LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jean Dawson is an open book. Onstage, the eccentric performer takes control as he bounces back, full of energy with vulnerable lyricism and experimental sound. In person, he’s charming and introspective, sitting opposite with a hooded sweatshirt tight over his head and his hair falling over his eyes as he speaks with metaphors and lengthy anecdotes about his latest projects, fame, its cultural identity and more.
Since the release of his 2019 mixtape, “Bad Sports,” Dawson created music that seamlessly moves back and forth across genres, ranging from rap and punk to folk and abstract hip-hop, with relevant lyrics that tackle topics like mental health and hypermasculinity.
This year, he’s unveiling a new set of works that allow fans to see three different, “hyper-aesthetic” parts of himself.
Dawson’s musical trilogy is divided into three chapters, each with its own character. The first, “”XCAPE”, PT. 1 JEAN DAWSON AS PHOENIX’ was released in May and features two upbeat singles that captivate listeners with an emerging sound that still has a hint of early emo punk nostalgia.
“I’m nothing but a myth/I fool everyone, I burn everything I touch/I live on the fringe/Dreads cover a golden smile/Gold transforms styrofoam for style “, he sings on “youth +”.
“Phoenix is a very, very close character to who I already am,” Dawson told The Associated Press. “I’m going to talk too much. I will say too much. I’m going to be openly vulnerable for no reason because it makes me feel comfortable, and it makes others uncomfortable that I’m so vulnerable.
His second album, “‘DESTRUCTION FOR DUMMIES’, PT 2 JEAN DAWSON AS ‘NIGHTMARE'”, was released on August 17. It displays a softer side, with three songs that mix slower tempo elements of pop, rap and rock.
The Nightmare character, Dawson says, “is when I’m feeling a little softer and I want to whisper for the rest of the day, and I don’t really have all the words I want to say.”
“You’re still dreaming/I’m trying to find the meaning/What if there was no meaning/Why I never sleep,” he sings on “X-Ray.”
The project’s third installment is slated for release later this year, featuring a character Dawson describes as “misunderstood.”
Dawson, 27, is as open and vulnerable in person as he is in his music, even when hiding behind a hoodie.
“I’m just not afraid to tell people what I know about myself because I’m not afraid of myself,” he says. “I want to be so connected when I say to someone, ‘I feel you’, I’m not lying. I want to have real empathy before I die.
Dawson, who is of mixed Black American and Mexican descent, recounts his upbringing – living between the border towns of San Diego and Tijuana – led him to question the meaning of identity from an early age.
“It was difficult for me to understand what identity should be. So I chose not to adopt anything,” he said. “I quickly understood that my identity being nothing meant that I could be everything. And that’s what made me the musician I am today. »
Dawson’s parents had a strong influence on his tastes and artistic talent. His Mexican mother played Ice Cube and 80s rock at home, while in the United States her father frequently listened Mexican corridors.
“Little did they know that their love for cultures that weren’t their own would create someone who would live at the intersection,” Dawson said.
This amalgamation of influences has led to Dawson’s innovative fusion of genres, from “Bad Sports” to his 2020 coming-of-age album “Pixel Bath” and his introspective 2022 second album, “Chaos Now ( asterisk). His outings have featured other young innovators ranging from MacDeMarco has A$AP Rocky And Earl sweatshirt.
Dawson is now embarking on other collaborations as he joins rapper Trippie Redd’s ‘Take Me Away’ arena tour, which kicks off August 31, and opens for Interpol at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles later this fall, performing in front of thousands of fans and building on the sense of acceptance he feels every time he steps on stage.
But as his career grows, fame is the last thing on his mind. Dawson is more about connection and knowing that at least one person is able to feel understood through their art.
“If I’m just a fraction of 1% of something that can make you feel something because I have something to say, then I can leave this earth and be like, ‘You know what? I tried to do my serve,” he said. “And my serve was there so I wouldn’t be a piper, so nobody would follow me, so nobody would think highly of me. – just to be a friend when someone needs it. »
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