INTERVIEW: Diddy-Dirty Money’s Dawn Richard talks “Last Train to Paris”
by Marcus K. Dowling
Riding a mainstream wave into the progressive realm of electronic dance music, Diddy’s Diddy-Dirty Money comprising him, ex-Danity Kane member Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper created quite the stir with the release of Last Train to Paris. A conceptual piece at the edge of panic between hip hop’s streets and Parisian discotheques, it examines love through the emotional connectivity of dance rhythms and human interaction. I had the opportunity to talk at length with Dawn Richard of the trio regarding the development of the album, a fun conversation that reveals the passion of the creative vision and the joy involved in it’s developmental process and release.
What was the process of working in tandem with Diddy like on this project? He’s always surrounded himself with a myriad of talented people, but never really explored using female vocalists in this way?
I really haven’t worked with Puff in this fashion before. He was my boss. He is now my group member. So our opinions and ideas matter. This album is our baby too. So I think all of us were in new territory. But everything has been organic. He let us do what we do… And we learned things from him. In the end I think He picked two women who are passionate about music and this project.
What were your initial thoughts when you first heard Diddy break down the concept of Last Train to Paris and how he wanted to bring it to life?
I was skeptical about being in a group again. But when I heard the tracks, the concept and the music.. I knew I wanted to be apart of it. The music was exactly what I had been dreaming about. We knew Puff needed the female story told in a particular way. And I think Kalenna and I were the perfect fit.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
“1st Place Loser” is a bonus track on the album and I love the lyrics and the approach the we take on the record. And “Loving You No More.” Having been apart of writing on that record with Sean Garrett and Drake was a great experience for me. It is such a soulful record.
What are your feelings about pop and now R & B music being fully into a dance revolution, and do you see either of yourselves seeing Diddy Dirty Money launch you in a Kelly Rowland type direction?
I think we have our own lane. Our record has soul and vulnerability. We will launch oursleves into a new lane. Where pop, r and b, rock, and soul fuse together. We have pop and electro influences, but the soul in our voices carry us to a place with more substance and depth.
What are some of your favorite dance records of the moment and of all time?
Grace Jones – Pull Up to My Bumper … I feel like her voice is an ocean.. And its the perfect blend of dance with edge. And “Ass On The Floor” of course- by Dirty Money. Kalenna and I wrote that record with Swizz and I just think that the record is so urgent. It makes people want to get up and dance, but the lyrics are so powerful that it creates emotion to a dance record. I love it.