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I am always on the look-out for a terrific singer/songwriter…
Someone who spikes the imagination; offers something different- distinguishes themselves from the pack. In a busy music world, it is harder (to set yourself aside); stay in the imagination- what with the choice available. Being U.K.-based I tend to focus on home-grown stars: those acts that play around the capital; they tend to form (the majority of) my reviews- or else acts based in the north. It is great to discover something ‘foreign’- an act we may not have heard of; someone who could be playing the U.K. Dominique is based out of the U.S.- she hails from New York- and has been garnering a lot of attention- kudos has been paid to her unique voice and style of music; her vibrancy and nuance- all vital qualities in today’s scene. U.S. music tends to go under the wire (over here); our reviewers are focused on British acts- we miss out on a lot of great music. America is producing some of the world’s best (new) music; some of the most alive sounds- that we all should be aware of. Ever since reviewing Arianna and the Rose- another terrific female songwriter based in N.Y. – I have been keen to return- to see what the state has to offer. When it comes to female singer-songwriters, there is a quality imbalance: there are some terrific and brilliant examples; a lot that lack any real distinction and killer punch. It is so easy to become complacent and ordinary: write with the minimum of thought and effort; in the hope that will seduce listeners- it is an attitude that still pervades. The (female singers) that get into your mind are those that set the bar higher: go out of their way to up the game; create something quite special- earn their plaudits and praise. The U.K. is in a little bit of trouble: we have a lot of great female songwriters; the newer breed tend to fare better (than established acts) – offering more in the way of urgency and diversity. The U.S. music scene is providing a lot of inspiration: some great Electro.-Pop acts; stunning Soul singers- a collection of terrific artists. When it comes to young artists- in the case of Dominique- maturity and distinction are important pillars- and few actually achieve this. It is all very well talking about personal issues; your own life and real emotions- when they come off as juvenile and bare-minimum, you risk alienating listeners (from the start). It is a hard balance to get right: be relatable and real, yet display maturity and (age beyond your years) – if you get this right, then you are onto a winning formula. It is essential- not just for female songwriters- to stick to this; set a good example- and inspire the new generation coming through.
Dominique is a good example (of the point that I am making): someone who is tender in years- yet has that inventiveness and mature edge; capable of speaking to all generations. Despite her beauty and captivating sound, she is a serious proposition- an artist that has the potential to go far. In the marketplace- with so many solo acts emerging weekly- it is hard predicting who will fail (and which will succeed). The early signs (from Dominique) are encouraging; get out of your mind images of a singing nun- here is a talent bold and fresh; vibrant and engaging- who will stay in the mind (long after the music stops). Having similar-sounding artists in the U.K., it would be good to see Dominique come to London: play some of the top venues; get tongues wagging this side of the pond- and see the crowds over here. The early stages are always the most exciting: that first taste of what is to come; what is on offer- a chance to hear an artist taking their first steps. Before I continue, a little bit (about Dominique):
“Set to bubbling sun-warped electronics in the verse and a wordless cascading fuzz of a chorus courtesy of co-producer ZeniF, it progresses with the playful bounce of electropop but with a slightly harsher, more abrasive side to it.” – The 405
“Dominique sure seems to be another example of why females are killing the electro-pop game.” – UQ Music
Following the success of her debut single “It’s Only You” which has been championed by many indie blogs and bigger publications such as V Magazine, Wonderland, producer Steve Anderson (Kylie, Leona Lewis, Take That), and even added to H&M’s European playlist, with spins on Amazing Radio and KX93.5’s We Found New Music show, 22 year old Electro-pop artist Dominique returns with her latest single “Don’t” produced by herself and co-producer Zenif. Dominique was recently named as ‘International Artist of The Month’ on new music platform Tradiio and reached #1 in both their Global and Pop charts. Having recently featured on a track with Moon Regiment and recently releasing an exclusive unheard track called “Life & Death” with Tradiio, the latest offering is a combination of pulsating synths and pop-driven melodies.
Of the track, she says “Don’t was written to express my thoughts on the somewhat common expectation for women to be the paradoxical combination of being a “bad bitch” and a “nun” (chaste). In other words, very sexual but with a scarce sexual history. Rather than expressing these thoughts in a more serious way, I tried to keep a playful, teasing kind of attitude, while ZeniF pulled through with a killer drop to really set the tone of the song.”
