Musically, mentally and spiritually, 25-year-old IAMDDB is in the form of her life right now. 

The Manchester-hailing singer, songwriter and rapper, born Diana Adelaid Rocha De Brito, is probably best known for her ability to switch pockets and genres in a way that seems way more natural than the average performer. After bursting onto the scene with her debut single, 2016’s “Leaned Out”, she then went onto capture the masses with her biggest single to date in “Shade” a year later. She has since delivered consistent lo-fi R&B jams, such as “Give Me Something”, along with ‘urban jazz’ cuts like the self-explanatory “Urban Jazz”. 

Following a collection of well-received projects—Swervvvv.5, Flightmode Vol. 4, Hoodrich Vol. 3—it’s easy to see why the 0161 native has acquired such a dedicated following. Not only is IAMDDB bringing a super refreshing sound to her cult-like following, but she is self-assured, confident, and moves with an aura that isn’t only compelling, it’s incredibly contagious too. 

The daughter of popular Angolan musician De Brito, IAMDDB moved from Lisbon, Portugal, to Manchester as a child and grew to become one of the most recognised and sought-after names from the rainy city. But it’s not just the streams and views that have brought her all the attention. After coming third in the BBC’s Sound Of 2018 list, she supported Lauryn Hill and Bryson Tiller on their global tours, this all as an independent artist with a small, close-knit team.

Before she shut it down at the recent MCQ x NQ event in Manchester, we spoke with IAMDDB backstage to discuss life post-“Shade”, how she’s tapping more into her roots, new single “JGL”, and plans for the future. 

“You have to remember: music is a mantra, so you always have to make sure that the music aligns with positivity and raising the vibrations, because if it ain’t that then why are we doing it?”

COMPLEX: IAMDDB! How are you feeling today?
You know what? All is well. Regardless of what’s going on, we just stay busy. There’s always shows going on in the world, always things to organise, videos to direct, things to edit, so we stay on this creative vibe all the time. I’m currently on tour—the UK and European tour—and it’s going great. I really can’t complain. 

Your most recent single, “JGL”, is doing the rounds right now. Give us a bit of backstory on the track, the thought process behind it.
I think that women, in general, needed this song where they can feel like a bad bitch and not feel harrassed, and not feel like they have to limit who they are or what they want to be—they can just creatively express and be comfortable with their sexuality in a healthy, feminine and masculine way. It’s important to portray that example. Women know: it’s not everyday you have to be sexy for a man! Sometimes you can just be sexy for yourself and sometimes, you know, show a little flesh and be tasteful with it. I don’t want to get too into it [laughs], but it’s not everyday you have to do things the way you see them every day. Sometimes be regal and be confident in doing something that you want to do.

Your 2017-released single, “Shade”, really put you on the map as an artist we should all be tapping into, and you pretty much had the whole Manchester music scene behind you. What does that track mean to you today?
I feel that every song is different. It depends on how you feel emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually—all of that. But I definitely look back at “Shade” and think about the feeling I had when I was creating it and the vibration it has when it translates to people. It’s a feel-good anthem! People just want to sing to it and feel great and turn up! I always think about how what I’m creating is going to make people feel and what message I want people to be singing back to me. You have to remember: music is a mantra, so you always have to make sure that the music aligns with positivity and raising the vibrations, because if it ain’t that then why are we doing it?

You came third in the BBC’s Sound Of 2018 list, which was a great look for you at the time. Since then, how do you think that you have progressed, both as a musician and personally?
I’m tuned into myself a lot more these days and give less of a fuck about what everyone else thinks and what they’re doing. At the end of the day, I’ve got to where I am because I’ve stayed true to myself. The core of myself is that I’ve always been comfortable with who I am and being true to who I am, that whatever I put my fingers into or create or delve into, I know it will always be a part of who I truly am—apart from what the world wants. It took a while to get to that point and find that balance, to differentiate what I want and what the world wants, but when you find that balance, you understand how to play the game and how to maneuver through situations better. I feel like, when I was younger, I was very erratic and impulsive. I didn’t really think my actions through. Now, I’m at a stage where I’ve experienced so much and seen so much—up close and personal—lost and won so much, that I am now comfortable in my own skin and I’ve taken my time! I know what’s for me, so there’s no rush. I would rather take my time and know what I’m doing, than rush and be blind-sided on the route. That’s not the vibe.