I don’t immediately recognize Dawn Richard when I first spot her guiding a van through a gate to load-in for her performance at Pitchfork Music Festival. Dazed by the creamy white and disco diamante of her stage costume, I didn’t immediately realize who I was looking at, but it was impossible not to know that I had just seen someone famous.

Later, when most artists would be getting their hair and makeup done in an air conditioned trailer, she’s overseeing the assembly of the LED triangles that glow behind her as she performs, making sure the tubular bulbs meet neatly in the apex of the structure. Devoted fans linger in the front row, watching her make the last minute adjustments and sporting her T-shirts, sun-faded dad caps, and even custom-molded USB drive necklaces holding virtual reality visuals for her latest album Redemption.

"They're so amazing, because they don’t have to like me. They're not being force fed. I'm not mainstream. You gotta find me,” the artist—now known primarily as D∆WN—says as we chat in a Chicago rehearsal studio. During the course of our conversation, she cites influences as diverse as the music video director Chris Cunningham, the ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and even, Cher.