A Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden Endorsed Artist
And Guitarist for Girls Girls Girls (all female Motley Crue)
And Bible Black NYC (Dio era Sabbath)
With her European all-girl band SHI
South African born Dilana was already a polished singer/songwriter/performer and local star in her native country and then in Holland, before auditioning in LA in 2006 to compete on TV’s ‘RockStar Supernova’ – where singers battled it out to win the title of ‘frontperson’ for a star-studded band. Her mesmerizing presence and incredible voice immediately thrust Dilana into the spotlight and hence, into the mainstream consciousness of rockers around the world. She dominated the show from right out of the gate. There was just no one like her around: the instantly extraordinary style, her total command of all the given material and the gigantic stage, and most importantly, her riveting vocal chops. Dilana has performed with Tommy Lee and Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction & Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Gilby Clark (Guns & Roses), opened for Aerosmith and Joe Cocker. Between extensive and successful world touring, sold out shows, recording, and being the recipient of gigantic billboards created in her honor along with a devout international fan base, Dilana has many other achievements under her belt. She has performed for the troops in Afghanistan (2009; 2010) and was part of the Go Army Concert Series tour in 2011 sharing the stage with Lynyrd Skynrd and the Doobie Brothers. Just finishing a round of international dates, Dilana will be touring on the East Coast this coming February 2016, with her European all-girl band SHI.
I met, and had the pleasure to befriend Dilana at NAMM, Anaheim, CA, last year, after getting blown away hearing her outdoor GoPro main stage concert and later, a more intimate performance inside the convention. After captivating all within earshot of her dusky voice that rocked and thrilled not unlike a modern day Janis Joplin would, her voice displayed a special authentic magic, and everyone there knew they had just witnessed a rare shining star of great magnitude and depth.
This great and world-acclaimed full-fledged rocker lady is to be highly commended as a solo woman artist, keeping her career on track by running it herself with a small team … a genuine rock & roll entrepreneur as well as a deeply creative artist. She redefines ‘working mother’ as her delightful 2-year-old child accompanies Dilana on all touring dates. Not many people could attain her level of continued success as an international public figure and accomplished musician by having to juggle all those logistical and complex balls at once.
All of Dilana’s East Coast dates are listed at the end of this interview. Check her website for any additional dates to be added.
What was it like being on reality TV’s ‘Rock Star Supernova’ –on that exciting fast-paced live-music stage with rock star judges … the platform that introduced you to the world at large in one night? Working under pressure and super tight performance deadlines as an artist must have been difficult.
Well you nailed it. It was fast-paced and stressful. But at that time, I was so in the moment that I didn't even think about the level of difficulty. All I had in my mind was to be the new front person for Rockstar Supernova. For me, the hardest part was taking a classic original song and covering it in a way that gave the song justice but also making it my own. That's tough because people always want to hear the original the way it is.
Dilana’s “Rockstar Supernova” performance on YouTube doing Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”
I read that Adam Lambert used an arrangement of your version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” on American Idol. How did that make you feel?
I was extremely flattered that Adam Lambert based his version of “Ring of Fire” off of my version. Later he also mentioned me in a Rolling Stone magazine article. It would've been cooler if you mention my name on the actual TV program LOL.
You recently were touring again this year in South Africa, your homeland. Is it much different than touring in the States or Europe?
Touring in South Africa is definitely a whole different ballgame. My audiences are always very enthusiastic and I always feel a sense of pride from them. That is heartwarming and I love to inspire other South African artists, to show them that it's possible to set bigger goals and achieve more.
It's always interesting when you're at a venue getting ready for a gig and the power goes out for energy saving! … also known as load shedding. This is a government controlled program. One never knows whether you're going to do sound over the power or a generator LOL...maybe even candle light!
Can you talk about your newest album ‘Beautiful Monster.’ I understand it was crowd funded, and your mantra was the guiding force behind it: “My Music/My Way” …
Beautiful Monster was indeed a crowd funded album which I am very proud of. It was my very first completely independent project. I couldn't have done it without the love and support and generosity of my incredible fans around the world. It was a dream come true for me and definitely my most honest and raw work. It took a month to record in Seattle with producer Jack Endino. (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam) We had a lot of fun and experimented with some cool instruments and sounds. My ultimate goal was to keep the songs and their recordings as basic and real as possible. I wanted to be able to take the songs and play them live on the stage sounding as close to the record as possible. We didn't use any fancy effects or samples. I sang all my own backing vocals, which is something I always love to do, I have a secret passion for singing harmonies.
Of the recordings you have done, do you have a favorite?
I would have to say that Beautiful Monster has been my favorite album to date. The musicians who helped me create the sound I wanted were Barrett Martin on drums and percussion, Kevin Hudson on bass, Stevenflow Rosenstengel on guitar, Brandon Cook on guitar for 2 solos, Jack Endino on a few additional guitar tracks, Michael Martinsson on acoustic guitar for one song, Erik Eldenius on some additional piano / keys overdubs, Jeff Young on Hammond B3, Joe Dario on piano, Matt Cooker on cello. All outstanding talented musicians! It was definitely my music, my way. I really enjoy the process of collaborating with other artists and seeing a drop develop into a thundering Cumulus Nimbus cloud!!
