Hanging Out With... IAMDDB
Setting the crowd alight for the opening night of Browns Berlin was 23-year-old Mancunian artist and rising global star IAMDDB. Taking to the stage in her signature sunglasses and an oversized PRADA bowling shirt, IAMDDB (an acronym for I Am Diana Debrito) sent the audience wild when she dropped the iconic line “Uber, Uber everywhere” from her hit song Shade. Uber or no uber, it’s clear this girl is going places. Hanging out with Browns after the event, she chatted to us about everything from spirituality to style, and told us how she stays humble amidst the hype.
Can you talk about your entry into music?
It was definitely through my dad. He was a musician, still is. [My song] Leaned Out was actually the first moment when people started paying attention. Then I don’t know what the higher powers were doing, but they brought me my manager. I’ve never tried to force things, I’ve never tried to be anything I’m not, and people just gravitate towards that.
You’ve been really headstrong when it comes to resisting the pressures of the industry. Where did you learn to be this way?
My big brother would school me on contracts, on the legalities of being with labels. For me personally, I’ve always been a very independent being anyway. I don’t like relying on other people, I like being in control. I was studying the game as I was going along, so now I’m in a comfortable space where I’ve experienced the highs, I’ve experienced the lows, and I’m still centred in myself.
How do you resist that pressure to go faster, especially as things start to pick up?
I just go home. I get on the train to Manchester and I’m like: “You know what D? Incense. Centre yourself. Humble yourself.” Because as quickly as you rise is as quickly as you can fall.
What are your techniques for staying humble?
I don’t pay attention to anything, or anyone. The first time I went to fashion week was a couple of months ago in London, and even being out was so strange. Everyone was coming over to me and I’m like: “You know me?! What do you mean?”
“I feel like I’m not just Angolan, I’m not just Portuguese, I’m not just English – I’m just a global vibe. Everywhere I go I feel like I’m at home.”
Is there an industry figure that you look up to?
Rihanna, definitely. She is the blueprint of how to move through this industry. She did her rounds with the music, she built her own company and now she’s just chilling making millions.
You were born in Portugal and then moved to Manchester and also have Angolan roots. How do you feel this mix of cultures has influenced you?
I feel like it’s all blended into one. I feel like I’m not just Angolan, I’m not just Portuguese, I’m not just English – I’m just a global vibe. Everywhere I go I feel like I’m at home. At one point growing up I thought: “Is this normal, to feel so disconnected but so connected?”
It was a trip to Angola that really changed everything for you. Can you talk about this?
I had just finished college, and I had just come out of a very toxic relationship. So I went to Angola for six months, and it was just the most mind-blowing trip I have ever done. It changed me for the better in so many ways. The first 48 hours I was like: “The water’s not working, the electricity… ahh!” But after that I just integrated into it. It really showed me that here we have so many luxuries we take for granted, and people would do anything to just have an hour or a day in this type of lifestyle. I came back fuelled to be the best I can be at my craft.
Are you a spiritual person?
I’m definitely spiritual. I’ve always had angelic protection guiding me. I love my incense, I love my sage, I love my palo santo. Keep the energies flowing! Setting intentions is a big one for me. Vision boards, manifesting what I want to create, because I feel like it’s so easy to get caught up in negativity. Sometimes I play tarot cards, because I feel like it’s an interesting way to see what energy you pick up on and what you should watch out for.
What’s your starsign?
Pisces. I’m a water baby.
How do you like to dress onstage?
I’m either a sexy female or mandem vibes. There’s no in-between. So [for the Browns Berlin performance] I was on my tomboy shit. But then sometimes I might pull up in a little bikini top!
What do you see as the most important issues concerning your generation of creatives?
I feel like being afraid of expressing your true self and being afraid of judgement through social media. And being - just be present! Everyone’s too caught up in the past and future, but they don’t exist. The only moment we can seize is now, so being centred in the now and really appreciating the things you have, the people that are around you. No matter who it is that you meet, no matter where you go, there’s always something to learn, something to teach. The more we connect, the higher the vibrations.
If you could take an Uber anywhere, where would it be?
To the moon.
How would your friends describe you?
An emotional gangster. I’m all up in my feelings, best believe, but don’t try me!
How would you describe yourself?
Like water. I’m very calm and still, but if you try me, I can turn into a tsunami and I will drown your ass! But I can also hydrate you, bring life.
What are the things you’d like to be remembered for?
Uplifting people, good music, and being the motivation behind true change in our generation.
What’s your idea of happiness?
Inner peace. Good skin. Money in the bank!
Photography by Jonathan Middleton
Styling by Emma Hargadon
Interview by Georgia Graham