Im vergangenen Jahrzehnt wurde dodie als die Singer-Songwriterin mit der Ukulele auf YouTube bekannt. Heute, viele Jahre später, veröffentlicht sie ihr Debütalbum „Build A Problem“. Im Wortwechsel hat sie mit Anna über Lebenskrisen, Erwartungen und das Internet gesprochen.
2021 beginnt so, wie 2020 geendet ist: Chaotisch, unvorhersehbar und die nächste Krise schon in den Startlöchern. Die andauernde Pandemie und der sich finalisierende Brexit führen dazu, dass dodie ihr Debütalbum „Build A Problem“ einige Male verschieben muss. Als wir sprechen, ist es Ende April, in zwei Wochen soll es nun endlich erscheinen, komme was wolle.
Your debut album will hopefully finally drop on May 7th…
dodie: I’m gonna say definitely, because even if anything happens, I’ll just fucking drop it!
This damn pandemic. I think it’s also this overarching feeling of „for once I’m not responsible for my problems and can’t do anything about them“. that’s how I feel at the moment. Because most of the time my problems are created in my head.
dodie: So true. I will say there’s something quite nice about it. When something bad happens, you’re just like: It’s the pandemic! I just have no idea how I’m gonna feel about myself in a few years time. I wonder if I’m like: I wish wasn’t so hard to myself during a pandemic. Or rather: Why am I doing not enough in a pandemic?!
I think the biggest problem is that we we look at others and think „oh, they’re doing so much better“. Right now after one year, it’s a bit better. But in the beginning, I was like constantly comparing myself to others based on what they posted on social media.
dodie: Yeah, people just post whatever they do – and the rest of the time, not doing much either.
You said about the background of the album is that you were going „through a crisis“ – I feel that. Just came out of one. I’m 26 now and feel like I’m hopping from one crisis to another.
dodie: I think that’s life!
What guided you through all of it?
dodie: I think my friends, definitely my friends. Also therapy, honestly. I was very lucky having a therapist. Which is kind of what the album title is about – „Build A Problem“. I guess I was thinking a lot about the way that people are built and made, and how that impacts their decisions and how those decisions impact other people and the things that they built and how they are built as well. I thought a lot about empathy.
And that’s the nice because especially empathy is something that gets so easily lost nowadays.
dodie: It’s really hard online. This has definitely been said before, but you’re not hearing someone’s voice or feeling their energy, you’re just reading words and it can be taken the wrong way. It’s so easy to say something spiky when it’s just written down.
And in a pandemic, of course, there’s less interaction in general. So, even within friendship group it is difficult. Missing the natural, like lubrication of seeing people and, and events whereas like, people can hold grudges so easily in a pandemic, because you’re not going to see them for a while so you can just type it all out on the big screen and leave them with it.
We decided we want to show a more mature side, because I think people still see me as very angelic, innocent way, which is not true.
It’s hard with friends. On the other hand, being on the internet and having strangers just writing something and not realizing how much it can hurt or influence the recipient is getting crazier and crazier every day. And you have dealt with this so many times over a span of ten years. How do you handle expectations nowadays?
dodie: I’m not sure if I can let go of trying to show the world who I am without getting damaged. I would like to say that I’ve gotten a lot better and learn boundaries. I know myself and my friends know me. And it’s okay, whatever people want to project on. To me, that’s not my problem. But I’m still, obviously, trying to guide the light.
I have a music video coming out today and my friend Hazel Heyes directed it. We decided we want to show a more mature side, because I think people still see me as very angelic, innocent way, which is not true. I’m 26 years old, of course. We’d like to dip into that. And already everyone’s like: „WAIT WHAT?!“. Oh my god, if this image is shocking you? Imagine if I shared my entire life? It’s bizzare.
I was reading through the comments under the thumbnail of the video, because I was wondering „how do people react to this?“. And I thought exactly the same. People were like: „Wow, I’m so surprised“. And I was like: „Damn, she’s a grown up person? She can do this?!“
dodie: It’s not something I have to think about, when people listen to my music, I’m sure there will be some people who will try and piece it together for my life. I’m curious, people are curious. And I do share quite a bit. And obviously people connect the dots. It’s fun. It’s like a game. But the songs are mine. And I think ultimately, it’s really not about me, it’s like whatever the experience of the listener is.
