work ethic and our vocal ability as a group, and every single one that came in was like, “I wasn’t expecting much, honestly this is a reality TV show and you guys are a bunch of girls that were thrown together. I didn’t really know what to expect.” Based on the TV show you don’t hear our best vocal moments, you don’t hear our best group moments really.

AHHA: They’re looking for the drama.

Aubrey: Yeah, because that’s what that’s about, and that’s an okay thing, but it’s just you can’t really get so wrapped up in it that. You’re not really seeing us as artists beyond that right now in the game.

AHHA: Aubrey, you showed people from the start that both your singing and dancing skills were above par. In the third season you really broke down in a lot of ways. That’s not an abnormal thing to happen under the circumstances, but how have you coped with that since then, and gotten past the feeling that you’re just a pretty face?

Aubrey: I think throughout that process, that idea or that concept has been thrown at me in different situations. Some people don’t mind and they’re just happy being that and that’s fine. I know tons of people that are that, it definitely is said so much that it almost comes off seeming like I think it’s a negative thing which I don’t. But for me personally I wanna be more than one-dimensional. I’ve worked so hard in my life to prove to myself that I could go to law school, that I can own my own charity, that I can do all of these things where people were like, “Oh she’s just doing it, she doesn’t need to do it,” and it’s not one thing or another. It’s just like I wanted to prove to myself that I can be more than just that one dimensional thing, and I have successfully done it in so many areas, so it is very frustrating for me that I’m not always given the ability to do that; because I would do it in a second. For me it was a big learning lesson in not getting what you want, and things aren’t always fair. That was probably one of where my biggest insecurities were, wanting to be able [to do those things].

So it wasn’t necessarily how it was portrayed as like having to deal with a specific note, or [being kicked] off a song or vocal tone or thinking I’m the worst singer ever or anything like that. It has a lot to do with my fear of not being able to really, really prove that I can do something for myself. For this group I wanna be legitimate to my group members, I want them to feel like I really stepped up and did something that I was scared of or that they weren’t sure that I could do.

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