interview with Angie Martinez; photographs by Mario Sorrenti; Edward Bowleg III style.
There is one fact that marks the exact moment when the internet won us over during the pandemic: it was when Amala Dlamini, aka the Dodge Cat, became a globally successful pop star.
Dlamini, 27, was born in Los Angeles and grew up with her mother in an ashram founded by jazz singer Alice Coltrane. But he’s also part of that hyper-connected generation whose creative DNA is defined less by an album than by a composite maelstrom of songs, sounds, videos and memes. Doja Cat had a decade-long career under her belt when “Say So” was released, the single that brought her success in 2019: a mix of disco, hip-hop and a lightning-bolt-like funk accent. as if nothing had happened, inspiring one of TikTok’s most replicated challenges during the lockdown. Since then there have been more and more hits, tours and a Grammy for Best Group Performance for “Kiss Me More”, a collaboration with SZA from Planet Her’s 2021 album. This June saw the release of “Attention”, the lead single from her new album Scarlet, with which she will embark on her first stadium tour this fall in the US and Canada. Angie Martinez, rapper and radio host, interviewed her for Harper’s Bazaar to talk about art, fame and finding her own path on Instagram and in real life.
Angie Martinez: If we were to look up the word “icon” in a dictionary, we would find this definition: “a person or object that is considered a symbol or object of veneration.” Do you feel like this?
Doja Cat: Actually, no. I believe that I deserve love and respect from people to whom I treat with love and respect, provided that there is only one definition of respect, and not different definitions, as I believe. I like to show myself on social networks and on TV, I like to play with screens, but in real life I don’t do much. I don’t even go to dances, I prefer to stay focused on creativity.
AM: Do you draw inspiration from other people?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I like it when I realize that I’ve had a positive impact. For example, when I see people stand up for someone who is in trouble, be it bullying or keyboard lions. Some of the most meaningful moments for me were when my fans came out to protect me or other people. I consider this revelation a real struggle. And I really appreciate it because I know how easy it is for some people to use words to hurt other people.
AM: I especially liked Attention because it has a very rap soul.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Yes, I see this as an introduction to what’s to come. This new album is very introspective, but not to the point of being boring. I wanted to tell stories and make people dance at the same time. This is a good combination of the two. This is a project that gives me the opportunity to have fun, like an artist in front of a blank canvas, but instead of paint, I have the ability to create music and talk about what is happening in my life. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on who I am or that I’m a pop singer.
AM: You are also a visual artist. What role does image play in what you do, especially in your choice of style?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I do a lot more with video and photography. Right now, I’m in a period where when I have to decide what to wear, I open up my wardrobe and take the things that are possibly the least compatible and wear them like this. It’s like when you combine different flavors in the kitchen and, you don’t know why, in the end you like the end result. It’s a little punk. Experimental for sure. And also a little manic. However, when I deal with looks and fashion, things are different. I have a lot of repressed emotions, a lot of anger, and I like to express them through beauty. For this reason, lately in my images I play a lot with elements that are very close to disguise.
AM: Do you like your cat costume at the Met Gala?
ANNOUNCEMENT: That’s right, I thought, I want to be half cat, half human.
AM: You are definitely over the edge. Why do you think this – shaving hair or removing eyebrows – bothers some people?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I think it’s because for those who have never seen me live, it looks like I’m not real. And as if in the end they feel that my image, I, somehow belongs to them. Thus, when this image, this person, changes radically, they feel the loss of this control, which creates an uncontrollable shock in them. I have learned to accept that it can happen. I put on wings and take them off. I shave my head or my eyebrows. It doesn’t matter, I’m free.
AM: How do you envision your immediate future?
ANNOUNCEMENT: There are several projects that I would like to explore. I would like to design clothes, dabble in makeup, try myself as an actor.
AM: Can you imagine a future as an actress?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I would like to contribute to films that I believe in. If I wanted to take a break from music, I mean. Then I completely immerse myself in the game until I decide. I like comedies and action movies. I would like to learn martial arts and do a John Wick movie.
AM: Is it true that you want to be a comedian?
ANNOUNCEMENT: Yes it’s true. I recently did a sketch with Craig Robinson (American actor and comedian, ed.). He just had a piano and he sang songs, but he did it in his own way, it was very fun. So I went on stage and sang with him. We were in a place where comedians perform, very quiet environment. I was there with one of my guys.
AM: One of my boyfriends… sounds funny! Is there room for love in your life?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I love love. I could call myself a serial date because I love falling in love and it took me a long time to move from one person to another. However, at this particular moment, I feel like I have taken a step forward in that as well. I am learning to love myself and this has a positive effect on how I relate to the people I love. I don’t feel like a lost teenager, but a woman who is truly becoming herself.
The Harper’s Bazaar Icons 2023 edition of Harper’s Bazaar hits newsstands starting August 29th.
Interviews and photos taken before the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Hair: J Get ready; makeup: Frank B for LoveSeen; manicure: Saccia Trinice; Production: One Thirty-Eight Productions; Set Designer: Philipp Hemmerle. Thanks Buttercup Playgrounds.
From Harper’s Bazaar USA