Dol Vita is an eclectic and fashion forward pop artist out of the UK who just released the official video for her single "Dream". Naima Karp connected with Dol Vita for this exclusive interview to discuss the dichotomy between being an indie artist and attaining mainstream success, her cultural influences, importance of fashion in relation to her music and creativity, and much more.
After reading this Q&A with Dol Vita, be sure to stream/download "Dream" and follow her on social media to stay up to date on what's to come from this talented artist.
In a world where a lot of indie artists belonging to your sound have gone mainstream, such as Lana Del Rey, how do you stay low-key and avoid selling out? Your work seems quite introspective, and it’s hard to maintain a sense of self awareness in an industry like this.
I really love that indie has gone mainstream, it’s kinda like a kudos to all those bands and artists who have worked so hard for their work to be noticed and appreciated by the masses. I guess for myself though, I don’t really have any fears about selling out because I have many genres and platforms from which I take inspiration. To me, each and every song I write kinda has its own vibe. I like to think that you can be mainstream without selling out, you know by not committing to one particular sound or vibe that people like but by reaching out to everyone in a spectrum of ways.
Has being inspired by cultures such as lolita, kawaii, and pin up, helped you develop your own sense of individuality? In a lot of the cultures you cite being inspired by, individuality and standing out from the crowd seem paramount.
Oh most definitely! Not only did it help develop my sense of individuality but it helped me get through some really dark and lonely times. School was an incredibly difficult time for me because I never fit in. I had many obscure interests and influences from a young age and this made me stand out; when you’re a kid standing out is not what you want as most kids won’t understand your old/cult movie, music and fashion influences. I was always a target for bullying during my childhood and even though I knew why, I never let it push me to becoming something mainstream, something that I wasn’t. I feel like that really sculpted me into who I am today. I don’t get embarrassed by my image and I have the confidence to wear what I want and look however I want because I could not care less if someone doesn’t like it and that is my individuality in it’s self.
When adopting cultures that you’re not a part of, like kawaii or drag, how do you draw inspiration without appropriating from them?
Kawaii is the culture of cuteness in Japan, so this can be anything from music, cartoons, fashion and art. Anyone who enjoys or draws inspiration from these things can be within the Kawaii culture so I wouldn’t say I wasn’t a part of it. However, drag can be a tricky one because when you think of a Drag Queen, you think of Ru Paul etc. a man who likes to play the role of a women for art. But in actual fact anyone can do drag, women can dress up and play the role of a man. Lady Gaga has been known to do this for her single Artwork for ‘You and I’. Her general fashion, hair and makeup is also a prime example of being inspired by drag culture. Very over the top, concept outfits which tell a story in themselves. I draw so much image inspiration from Queens like Sharon Needles, Adore Delano and Violet Chachki. I love the fact that the popularisation of Drag has inspired and taught so many boys AND girls that if they want to play dress up and role-play a character of any gender then they can without prejudice. That is beauty of drag.
What’s the importance of your fashion within your overall music and creative energy, and the relationship between the two in terms of your creativity?
For me, I have always seen myself as an Artist rather than just a singer. Your body is a canvas for the art in which you feel like portraying and the marrying of both the fashion and the music can tell a really special story. I love playing around and mixing with the two because it really affects the mood and delivery. My fashion choices and inspirations also change from day to day. One day I can be wearing all black, y’know skinny jeans and a leather jacket, then the next I’ll be in all pink wearing a cute dress and the next maybe wearing all vintage 50s pieces. My favourite thing is mixing my inspirations together to get my own really unique look. Fashion definitely aides me to feel a certain way and helps me get the creative vibes flowing because I feel 110% Dol Vita.
You described your sound as “eclectic”. Could you tell us more about where you get inspiration from, and who shaped your sense of musicality growing up? Since pop culture also has importance in your work, can you also discuss your influences in that world?
Surprise, surprise my influences growing up were indeed very broad. I had some really strong influences from my Dad as he’s super into his music and again has a broad taste. We would listen to 80s bands like Supertramp, Bronski Beat, REM, also lots of classical movie scores and also synth like Wendy Carlos. My dad has had a huge impact on my music taste, I remember when I was a teenager I used to sync my iPod up to the home computer iTunes because my dad has so much music that wasn’t of my generation. I would listen to Bryan Ferry, Andy Williams, Elton John and Simon and Garfunkel and it spurred me to dig deeper into older music. I discovered a really keen love of music pre 60s like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
My pop culture influences however don’t include music, by pop culture I mean the culture of our 21st century and the mainstream things that have influenced us all, including Movies, TV Shows, fashion and public figures/icons. Despite being a vintage girl and soul, I am very connected to the current day happenings and influences. I love mixing the old and the new, this could be making a song with a trappy beat and modern flow but with vintage influences like trumpets or a 70s rock vibe.
You say that you live in decades before your time - can you tell us about being an old soul, and how that contributes to or affects your music? Does this play into your music carrying vintage twinges combined with contemporary vibes, and how?
Carrying on from what I was saying the end of the previous question, my old soul definitely shines through my music and fashion and I love mixing it with my contemporary influences. I think living in decades before my time also affect what I write about because if I’m feeling a bit more dated and Billie Holiday the song might be more of a sad, lustful love song in which I’m the Damsel in distress. However, if I’m feeling a bit more contemporary and Dua Lipa the song may be more about me being the Heroine and having the power. Women have gained the freedom and power to be so much more than under the power of a man and I love being able to write in both the old and new mindset. Not forgetting our roots musically and emotionally as women is very important to me
How did spending your formative years in NYC affect you as a professional, an individual, and a musician? What tips can you give on the hustle, not just as a New Yorker, but as a creative entrepreneur generally?
I was just a kid when I lived in New York but it’s a time of my life that will never leave me and stays with me as I grow up. I saw life illuminated with lights, glamour and success. I would be taken to broadway musicals, ballets and glamorous department stores, so performance and fashion was always something I looked up to and wanted to excel in as an adult, I just wasn’t sure which path I would take. It’s weird though because my Mum has always been a successful city business woman, very driven and powerful which is why we lived in New York and as much as I look up to her and think what she does is amazing, it was never something I saw myself doing. In regards to the hustle… I think not being afraid to reach out to other people is very important. Somethings can’t be done or gone through alone and as creatives we need to lean on and use each other as much as possible because when two or three or however many heads become one, you start to create some innovative, breakthrough ideas and to me that’s what the creative community is all about.