Here at #WomenCrush Music, we love to support our fellow women, and we especially love supporting our own team members who are chasing their musical dreams and doing The Thing. Hannah DiMo, #WomenCrush Music’s Portland Chapter Leader, recently released her first EP entitled Your Love, It Lies. The EP, which consists of 6 songs, is a melting pot of genres: pop/blues/folk/rock, which are highlighted by guitar licks and vocal stylings reminiscent of The Wailin’ Jennys, a folk-pop female trio.
The title track is an ode to self-love and trusting your gut when in a relationship with someone who may not be all that trustworthy. DiMo’s soulful, full vocals, backed by the swell of an electric guitar, brings home the point that she’s “not yours to manipulate.” “What Do You Want” is a fun track tinged with sarcasm that poses the question to a lover unsure of where the relationship is going (and by extension, may also be a subtle dig at the music industry’s penchant for putting women in a box). On “Leaving California,” DiMo shows a more vulnerable side of herself, bringing out the lyrical poet within to tell the story of why she left California behind. We hear her pay homage to her blues roots on “Blues Avenue,” both in instrumentation and word-play. “Love Is All There Is” is a soothing track when you need some time to unwind and reflect on how loved you are and how much you have to offer the world. “Yes Means Yes” is the standout track, a positive, reaffirming spin on the phrase “no means no,” a call for consent with a sultry, empowered edge.
We sat down with Hannah to discuss her musical beginnings, the inspiration behind “Yes Means Yes,” what it means to be self-liberated from the box that is Genre, songwriting, and more.
How did you get into music? Was it something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
I like to say I was made for it. My family is very musical and I just followed suit. There was always music in the house and growing up my mom started me on piano and voice lessons at age 5. When I went into school I was actually surprised that other people had different interests than me: I thought everyone did music! My dad was a singer-songwriter and played finger-style guitar and I always admired it, so when I was 13 I finally picked up the guitar and haven't put it down since. I always knew I was supposed to make music and when I found out I could do it for a living if I worked hard enough, I have been obsessed with my music career ever since.
On your website, you describe your sound as “as mainly pop/blues/rock but also ‘whatever you'd like to call it.’” I like that ambiguity in not labeling your sound. Is that because of the pressure singer/songwriters, especially women, have on them to be in a perfectly packaged box when it comes to their brand and targeting a specific demographic based on musical genre?
It is really hard to label your sound on your own, especially for women because every little thing we do is under the microscope more than men. I started out as "folk" for a while but after a show once someone came up to me and said, "That was amazing, but your website says 'folk' and you are definitely not that." I started saying I was a blues/rock band for a while because I have some straight-forward blues tracks and even the ones that venture out of traditional blues structure have a blues heart, but the blues culture in town told me I wasn't allowed to do that because I wasn't traditional enough. Fair enough, I thought, so I changed it to that description above. But recently I was having a meeting with a great artist in town named Kingsley and she told me to be myself and to not let anyone tell you what you are. Proudly state who you are and don't change for anyone! I really needed to hear that and since then I have been introducing myself as "Hannah DiMo: Rockstar. I play rock n' roll with hints of blues" and I like that description the most.
“Yes Means Yes” is a spin on “no means no,” referencing the importance of consent in any form. What inspired you to write about this topic in such a creative way? What about consent do you hope listeners will take away from this track?The lyrics to this song were actually written by my partner and bass player, Damian Hayes, and I feel as though the message has a nice extra power to it when you know it came from someone who identifies as male. He wrote this song when my friends and I were hanging out at a bar and he just kept seeing men bother us and not being able to take "no" for an answer. He got fed up, wrote the lyrics and said, "I hope you will sing it and turn it into an anthem for everyone, everywhere," so that is exactly what I did. He decided to go the route of "Yes Means Yes" instead of focusing on "No Means No" because of all of the rape cases are coming out from professional athletes and our government officials who get away with it because they "Didn't say no." That is unacceptable behavior and MUST be stopped. Unless someone tells you "YES" the answer is always "No". Period. No more questions asked. It doesn't matter what your gender identity is or sexuality: unless someone ASKS you for it, they are NOT "asking for it." I hope that this will empower people to speak up more in their own lives and for others to stop these bad behaviors in their tracks so everyone can feel safe wherever they go.
You have such a gift for writing clever, thought-provoking lyrics. One of my favorites is “and your words were empty, like the lonely Mojave” from “Leaving California.” Take us through your songwriting process.