Yes, I saw people asking you a lot about the meaning behind the song like „is the story about you?“. Does this really matter? And don’t we all have like stories like this?
dodie: If I want to, I will share that. But I’m definitely not going to do that for every song. I would maybe if we were friends in a coffee shop, but I’m definitely not going to post about it online.
Because people will ultimately hold these things against you. You’re really open and you post so much other people would never do, which I admire and I think it’s so important. That makes you vulnerable and people will be like: „Yeah, but one time you said this and now I have this picture of you“.
dodie: It’s just not natural. Life is so long and so big. And so many things happen, so many things change. I can watch a video of me from a year ago and I don’t know who that is. And that’s only a year. I would hate to be pinned to something that people thought I was a few years ago. That would be so damaging and so painful. So I have to break free from that.
Coming out of a crisis, leaving behind all these expectations, I think the most important thing that isn’t credited enough is how much we grow from phases like that. And I think it’s pathetic to say I wouldn’t do this mistake again. I think the most important thing is how we handle things in the long run. Would you agree with that?
dodie: Absolutely. I think in life, you just have no idea what’s gonna happen. You just have no idea and you can’t comprehend the situations that you’re going to be in. There are so many influences So take the lessons you’ve learned, do your damn best to implement them.
People always say: „the 20s are the best years in your life“. And I’m not sure.
dodie: All I noticed is that I’m grateful. For the past and the things that have happened. And I only say that because I don’t believe that they could have gone any other way. I think no matter what, the things that have happened, and the things that I’ve done, would always have happened. And that sucks in a way but also…at least I am the way I am now.
I think that’s the best thing one can say about just living. I think that’s hard enough just to live and handle every day. Now that you’ve sat with the album for a while, what would you say are the feelings you get from it after this time?
dodie: It’s just a lot of mess really. I don’t think there’s one solid thought. I think they’re all very fleeting and there’s a lot of denial. I think a lot of the timeouts, resentment and then indulging. I think it’s just like a mess of living. Which is still accurate for me now. I wonder how else it will feel to me. Because I know the longer I sit with my music, the more I see in it.
What I love about the record is how honest it is and that it is in some kind of way chaotic and not straight forward. I think that’s so much better than having a construct of lies and acting like everything’s fine. And I think we’re so over this.
dodie: I think I just really like it. I think, if I had to find out why, it’s probably because I don’t want to be alone in my feelings. I’m convinced. And other people who have felt this way, have done similar things I’ve done. I’m sick of feeling like I’m broken. Everyone can find themselves in music. And that makes me feel satisfied.
And in any interview, when I say: „Oh, it’s so human, these feelings are just human“, what I’m really asking is: „Is it human?“
Absolutely. This feeling of „I’m not as strange as I thought because other people feel the same things“.
dodie: Yeah, exactly. And in any interview, when I say: „Oh, it’s so human, these feelings are just human“, what I’m really asking is: „Is it human?“. Like I’m almost begging, and begging for someone to say: Yes, it is.
For me it is. I mean, at least now where now we are two people.
Everytime you do something, I’m like: „Wow, that’s so cool and smart“, unlike things that everyone else does. And I wondered, was there something ever on your mind where people said: No dodie, that’s a bit too much.
dodie: I’ve definitely had people. Like even last night, I was just scrolling. I was curious and lreading comments of various videos, because there’s so many I just have access to opinions of me all the time.
It’s so funny because everyone thinks that they know the truth. So someone will be like: „I don’t think this is right“. I don’t I don’t even know what it was. Because to be honest, I saw the first bit and I was like: „this is gonna hurt me and it’s really late at night“. So I just scrolled up.
I definitely have that from all angles everywhere all the time. But I think it’s important to try and listen to myself. I have a friend who is known in music and he wrote himself a letter to read anytime he feels like he’s spiraling because of a comment or something. Just like something to go back to. And it’s basically a big pump up letter of „you are amazing“.
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