Easy Conversation: Donn T.

Reared in a creative household and of musical pedigree, everyone ought to know about Miss Donn T.

The sister of Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson (The Roots famous drummer/ front man), she has shared the stage with notable artists including, but not limited to, Nelly Furtado, Jill Scott and John Legend. She is also about to release her debut album “Donn T/ Kaleidoscopic”, which will showcase a fusion of musical styles.

In her words, "Authenticity always wins." Here is the truth and nothing but...

Photo: Sidney Etienne

Tell us a little bit about yourself, who is Donn T.?
I'm a vocalist and songwriter with beaucoup eclectic bent!! If I were a geometric figure, I'd have a lot of sides but, they're none congruent. Measurable, colorful yeah. but, my angles have never made it easy to fit. Musically, I embrace it. Philly is where I grew up, so it's home. Tho' at present I'm bi-coastal, spending 1/2 time in LA , 1/2 time in Philly. I've been working in the music industry for a few years and most recently behind the scenes licensing music to tv and film. I'm an artist who loves being behind the mic, as much as I love doing spot music for scenes. A performer who gets as big a rush out of performing as I do from writing for other artists which I've also done. I'm aware that some artists come into the game having been songwriters behind the scenes and dismiss that element once they reach their goal. For me, it's 'all' the goal.

What projects are you working on now?
My debut album Donn T "Kaleidoscopic" is my primary project at the moment. It comes out this Spring. Rehearsing the band, doing shows, tour planning, press and promo, it has my full attention. Indie artists, we hustle hard!!

"Kaleidoscopic" has a broad spectrum of styles. It's the album that fits me, in this moment in time. The making of the album was pretty interesting, too. I'd just returned to my hometown Philly when I was introduced to London based French DJ/Producer Simbad on a fluke. 8 days later the album was written, recorded and mixed. A very intense experience. Still, with each song the album really formed itself. Definitely look for the single and for some very dope remixes. But, I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet. @:)

How would you define your style?
Having spent time in London recently, I'm diggin' London street fashion right now. Whatevah's on the fringe! A little color, clever combinations. I'll rock tiny velvet jackets with pencil pants and a tee + stilletoes w/ socks. sometimes, i sport a baby-doll fitted dress in a bold color or fabric with muted tights and heels. if it works I'll throw on a pair of knee highs for layers. There's 2ft of snow outside my door at this very moment so, warmth is key. My hair is doing this rock-afrilly/punk thing. I could have a beehive tomorrow, it just changes. my hair is never a serious statement. Mostly, it's in charge, I just do what it wants.

What's playing in your ipod these days?
Okay, these just came up random today while I'm interviewing: Nneka "Heartbeat", Beach House "Zebra", Maxwell's "Bad Habits" + "Cold", Quadron "Average Fruit", Silhouette Brown featuring Lady Alma "Leave a Note", Donovan's 'Get Thy Bearings". A hodge podge but, that's some of what's on in the background now. Oh, and before I'm done the interview, Fela Kuti's The Anthology will rotate in. These days my Fela CD's are my guilty pleasure. Recently, I saw Fela! The Musical on Broadway. Okay to be real, it opened on Broadway (NY) late Nov 2009. I'm on my 4th time seeing it. Quite an innovative approach to Broadway, my opinion. Basically, if you hate musicals — you'll love Fela! If you love musicals... you'll love Fela! Antibalas is the house band and they kill it every night. That said, a week doesn't go by that I'm not listening to something Fela.

What did you want to be or do growing up?
An architect, as a kid. I was six. For awhile I just liked the way that word sounded. But, as soon as I could write anything, I wanted to be a writer and I found music compelling. The home I grew up in was pretty creatively charged. I grew up in a musical family. Music was either being written, rehearsed or played - all day long, everyday. As a kid, I thought everybody's house was like that. My dad, an artist on Chess Records - and my mom, a singer and tap dancer who studied with dance legends The Four Step brothers and Charles "Honey" Cole, stacked the family music library with everything from soul to classical. My early eclectic musical influences, are what most inform my approach to music today. Much of the music from that library continues to resonate with me as the single greatest influence in my life. My album "Kaleidoscopic" takes it's cue from there.

Describe your creative process, what inspires you?
My creative process is varied. Sometimes, the way a song comes about is, I'm the only one in the room. I hear the lyric and melody all at once, it's just there. Sometimes, another person musician or producer is playing something and I can hear where I fit. Sometimes, I have a very narrow space in which to create in, another artist is certain they wanna say a particular word 'here' or 'there' and they have a piece of a melody and, I have to fill in the blanks. Sometimes, it's like figuring a puzzle. I have written in virtually every situation. With "Kaleidoscopic" though, it was the most mutual experience I've ever had. Simbad and I were like one mind. Regarding inspiration? I'm always inspired. Life inspires me from every angle... from whatever's bright to whatever's shade.

What is your personal philosophy?
Authenticity always wins. I strive to be my truest self as a artist and as a person. Sometimes, it's risky being authentic (so add to that be fearless) that's my life potion. Inspiring a bit more authenticity in the world thru my music, is what I strive for.

What can we wish you for 2010?
I'm hoping for a successful first release for Donn T "Kaleidoscopic" this Spring! (And Wow, is Santa in the midst?!) You can wish me a pair of those sparkly silver boxing mittens that appeared on tam+sam last month! *giggles @:)

We are wishing her much success on her upcoming album "Kaleidoscopic" and we don't know about those gloves but we are on the look out! : )

Stay tuned in...




3 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Great interview, you just put me on to some new new thx :)!

Anonyme a dit…

very nice, I have done one with her too
it is coming soon :)

TAM + SAM a dit…

We loooooove her.