Dodie is an English singer-songwriter whose latest album reached number 3 on the UK Album Charts. We chatted to Dodie as she embarked on her US tour.
Tell us about your background, your upbringing, and your introduction into the world of music.
I grew up in Essex, where doing anything at all made you a target for teasing. Nevertheless, I took up treble recorder and then clarinet – learning theory and joining every music club I could in school. I scoured through my parents’ music collection and first fell in love with ELO, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles – a lot of classical music too.
How did you get into songwriting and performance?
I’ve always been incredibly dramatic and so imagining that anything that happened to me as a story in a musical helped me process. I’d imagine the songs that would come with that, and started writing them too. Performance came from joining all those music clubs in school and doing every possible school concert.
What were some of the barriers you experienced, or still do experience, as a ‘female songwriter/performer’?
Barriers exist everywhere for being female! I think the major one is working extra hard to be seen as a legitimate artist. In a way it helped – playing ukulele made people roll their eyes so I scored for a 13 part string section. I still walk into sessions and have men playing instruments for me, or telling me what harmonies to sing. People coo and raise their eyebrows when I whip out music theory to communicate – it’s frustrating. I don’t think anyone would do that if a man said those things – I feel very belittled.
You’re currently on a US Tour which is very exciting, and you’ve also got an amazing tour group/musicians/tech. As the band leader, what skills have you developed to keep everyone sane and enjoy all the moments?
I’m not sure if I’ve developed any skills! I think it really helps to fall in love with your crew. I’m lucky it always happens naturally with new members too – a few days in and we all feel like we’ve known each other for years. We can have a party onstage and then lean on each other emotionally, as all we all know what challenges a tour brings.
What would you say to your younger self about being a woman in music… what to expect, the difficulties, the excitements?
If I could have spoken to myself when I was younger I wish I could have told her about all of the roles available in music. Even touring and live music specifically – there are a thousand parts to play and I wish I’d have known about any of them. I thought the music industry was black and white – you’re either hugely famous and successful or you don’t have any part in it, which obviously is wildly not true at all!
What can we look forward to hearing from you in the next few months/year from your creativity?
This year I’m trying to write a song every month! Also, to make a video diary of the month alongside it. It’s proving a little tricky on tour as there’s just no time spare but – I’m determined! I’m a big fan of a project. Working on producing some new music, which is super fun. I’m ready for something fresh, I think.
Find out more about Dodie here: