Dove Armitage: Make Friends With Your Demons

emilytreadgold #4, Features

Dove Armitage's new EP, Concernless, feels like nothing else out there right now. It feels so distinctly her own. Pop hooks laced with her punk rock past feels like a blend of everything in her life, but at the core of her work, her message is authenticity. This project feels like a statement and an introduction to who Dove Armitage is: someone with a bold vision and a concrete idea of her art. We talked to Dove about her new music and the challenges she's faced in her career.

Let's just get started with how you got started in music or where you feel like you decided that this was the thing you had to do in life.

Dove: When I was a kid, I always was drawn to music. My grandma had this crazy electric piano, and I was obsessed with video games as a kid growing up, and I kind of still am. I would play video games and then go try to learn the songs on the piano, like particularly Ocarina of Time. Then my parents got me a little mini casio for my birthday when we moved. When I realized it was something I had to do, it was after I started my first band called Cat Scan. Midway through the life of that band, I was like, "Oh, I need to do this, and I should take this seriously," and I started learning to produce.

Tell me about this new EP. Can you tell me the story behind it?

Dove: I hit a moment with this project when I first started it. I tried to kind of go as far away from my old sound. That was like a very it was a very angular, mathy, punk band. I wanted to go as far away from punk as possible. I started doing strictly ambient music, which I've done forever. This new sound I developed was kind of like a marriage of all of the things I've done in music. I was like, "Well, I can have these mathy, angular bass lines in there with my kind of experimental production and electronic element in there." The first song I made with producer Liam was "Brittle." We made it in five hours, something crazy. He lives with Chris, who produced the other songs, Chris Greatti. He walked in from getting coffee, and we played in the song, and he was like, "Oh, shit. We should do a song." We kind of teamed up and made it together. And it just was like this perfect blend of influences with my production, Chris's production, Liam's production, and it all kind of came out that way.

There was a part in your bio that said, "You hear about expelling demons, but maybe you should focus on befriending them." And I loved that so much. Can you kind of tell me about that?

Dove: That was kind of a moment I arrived at a few years ago. I had a really, really difficult early adult life. A lot of really bad things happened. And I was struggling so hard to just feel like a normal person. And I had a therapist say that to me. I think your approach is all wrong. I think you're trying to ignore all this stuff and pretend all this stuff didn't happen when-- have you tried just maybe making this friendlier? Why does it have to be this evil thing? Why don't you try to make it friendlier? The moment I did that was when I started to see healing. So the opus of this chapter of healing as I get older and kind of move past that stage of my life was like, let's just write about it because I never wrote about these things in this mindset that I've had. The idea was if it's easily interpretable for other people, then hopefully, we can heal other people too, if they resonate with it.

I feel like so many people ignore those feelings. Does it feel super cathartic to put it out there into the world?

Dove: Big time. When the EP came out, I've never felt emptier. I was like, "Oh, my God. I feel empty. And what the fuck just happened?" I think once I got used to it being out, I mean, I kept making the joke. I was like, "Wow, I was pregnant with this EP, but not anymore. This is weird." But especially as a woman, I was like, "Wow, it really did. It was a thing I was carrying and creating for so long. Now it's out." It was definitely a cathartic, beautiful thing to have out because once music's out, it's kind of like it belongs to everyone.

You have kind of a stage persona, that maybe you're a little bit more bubbly and Dove is a little darker. Can you kind of tell me about that and how that probably helps too with feeling more at peace with things as you have this kind of ability to be kind of a character?

Dove: I think when my old band didn't work out, I was so afraid of going solo. I was so afraid of not having the talent or the capabilities to do it. I think I thought in my head, I mean, one of my favorite pop artists is Lady Gaga. I was like, "Oh, she can put on a character. Why can't I? Maybe that will make this easier for me to make the leap with." Once I started, I just realized, "Oh, I actually love this, and this is great." But I think it took compartmentalizing myself into Dove as this other person. Quincy is the person to start. Now that I've started and gotten like now this is my second EP, but first proper release with a label and a team and collaborators. I don't feel like I have to separate her as much anymore. I feel just as much Dove as I do Quincy.

It makes sense that they would become the same person, but it's good to have that feeling of when you get on stage, you're something a little different.

Dove: Currently, I perform solo, so it's a very scary thing to do to get on stage completely by yourself and sing to people. So that does help a lot there. I think lately, as I've learned to produce and kind of gain some confidence in the project, I'm less inclined to be separate. But on the hard days, it's good.

What would be one of the biggest challenges for you in your music career?

Dove: I think, honestly, the landscape of music right now. The streaming world is the biggest roadblock. I think the way things are set up currently is really precarious and difficult, and in the conversations I've had with my music industry friends, TikTok doesn't make sense anymore. Streaming doesn't make sense anymore. Talks of the algorithm and everything are confusing, and unpredictable, and murky. I think these things can maybe inhibit an artist with the mindset of I need to make something that will go viral versus I will need to make something that feels honest.

How do you stay motivated in a climate where it feels like just a really tough market right now? What do you say to yourself to kind of stay motivated?

Dove: I make a joke of its delusion. That's the joke. But in all seriousness, I can't not do this. It's what I love the most. And if I'm not making music, I am going crazy. It's just something I have to do. And the very core of me loves it. When I focus on that core reason why I love making music and why I love creating things, it makes the shitty parts of it worth it because everything has shitty parts of it.

I feel like that's like the only reason anyone should be making music is if they absolutely cannot do anything else.

Dove: I would die if I couldn't do this. I hear other artists say that, and you can tell in their music when that's the case, I think. So that's all I can ever ask to do is make music that I feel is honest to me. And the listener will also know it's honest and they can relate to it how they want to relate to it.

What would be your best piece of advice for young women who want to be in music or just advice to young women in general?

Dove: Never, ever, ever, ever put a man or anyone before yourself. You do what you want to do and what is going to make you happy and forget the whole narrative of you have to make decisions for other people. Fuck that. I did that for years. I was putting everyone's feelings ahead of mine, which is why I am only just now starting a solo project in my life when I have wanted to do it my whole life. Just stick to what inspires you and what makes your heart pound with excitement. Do that. Do that. And don't let them tell you that you're not pretty enough, that you're too old, that you're talented enough. Just do it.

Follow Dove Armitage on Spotify and Instagram.

Emily Treadgold

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