Can you tell us a bit about being involved in, and winning ‘Rock Against Trafficking’ - the ‘Sting & Police’ cover contest on TalentWatch? You are in great company with other selected artists to appear on this comp album including Train, Slash, Heart, Joe Bonamassa, Santana, and other established mainstream artis
I'm extremely honored to be part of this very worthy cause, and still, so surprised that I was chosen as the winner. I haven't recorded my Police song yet and will be in the studio with producer, Gary Miller, very soon to track it. I also found out that Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder and Nickelback are on board too. I’m very excited about the live concert that'll take place in LA at some point. Child trafficking is such a LOUD SILENCE in our world today. I believe in bringing awareness to the people and music is such a powerful tool to do so. Our kids are our future and we have to protect them.
Regarding songwriting: Do you struggle when writing songs or is there a flow that once it starts, continues ebbing on until the work/composition is completed?
I have no set pattern or routine. It varies from song to song. I find it much harder to force myself to write something. Sometimes it goes really quick and a complete song is finished within an hour. Other times, they flow through me in my sleep. My favorite way of writing is through collaboration with other artists or songwriters. It's always a challenge to write that "great song" … it's such a personal extension of my life.
You do an electric set with a full band, and sometimes go out and perform a different acoustic show. Aside from being unplugged, how different are these performances? You are very spontaneous & can jump from one song to another, jamming away within a basic rhythm framework, as I saw you do at NAMM. Is that more a part of your acoustic shows?
Playing electric and acoustic are very different. I love both. I enjoy rocking out an electric set with all the volume and feeling the bass in my belly. But also love the intimacy and tenderness and fragility of an acoustic set. I feel that often my songs come across better acoustical as the lyrics aren't drowned out by loud amplifiers and drum kits. But the energy is definitely there acoustically too.
How did you find the musicians you work with, for example SHI – your all girl band from Europe? Is this their first time coming to America to perform with you?
I've been touring around the world as a solo artist for the past almost 10 years. I usually try and find musicians who are based in the city/country where I'm traveling to. It's always challenging not knowing what kind of band I'm going to walk into. For the most, it's always been quite good. SHí is DILANA, was formed and found by my boyfriend who is originally from Portugal, who contacted the drummer, Sonia Cabrita. Together they found the members. Aside from Sonia, this will be the first trip to the USA for the girls. Hence our super excitement!!
Your 2- year-old daughter River is always by your side and accompanies you on tours. How much fun is this?
River is 2 years old! You can only imagine the fun we are having, especially with those terrible 2's kicking in right now. She's been with us on the road nonstop, since the age of two months. She's definitely a road rat and music is very obviously in her blood already. She's already performed on my stage in four different countries, stealing my spotlight LOL… I guess I better start getting used to it. River adjusts very well to every situation. She knows and loves airplanes, airports, tour vans, trains, cabs, stages, studios etc. She also loves all the girls in the band and they her. We have so much fun watching her grow up. She has an awesome sense of humor and keeps us active, very active!!
As someone who has pretty much done it all and continues to do it very well with successful tours, recordings, and recognition/artistic visibility, what pearls of wisdom and good solid advice can you offer to others who are trying to become successful in this very tough business of music?
I've always believed in keeping it real... being honest with my songs and my music and my stage presence and performance. Loving and appreciating all my fans is also a huge part of my success. People aren't stupid, they feel what you feel and believe what you believe.
Have fun! Have a good, trustworthy team around you. I believe in keeping it small. Be in control of all areas of your business… Even though I think I suck at that part LOL.
Dilana’s Show Dates:
2/8/16 Iridium - New York City - NY
2/10/16 KJ Farrell's - Bellmore - NY
2/11/16 Brian's Backyard BBQ - Middletown - NY
2/13/16 Hogtails - Pendleton - SC
2/19/16 Sandy Hook Tavern - Hazel Green - WI
2/21/16 Goodfella's - Pekin - IL
2/23/16 Lefty's - Des Moine - IA
2/25/16 Phat Heads - Greenbay, WI
2/26/16 Metal Grill - Cudahy - WI
2/27/16 Southport Bar & Grill - Indianapolis - IN
3/5/16 Redballs Rock & Roll Pizza - Moorpark - CA
3/9/16 Saint Rocke - Hermosa Beach - CA
3/12/16 Vamp’d - Las Vegas - NV
Bands In Town: http://www.bandsintown.com/Dilana
***Dilana’s GO FUND ME CAMPAIGN to help raise money for tour support for this tour!! Gofund.me/nvhqkkd7
MusicRealms is honored to have had this interview with one of the most talented artists and vibrant personalities in rock music today!
“The ultimate rock chick, Dilana bursts forth into the limelight with a ‘get me noticed’ kind of determined confidence that leaves nothing to chance”
Social Media Links
You can Also Visit Her Atdilanarocks.com