Dounia is your new favorite R&B singer, no cap. Hailing from Queens, the Moroccan model turned artist proves you can literally do anything you desire if you work hard and stay true to yourself.
For someone who’s new, “Royal” is a great place to start. Her sound can best be described as Spotify’s Mellow Bars playlist — eclectic R&B with bars while keeping a sense of calm. On International Women’s Day, Dounia performed at Forever 21’s Forever Female show at El Rey in Los Angeles, alongside Natti Natasha, Bia, and more.
Trending All Day caught up with Dounia ahead of her set to discuss linking with Kehlani, her journey from music to fashion, opening for G-Eazy, and more! Check it out below.
For those who don’t know, who is Dounia?
Dounia is a Moroccan-Queens native creating her own genre of music and exemplifying authenticity and transparency in every space she occupies.
Being from Queens, how does that play into your life and career?
I don’t know where I would be if I wasn’t from New York, because it puts you in the epicenter of so much going on. I worked at American Apparel when I was 18. I got on Instagram because of it, all of a sudden started getting booked for stuff.
For music or fashion?
For fashion and modeling, but that’s what ultimately lead me to do music because I started getting a platform with that. I mean, where would I be if I lived in Iowa? No offense. Or if I stayed in Morocco even. The power of the internet is incredible, but also it shaped my personality a lot, my style, my music.
“Royal” is so powerful in giving women confidence. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I love any excuse for us to acknowledge how powerful women are. I mean, we should just do that all goddamn time! The flack that we be getting is ridiculous. Women are the most powerful natural nurturers, we run shit creatively. We should get as much credit as we can possibly squeeze out of this society honestly. [chuckles]
I’m excited for the tables to turn. They definitely are, but I’m excited for us to dominate all these male-dominated spaces and really create our narrative and our environment.
What does it mean for you to perform here with Forever 21?
I’m so excited, it’s such a lit function. I love a good energy. I love Forever 21, they’ve been supporting me from the get go. It was actually their check I used to record my first EP because I modeled for them. I did a campaign for them. I wasn’t even making music like that. Isn’t that crazy? Now they’re booking me, it’s insane.
Could you describe your fashion style?
It’s just super weird. I really don’t take direct fashion inspiration from anything or anyone. It’s really just my mood, how I feel that day. I like a lot of accessories, a lot of textures. Denim. I love sneakers. That’s the NY in me. I love cool shoes, I love colorful stuff. Eclectic is the best word.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
That you can really be yourself. That sounds so simple and cliche, but the more visibility you obtain, the more uncomfortable spaces you enter, you start undermining how difficult it can be to really embrace yourself and who you are. Be yourself and you’re going to be successful at what you do as long as you’re consistent and determined. Peace is always the underlying goal of it all.
What was it like filming “Rich Girl Mood” with Kehlani?
Literally so fun. It was through my production company and I directed it, so it was very in-house. We both were collaborating, bouncing off each other. We had our own vision for it. We got these cute, real ass girls who were in LA to come through. It was super carefree vibes. Everybody was having fun. I was on such a high at the end of that video shoot, pulling that together.
She was pregnant when you shot that right?
Actually, I don’t think she told people she was pregnant at that point yet, so it was very subtle. She was wearing a jacket.
What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?
She’s given me endless advice. Probably a year ago when I was first getting into interviews, I had a video interview I fucking hated. I was like “girl, what do I do?” I didn’t want to be dramatic about it, like “I fucking hate this, I hate the way I look, etc.” She was like “dude, you have to remember that this is your world.” I was like, “you’re so right.”
It’s just so dope, the confidence that she exemplifies. Being a female artist, just seeing her in the studio, seeing her run a session and work the room, it was very inspiring to me — especially at the time I was just entering. I hope I can supply that for younger female artists too.
You’re only 21. What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Keep creatively re-upping. Be as happy as possible, find ways to stay grounded throughout all the chaos. Never stay lost in the sauce. Keep creating content I’m truly proud of. I love videos. On the logistics side of things, building my production company, building my catalog. The end goal is to get the music out and for people to hear the music.
What was the best memory from opening for G-Eazy?
I went on stage when he was performing “No Limit,” he told me to spray people with water and dance. That was crazy because I did a “No Limit” freestyle a year ago. Obviously, I didn’t know things would turn out the way they did, but it was super fun.
How important is social media for your career?
I’m like a social media kid. That’s what nourished me, that’s where I came from. But it’s funny because it gives me a different perspective on it. It’s not that important for any career honestly. [chuckles] In-person interactions make me realize it’s more than someone looking at your feed and double tapping your post. I really do think that we’re going to start de-emphasizing social media and emphasizing real-life connections.
Who’s your favorite person to follow?
I love Lizzo. She’s so dope. Omg, I’m obsessed with Lizzo. Kehlani obviously on Twitter, I love keeping up with her shenanigans. Louis is funny. [laughs] He’s nodding over there.