As Miami-born musician Kat Dahlia detailed in a 2013 interview with Vibe, she found herself in a "tumultuous, toxic and draining relationship" while living in New York — and it turned out to be "writer's gold." The songs she wrote from that dark place of inspiration made up her independent EP, Shades of Gray, which she released under the name Kat Hue.
Dahlia's breakthrough came in the form of 2013 single "Gangsta," which, together with 2015 single "I Think I'm in Love," racked up hundreds of millions of streams across multiple platforms. After a two-year hiatus from releasing music, Dahlia is back with her first bilingual single as a solo artist, "I'm Doin' Good," which dropped Friday, June 21.
As the song's title suggests, Dahlia is, well, doing good these days. Now based in Los Angeles, she might not have a toxic relationship to draw inspiration from, but she doesn't consider that a problem because she no longer believes great art has to come from pain and darkness.
"I maybe used to think that," she says. "I think good art can come from many places. Honestly, I'm still discovering different ways to create... It can come from anything."
In the case of "I'm Doin' Good," she came up with the melody and verses but didn't know where to take the song, so she put it on the back burner for a while. "I revisited it later and kind of zeroed in on the concept," she says. "I came back to it and this concept of something simple that just felt real and honest. I made that hook and it all came together."
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Produced by her longtime collaborator Royal Z, the song opens with Dahlia rapping in Spanish over a Latin-infused, vibrato-heavy beat, which gives way to a kick drum and a chorus sung in both English and Spanish. She slips between languages and vocal styles with remarkable ease throughout the track. Though she doesn't identify as a rapper, she acknowledges that hard rhythms are a big part of her approach as a vocalist.
"It feels natural to have more of a cadence when I sing," she says. "I just like cool, flowing melodies and movement."
She says fans can expect more of the same from her forthcoming album, which doesn't have a title or release date yet. But "I'm Doin' Good" indicates Dahlia is owning her genre- and culture-blending identities more than ever.
"Growing up in Miami, you have so many different cultures. It's not like anywhere else in the country," she says. "I wanted to get bilingual, as a first-generation Cuban-American. Both of my parents were born in Cuba. I'm really leaning into that on this new project."