The British fashion magazine Dazed & Confused may have compared Dominique Young Unique to some of rap’s baddest bitches in suggesting that she combines "the sexy swagger of Lil Kim, the ghetto credibility of Trina and the spitting skills of Nicki Minaj." But we think she's a little sweeter than that, contagiously playful at times, maybe even innocent. When we reached her for an interview ahead of her Friday show at Room 929, she was nothing but passionate about her loves — her hometown, her fans, the performers who have inspired her. Her passion translates into raw energy when she’s on stage, into the energetic, inspired live show for which she's known.
NUVO: You were in school when you started doing music as a career?
Dominique Young Unique: Yes! I was taking interior design and I used to go to school and write music in class. My teacher Ms. Harper would be like, “Dominique, what are you doing?” and I’d be like, “Oh nothing, Ms. Harper. I’m studying for the test.” And then she’d look at the piece of paper I was writing lyrics on and she’d say, “Oh, it seems like you’re in love!” and I’d say, “Oh no, Ms. Harper, that’s the songs I’m writing!”
NUVO: Have your lyrics changed over time as you’ve grown and seen your career mature?
Dominique: I know it’s changed. When I was younger I was just talking about anything, you know. But as I get older and mature, I feel like I can actually make a song out of my life. I can sing about what I’ve been through. And that’s what I do. I don’t do it in a gangster way, but my fans know where I’m coming from. And I’m pretty sure some of my fans been through what I’ve been through. They’ve seen what I’ve seen. I just put it on paper.
NUVO: What was the come-up like?
Dominique: It was so hard. Like, every time when I used to go to studios in Tampa, a man would try to talk to me. The dudes were always trying to talk to me and get into my panties or whatever. But I was just in the studio for one thing — to record my music. And then I found David Alexander, my producer, and he was the perfect producer for me because he was actually trying to push my lyrics, my music.
NUVO: What kind of support have you gotten from the local Tampa community and media?
Dominique: It seems like everybody knows about Dominique Young Unique and they love me. They’re always talking good about me. And Tampa is my city, my hometown. But, it seems like nobody is happy that I’m trying to make it and put Tampa on the map. Nobody good in Tampa ever made it. Even though it seems like they’re not happy about all that, I still love Tampa. It’s my home. It’s where I’m born and raised from. I’m just trying to do what’s right. You know, I want our city to have history.
NUVO: How was it touring with The Dirty Projectors?
Dominique: Oh my god! That’s my first time touring with somebody. It was so wonderful! I loved it. I was the opening act and the Dirty Projectors fans were going so crazy about Dominique Young Unique. It was so fun. Amber [Coffman] was telling me about Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister. She came to see me perform. Amber turned Solange on to me so I was like, “Solange Knowles is watching me! And I see her!”
NUVO: So you were on tour with the Dirty Projectors, and then you were also at SXSW last year?
Dominique: Yes. And I’m going to SXSW again this year.
NUVO: Cool. So, are you excited? Do you have any special memories?
Dominique: (laughs) When I first went to SXSW I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. (laughs again) It was one of my first performances and there were at least 300 people there. That was one thing that really pushed me, though. Because I saw people love my music and they were vibing to my music and it makes me work harder. It was so fun though. Trust me, I can’t wait to go back. I think I been on vacation too long. I’m ready to go back on the road.
NUVO: But you're getting ready to go back on tour, right?
Dominque: I’m so ready. Girlie, I am so ready. (laughs) For real, because it seems like I’ve been on break for a fucking year. I’m so ready to go back on tour now. I go in my studio in my house and I just write, write, write, write. But I’m ready to get back on that stage.
NUVO: Is there any particular stop or city you’re excited about or looking forward to?
Dominique: Well, you know, I ain’t never been where you’re from and I really wanna see what that’s about.
NUVO: Hopefully all the ice is gone by the time you get here.
Dominique: (laughs) No, I want to be there. I want to see how it looks. I want to eat the ice. (laughs)
NUVO: What’s on your plate right now?
Dominique: Oooo! I’m working on my new single, “Follow Me." I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new track. I think it’s amazing. It’s gonna be a big surprise. I can’t say too much about it. I’m also working on my EP and I think after my EP, I’ma drop my album.
Dominique Young Unique performs at Room 929 February 18.
Danielle covers local music for NUVO.net and IndyMojo.com.