Even though we’re only two minutes into our conversation, it doesn’t take long for me to hear the ease in the voices of the newly-minted dumblonde, the pop collective of Danity Kane alums Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex. And why shouldn’t they sound that way? After spending a decade in the industry and enduring one bad seed after another, it’s evident that they’ve found their way back to something real, something that makes it all worth it, something substantial: their passion. Just two days after pre-order sales sent their self-titled LP to the top of iTunes Dance chart and into the top 10 of iTunes Overall album chart, the ladies hopped on the phone with VH1 to talk about their new music, their sisterhood and aim for a blonde takeover.
“It feels so good. We’ve been working so hard. We haven’t had a time yet to really celebrate it but we’re planning on sitting back today, putting it on the speakers and having a good cold beer,” O’Day said. “Or a really flavorful margarita!”
In case you were wondering, the work they speak of spans the last seven months that they’ve spent locked in recording studios, edit bays and rehearsal halls to complete the project alongside producers R8DIO, Dem Jointz and songwriter Candice Pillay. So after last year’s DK setbacks and without the backing of a record label, they dusted off their shoulders and began to work on a batch of alternative dance cuts, previewed earlier this month, that challenged them to bring out their inner muse. Now, unlike their efforts with Danity Kane, it left Aubrey and Shannon with complete creative control to record as they please, film as they please and, most importantly, create the art that they want to make.
“We knew the direction that we wanted to go and the branding that dumblonde needed, but it became very organic for us each step of the way,” Bex explained. “It just confirmed everything we were doing was the right step.”
As for the result, the gang produced an 11-track set that finds the girls pushing towards a sonic vibe and sassy undertones that treads somewhere in between Charli XCX and The Ting Tings. Just last Friday, the self-titled LP was made available for pre-order on iTunes and offered fans with five instant downloads, including the California-grooving “tender green life” and the electro-staggering “eyes on horizons.”
Hours after the pre-order went live, dumblonde dropped the first (of seven) visual for the Justin Jones and O’Day-directed “white lightning,” which puts a gritty spin on your standard beauty-based video. O’Day revealed that the duo wanted to take an innovative approach to the production, so they did their research on camera techniques and editing, and it worked. Watch the four-minute clip and tell me that this isn’t a glitchy ride straight out of your black and white dreams.
Bex told us that they’ve also partnered up with choreographer Miguel Zarate to create a stage show, which they’ll take around the country at the end of July/early August to preview the new LP. “When you see it, you will know it’s dumblonde. We brought the visuals of every video we’ve done. We’re bringing it to the stage,” Bex explained. “That’s where we strive … It’s the stage, so it’s a really incredible. Even though it’s a 25-minute set, it’s a really powerful 25-minute set and the visuals are great.”
Among one of the tracks they’ll likely perform is “dreamsicle,” the very first song that they recorded for the project. While the duo trade sassy verses about looking towards the good life on the electro-banger, the chorus boasts just two simple lines: “We won’t wake up / The dream is never done, no.”
“The lyrics really spoke to us the most with that song, especially with coming out of everything that we have gone through,” Aubrey said of the track. “It was fun to be able to finally sing something that was relevant to the exact time and place that we were in as artist.”
At the end of our conversation, I ask the girls what they want to accomplish in this next phase of their careers— because if there’s one thing to be taken away from it all, it’s that these ladies have one heck of a hustle.
“I think initially we wanted to finally get out all the art that was inside of us that we stunted due to things that happened to the business and emotions versus the actual love and gratitude of art,” Aubrey explained. “I think now were at a place where we just want to be happy and enjoy everything that we do and be as authentic to ourselves in the process as we can.”
Indeed, the dream is never done.
Watch dumblonde’s music video for “white lightning” below!