Dawn Richard Performs at Pitchfork Festival, Talks “Second Line,” Nick Visuals and More
I got to sit down with my girl Dawn Richard as she prepared for her opening night performance with Pitchfork Music Festival in July. As we sat there, we talked about her performing songs from her recent album, ‘Second Line,’ and how she prepares for a festival like this, as well as the uncharted lands of the digital and virtual space.
“When I was Indie, I didn’t have any booking agents giving me shots. I wasn’t performing at festivals, and Pitchfork gave me an opportunity”
Dawn had always walked the cutting-edge line regarding her style, which was no different for this performance. Ironically, Dawn was styled by me, and we decided on this androgynous and over-the-top concept that was daring and avant-garde. Her hair being the focal point, she rocked a firey-red mullet that one would call a showstopper.
Dawn and Pitchfork continue to give their listeners a unique experience. If you didn’t get a chance to watch Dawn’s incredible performance back in July, then you have another chance to watch her rock it out with Big Freedia Sunday, August 21st.
Check out the exclusive interview with Dawn Richard below, where we talk Pitchfork, black creators, and being a true artist.
Oliver: The last time we caught up with you was earlier this year when we discussed your recent album, ‘Second Line,’ in creating a story of black pride; catch us up. How have you been since then?
Dawn: I’ve been amazing and just touring, doing festivals, getting ready for a new project that I’m working on, and collaboration with the Arts Program in New Orleans, and I’m about to make a cool announcement in August that I’m proud of; so busy, like always.
Oliver: Tonight, you are performing at the Pitchfork festival. How does it feel performing opening night at such a significant festival, and what do you want your fans and listeners to take from your performance?
Dawn: It feels good to be back at the Pitchfork Festival. What’s awesome about Pitchfork is that they were the first festival to give me my shot. When I was Indie, I didn’t have any booking agents giving me shots. I wasn’t performing at festivals, and Pitchfork gave me an opportunity. So to be back here feels like a homecoming. I love them, and they love me, and it’s kind of like this really good synergy. So I’m excited to bust that stage wide open.
Oliver: You’ve performed all over the world and with some of the greats. As an artist, how do you prepare for a performance like this, and do you ever get nervous?
Dawn: I feel like you’re not a true artist; if you don’t feel those jitters or butterflies in your stomach, that makes you real. It makes you human, and I feel like, when I feel those feelings, I know I’m going to have a good show. It should never get old or feel boring, and how do I prepare? I put in the work; I’m running five miles a day. I’m singing while I run. There’s a discipline that I enjoy. I like pushing myself to be better than the last performance. It’s because it keeps that student in me; discipline is crucial to being a great artist. If you’re not training yourself, even for the 45 minutes set to the two-hour set, you’re doing a disservice to people who pay money to see you, and I feel that’s disrespectful.
Stylist: Oliver Brown
Makeup: Chandra Rogers
Hair: Sheila Fisher
Videographer: Charles Hawthrone II – Regeration Productions
Oliver: You recently collaborated with Nick visuals to create the official host of the Essence Tech Summit. What is next for you in the uncharted lands of the digital and virtual space?”
Dawn: It was an honor to collaborate with Nick visuals. I’ve known him for a while. With my collaborations with Adult Swim, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best up-and-coming, black animators. I was so excited that Essence thought to say, “Dawn, we know what you’re doing, what you’re cultivating on your own. Can you bring that to the table over here?” That means we’re doing something right. It’s always cooler when the culture is getting; there’s seeing what you’re trying to do. There’s going to be more of that. Right now, I’m being very intentional with how I collaborate with creatives, especially black creators and women creators. What’s on the horizon for the Metaverse and tech and VR world domination? I think I’m going to make tech look black, and it’s already happening, but it’s going to be in a way that I’m proud to be a part of. I’m going to be intentional with putting us in places where we don’t see ourselves, and to me, the uncharted waters of digital space are ours for the taking.
Oliver: Lastly, is there anything you’re most excited about regarding tonight’s performance?
Dawn: I’m most excited about dancing in the rain. It is raining right now. I got my mullet; I got my team. I’m excited to show Second Line in its purest form, which is when we are dancing to our fullest capacity. So I’m ready to sweat, get drenched, skin wet, get dirty, and touch people again. Covid kept us away, so to be able to touch and agree and see people out there dancing to their heart’s content, I’m excited to see that.