With every new year comes a period of resolution-making, a time when many of us take a step back to reassess our lives and set a course forward. For Kat Dahlia, that kind of soul-searching is par for the course.
"I've always asked myself questions. I've always tried to find answers," the 24-year-old singer-songwriter told me over the phone just days after the Jan. 13th premiere of her debut album, My Garden.
"There are so many secrets about our history. Somewhere along the way, all of those answers got lost, or burned, or thrown away. To know our purpose -- that's where our truth lies."
That got me thinking: Is there anyone on the planet who really knows what's up? I suggested Beyoncé, naturally, but Kat had someone else in mind: "Blue Ivy. That's why she's always so upset, like, 'I have all the answers!'" That must be such a heavy load to bear. What a brave little bb.
Not being Blue Ivy didn't hinder Dahlia in the slightest while recording My Garden. She soldiered on, wrapping it after three long years of work, work, work, health issues, work and more work. The result is a complicated, raw collection of 11 songs that mixes gentle acoustic backing with stuttering trap hi-hats, sing-song deliveries with raw outbursts, sweet morning-after affirmations of love with scorched earth ex-boyfriend exorcisms.
The album closer in particular stands out as one of the most brutal of the bunch. On "Just Another Dude," a spiritual successor to "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," the singer realizes that she's got to escape a toxic relationship before it destroys her. The explosive narrative accurately captures the sudden, all-consuming terror that such a moment of clarity can bring, which makes it all the more surprising that she recorded it in one take.
"I just wanted to go into the booth and black out," the Miami native told me. "We basically kept everything from the first take. I wanted everyone to feel how I was feeling with me. We didn't add production beyond the guitar -- I wanted it to feel like the moment I recorded it. Overproducing would have taken away the magic."
She added: "I wanted my album to have different sounds, different themes. As human beings, we're these round characters -- we don't wake up with the same emotions every single day."
So, how does Kat feel now that her album's out? "It's finally here. I'm just so happy." Not a bad way to start 2015 at all.
If you want more Kat Dahlia, watch episode 1 and 2 of MTV's "Kat On Kat" web series, where she's interviewed by none other than, um, Kat Dahlia. And follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr for info about the second leg of her My Garden Tour, which kicks back up this March.