Interview by Kara Zosha
Hello Dodie! You just wrapped up your Hot Mess (An Intimate Tour Experience) Tour in Australia, how was it?
It was amazing! It was so good, it was surprisingly loud. I’ve never officially toured in Australia, so we wanted to do a little test run. I called them intimate shows because I didn’t bring my whole band. We kind of made a show that was just way more chill, but it felt so big. I fucking loved it. I have to come back, the crowds here are amazing. They’re so hype!
Have you been to Australia before?
Yeah, I spent a bunch of time here in 2015 for some reason. There happen to be a few things that brought me here, but yeah I fucking love it. I have a friend that lives in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. That was really cool to go back there and spend the day there. It was just so nice. It was beautiful.
How were the songs from the ep written: pour out of you via instrument or the “Frankenstein method”? – How did you choose which songs went on the EP?
It’s a mixture of all those ways, as my projects usually are. I also never write specifically for an EP, I just kinda like collect the songs that I’ve written over the past year or so and they seem to make a theme of some kind, just cause life creates a theme I guess. Hot Mess was written in like a day, that was when I was in LA and I had a guitar. Got Weird was one of the Frankenstein ones just written over time. I literally have no memory of writing Lonley Bones, I just had the demo on my laptop over lockdown. I think I was so sad, lonely, and disassociated I was like “oh wow I don’t remember doing that, but thank you”. No Big Deal was written in a day, it fell out of me. So (it’s) a mixture of everything.
How does it feel to perform Lonley Bones after writing it in lockdown and now being able to hear your fans sing it back to you?
Ugh amazing, it’s perfect. It’s like exactly what I wrote it for. I do remember recording the song. There’s a bit at the end, this big like “la la la” chanty bit and I remember just hitting record on loop and roaming around my room to try and pretend to do as many voices as I could to give the illusion that there were loads of people with me, but I was alone. I remember thinking like “I will have those people around me one day, but it’s not today” and it is today and that feels really good.
What is it like to go from posting covers and original songs on Youtube to now selling out shows around the world? – Was this always the goal for you?
Now I feel wonderfully comfortable, it feels amazing. In fact the bigger the better like it’s so much fun, but it definitely took a while to get there. The first few tours I did I was really struggling with bringing my quiet intimate things, all the things I could do really well, to a big stage with loads of people. I really struggled with that, but I figured it out. I think replacing some of the gnarlier instruments with strings, making space for the quiet moments, and bringing intimacy in a different way as well. It took a while, but now I’m totally comfortable, I love it.
Honestly, no. I was like my music just doesn’t lend to playing shows, but I did obviously and it was just a process.
Australia hosted World Pride this year, with that being said, how does your identity (gender, sexual orientation, etc) influence your music?
I think I like to write queer songs in a way that I’m still working through my own inner bi-phobia. I don’t know how long that will take, but I think it’s very apparent in a bunch of my songs like in a song called She I wrote 10 years ago and in the song Got Weird. True story, I went on a date with a girl and she just freaked out. Then there’s a song called In the Bed, which is about the secret bi feels like. I think my queerness, in the way that I experienced it growing up, has influenced the songs that I write in a way that is still working through a lot like hiding, secrecy, and confusion.
Do you think writing music helps you explore what you’re working through in general?
Yeah, totally. It’s so much easier to look back at packages of like feelings and easily understand. It’s definitely like therapy in some way, it’s like sorting through your head and subconscious thought.
How is your mental health currently? – How do you prioritize yourself/mental health with the career you have?
I currently am doing well. I think with traveling my brain has a few darker spots, but in terms of looking after myself, I have dealt with depression (before). Everyone knows how to look after their brain after a decade of having these problems, so I feel like I’m very well used to holding myself in a way now.
Patience is key. I think you have to recognize that it will pass because it has before and I have proof of that. This is a cool piece of advice I got from a therapist once, make yourself a mental health first aid kit. I have a bag in the corner of my room that has tea, nail polish, a list of my fav songs, hair treatments, and all those kind of things. I know it’s there, but I never actually had to wip it out. I’ve never been that bad.
In a recent Instagram post, you talked about parasocial relationships and boundaries within letters and online communities. Can you elaborate more about that?
I grew up on YouTube in a time when boundaries, parasocial relationships, and sharing online were all very new and no one really knew what was good and what wasn’t. I guess we were all really children trying our best. Around that time my mental health was at its worse and I was just blasting it everywhere. I think it helped a lot of people, but it also was damaging for some people and for me as well. It meant that whenever we met there would just be a complete lack of boundaries for us both. I would stand at the front of a long line and someone would bounce up to me sobbing and they’d tell me something dark. I would cry as well because I would be so overwhelmed. To be hit with this trauma, I would feel inclined to share as well. It might be a beautiful moment, it might be a horrendous moment, (it was) something that was entirely inappropriate. It was a hot mess for everyone. Now I find that meetings are – there’s so much more respect for everyone and it’s just much more appropriate, warmer, and understanding. If there is sharing there’s an understanding there, we all grew up basically.
Where did the concept of a live film for Hot Mess come from?
We knew we didn’t want to do music videos for this EP because it felt like a small in-between project, so we came up with the idea of live sessions and I thought it would be really cool to do one for every song. Then I thought we’ll mend them together and Greta my flatmate, good friend, and creative director for the project brought her friend/creative partner Karina on board. We worked with a production company called Blink and hired a director called Tash Tung. Honestly, it very naturally became a project run by women, which was delicious. It was truly amazing.
Where did you get the fashion influence for Hot Mess the Live Film and your style in general?
In terms of style, I do have a stylist called Rubina Marchiori, who is amazing. I always had an inherent sense of style, definitely a color palette. That’s what I know and I know what I’m comfortable in. I don’t know if it’s because of gender or because of who I am, but I feel very uncomfortable in certain things that make me feel too feminine and comfortable in other things that make me feel a certain amount of boyish. I think honestly (my style) has come from being really picky, so you define your style quite quickly.
What other artists influence your music and how do you arrange your music?
In terms of musical influence, do you know what? I can never point to specific people, it’s always like a random song that Spotify’s thrown into my discover weekly that I’ve added to a playlist. I’m like “I love this two-second moment here like I love the way this sounds,” so I don’t really know. I’m always drawn to dark and dusty-sounding things like super low-mid range and warm. I’m not a big fan of bright mixes. Again, I think it’s similar to the style thing that I know what I don’t like. I’m very picky, so I think that naturally refines the sound.
In terms of arranging, I’ve always been very good at harmony, so I kind of just know inherently what will sound good. That makes me sound really big-headed, but it’s the one thing I can do haha. I still get stuck sometimes. Sometimes I’ll be arranging for myself and I’ll be like “this is average, this is terrible, like mid,” but then I just need to go for a walk or get drunk and I’ll figure it out later.
What are your plans for the future; new music, more touring, a break?
I have a very big thing I cannot talk about yet and that will be the focus of this year. In terms of my own music, I’m supposed to be writing another album. I would really like to, but the pressures of it are making me dry. I have nothing. I’m trying to give myself space and patience, but it’s just really hard. I’m at that classic writer’s block moment.