Adriana Dunn was born on July 18, 1999 (20 years old) in La Paz, Bolivia, and is the middle daughter of Jaime Dunn and Maria Laura Magnan. Adriana started singing at a very young age and sang for a Bolivian choir for five years. Growing up she was always involved in singing and other musical activities and once graduated from high school decided to pursue a musical career more seriously. Adriana is currently attending Bradley University in Peoria (IL) where she is majoring in the music business and entertainment industry. She writes, produces and records all of her songs.
“I was told that I didn’t have a chance as a performer,” says Adriana, “but that just pushed me to teach myself more techniques and pursue my dream.”
- When and how did you get started singing and making music? And are you self-taught or did you have any formal training?
Adriana Dunn: I started singing when I was about 8 years old. When growing up I was part of a choir for about five years, but in the choir, I just sang; didn’t learn anything about music theory, singing techniques, etc. So basically I never had the chance to actually have formal training because where I live resources are limited when it comes to music. As I was getting older I started to take singing more seriously and started to mimic some other artist’s techniques and I would spend hours practicing, so I think it is safe to say that I taught myself everything I know when it comes to singing. About a year ago I started to write my music, and once I had about three songs written I decided to also start producing my music. I did some research and just started to put some beats, sounds, and recordings together so I basically learned with the process.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Adriana Dunn: Growing up I remember I would spend hours listening to Talia, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, One Republic, Maroon five and Enrique Iglesias. Those artists have different styles and vocal techniques and I was always trying to achieve their sounds. I feel like each one of them influenced me into the style of music and vocal techniques I use in my own music now; I am like a mix of their writing styles, vocal skills, tempos, rhythm, and genre.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Adriana Dunn: I definitely agree when it comes to emulating other artists when you are searching for your own style and musical identity; while emulating others you actually learn, that’s where all my vocal skills come from. I used to spend hours trying to achieve Ariana Grande’s vibrato and airy sound, Rihana’s rhythms, Christina Aguilera’s powerful sound, One Republic’s dynamics, and Adam Levine’s high notes and falsettos. I haven’t mastered all of these techniques yet but I did learn a lot from these artists because I eventually realized what my strengths and weaknesses are when singing, and I adapted the things I learned to my level and vocal capacity. When I started to write my music I was trying to follow Adele’s writing style and lyrics but ended up discovering that my lyrics shift more towards Billie Eilish and Lauv’s. I share with them a very metaphoric and dark writing style with a lot of imagery and symbolism, but it is still not literally the same. When it came to the production of my sounds, I discovered that it didn’t matter how hard I tried to make my music to sound like the songs I usually listen to, but it was always completely different. I saw more of a dark pop essence in my compositions that at the same time is influenced by a mixture of styles of all the artists I love. I feel like emulating others helps you to identify yourself as a musician because you learn things and personalize small pieces of those artists you admire, and the mixture of all the things you acquire make you who you are as a musician. At least that is how it worked for me.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Adriana Dunn: I would have to say that my music is personalized and real. What I mean with this is that everybody can relate to my lyrics because you can see them with a lot of different point of views and there is always one perspective that will make you relate to my music in a very personal and real way. I always include very intimate elements, emotions, and experiences that I know for sure can reach and relate to other people’s emotions individually. I also play a lot with my beats, making them very simple to understand but very complex to experience. There is always a lot going on in my beats so it makes the listening experience more interesting, making people focus in every single aspect of each song; because that is what matters, a complete listening experience, not only a catchy beat or nice lyrics.
- What do you think mainly separates you from the massive crowd of artists emerging right now on platforms all over the web?
