Photography: Xkylar

Emerging pop artist Dawson Fuss has released his new single, “Right Person Wrong Time.” Picking up where his debut single left off, Fuss offers this personal and emotive track about a relationship gone wrong. This is the second single from Dawson’s forthcoming EP, Edge of Adolescence, set to drop later this year.  “I think the song’s moody production paired with the heavy lyrics create a 3D vision of this post-breakup emotion,” Dawson explains

Tell us your story

I started singing when I was really young and as I grew up I realized that it was so much a part of who I am, and this discovery motivated me to work hard and keep improving. When I was about 12 I started recording covers in garageband and posting them on YouTube. It was really cool to see strangers commenting on the videos and encouraging me to keep going and to continue pursuing my dreams. Of course there were a few “haters” but they just pushed me even more to keep getting better.

Looking at those videos now I’m a bit horrified, but I know they are a really important part of my backstory. Although initially I found joy in recording covers, as my relationship with music evolved I knew that I wanted to write and share my own stories. I really didn’t know if these songs would ever be shared but I found the process so cathartic and I’ve learned that I have a lot to say. Since then, I’ve continued writing and discovering more about who I am and am so excited to be sharing that through my music.

How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist? 

The great part of being an artist is that you’re constantly trying to grow and evolve, and it can be the most rewarding experience to have personal breakthroughs, to watch your “likes” or “follows” numbers go up, and to be asked questions like these from you. But the downside is when the numbers don’t trend the way I’d like, or if my latest single didn’t hit the same benchmark as my previous one, it’s really easy for yourself to become your biggest enemy.

As an independent artist it can also be hard to wear so many hats and to ultimately be responsible for the success or failure of the work that is such a reflection of who you are.  Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who help me stay focused and to remember that the real joy comes from being excited about the creative process, seeing how far I’ve come, and knowing I have so much more growth ahead of me. That is both daunting and exhilarating.

Who are your all time musical influences?

My all time musical icons have to be Prince, David Bowie, and Elton John because they were the first artists to break the societal norms of their times, and weren’t afraid to express themselves publicly and proudly. They were also the first, that I can think of, that really incorporated a unique fashion style as a part of the performance.

Not only did you want to hear their music you wanted to see what they wore. This combination essentially elevated their music because of how visually pleasing their performances were. In their own ways they also did so much for social causes using their stardom for positive change which is incredibly inspiring.

What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that stepping away and taking a break is crucial to keeping my inspiration alive. I’ve found that if I’m forcing lyrics or melodies trying to write the next “hit song,” I’m setting myself up for failure. Taking breaks, like going on walks on the beach, hanging out with friends, or watching some Netflix or TikTok lets me disconnect and not be so hyper-focused on expectations allows my creative battery to recharge. 

Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?

Today, I really look up to Harry Styles. Similar to the artists I mentioned earlier, he is the modern-day embodiment of these trailblazers. Even now, he still manages to break gender roles and stereotypes, and he also treats his millions of fans with respect and understands that he wouldn’t be where he is today without them. His music is so unmistakably his, and he stays true to his musical vision. I also love how he’s evolved his artistry beyond just music and it’s exciting to see him transition into the film world. I can’t wait to see him on the big screen! 

Favorite activity to blow off some steam?

I love a nice TikTok rabbit hole. I would say I’m a little bit addicted, but it does make me laugh and take my mind off whatever I was worrying about. A good chuckle is good for the ab muscles (my secret workout routine shhh). Listening to music is also a great way for me to blow off some steam because it helps me get inspired, but it also lets me have some time to myself to recharge and live inside my mind for a moment.

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

My latest release, “Right Person, Wrong Time” came about after I broke up with my ex that I was with at the start of Covid. I found myself reflecting on what worked and what didn’t with a fresh perspective, and I realized that in actuality, the relationship was poisoned by the pressure and distance caused by the pandemic. It’s a song about wondering what might have been and what I’d do if we could try again without any other outside factors to throw things off. Ultimately, of course I know that the relationship was toxic and I was saved by our forced separation. 

What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?

As a young artist, it’s pretty scary to see what my peers, the media, and the world has to say about the music I poured my heart and soul into. I’ve come to realize that it’s really important to keep things in context. I have to admit that I’m a perfectionist, and I feel immense pressure to make every song release ready but I’m coming to accept that only a small number of songs I write will ever be heard by anyone else. And when I’m faced with creative blocks, I like to take a step back and look at other art forms for inspiration whether it’s fine art, fashion, movies, television, or other artists’ music, I’m always reminded of how much beauty there is in the world, and so much to write about. 

What’s the future looking like for you?

I’m hoping my future is bright:) I’m still 17 and living with my parents, so I’m looking forward to going to college in a year and continuing to pursue my music and to evolve my writing and musical skills. For the near future, I’m working on my debut EP called Edge of Adolescence, which will come out this fall. I’m super proud of this body of music, and think it represents that fine line between being a child and being an adult. I’ve worked on it for the past year and a half or so, so it’s so exciting that it will finally see the light of day, and for other people to hear it!

Who inspires your style and aesthetics?

I live by the aesthetics of Pinterest. It’s the best place to see all different types of aesthetics compiled into one place–interior design, fashion, photography, videos, every medium you could possibly need for inspiration. When I’m stuck on putting together an outfit, I just scroll through one of my fashion boards and usually within a few scrolls, I know what to wear. I’m also a huge thrifter, so vintage clothing is my forte. I just need one pair of vintage bell bottoms to make me happy:)

What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?

My biggest moment would have to be when I sang one of my first original songs at a local music competition called “ Teen Star Santa Barbara” and Randy Jackson was one of the judges. After my performance he said “A star is born here tonight in Santa Barbara!” and that I was “born with swag!”  It was so cool that a person I had watched judge people on TV for so many years said that he saw something in me and believed that I was going to do great things. That’s definitely a moment I will never forget.

What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?

That’s such a difficult question because it feels like every day there’s a new story about an artist getting picked up by a major label and making it big in every way possible. Social media has definitely changed the game because it’s so easy for an artist to share their work with the world, but because of the oversaturation of content, it’s difficult to break through the noise.

Because of that, it’s important to be uniquely yourself, which is something off of a cat poster in a dentist’s office, but it’s something I’m still working on. Being different from the millions of artists out there is the biggest challenge in the world, but also a great reminder that I just need to be comfortable with who I am and the music I’m creating.

What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?

I wish the entertainment industry as a whole, and record labels specifically, would take more risks on new artists. Independent artists have to invest so much time and money getting a large fan base before getting any support, and it’s super challenging to balance the business side of building a fan base and the creative side that is essential to creating great music.

I’ve heard many stories of managers or labels limiting an artist from exploring new avenues because it “might not sell as much” or be “as successful” as a safe, sellable choice, so they end up releasing music that doesn’t represent themselves fully as an artist. There are so many amazing artists trying to get noticed and they should receive the recognition they deserve for the innovative approaches they’re taking towards their art. My dream of course is to be supported by the resources of a label that will allow me to continue to evolve and to explore my creative vision for my music and my brand.