By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Kat Dahlia cannot be boxed into any one sound, as she draws inspiration from Afrobeat, Latin urban, R&B, pop — embodying a fusion of cultures and influences. Today, she arrives in high spirits, carrying that independent artist glow she’d been longing for.
Following a 2-year hiatus, the bilingual recording artist releases her first single ”I’m Doing Good,” with a strong visual to match. Directed by good friend Ester Steinberg, the video sees Kat in her most confident state, simultaneously reminding fans she’s back to consistently feed them nothing but real, genuine records of herself.
AllHipHop caught up with Kat during hectic BET weekend to discuss her separation from Epic Records and the reason the hiatus.
AllHipHop: Why should people f##k w/ you?
Kat Dahlia: I'm an indie Latin female who writes about s##t I feel like females go through for real. Hopefully if you f##k with that, then you f##k with me.
AllHipHop: Where do you draw all these inspirations from?
Kat Dahlia: I think from people I've written with in the past. I write with a lot of African artists, I write with island artists. Growing up in Miami listening to reggae, Latin, hip-hop, R&B, everything just mixed together.
AllHipHop: How does Miami compare to LA?
Kat Dahlia: Miami is way more tropical. It’s different, and there's less traffic.
AllHipHop: How does the music scene compare there to here?
Kat Dahlia: 3 years ago, it used to be nothing. Now it’s popping off because of the Latin stuff. But here, you just get everything. I meet a lot of really dope, super talented people in LA. Thankfully when I go home to Miami and visit, I actually can get work done now. I do eventually plan on being bicoastal, that's my next goal.
AllHipHop: Favorite part about the West Coast?
Kat Dahlia: Honestly, I love the drives to Malibu. I love California. I love the cliffs. I love that it's not flat here — I’m talking nature s##t specifically. [chuckles] I love the nature. I love being able to drive out of LA and go somewhere that's just gorgeous like Ojai or Lake Tahoe. I don't go as much, but I used to. I used to make it a point to get out.
AllHipHop: What inspired your new single “I’m Doing Good”?
Kat Dahlia: Just that feeling when you feel like you’re on the path of finally getting your s##t together. You’re feeling good and you’re focused on yourself and your inner journey s##t, and that person just comes in and tries to f##k up your s##t. It’s annoying, that's what the song is about.
AllHipHop: Who was it?
Kat Dahlia: I mean, there are multiples all the time. It's sometimes new people, sometimes old people. Sometimes it's a new person. It's like “damn I'm kinda doing my own thing right now, I really don't need this distraction.” Sometimes it's old folks from the Rolodex trying to bop their heads in the DM, as if it's still a thing.
AllHipHop: Have they heard it?
Kat Dahlia: I don't know, I guess we’ll find out. [laughs]
AllHipHop: You recently took a 2-year hiatus. What were you going through?
Kat Dahlia: I was trying to figure out the sound. I left Epic, we separated 2.5 years ago. You know, just contractually having a hold. It took me 2 years to figure out the sound, put it together, get the right producers, and put the whole project together basically myself as an independent artist. That s##t takes time.
AllHipHop: What happened with Epic?
Kat Dahlia: We tried. I mean, it was 5 years. I was finally like “okay, please can I go now?” [chuckles]
AllHipHop: Crazy, you hear so much of people having really bad label situations.
Kat Dahlia: Yeah it's super common. I'm not saying mine was terrible, definitely everybody's experience is different. Everybody's journey is different. I learned so much. I came in super green.
AllHipHop: How old were you when you got signed?
Kat Dahlia: I was 22, and I also didn't know anything. I didn't even know what it meant to be signed, I was just so confused. I was mad confused, so it was a learning process as I went.
AllHipHop: Did you have a team behind you?
Kat Dahlia: At first I didn't. I didn't even understand the importance of that. I didn't realize at the time the protection that I needed. I didn't understand all the levels, but I learned as time went on.
AllHipHop: What was your mindstate then compared to now?
Kat Dahlia: I’m indie now, so I don’t have all these voices in my head. I don’t have a bunch of people telling me what it should be, what it should sound like. I don’t have none of that. I get to really create whatever the f##k it is I want.
AllHipHop: What’s the hardest thing about being in the music industry?
Kat Dahlia: I guess how s##t changes everyday. You know what it is? It's the excess amount of information, songs, people uploading stuff, people consuming things so quickly. You really do have to do this for the love and know that it's going to be a grind. Know that you’re gonna have to keep making music. If you’re not willing to put in the hard work and be in it for the long haul, then don’t do it.
AllHipHop: Other goals for yourself as an artist in this point in your career?
Kat Dahlia: To make a f##king million dollars within the year. [chuckles] Be able to afford to be bi-coastal. Build up my own studio to really hone in on the craft of producing my own stuff. I wanna get really good at even making my own videos, directing. I want to become extremely self-reliant.
AllHipHop: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Kat Dahlia: Man I have everything. I have randomness that you would never even know. Weird stuff. Let’s see. [pulls out phone] On this playlist, I have Joey Pecoraro, Lil Tjay, Runtown, FKJ, Mr. Eazi. I’ve been listening to Kali Uchis, Koffee, Partynextdoor, Pink Sweat$. f##king love Daniel Cesar. I have Justin Bieber, freaking love JB.
AllHipHop: If you could create your modern day Destiny’s Child, who’d be in it?
Kat Dahlia: Me and my best friend. [laughs] I really don’t know. Me, SZA, and H.E.R. I feel like there’s a lot of females I’m not thinking of.
AllHipHop: What’s a normal day in the life?
Kat Dahlia: I'm up at 5am. I'm already answering emails, already thinking about songs I have to finish. Make myself some tea, I go to the gym, I come back, I clean my house. Maybe do some laundry, hit the studio. I'm in the studio for the rest of the time, then I’m home by 10pm. I’m knocked out by 10:30pm. [laughs] I'm a grandma. I’m a super hella grandma. Obviously if there’s other s##t to do, then I'll do it. But for the most part, I’m working.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Kat Dahlia: Tea, a good concept, and a good engineer.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from you music-wise?
Kat Dahlia: A lot more Spanglish s##t, a lot more Latin cool female stuff. Dropping songs, a lot more video content. I'm going to be doing Los Dels festival in September. I'm going to be doing ACL in October. Look out for tour dates.
AllHipHop: Favorite person to follow on IG?
Kat Dahlia: You know what I like? I like Dr.Vegan.
I’m vegan, I like all the vegan f##king accounts. I like to look at all the recipes, that’s my favorite thing. I don’t care about anyone posting their music, I wanna know about the recipes. What do I do with the chickpeas?
AllHipHop: Anything you want to let us know?
Kat Dahlia: That's it. Just keep a lookout for everything. Thank you to everyone! Thank you for sticking with me through everything.