Without hearing a word, you can tell Dominique is different: a sassy and brave artist; someone with grit and passion- in addition to melody and constraint. Too many Pop artists- less common among Electro.-Pop artists- are concerned with being ‘popular’ and ‘likeable’- in their mind that translate to being beige and predictable. Key issues need addressing- within music- and so risks need to be taken. Dominique is playful and urgent; never coming across as offensive or divisive- someone who is sending out a clear message; addressing important subjects (making sure it is presented in a memorable and original way). It seems New York is producing some of the most cutting and distinguished Electro.-Pop: matching (U.K. artists) such as FKA twigs for sheer memorability and prowess. Dominique may be a new name (to many of us here in the U.K.) yet she is gaining pace (in the U.S.)- her latest single is her strongest effort; the best material to date- great omens with regards a forthcoming E.P.
Scratching, distorted electronics herald in the track: a mixture of psychotic mice and a dangerous night; mystery and build-up; fever and twilight- the song wastes no time in getting to work. Don’t has an instant push and punch; no tender foreplay- Dominique (technically spelled Dom!n!que) lets the composition do the talking. Building from a dizzy beat, the vocals begin wordless and hypnotic: our heroine is caught in the web of electronics; scatting and fragmented- lost in a sea of emotion and pressure; you can sense a tangible ache- something quite relatable and emotive. Propelled by a punchy percussive slam- that is evenly-timed and pugnacious- Dominique’s voice gets under way: starting sweet and assured, her message comes into effect- she will not be messed around. Her man/subject- anti-hero or a wannabe lover- is being given short-shrift: our girl is not that type of woman; not someone that will be devalued and objectified- those ‘perfect’ women are left to fantasy (and imagination). The man in question has an ideal of a “perfect world”- something antiquated and rather infantile- where his women come cartoon-like (and submissive) and inequality reigns. Our heroine wants to get things straight: the real world does not operate like that; women who (fit that crude ideal) are not representative (of most women) – and not something to aspire to. Backed by a simple beat; a subtle sonic swirl- the vocal is allowed full authority. Not demanding and finger-pointing; spiked or angry- that combination of sweet-natured vocals (and striking lyrics) is a memorable juxtaposition. Dominique is playful and teasing; slinky and seductive- complete with teeth and a strong soul. Laying down some truth- our lead lets it known she has “history”; had her fair share of man-dogs- a dose of reality is in the frame. Whoever this bowser is- a man with a ‘50s view of womanhood- is being given (a metaphorical) nut-kick; he needs to know his place- and understand the truth about life/sexuality. Refusing to be dictated or controlled, Dominique almost struts into the lyrics; the confidence and delivery is impeccably stirring; brilliantly executed- you are caught under her spell. Not wanting to be defined or categorised, Dominique is laying down the law: hold off and don’t get your hopes up; show her some respect. When desorbing the song, the author explains it thus: “Don’t was written to express my thoughts on the somewhat common expectation for women to be the paradoxical combination of being a “bad bitch” and a “nun” (chaste). In other words, very sexual but with a scarce sexual history. Rather than expressing these thoughts in a more serious way, I tried to keep a playful, teasing kind of attitude (while ZeniF pulled through with a killer drop to really set the tone of the song).” You get that sense throughout: the anti-hero wants a demon in the sack, yet someone who is sexless to the point of virginity. There is this view- in society and in the minds of many a-man- that their woman needs to be submissive and sexually-available, yet a blank canvas (and rather bland). In addition to being paradoxical, it is somewhat offensive- there are seldom these expectations when the gender roles are reversed. Her own woman and human, Dominique is rational and to-the-point: things do not work that way; you get who you get- and should not expect such ridiculous attributes/demands. The chorus is the most urgent and stand-out moment: the combination of the beat and electronics; layered vocals and distortion- a whirl of power and emotion; force and passion- something stirring and pulsating. Not overbearing or over-layered, the chorus catches you by surprise: it is a twisting and snaking viper; a cooing and entrancing Siren- something that splits, divides (and whips) the heart and mind. The vibe (of the chorus) reminds me of FKA twigs-cum-Sia. A mass of discordant strands and entwined snatches, you get wrapped up in: the heaviness and insistency is a head-rush that is hard to overlook. Both beach-ready and festival-uniting, it is a sun-kissed-via-nighttime-tryst sort of thing- a blend that is alcoholic and caffeinated. Jumping (and half-complete vocal snatches) fizz and percolate: you can practically feel the sweat drip; the floor vibrates and buzzes- it is a symphonic see-saw that carries the listener away. As the song progresses- and passes its half-way marker- it develops and gains ground (you are comfortable with the sound and sensations; anxious to hear what comes next). Dominique keeps her tongue sharp- and her eyes glistening- as her tongue twists and teases. The man is