Interview / In conversation with dodie

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By Anna Hart, Third year English

Anna Hart talks all things 'music, Youtube and mental health' with Dodie.

Fresh from her sixteen-date tour round the European continent, self-built artist, dodie, heads to Bristol to play the first of nine UK and Ireland dates, before touring North America later this year. I sat down to chat all things music, Youtube and mental health with her before her set at the O2 Academy.

How’s the tour round Europe been so far? Have you had much time to explore any of the cities?

We don’t usually get that much time, but in Barcelona we got mopeds and in Milan we went out. It’s kinda hard because when you arrive you don’t have access to a shower and you’ve just slept on the bus so you have to do like a festival shower and then walk outside, so it depends if you wanna be skanky or not! But yeah it’s been quite good!

If you could use three words to capture the overall feeling of your Human EP what would they be?

Strings. Shame. And acceptance.

What inspired you to first start making music?

I just love music. I got kind of given – I think they lent it to me and then I just took it – a keyboard from my first school, and I was really interested in why certain notes sounded really nice together and why others didn’t. I’ve always loved music and I’ve loved song-writing, but for some reason I never really put it all together as a career. I thought there’s no way I can actually do this, I just enjoy it.

What’s your favourite song to perform live and why?

It kinda depends on what setting, so like here when I play ‘In the Middle’ it’s really fun because everyone’s bopping and jamming, but that feels completely different to playing an intimate show of like 200 people and playing ‘When’ or ‘Secret for the Mad’ because it’s so much more musical and powerful.

The first line of ‘If I’m Being Honest’ is ‘I was told this was where I would start loving myself’. What do you like to do to build that kind of self-love and what do you do for self-care, especially on tour when you’re travelling a lot?

Yeah it’s actually really hard. Like today I’ve had a stressful day and sometimes you just wanna go off and cry, like you just wanna go off and be alone for a while, but there’s nowhere to go. You’ll be in the green room and you’ll be like I’ll just go to the loo. No, someone’s in there. The showers? Someone’s in there. Where can I go? Someone’s always walking around, so I think you just have to find space where you can. In terms of loving yourself, I think just do whatever you can to feel any inch of good so you can find it and remember what that feels like and see if you can amplify that.

You’ve spoken a lot online about mental health (in YouTube videos and on social media), which is such an important topic and really helps people to feel less alone, as well as helping to break down the stigma. How do you feel now about how much you share online about your own mental health, as I know in the past you’ve said you felt like you shared too much and wanted to strike a balance between being honest and keeping some things private to yourself? Do you feel like you’ve got the balance now?

I thought I did. Sometimes I’m like ‘right, that’s it, I’ve got it’ and then I don’t know. I think I constantly feel uneasy about the internet and what I’m doing on it. Part of me does feel that deep principle of share what it’s like, break down the stigma, create empathy for people and then also when I do do that and I share a lot, I’ll come back to it the next day and be like ‘why did I put that online? No one needs to know that!’. I feel embarrassed and like I wanna shut away. So I don’t really know. I think I’m definitely better than I was before. I know that when something in me doesn’t need to be shared I can tell, I’m like I’m gonna keep that to myself.

Do you find it easier to talk about mental health in video format (on Youtube) where you sit down and talk about a topic, or do you find it easier to express how you feel through music, in song lyrics and melody, or would you say it depends on the specific topic?

I used to love YouTube for that. It would just be the best way to do that – just sit down and talk about something and it was a great community. But now I feel like you can’t really say anything without it hurting someone, or maybe someone disagreeing with you, and then it hurting you. So now I don’t really like to have a forum like that. A Youtube comment section is like a kind of forum and, if everyone piles up against you, you feel rubbish about yourself, so I tend to keep my feelings now and put them in songs because they’re much more vague. I know what I’m talking about so it gives me that good release of being like ‘I got it out there into the world’ but no one can really hunt you down for it.

I understand what you mean because everyone can interpret the lyrics in their own way.

Yeah I think that’s more productive anyway because it heals other people as well as yourself.

Are you working on any new music at the moment?

There are a few songs that I’ve written already but I’ve yet to record. But apart from that, no, I haven’t really written for a while because I’ve just been non-stop since new year. I haven’t really had that much time to just be in my room. I need just a week in my room with no other obligations because I know something will come out.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Strong feelings. Usually about something I can’t really talk to people about or something I’m trying to describe in a lot of words and my friends are like ‘huh?’ and I’m like okay, I need to write about it.

Out of all your songs, from any EP, which would you say best reflects how you’re feeling today and why?

That’s a really good question. Probably, ‘Not What I Meant’ because that’s about – I don’t know how to describe it. Okay, I feel very frustrated sometimes with what I’m doing and kind of questioning whether I want what I’m doing and I worry that I’ve been pushed in a direction by everyone else and I’ve listened to their voices more than my own. But then I’m like maybe I should just listen to their voices because my own is not strong enough. The fear is, like in that song, if I grow, am I doing something great or am I not doing what I want? I don’t know. I have no idea. I just don’t really know.

Have you been anywhere in Bristol while you’ve been here?

We walked up this road, what’s it called? Park Street? Oh my god, my friend Sammy grew up here and he said there was once a giant Slip and Slide that happened. That seems pretty cool. Yeah it was cold and fine. We walked into a pub, they were doing a pub quiz, we did not partake in the pub quiz. That’s my Bristol experience!

I guess, like you said, you don’t have much time to explore when you get to a place.

Yeah, we’ve just been setting up and doing a lot of production.

What do you normally do before a gig? What does the time before entail or is it different every day?

Usually it’s like wake up on the bus, feel smelly, go out anyway, get breakfast in town, come back to the venue, shower, dress, maybe do a bit of admin work or just chill (you get about an hour), and then soundcheck, then press, and then eat and then play!

And play she did! Dodie’s humility and warmth in person is as touching as her beautifully emotive music, which lights up the room with its honesty and power.

Featured Image:Dodie / Chuff Media


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