IAMDDB is an artist in every sense of the word. Throughout her career she has graced listeners with bold lyricism, smooth bars and mesmerising vocal performances, whilst curating a unique soundscape that explores genres from drum & bass and trap to R&B, soul and ‘urban jazz’. But IAMDDB’s artistic prowess expands beyond her discography: her creative flair manifests all around her in the way that she speaks, carries and presents herself, and in her profound outlook on life. Despite existing within an industry that initially limited her creative freedom, she has continued to elevate since bursting onto the scene in 2016 with her debut hit, “Leaned Out”. Since then she has gradually marked her spot as one of the most promising and innovative talents to emerge in UK music. Bolstered by the success of five excellent bodies of work, a number of hit singles and sold-out tours, she has created a name for herself and is a rare gem within the industry. But perhaps her most compelling traits are her strong sense of self-worth, deep appreciation for her Angolan-Portuguese roots and unshakeable pride in her identity as a black woman. In this latest comeback, IAMDDB is showing up in her highest form and welcoming us into a world of transformation, growth and freedom.
As she continues to evolve, DDB cherishes the multidimensional nature of her art, describing it as: “eclectic, authentic, vibrant, unapologetic, sincere, vulnerable. And colourful. There’s a song for each mood, it just depends how you’re feeling in the moment.” And whilst she gears up to drop her sixth project, Volume 6, we take the time to reflect on how the songstress would describe this current era.
“We are in the era of colour. It’s vibrant, expressive, creative, unfiltered. It’s freedom. It’s the most unapologetic, confident version of myself. And this isn’t coming from a place of ego, but from a place of deep knowledge that I am ok and that I love who I am. Internally, it’s a garden! It’s a garden of roses blossoming. I’m really excited for people to take these vibes in because they’re really going to enjoy it. And this isn’t because I want to be number one, no. People will enjoy it because it’s wholesome music and you can hear that, from the instruments to how it’s blending with the harmonies, to the lyricism, to the structure of the songs. It’s a free-flowing piece of art.”
In her most recent release, “Where Did the Love Go?”, which is the lead single from Volume 6, IAMDDB returns to her roots with a drum & bass beat, adorned with ethereal vocals and lyrics that celebrate self-love and healing.
“It’s really a full circle moment for me. My musical journey started with drum & bass, and now, seven years into it, I’m releasing a drum & bass single. I think it’s the most high-vibrational song I’ve put out so far because I know the intention and the attention to detail that went into it… This song is about me giving my heart to my feminine energy because when I lead with that version of myself, I manifest divine things.”
And the release date for “Where Did the Love Go?” was chosen with intention too: Tuesday 14th February.
“I wanted to make a statement, not only to my listeners but to artists as well. We don’t have to conform to this system of only releasing music on Fridays. I wanted to release a song for all the lovers and I wanted to release a song for the singles. All this focus on everyone who’s got a partner – what about the single people who are chilling on their ones and having a great time? We’re not celebrated enough on Valentine’s Day! Be a leader and a champion of being single and happy. I’m single and I’m fulfilled right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve never felt more whole in my spirit and that’s so important, especially when you’re trying to navigate through an industry that is filled with vultures. Not a lot of people are confident enough to truly ride out by themselves. A lot of people are settling. I really do hope that “Where Did the Love Go?” is a trigger for people to ask themselves, “am I happy, should I leave this situation, should I stay?” To ask themselves: where did the love go?!”
And when asked about her inspiration for this era, IAMDDB did not hesitate in defining her muse:
“My inspiration is always the black woman. Not enough artists credit how hard we have it and not enough artists honour the beauty of the black woman. I’m always looking for different ways to honour the root of my foundation, which is the black woman. I want to provide a voice that is going to inspire many other black women to be free in themselves and to trust their intuition… to trust their creative fluids because that is what makes our existence authentic. The black woman is always my muse.”
And it’s clear to see the importance of sisterhood in DDB’s art and in everything that she does. Her deep-rooted appreciation for the women around her is reflected in her entire being.
“Big up my friends! They’ve helped me heal so many different aspects of myself… Sisterhood is a way of life for me. No matter your colour, if you’re a woman and you are going through something and you’re in my presence, you don’t even have to tell me because I’m going to feel it and we’re going to heal together. Sisterhood is about creating safe spaces for women to really honour their emotions and not feel bad about how they look or speak or express themselves. Sisterhood is about allowing women to feel empowered. The industry likes to pit us against each other, but it should be about union, collaboration and creating community. That’s where we thrive. That’s what I aim to do within my friendships and business partnerships and everything I do. It’s about the collective.”
On top of this, DDB is also driven by an unconditional love for her family and culture. Just like her art, her background is far from one-dimensional and the exhilarating variety expressed in her music reflects the richness of her heritage. “I am an Angolan woman. I also grew up in Portugal. My background is a mixture of Angolan, Portuguese, Saudi Arabian and Cape Verdean – a lot is going on in my genes!” And IAMDDB, who’s birth name is Diane De Brito, attributes a lot of her life values to the way that her parents raised her.
