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Sound of 2018: IAMDDB - 'It's my way or no way'

Sound of 2018: IAMDDB - 'It's my way or no way'
From BBC - January 10, 2018

IAMDDB, a Manchester vocalist whose music is full of fearless attitude and sensual soul, is at number three on the BBC's Sound of 2018 list.

IAMDDB comes across as a fully-formed superstar who's waiting to step out of the shadows.

Her sound, which melts together neo-soul, urban jazz, hip-hop and R&B, is by turns sharp and seductive. That, and her stylistic vision, are astonishingly assured for an artist who only started making waves six months ago.

Her vocal and production talent are fuelled by a fierce independence and a single-minded determination that nothing is going to stand in her way.

She dropped her first track in September 2016 - the same day she quit university, just an hour after enrolling.

The singer was inspired to pursue her musical and artistic ambition after a trip to Angola, where her father is in one of the country's most popular bands.

Before her African trip, she did make her inroads into music under her real name Diana DeBrito (such as this song, with a great video inspired by Dennis Edwards' 1984 hit Do not Look Any Further). She was far from fully formed then. Now, she's ready to go.

Why IAMDDB?

DDB just stands for my initials - Diana DeBrito. I have been doing a lot of soul-searching for a while now and I thought the best way to connect with people is to show that it's cool being yourself, and I just thought I am DDB. Keep it simple. That's who I am.

When did you start writing?

I started writing at a very young age - about seven or eight. I recorded my first track at 11 at my dad's studio. I made 50. I was buzzing. An 11-year-old with 50! I thought I'd won the lottery.

When did you start taking it seriously?

Around high school time, and I did music at college. But when I went to Africa, that's when I started really understanding, OK, music is actually what I want to do. I started producing, engineering, learning the in-betweens of music, not just lyricism and the beat.

Writing's always been second nature - I can write anywhere, under any circumstance. Anything can inspire me. It feels very natural to write.

Why did you go to Angola?

Every woman at one point in life experiences a bad relationship and I just needed different energies and different surroundings - almost a reset button to my whole existence. So I thought, I will go to Africa, experience something completely new.

We ended up going for six months and toured here and there. Did a whole heap of jazz. It was amazing. And it really inspired me. I thought, if I can do this in Africa, surely I can do something back home.

Is your dad from Angola?

He is. He's based in Angola and he's in a band out there - Afro soul, Afro jazz - and I thought what better way to overcome the personal issues I am going through than to connect with music with different people?

It was a very big culture shock but that whole trip taught me so much about myself, about us as humans, poverty, luxury - it was sick. I advise everybody: You must go to Africa at least once in your life.

Was that a turning point for you?

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