Dounia is a self-described “Moroccan-Queens native creating her own genre of music and exemplifying authenticity and transparency in every space she occupies.”Transitioning her success from fashion into a fulfilling passion and love for music, the 21-year-old has been making strides as an independent artist, holding down the fort for females all across the world to stay true to themselves and chase their wildest dreams. Read more…
Fittingly enough, Dounia took the stage on International Women’s Day at Forever 21’s Forever Female show at El Rey in Los Angeles, performing alongside the likes of Natti Natasha, Bia, and more.
For someone who’s never heard, how would you describe your sound?
Maybe Mellow Bars — you know that Spotify playlist, I feel like it describes me perfectly. Or very eclectic R&B. We definitely have the bars on deck, but we also have the chill, calmness going on too.
Talk about being Moroccan and repping for your people.
I’m actually still very in touch with my culture. I have song in Darija, which is the Moroccan dialect we speak. My next single has a whole verse featuring Moroccan Doll which is my alter ego. That’s me singing in Arabic. The sound of riffs, they’re a very cool dynamic melody. Just culturally, Moroccans are so casually social. Awkward isn’t really a thing over there. When I go, I’m like “damn, this is how we should be living life.” [laughs]
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
If you just focus on the organic nature of growing your music, which is the most valuable thing, then you don’t need to go anywhere. Your most valuable marketing is the internet, and there you go. If you want to check out the politics, the situation, and the accolades, definitely come to LA. I won’t say that I haven’t been blessed here, because I have been. I’ve been blessed by an infrastructure. There’s hard-working people here who have gathered for a common purpose. If you want to find like-minded people to help you further whatever you want to do, probably a good place for you to be. But you can find cool people in NY, there’s cool people everywhere. Just do you.
Do you still live in New York?
Yeah, but I come out here a lot.
You just released your single “ROYAL.” Bring us back to that studio session.
Oh gosh. I actually wrote “Royal” the first time I went to Europe last summer. I had just got new managers, we went to the Wireless Fest in London. We were going to these crazy parties, it was extremely lit for me. I was just in a mood. I remember writing half of it in London, the other half in France and Spain, finally I got to LA and recorded it with my best friend in the studio. Everybody was like “damn this is so hard.”
What makes it so dynamic is it takes you through a journey. It starts off so hard, so hard, then it goes into your bag and in your feelings. That’s how I wrote it, a rollercoaster of emotions.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
It’s funny because I made the conscious decision to take music seriously. Because I’ve always made it a hobby. It was such an innate expression of mine that I never wrapped my mind around the fact that it could be a feasible career path. When I made it real was when I was like “alright I’m over this fashion bullshit, I’m over this phase.” I was so tired of it. I was like “I should take this music shit seriously. Take this modeling check, go and record an EP.” And that’s what I did. I was 18.
What do parents think?
I have my mom and my little brother. My mom loves my music, she’s supportive. Of course, it took her awhile because I dropped out of high school. That was hard. But once people see the vision, they see the vision. I’ve never been too concerned about family members who don’t get it. I’m always like “okay y’all will get it one day.”
How old is little brother?
He’s 14! My brother actually likes my music which is funny because he listens to like 5 songs. Lately “Royal” has made it to circulation, so I know I’ve made it. I know I’ve creatively conquered.
Talk about linking with Kehlani on “Rich Girl Mood.”
Kehlani is just a dope human being. We were drawn to each other based off that alone. I randomly went to a concert of hers in Philly, we met and just vibed. She was like “we should collab,” I was like “haha jokes.” But then she came to NY later, we were in the studio. I played her “Rich Girl Mood” and she was like “you should open me up a verse.” I was like “of course.” She killed it.
What was the best memory on set?
It was the car scene so we were just driving, and I’ve never seen Kehlani driving before. We were just driving around the area and it was just so cute. Seeing the girls dancing and having a fun time, it was all natural bodies on set. It was super fun, traditional rap video vibes but with these natural baddies. It was just so dope.
Talk about working with G-Eazy.
G-Eazy is the dopest human being ever. He’s the most humble person. I really wish him nothing but the best. Hopefully we get in the studio soon and make something for his album. It’s sounding amazing so far from what I’ve heard, I’m excited for everybody else to hear it.
Any upcoming collabs?
For sure, we definitely need to get one in the books. It’s definitely going to be special when it does happen, I know that. It’s going to be some heat.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
It depends where I am. West coast, it’s definitely waking up early like 8am. I probably have either a photoshoot or a session. Then come back, hangout with my friends, stay plotting. LA is work mode. Back at home, I just be chilling. I wake up, I meditate, I chill with my cat. I’m big chilling. I watch Gossip Girl, I’ll read, hangout with my friends. We make some music in my bedroom, it’s so chill. I come out here once a month and it’s work work work.
3 things you need in the studio?
Ideally of course my laptop. An amazing engineer. [laughs] Some incense would be ideal, good lighting, the vibe. I would love a vibe. At the end of the day though, you could throw me, as long as I have a mic, engineer, and even just a paper and pen, we’re good to go.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Every single one inspires me so much. The show that I just had, somebody came up to me and it was a new fan. That was just so crazy to me. They were like “omg, I’m never impressed and I love your music! I need to go listen to it.” Then I have fans that’ll actually pop up and give me letters. Yesterday, one of my fans made me little stickers with my face on it that said “it’s Dounia’s world, I’m just living in it,” with a necklace that says “Bad Gal” because I love necklaces. Sometimes I’m like “it’s so crazy, you’re a human showing me this much love.”
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Honestly probably A Boogie right now. I really fuck with him. I love his new album.
What can we expect from you music-wise?
Omg, I’m so excited for my upcoming releases. My next track, I’m going to perform it today actually. It’s very pop, very out there. It’s called “Lowkey Grl.” It’s about not being lowkey.
I was gonna say, are you lowkey?
Hell no, but in all the right ways. Sometimes, people be like “I want a low key girl,” but really what that means is socially inept or something. I don’t even know what they want. The chorus is “he wants a lowkey girl,” poor him because he’s feeling me though. It has an Arabic verse, I’m really excited.
Then we’re taking a turn. The one after that, I posted a snippet on my Instagram. Something super vibey, super chill. I freestyled it, I was so tired. Those are so special too. “Lowkey Grl” I actually did when I was in Utah with G-Eazy to open at his show. This random producer was there and we ended up having a session in the snow. It ended up being our next single.
Can you talk about your tongue rings? When did you get those?
Ha! Honestly I don’t even recall, probably a year and a half ago.
What do parents think?
Omg, my mom was destroyed. She was broken, she was so sad. I couldn’t even tell you why I got them. It’s not like I regret it, I still love it a lot. I was like “I want a tongue ring. I want the 2.”
Did it hurt?
It hurt. I couldn’t eat for 2 weeks. It felt like I had surgery, it sucked. I won’t lie. But it’s so worth it. It’s so fun to have.