Adriana Dunn: I like to think that I write feelings instead of writing lyrics. I don’t want my music to move masses of people, but move every listener’s emotions to a deeper level. As I said before, I always write with real emotions I have or life experiences. My lyrics have a lot of depth and I talk about topics I feel everyone can relate to. We all go through breakups, we all feel lost sometimes, we feel anger, we feel sadness, we feel incapable of stopping things from happening, just as we feel happy, proud, etc. My lyrics include emotions that I feel at the moment and I try to include musical elements that relate to those feelings. I want to achieve an entire musical experience for my listeners; so they can actually feel what I sing about. A good example would be my single “Isn’t It?” where I talk about realizing something is over and how feelings drift away. There’s a lot of sadness and anger in those lyrics and I decided to accompany it with a very minimalistic and monotonous sound, where the strongest element is the bass. I feel like the bass gives the song the depth the lyrics have and it makes you dive into every word and beat of the song.
- What is your process when composing, recording and producing your music? Do you collaborate with others or outsource any of these tasks?
Adriana Dunn: I normally start by creating an underlying melody for the song. After I create this melody, I stop producing music and start writing lyrics. For this, I use a lot of emotional recall. I write the lyrics as I listen to the melody I created so the lyrics will fit the tempo, rhythm, and mood of the beat. Once I have the first verse I go back to the music and start adding more sounds. Once the first verse is written and musically produced, I write the chorus and accommodate more powerful sounds to the music that belongs to it. After I have the first verse and chorus ready I go ahead and finish the song using the tempos I have already measured for the first two parts and basically just repeat them to have a second verse and chorus. The bridge is the last thing I work on because it is usually hard to figure out. I always want my bridge to be as different from the rest of the song as I can so it normally takes more time to come up with.
I like to collaborate with others. When I collaborate I normally write the lyrics and they make the music because I think my songwriting skills are a little stronger than my beat making ones. Normally when I’m collaborating with other artists they create the music first and then I accommodate the lyrics once the music is ready, which can be hard sometimes because the music already has a lot of different melodies, but I still enjoy working with other people and challenging myself with their music and styles.
- If you could work with any international artist or producer of your choice, who would you like to work with on a song?
Adriana Dunn: This is a really tough question. There are so many different artists I would love to collaborate with. But I think that if I can only choose one it would have to be Lauv. Even though he is a very new artist I feel like his music fits very well my voice and my style. He has a lot of collaborations with different artists and it is noticeable that his voice and style are very adaptable to others, which makes me think that I could literally make a hit with him. I share a lot of things with him when it comes to the underlying melodies, beats, tempos, and style even though my musical compositions have more of a melancholic tone. He also has very powerful, truthful and real lyrics just as I do so I’m very sure that we could make something amazing together.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your music?
Adriana Dunn: Definitely emotions. They are the key to my music. But not emotions expressed in only words, but also musically. Music has different moods, colors, and vibes so for me is very important to find the musical balance to create the feelings I want to transmit. Besides this, I always want to include unexpected vocal changes and intriguing melodies so it is more interesting to listen. Most songs are very predictable, you already know if the singer is going to go higher or lower, softer or louder. In my songs, I like to make my listener think I’m going to do something vocally and then do the complete opposite. I think it makes the listener want to immerse themselves deeper because they want to know what is going to change and what else is going to happen, it creates suspense, completing the listening experience that I want to achieve.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?
Adriana Dunn: Many events marked my life in some way or another and I could write a book just by answering this question but I’m only going to talk about two things that marked me the most personally and also in my career. One of the hardest things I had to overcome in my personal life was the passing of my best friend when I was fourteen years old. She had cancer and her fight against it was one of the most amazing but heartbreaking things I’ve experienced. She was the strongest person I’ll ever know. When she passed I was devastated but I have this one text message from her, the last one she sent to me and it said “No matter what I’m always going to be proud of you, I believe in you, now I just need you to believe in yourself. I love you.” I don’t think I’ll ever finish overcoming this, but it surely made me stronger and made me believe in myself. Every time I doubt myself I read that text, she keeps me going every day.
