I recently got a chance to interview Dotti J, an emerging EDM/Pop artist coming out of Florida. We were introduced through a mutual contact, and though I’m not a big fan of doing interviews for blogging purposes, I was intrigued by her purpose for wanting to speak. Usually when an artist just making their way in the industry gets a chance to speak with anyone, it’s about their upcoming album or single or what they’re working on right now, and rightfully so. However, she wanted to discuss a campaign she is putting together. Below is her initial message to me.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and empower others, especially young girls and women. I thought in order for me to best help people I needed to be famous first, but that’s not true, you just have to have a vision and a desire to help others be their best and see the best in themselves. It doesn’t matter your background, it doesn’t matter your race, your lifestyle choice, religion, or your status in life. It doesn’t matter where you were born, where you live now, or what job you have. What matters is that YOU love yourself, that YOU recognize that you are powerful and beautiful and independent and you don’t need anyone to tell you who you are because you already know who YOU are.”
Now this is intriguing enough to want to talk with her, but I want to make sure to give her a platform so that anyone who reads this understands her as an artist as well as the movement she wants to lead.
I’m always interested in how artists come by their ‘stage name’. Tell me why you go by Dotti J.
It came from my grandmother actually. Her name is Dorothy Jane. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with her and watched how she carried herself as a woman. It was very inspiring to me. She is a badass and worked hard for everything she had. My grandma is a tiny little thing, but she has this certain presence about her that not only showed her gentle heart but also made people respect her. Everyone referred to her as the “Queen Bee” and called her Dotti J. She was always classy, but stubborn, and never let anyone take advantage of her or she would quickly put them in their place. She could get her point across without ever raising her voice, saying a curse word or speak “un-ladylike” as she would call it. What she represented as a woman set the tone for a lot of things in my life, so I decided to use the name Dotti J for my music.
How does your family feel about you pursuing music as your career?
I think they have a love hate relationship with it to be honest! They admire my talent and the fact that I stayed true to my dreams and what I’m passionate about in life, but they definitely wanted me to do other things. It was easier for my mom. She has always wanted me to follow my heart, but she never really knew how to help get me there or how to deal with the setbacks of it all. I think they all knew it wasn’t an easy task and just supported it in the best way they knew how.
What are you listening to when you are not recording your own music?
I love love love to listen to music from the Motown era! There is just something about it and the feeling behind it that is so powerful. I also love some reggae music, for when I want to sit back and just chill out.
How important is your image?
Very important! It is a direct reflection of how I feel within. I don’t get so caught up in what everyone else is doing or wearing, I just stay true to the ideas and visions I have for myself. I like to switch up my styles from time to time because as I go through life and experiences it allows me to creatively express myself.
Speaking about Life and Experiences, how has your music evolved since you started?
I have gained a lot more confidence as an artist since I first started. It has allowed me to become more open to trying new things and different sounds and growing vocally at the same time. I even started writing and recording tracks I never saw myself doing.
So, you are starting an empowerment campaign. How can people reach out to be part of this?
We are still in the beginning phases, but we have a Facebook page at Facebook and an Instagram page at Instagram.
Describe what it means to be #ThatGirl and what you want to get across to women everywhere, not just in the music industry.
I want them to know “You are beautiful! You are intelligent! You are powerful!” I want to know what makes them all of these things and more. I want to hear their stories, and understand the struggles they’ve overcome. Overall, I wanted a place to recognize and empower women to be themselves and be proud of who they are regardless of age, race, gender identity, background, religion, political affiliation, etc. Honestly, I want to start a movement!
I am not a woman, obviously, but I do believe there is inequality in most industries, when it comes to gender. What made you want to start this campaign?
So many of us are told how we need to act or who we need to become. We are lead to believe there is a mold we have to fit…a mold of what others feel is right or best. No matter what, I have and will remain authentic to the future I see for myself.
We’ve heard from Kesha, Lady GaGa, Demi Lovato, and others when it comes to lack of balance in the music business based on gender. What have you gone through as an emerging female artist that other woman coming into this industry can learn from?
I have had many ups and have been faced with even more downs, but no matter how hard I have fallen, I have always found a way to stand up, hold my head high, know my worth, and keep moving forward. I have supported myself and my dreams by making sacrifices and choosing to live without certain things that many people take for granted.
Can you be specific about some of your sacrifices?
I want love and I want closeness, but I made these sacrifices to be able to invest not only in myself as a woman, but also in the dreams I have.
