Kat Dahlia: her culture founds her sound


Growing up in some special place can define you. It is not the same to live in some country or another. It can influence you, like it has influenced Kat Dahlia, a singer who grew up in Miami with a latin culture and rhythms.

She has listened to salsa, merengue and conga. That kind of music and the different experiences in her life are expressed in her songs like “Gangsta” or “Fireman”.

Kat sings in Spanish and in English and she can communicate her message through more people.

In a conversation with The Outsider Argentina, Kat Dahlia spoke about her music, the influence of her culture and the releasing of her newest album “My Garden” in September.

How did you start doing music?

Ever since I can remember I was passionate about music. As a little girl in school I loved rhyme, and deciphering poems. The first song I ever wrote I was like 8 years old. It couldn’t have been very great, since I remember it being about a break up with a boyfriend that didn’t exist. I started taking writing more seriously as a teenager, and a few years ago I moved to New York, and began recording an EP that I released called Shades of Grey.

How can you define your own music?

The music I create is raw. It’s emotionally filled with experience. It can feel hard at times, but vulnerable. It can feel soft at times, but powerful.

Do you think that growing up in Miami has influenced you?

Absolutely. Miami is like nowhere else. I grew up in a place soaked in latin cultures and rhythms. I grew up listening to salsa, merengue, conga. As a little girl, every holiday, birthday, wedding, the place would be blasting Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Estefan. My culture is the foundation of my sound.

How is it like writing about your life experience in your songs, like you did in Gangsta?

It’s my therapy. I tend to harbor things in, emotionally. With things that frustrate me, or hurt me, writing is my expression. Putting it into music is my art. For me it’s honestly, easier than writing about something I didn’t experience.

How was it like making Gangsta’s video?

Sam Lecca, the director and I had the same vision for what we saw in the video. Shooting it in Miami was important for the story. I was so happy that some of my family were able to be there to experience it, and see it all happening. The song is very personal and important to me. The video needed to evoke those same emotions, give those images that would bring people into the story, to feel just like the music makes you feel when you just hear the song on its own.

How is it like singing in English and Spanish? Do you think that you can “conquer” more audience with that decision?

Of course. Singing in English and Spanish feels good. I love being able to communicate a story in two languages. Being able to connect to an audience. Connect to my culture. I’m a Cuban-American. The demographic for Latin-American grows more and more each year in my country. We will soon become the majority. The more people I can connect with, the farther my message will travel, the greater my music and influence will be.

How was it like being on the Billboard Latin Music Award and singing in your hometown?

I actually had performed at The Stage just a year before, promoting my independent EP. Being back a year later for Billboard Latin definitely felt like an accomplishment. Especially with all the positive feedback I got from it. It was amazing.

You’ve just release your song “Fireman”, which is it about and how was the feedback from the audience?

Fireman is a song I wrote inspired by a situation that I got into with a gut feeling I was going to get burned. There was this pure feeling in my heart that something was not right, but I continued anyways with curiosity, intrigued by this character and the situation. Someone that came into my life as an illusion. The entire situation was a deception, and ultimately I did get burned.

Which is the message that you want to give through your music?

The music I create has different messages, different meanings. Some are of the lessons I learned about love through my own experience. Some about deception, and illusion. Some about universal love. And some are just about feeling good, the celebration of life.

What can you tell us about your upcoming album? When will it be released?

The album is titled My Garden. I felt like it was going to be a mixture of sounds, genres, messages. Something like a garden with all different families and flowers. All evoking different emotions, meanings, stories. It set to release in September.

Samantha Schuster