Professionally in my music career, the hardest thing I had to endure has a lot to do with the limited musical resources I had while growing up. Not having a formal musical training put me in a disadvantage in many opportunities but the one that almost made me give up my dreams happened last year. I wanted to study vocal performance, but since I didn’t have a formal education in music, I wasn’t able to audition. Besides this, I went on and asked if I could at least sing. Once I sang I was told that I had no talent nor future in the music field. This was all I dreamt of and a person I admired at my university’s music department told me I had no future and that I should give up. When you admire someone and they tell you suck is one of the most awful feeling ever, is just another type of heartbreak. After hearing this I didn’t want to sing anymore but with time I realized it was my dream, not hers and she had to right to tell me to give up my dreams. It was right after this that I started to make my music because it’s my dream, I know I have what it takes and I believe in myself. These two moments in my life are very related because they both taught me to be stronger and that I only need to believe I can do it to be able to accomplish it.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Adriana Dunn: I would say the release of my song “Lose Myself” is probably the most significant moment in my career right now. This was my first song ever and I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did. The song talks about how you can be surrounded by so many things and still feel lost and in a dark place, how you can pretend you are alright but inside just feel like you’re falling apart. I received so many messages from people from all over the world telling me the song helped them get through situations or change their mindset over life. It was crazy how I was able to reach people in place that I never imagine, and at the same time, reach them individually with my lyrics. People related to the lyrics, loved the musical arrangements, and told me they believed in me. This song means a lot to me and knowing that it meant a lot for other people was the most satisfying feeling in the world.
- If you had the opportunity to change one thing about how the music business works right now, what would that be?
Adriana Dunn: Before I answer this question I have to give credit to my Professor Carl Anderson for teaching me about all of this. I would honestly give you a very superficial answer if it wasn’t because I now actually understand the music business. So thank you, Mr. Anderson. Many different laws constitute copyright in music in the US and also in foreign countries, and even though they seem to work, many aspects need to change. There are a lot of issues that I feel should change but something I care about are the broadcast mechanical rights. The broadcast mechanical rights are a royalty generated when radio stations record artists in a specific location and then reproduce the tape to be distributed to other stations for re-broadcasting. This creates a new copy of the song, which creates a new mechanical royalty. This new royalty is paid one hundred percent to the publisher, and then they are in charge of distributing the money according to the split they have with the artists. The problem is that these mechanical rights are non-existing in the United States, therefore the money gets collected but not paid in the US. The money that gets collected is sent to “the black box”. This is an issue because artists are making a lot of money outside the US thanks to the broadcasting mechanical rights because their songs are played in radios in other countries and that generates money, but they are never receiving a single penny from this money because those royalties are non-existing in the US. This royalty constitutes nearly one-third of royalties paid in foreign countries, but artists in the US are losing all that money. The United States should implement broadcast mechanical royalties so artists can get fully compensated for their work being distributed outside the US. Artists are not the only ones that are losing money since the producer also shares this money, and also the US economy is impacted by the music industry so if all these royalties were collected in the US it would be beneficial for literally everyone and money wouldn’t be earned just to get lost.
- How do you handle criticism and/or haters in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
Adriana Dunn: Haters and criticism is something I pay more attention to than I actually should. I have to admit that negative comments and hate are things that affected me a lot when I was starting. If someone said something bad about my music I would be just like “that’s it, I’m never singing again” and I would get upset and even cry. But with time I realized you have to balance positive criticism and good comments with the bad ones. You can’t let a negative comment to affect you more than a good one does, it should be the other way around. Now I do pay a lot of attention to haters and bad comments but I use them in my advantage as if it was constructive criticism and I try to do it better the next time. I can’t say you should ignore bad comments because they help you improve and grow as an artist. You can’t please everyone, and having that in mind I just focus on trying to please the people that supports me and then use the negativism to improve and become better as an artist and as a person.
- Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
Adriana Dunn: The good aspect of being independent is that I own all my right, I own all my music and I don’t have to share any of the profit with a big company, label, etc. I keep all the money and rights of my music so I feel safe because I know everything that’s happening with my music and career. But on the other hand, something that discourages me from being an independent artist is that it is harder to achieve the goals I have. I don’t have millions of dollars for a music video, an amazing audio engineer and a lot of promotion and publicity, which is something signed artists have. I don’t have as much exposure as I would if I was signed, I am also responsible for all the work. Being independent makes the work even harder because you can’t put the responsibility on top of someone else’s shoulders and you don’t get as much exposure as a signed artist does, so it discourages me that maybe if I’m still independent I won’t be able to become who I want to be or won’t get as far as I wish.
- What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music, and have you, or will you be producing any?
Adriana Dunn: I think visual media is a key element for this industry. Good music accompanied with a video is always amazing. Some people only like songs because they like the music video. Videos attract a lot of people so I think they are crucial to have them as an artist. I will be producing music videos for my songs once I have more economical stability and a stronger fan base. I want to grow my audience so then I can release a video that will get the views it deserves.
- In general, do you consider the Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Adriana Dunn: The internet, especially social media helps you a lot as an artist. Social media platforms can help you reach more people from all around the world so I think that you have to know how to use them in your advantage. I take advantage of social media to promote my content and my music and that is what helps me to put my name and my music out there. For me is very important to use Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as promotion tools. I feel like it is possible to grow an audience without the internet, but it may take more time and effort. We have the tools we need for promotion in our hands so we should definitely take advantage of it.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Adriana Dunn: I would probably use Deep, Dark, Profound, intriguing, smooth, nostalgic, minimalist, interesting, new, distinct, rich, mellow, full, smooth, steady, calm, enlightening.
- Could you tell us something about the making of your latest release?
Adriana Dunn: My latest release is called “Love Letter” and it is a collaboration with Simulation, a very talented producer. I found his beats on SoundCloud and he has this one beat called “Love Letter” and I loved it. I reached out to him to make a collaboration. He sent me the beat and I had to add some lyrics to it. It was one of my favorite songs to work on because it was very easy for me to come up with lyrics for the song. I had to ask him to modify the tempos of the music so I could fit the chorus properly and organize the song better. Overall I think it was one of the fastest songs to create because the music already kind of clicked with me so I could come up with words easily.
- Do you have any favorite track in your catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message very dear to you?
Adriana Dunn: Yes. “Lose Myself” is my favorite song when it comes to the message and meaning it has for me. In this song, I talk to myself in a second-person perspective, which creates a very relatable sense of the song. I’m talking to myself, but I could also be talking to my listener, making them relate to the lyrics. The songs talks about losing yourself within your deepest thoughts and emotions, losing control of things and feeling in the dark while at the same time you superficially show yourself as happy, calmed and even in a good place. We are surrounded by so many things and sometimes we have to pretend we are something we are not, and that’s when we lose the sense of who we are. This song can be seen and understood in my different perspectives, you can see it in a way of losing control to find yourself and feel alive, you can see it as an inner monologue to feel better, you can see it as a talk between the singer and listener, this song can be seen as the listener wants to interpret it, but at the same time becomes emotionally real and relatable and that’s what I love about it. Once you find your own meaning within the song, you start liking it and understanding the message more and more.
- Do you only create and work in a studio environment, or do you also find time to perform live? And is so, which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?
Adriana Dunn: As of now I am more into a studio environment working in new music and content, but I try to perform live as much as I can. Right now I don’t have many original songs released so it is a little bit harder to go into a live scene if there is not much content to perform. I like live performance because I feel they are more intimate and I can connect with people in a more personalized way. I definitely can’t wait to be able to start touring and interacting with my listeners.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Adriana Dunn: I think being able to touch people’s emotions is what drives me into writing music and creating songs. My goal is to be able to share personal experiences through my music that people can relate to. I want to create deep connections with my listeners through amazing musical experiences. My goal is not driven by fame or money, but the fact that I could live by doing what I love and expressing what I feel. I want to always be able to create real content that moves real people. For me is amazing when people tell me that my music moved them in some way. Knowing that I can touch one person’s heart means the world to me, and that’s what I want to do with my music.