being kept at bay; perhaps given some harsh truths- our heroine will not be defined and belittled; made to fill his fantasies. Whilst contemporaries would bite and attack- perhaps augmenting the beat (to represent a gut-punch)- Dominique shows control and intelligence- her alluring vocal shouts louder than any beat; much more effective than (needlessly overbearing) notes and slams. Thanks to some excellent production values- along with beats, ZeniF adds a huge amount of majesty and weight- the song is crystal-clear and concise; never losing any prowess along the way- every note is allowed space to breathe and impress. What is particularly stand-out- along with the lyrics and vocals- is the composition. Adding words, drama and movement, it never stops working: emphasising and bolstering, there are myriad shades and colours- it is a positive fusion of chemicals and elements (that make the track such a destructive force). Perhaps the exclamation points (in Dom!n!que) are no accident: here is a girl that stands out hugely; her messages bold and unmissable- a young woman who knows what she wants; keen not to be demined/controlled. The final seconds are heartbeats; ticks and tocks that bring the song to rest- and speak volumes. Don’t is a one-worded rally-cry: a message (to women out there) that clichés and stereotypes should be dispensed; outmoded ideals are stupid- things need to change. We all know men with that same mindset: they want their women red-hot and ready; unspoiled and just-for-them- a contradiction and juxtaposition (that is both unreal and outdated). Fierce and strong-willed; proud and rousing: Don’t is an anthem for young women; a sign for change- above all, a hell of a tune. Dominique has penned a terrific Electro.-Pop tune that not only is impossible to forget- it establishes her as one of the finest young acts coming through. In a genre- that is growing in popularity- few of her peers possess such confidence and quality- future releases will be much-anticipated and in-demand. Having few songs under her belt, the New York resident will grow and develop: when her E.P. is completed it will be a proper chance for attention (a fully-fledged work that shows what she is about). For those looking for a wonderful new act; for a sensational song; a stunning possibility- look no further than Don’t (and its author).
The rest of 2015 promising much for the young singer- a chance to go to Paris (mooted for this summer) to work on her E.P. With her brand across social media- and accruing a mass of devoted followers- the New Yorker is set to be a name to watch. Female artists (are ahead of their male peers) when it comes to Electro.-Pop: it is a genre seemingly tailor-made for them. Able to express sexuality and expectations- through a pulsating and bedazzling medium- Dominique has concocted a potent blend: a song that can unite Pop traditionalists- with its melody and nuanced sound- and enflame Electro. lovers- with its heavy beats and exceptional production. It brings me to a final point- well, two actually- regarding new music. Too many artists- especially from this country- come in too week/placid: either the Pop is too watered-down and vague; harder sounds too aimless and one-dimensional- finding a Midas intersection is the key (to early success) and catchment. Critics have heard enough mediocrity: the world needs artists who come in hard and strong; dare to take risks- and make a name for themselves. Dominique has made an excellent start: in a genre- and city for that matter- with players lining up, she has crafted something quite unique: ubiquitous quality with a very distinct individuality (music that is very much hers and hers alone). Whilst contemporaries tend to stray towards existing acts (when it comes to their sound), you’d be hard-pressed comparing the young singer- the 22-year-old surely cannot fail. Having reviewed acts like Laurel, Ivy and Gold- and other Electro.-Pop acts- Dominique may be the best yet- it is the voice that is queen. Imbued with vitality and urgency; a very personal (and native) voice, it is hard to ignore: her forthcoming releases are sure to match/better Don’t. For now, we have the track: an example of what she has to offer; what is on her mind- its messages are those we should all listen to. Issues like sexuality and expectation; societal judgements and misconceptions are often suggested: few artists tackle them full-on. By taking an issue- that is seen as taboo by some- and not only doing so intelligently- but with plenty of Pop melody and playfulness- the young artists has pulled off a mean feat. I cannot wait for the E.P./future: it will be exciting to see and hear what comes next- whether the same issues will be explored; if Dominique decides to focus on love and relationships etc. With the weather- struggling to decide what season it want to portray- we all need a head-rush; a dollop of sunshine- something hot yet pleasingly cooling (music that gets the feet tapping and the voice ringing). Don’t is no forbidding kick; it is not a track that pushes you away: it is a song that is designed to be appreciated (and heard by all). With that in mind, do not overlook this U.S. star: we will hear a lot more from her (in years to come). With wisdom, intellect and passion- that belies her youth- she is no ingénue singer: she is a strong woman with a clear mindset. In a sea of misdirected ambitions; murky and indeterminate clarity- it is refreshing to discover something pure and defined. There is only one thing left to do: put the single on, turn up the volume…
AND let it do its thing.