Thank you so much for noticing that, but I can't take all the credit for the whole EP. The songs were mostly written as a group effort by myself and my amazingly talented band at the time: Damian Hayes, Elle Archer and Cameron Poehner. “Leaving California” was one I wrote mostly on my own with arrangement help from Elle. When I lived back in California in 2017 and earlier, I was working with a label that I didn't feel had my best interest at heart. I had felt lied to and manipulated at times and the relationship ended up falling apart. I had felt used in this way with my music multiple times before I had met this label and multiple times producers, almost always men, would say, "That's just the music business, babe. Get over it." I refuse to accept that I can only be successful in this business if I cheat, lie and use people, and I WILL be a living example that you can make it in the music business by leading a legacy of love and inclusiveness. Songwriting can be tough at times but after that falling out and losing some important people to me and having to rediscover who I was by myself; I had A LOT of inspiration to work with. This album was pretty easy to put together in that way at least: I simply sat down and wrote out my feelings then grabbed my guitar and it all came to life.
What is your advice to women who want to break into the music industry but don’t know how or where to start?
Stop comparing yourself to others and their journeys. I know it is hard, I do the same thing. I scroll through Instagram and go, "Ugh, she is so much further along than me and so much better, what am I even doing?" but that voice in your head that says negative things to you, you've GOTTA shut it up. Everyone has it and all it does is tell you lies. You are important, and the work you do is unique and needed. NO ONE can do it like you, and the best way to gain engagement and followers is just to be your most honest, authentic self. In a world full of fakes, be real and people will notice. Oh, and document! Document everything. People are always saying to me "Producing good content takes so long and it's so hard and expensive." You don't need to be releasing something new every day, people want to fall in love with you and your journey so if you are just in the beginning stages, document it and tell everyone exactly where you are. They will love it!
What’s next for you after Your Love, It Lies?
Well, the release went so well and I'm still riding that high for sure! I have been invited on TV and multiple radio stations to talk about it, so I'm sure I won't be shutting up about it any time soon. I have a couple more full-band rock songs I need to release as singles, hopefully before the end of the year, and then I am going to start working on an acoustic full-length album. It will be 10-12 tracks and feature as many harmonies as I can fit on it, as well as collaborations from other local artists. I'm giving myself a 2 year plan to release that so please follow my journey on Instagram at @hannahdimo and Facebook at Hannah DiMo. I look forward to connecting with ya'll!
Your Love, It Lies is available on all streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Keep up with Hannah on Instagram and Facebook.
Interview by Anna Sejuelas
Anna Sejuelas is a New York-based LGBTQ+ writer whose work has been published in MTV, This Bitch Magazine, Her Campus, College Candy, Medium.com, and FLURT Magazine. The way she writes and sings is the way she wears red lipstick and leather jackets: classic and with a purpose. You can read her work here and find her on Twitter and Instagram.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: women are the most interesting thing happening in hip-hop right now. In addition to living in a true Golden Age of pop music, coming from mostly women-fronted acts (minus the second coming of the Jonas Brothers which I’m certainly not mad at), female rappers are having a renaissance: a rebirth of thoughtful hip-hop coming from a place of time and dedication to the craft. I’m not talking about the often overly commercialized mainstream rap of the likes of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj -- though I thoroughly enjoy that strain of the genre too -- I’m talking about a few ladies who are seemingly impossible to escape from these days: Tierra Whack, Megan Thee Stallion, and Rico Nasty, all of whom were named to XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class.
It’s Whack’s world and we’re just living in it. Need a quick introduction to Tierra? Look no further than the 15-minute perfection that is her debut album, appropriately named Whack World. Whack’s approach to rap is one that is a lot more unconventional and, dare I say, artsy? To have a better understanding of what I mean, take a look at any one of her surrealism-inspired music videos. Her approach to her aesthetic feels very specific and intentional; everything in her visuals seems handpicked and placed just-so in order to get her artistic intent across. This approach to rap did not go unnoticed; the video for her song “Mumbo Jumbo,” a seemingly satirical take on mumble rapping, was nominated for a Grammy this past year.
Megan Thee Stallion
Millions of young women across America are shouting from the rooftops that they will have a Hot Girl Summer, City Boys be damned! This is thanks to Megan Pete, AKA Tina Snow, AKA Hot Girl Meg, AKA the one and only: Megan Thee Stallion. For Megan, rap is a craft that she’s been dedicated to since she was in diapers, sitting eagerly at the door of her mom’s studio sessions (her mom was a rapper! Like mother, like daughter). This ingrained, acute awareness of the intricacy of rap has served her well, earning critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork and The New York Times. And she’s also touting body positivity and environmental awareness? We stan.
Another rapper fond of alter egos is Rico Nasty (AKA Trap Lavigne or Tacobella, born Maria Kelly). I must admit that I was a bit behind on getting to know Rico. I kept seeing photos of her pop up on my Twitter feed, and finally judging on her image alone, I decided I needed to know who she was. Rico, like Tierra, has a very specific visual aesthetic that immediately draws you in before she even opens her mouth. In an interview with FADER, she credited her affinity for the strange to her lifelong desire to be an outcast, trying out new looks she knew no one else would dare try to replicate. When I finally took the time to check out her music, it was the intensity of her rapping that got me hooked. Her take on the genre is largely influenced by rock music, which makes it just a bit harder and rougher around the edges than the other ladies in this piece, but in the best way! Rico is bringing something new to the table that’s refreshing and innovative... and can we talk about how freaking cute her son is?