“My upbringing was very humble, my mother and father were each other’s first loves. I grew up in a household filled with love and honour. Morals, principles and respect were things that my parents really instilled in me and I really do carry that in life. It’s been instilled in me to treat people like human beings, always. It’s so easy to get caught up in your ego and treat people with disrespect just because you have money. But what even is money? Do you think money will get you through the gates of heaven? No, it’s going to be your soul that speaks for you. And even on earth, it’s going to be your energy that speaks to people. So I always intend to treat people how I’d like to be treated and hopefully receive that in return.”
And the evolution of Diane into IAMDDB was organic: in the spirit of staying true to herself, the dawn of IAMDDB was more of a natural progression than the creation of a brand-new persona, and she continues to create and recreate herself as life unfolds.
“You know, I created IAMDDB by just living. It was never about creating mood boards and thinking “What is IAMDDB?” My life is the mood board, my trial and error allowed me to chip things away and plant new seeds. It was all based on my true life and my everyday experiences. Becoming IAMDDB was really just about honouring God and being humble enough to know that I don’t have all the answers but I trust the divine to guide me into becoming the best version of myself, so that I can at least do something positive and of value whilst I’m here.”
And although she is currently content in her artistic freedom, it wasn’t always this way. “When I first stepped into this industry I was very young and naïve. I was toxic and surrounded by people who didn’t see the best in me or want the best for me.” She struggled to achieve the true liberation that she dreamt of for her career and felt taken advantage of by labels and management. So she took a break, looked inwards and built upon her relationship with herself and with God. DDB’s hiatus allowed her to return better than ever, and she has now taken the bold step of becoming an independent artist. Although this may seem like an intimidating choice to some, it is exactly how she always wanted things to be.
“I was never looking to be with labels and managers and all of that – the industry came to me. I built this bubble of waviness in my own little universe and the industry penetrated my bubble. The true power in IAMDDB right now is in her holding her corner and being solid in her foundation and being free. If I cannot be free, I cannot be myself. I feel like a lot of artists are unable to vocalise who they truly are, they can’t express what they want to express, how they want to express it, when they want to express it. That’s true captivity, that’s slavery! I want to be able to say what I mean and mean what I say, rather than say what is scripted. And I think that’s why my fans like me – because I’m unfiltered and raw with it. We need that.”
Despite all that she went through, IAMDDB is adamant that she wouldn’t change a thing. “If I was to change anything, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, and I love the woman I am today.” However, she does have some pearls of wisdom for rising creatives and those struggling to find freedom in their careers:
“Build your sh*t from scratch. It will take time but when you do become established, no one can take that away from you. And just have fun with it man, it’s not that serious! Life is already so daunting, so you should just allow yourself to be as bright as you want to be, even if no one co-signs it. If it works for you, you shouldn’t need validation from the world. And when the validation does come, don’t let it go to your head because that’s how you fall off. You can fall as quickly as you win, so always remain humble.”
With the lessons she has learnt, IAMDDB is able to express herself on her own terms. There are no bounds to her creativity, and another realm that she has mastered is in fashion. With cropped bronze hair and experimental stylistic choices, she aligns her looks with her creative intentions.
“How you present yourself is also artistry. There are so many different ways of expressing your creativity, and styling is definitely one of them. I feel like over the last few years, I’ve been more daring and less afraid of what people will say. It’s definitely easy to be conditioned to look a certain way. But when you’re hungry to be different you’ll find looks and brands that are so unique, and it can complement and elevate your artistry. I’d encourage people to not only focus on the established fashion brands, but to give up-and-coming brands a chance too. Because at one point we were all up-and-coming – you could change their life and they could change yours… and you’ll look fly whilst doing it! So it’s a win-win.”
IAMDDB continually shows us her visions of creative abundance and her commitment to uplifting those around her. But after all is said and done, what does IAMDDB want people to feel when they think of her?
“I hope that people feel I was authentic to myself, I hope they see that IAMDDB knew who she was. I hope they can say that she mastered every genre that she tapped into. I want people to keep revisiting my music and for it to build core memories for people. And I want my music to be high-vibrational… I don’t want to be in everyone’s face every day but when I am in your face, you’re going to value it because I’m going to come with substance and vibrancy and authenticity. If my music isn’t making you feel good then I’m doing something wrong. I hope it makes people feel something real. That’s the message.”
It’s clear that IAMDDB is one of one. She exudes soul and spirit and is wholly dedicated to elevation and truth, which can be felt deeply in her art. As we enter this new era, IAMDDB asks us to shed any prior stigmas and to listen with open hearts. “I’m actually a human being, just like you! We make mistakes, we win some, we lose some. But at the end of the day, my heart and my intentions are always pure and I hope that is reflected in everything I do.” She may ask, “where did the love go?” but with IAMDDB it is clear: the love is right before us, in the art that she is sharing with the world and in the truth that she is encouraging us to find within ourselves.
Soak in IAMDDB’s latest release, “Where Did the Love Go?”, and watch this space for Volume 6, which will be released later this year.