IAMDDB AIN’T HERE TO PLAY NO GAMES

Words + Photography: Mahaneela Choudhury-Reid

If you keep your ear to the ground when it comes to new UK music, chances are you’ve heard of IAMDDB. With her videos reaching millions of people worldwide, the Manchester native is determined to be more than the hype that currently surrounds her. Today is our second link up, after first meeting up some months ago. We’re sitting down in East London, ahead of her live show at the Camden Assembly, right before she headed out with Bryson Tiller for an EU tour. The trap music-loving singer, songwriter, and skilled emcee, is warm and full of smiles; her style is comfortable and chill, yet she also looks ready to jump on-stage at any given time. As D and I sit chatting (while snacking on a bunch of grapes), it feels like I’m sitting down with an old friend, catching up on what she’s been up to.

And it’s clear she’s serious about her music and its longevity: IAMDDB is already working on her next project, having only dropped Hoodrich Vol. 3 in early September, and she also intends on releasing a music video for each song—totalling to seven. To many, this would seem a daunting task, but IAMDDB has so much more music to give and sees this as only the beginning. Some may hail her as “the next Rihanna”, but to her core, Ms. D is setting her own blueprint.

​“MY VULNERABILITY IS WHAT MAKES ME HUMAN…”​

What’s the story behind “Leaned Out”, your breakout debut single?

To this day, it’s still so mad to speak about it. “Leaned Out” got passed around to so many different people in Manchester. Everyone was using that beat. So one day I was smoking my weed, sitting on the floor with my laptop—you know how I do—and thought I’d just give it a go. We dropped it, did a rapid video and it didn’t do anything for months. But then, out of nowhere—after my second show in London—it hit a million views. It was mad! I remember looking at the stats and seeing people from Brazil and places like that listening to my music; it’s crazy, man. From one little risk I took in my living room, just looking at how far it’s expanded is really amazing.

It is. So you’re already working on your next release, and yet you only just dropped Hoodrich Vol. 3. You seem really motivatedhow do you do it?

This is only the beginning and the organisation comes with time. I just learn from my mistakes; when I think back to Hoodrich Vol.1, it was so scatty! It’s all about my team. Everything is quite fast-paced, the way we work. But realistically, this is just me taking control of my own life. You know, I could have waited for stuff to happen for me but I just thought, “I can make it happen for myself.”

You work closely with video director KC Locke, who is a long-time collaborator behind your visuals. Did you always intend for there to be seven from Hoodrich Vol. 3?

Not at first, but after we dropped each of the previous videos and they did so well, it’s just like, we wanted to go harder and things got better and better. I don’t see myself working with anyone else. My team is amazing. Meme Gold too, bless her soul—the loyalty is so high, and she did so much for Hoodrich. Honestly, I’m working with great creatives. And it’s just nice to be able to put everybody’s vision into one.

Speaking of another team of great creatives, I know you’re a fan of The Internet and you’re supporting Syd on tour soon, right?

It’s crazy! I remember going to a Syd The Kid show, maybe a year ago, and I remember watching her and thinking: “Oh my god! That was insane!” And now we’re sharing a stage, it’s so, so mad. It’s weird, because sometimes I feel like I don’t have it together; there are so many elements I want to improve.

Not long ago you were in Manchester and now you’re about to tour Europe. Do you still consider Manchester home?

Do you know what’s mad? I always said I would always live in Manchester, but since I’ve been travelling bare places, I really think I could live anywhere.

Where would be your dream country to live in?

I just love travelling and seeing different places, learning about new cultures and stuff. That’s been such a great part of all this as well. But I don’t know; I’d say somewhere hot like an island, but I do love the city. I’m a proper city girl, you know, so I’d probably just rotate and live in both [laughs].

What’s the most surprising place you’ve found out you have fans?

You know what? I used to check my numbers on SoundCloud all the time, and I’d get places like Morocco, Trinidad & Tobago, Chile—all these low-key places which was really mad. I sometimes think, “Wow. How did my music even reach you? This is all mad.”

“I REALISE NOW THAT I JUST HAVE TO GIVE IT MY ALL AND BE MYSELF—ALL PARTS OF MYSELF.”

How does it feel to have made that connection so far away?

Sometimes, it sends me under a bit. When I was younger, I was always used to seeing girls on social media hitting up their favourite artists like, “I wanna be like you” or “I love what you do.” It’s just mad to me that I’m now the one getting those messages—and from people all over! At the end of the day, I’m just D. Even supporting Bryson Tiller, that’s been so sick. People are shook to come over to me now and it’s like, “Bitch, please! I’m still the same me.” [Laughs]

A collab between you and Bryson Tiller would be amazing! Are there any other people you really want to collaborate with?

Trust me! That would be so amazing. There’s so many, though: GoldLink, Sir, Loyle Carner, Jordan Rakei, Little Simz, Rich The Kid, Jay Critch—he’s the truth.

Interesting you mention Jay Critch, who has seen a lot of success online which kickstarted his career. Do you think the internet has been instrumental in your success so far?

Yeah, man. Absolutely. And I think if people can use social media to boost their music, then why not? I’m all for promoting yourself; at the end of the day, it’s just about being real. Whatever you do, whether it’s music or art or whatever, I think it’s sick when people are using it to build real connections with each other.

Your Hoodrich mixtape series covers a lot of different topics from what feels like different perspectives. How have you found people have connected with the music?

I’ve clocked a pattern: whatever project it is, it’s usually the tracks I might feel I’ve said too much on that people really connect with. Like on “Childsplay”, I was so vulnerable when I made that song. I realise now that I just have to give it my all and be myself—all parts of myself.

Did you try to show different sides to yourself on the latest project?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, that’s one thing I try to focus on: empowering vulnerability. I really think that’s important, man. Like, for example, even when you’re in the studio with someone—with an artist you really like—that can really send me under. You never know what a person is going through at the same time. At the end of the day, we’re all just human.

That’s some really good insight to have. It seems like you really know who you are.

Yeah, I do. But I’m still learning, and it’s never, ever easy. The amount of people that put me down—it’s mad! It’s endless, the negativity. The way I see it is it’s only people who aren’t happy with themselves that do that. If a person is happy and growing, then I don’t see why they would put that energy out. So I don’t focus on that anymore—I’m just doing me! Of course, there’s times where I am vulnerable; I’m never gonna to get to a point where I don’t have butterflies before going on-stage, but my vulnerability is what makes me human. I want to keep challenging myself so I’m just gonna keep working and see where I end up.


Posted on November 17, 2017