#TheCrush Report is a monthly recap of what's happening in the biz by music publicist Chloe Cardio. You can follow Chloe on Instagram and Twitter.
I am a passionate singer-songwriter. I dream of lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. I grab my phone in the middle of conversations, walking on the street, on the subway, and jot down lyrics or musical thoughts.
I am also a plastic surgeon, wife, and mom of three kids. I found my way to music through a jumbled journey, with stops and starts, but here I am at 50, feeling energized and excited about my music and all that is ahead of me.
No one in my family was at all musical. I grew up in Manhattan, in an apartment where there was never really music playing. I had a record player in my room, and would sing along to albums I bought at the local record store. Yes, these were the real deal vinyl, and that was all there was then. No streaming, MP3, or any other form of hearing music. Just vinyl and the radio. My mom, a die-hard NYC girl, was born and raised in the Bronx. How she became a country music fan, I am not sure, but that was all that she played on the radio in the car. I grew up a Jewish girl on the Upper East Side of Manhattan listening to songs like “Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.” Yes, I still remember all the words.
At around the age of 10, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I read a book my grandfather bought for me called “The Making of a Woman Surgeon,” and was obsessed with the TV show M*A*S*H, which was about three army surgeons. I dreamt of being a surgeon one day and followed that dream to where I am today. So my journey through medical school, residency, and fellowship consumed my life, and along the way I met my husband and had our first child. I knew I wanted to work for myself, so with determination and hard work I opened my own practice and over the past 20 years have built it into one of the premier plastic surgery practices in New York City.
So, back to the music. While I was in medical school, I learned to play the guitar by ear and wrote about ten songs. My fellow med school student and neighbor taught me all the open chords on the guitar and I somehow strung together chord progressions and sung melodies to lyrics I wrote. At the time this was pure therapy. I performed in our med school “talent show,” but that was the extent of my musical career. After med school, the guitar collected dust and I was busy with work and family. About ten years ago when I was looking into piano lessons for my kids, I decided I wanted to learn to play the piano and write music.
Fast forward ten years and music has become my passion. Over the years I have met so many wonderful musicians, teachers, and mentors along the way. It feels sometimes like I have two lives. One of the surgeon, mom, wife and the other as a singer-songwriter. I hustle, I play open mics, I send my music around hoping that someone other than my friends and family will hear my songs. But for me, the joy has been in the journey and the friends I have made along the way. Learning to express myself through song, through lyrics, through melody -- that is the essence for me.
Jessica Lattman is a plastic surgeon based in New York City. She started writing music in medical school when her neighbor taught her how to play the guitar. She took a bit of a break from music to grow her surgical practice and her family. Jessica came back to music about 10 years ago, formally learned to play the piano, and is now a passionate singer-songwriter who can be heard at open mics and small venues around NYC. She regularly mentors women medical students in her Manhattan office and supports organizations that help develop the musical voices of women in NYC.
Hailing from Los Angeles singer/songwriter, producer and dancer Shyra Sanchez teamed up with Traig to release a new dance single “Universal Love” on Friday, June 28th in honor of Pride Month. “Universal Love” is a real anthem for global unity and acceptance. With lyrics like:
“No one’s gonna tell us who to love or why to hate
They’re livin’ in the past; it’s time to celebrate
Universal Love, Universal Love”
“Universal Love” promotes a real sense of community.
It is no surprise that Shyra would put out a track with this message as she started her initiative, STAR Academy in 2016, as a way to give back to young artists and entertainment professionals to succeed in fashion, film, modeling and other performance arts. We here at #TheCrush are happy to endorse our fellow women in music who advocate for creative communities & are excited to share this track with our #WomenCrush Music community.
Shyra first connected with dance music fans with the hit single “DJ Love Song” in 2012, which peaked on Billboard’s Dance Chart at #28. The song caught the eye of award-winning film director John Singleton, and he placed the song in his action thriller film, Abduction.
The single and several remixes were released as part of the Traig Feat. Shyra Sanchez “Universal Love” album in two volumes: Volume One (published June 28th, 2019) and Volume Two will be released shortly after on July 26th, 2019.
As Pride Month draws to a close, we should remember the struggle for equality in all its forms is still ongoing, and “Universal Love” is what we should all be striving to achieve.
You can stream the song here:
To keep up with Shyra, you can follow her on her socials at @ShyraSanchezOfficial on Facebook, @shyrasanchez for Twitter & IG.
Ashley is the Founder/Executive Directress of #WomenCrush Music, full-time creative influencer by day & soul-flowing artist by night. Connect with her on Twitter & IG at @ashleykstoyanov.
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