Talking earlier, it really seems like you have a positive outlook on your career in general. That being said, what is your take on the role of positivity in your life?
We were created to LIVE and to give LIFE. We were created to LOVE and to be LOVED. I know to be fulfilled I have to live for myself and love myself and fulfill myself first, and then everything else will come. When we do this, It is then that we can truly love others, help others to live, and to be complete. When we see the greatness and beauty in ourselves, we will then be able to see it in all things.
What people on the outside don’t see are the individuals who take advantage of musicians starting out, like yourself. What are some low points in your career so far when dealing with so-called “Industry Professionals”?
I have been told how I should look, how I need to act, and what I need to do. I have been sold HOPE with a large price tag and paid it gladly, only to be misled by people who have their own intentions and agendas. I have been told “Do this, and you will be successful.” or “Be this, and society will find you beautiful and perfect.”
And your view of yourself now?
I have discovered that the real beauty lay inside of me and that is my heart and my soul.
Tell me about your record ‘That Girl’.
I originally wrote this about being a strong woman for her man. I feel like we always look to men to help us or hold us down when we need it the most. To me, it is just as important to represent what you want out of your relationship as well. As we recorded the track and rewrote and rewrote, it became more of an anthem, not just dealing with relationships, but dealing with life as a woman. I think it can be interpreted differently by whoever is listening to it and depending on the situation they’re going through.
What else are you working on to follow this up?
I am writing another EDM track. I am looking to record asap while I’m in rehearsals for my show. I am always writing though, that’s something that will never stop.
What do you want your album to sound like?
I want my album to just make people forget about their worries and jam out to some dance music and have a good time! There is so much craziness in the world and I want my album to be an escape for people.
With all this going on, how have your choices and views changed since you started pursuing this dream?
It isn’t always about making the “right” decisions because we never really know what lies beyond the next turn. It is about going out into the world, knowing what we are capable of, regardless of what everyone else says, and taking risks. When we dare to be those women that have a fire deep down inside, we can make our own path and forge our own destiny. We should never let that fire burn out regardless of setbacks.
Tell me about the people close to you.
I have surrounded myself with very few people. These individuals have been part of my journey from the beginning, and in my moments of weakness and distress, they help me remember who I am and what I am capable of.
Weakness and distress? Can you elaborate?
I have spent many nights crying myself to sleep and second guessing my choices. I have looked long and hard in the mirror, at who I really am and what I am capable of. I have hardened myself to the realization that no path is ever going to be easy and I would rather stand alone for what I believe, than to stand with everyone who is just going through the motions.
What advice do you have for women that are struggling with self-doubt or have no understanding of their worth?
Here is my advice. Learn to love yourself, and that means all of yourself. Learn to accept ownership of all your decisions, good and bad. Acknowledge your so-called “flaws’ or “weaknesses” and work to turn them into your strengths. There will be so many times in your life where you can take the easy path or make an easier choice, but choose to follow your heart even when there are times you want to give up.
You said before we began that you talk with God in your alone times. How has that shaped Dotti J?
God has made me perfect in this exact way for a reason, and I am determined to live out that cause. I have stayed true to myself and I have followed my dream no matter who says I can’t or who tells me to do other things.
In one sentence, tell me something about yourself that you know to be true?
I am a strong, independent woman.
I know your trademark quote is “Be You. Be Proud. Be #ThatGirl.” But switch it up for me and tell me what makes you #ThatGirl?
I am never settling. I am never stopping. I am #ThatGirl.
Musically, what is your goal by the end of this year?
I want to be touring and performing my music to the masses. I want to build a relationship with my fans and get on stage to deliver a SHOW to them.
What is the hardest truth you’ve come to realize about this industry?
Staying true to yourself when people start coming on board and wanting to redirect everything about you. Dealing with a lot of closed doors, broken promises and people wanting to be a part of something because they see where it will lead. A lot have their own intentions to why they are in your camp and you just have to recognize the game and make sure you look out for yourself.
Knowing what you know now, if you had to do it all over again, would you still choose music as your career?
Absolutely! I would change the way some things were handled, or even the way I dealt with situations and people at times, but all of those lessons made me smarter and wiser present day.
When can we expect this record and where can people get more information and follow you?
We are finalizing the mix and master right now and it’s release will be soon. I can’t wait! It’s the waiting game that gets me the most. Anyone can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and I will make sure to let everyone know when it’s available for download.