Dasha Gives Us 'Cuntry' Music

Dasha Gives Us 'Cuntry' Music

By Joan SummersMay 24, 2024

The crowd wants to line dance with Dasha. Better yet? She wants to line dance with, us too.

I catch the rising country star at Hangout Fest, as she parties with fans on the Gulf shores. Fans who, I might add, knew every word to her songs and practically begged Dasha to come offstage and marry them, or line dance, or party. Girls in bikinis stood on the shoulders of their equally bronzed boyfriends, straining to see as the crowd slowly expanded outwards, hustling from elsewhere so as not to miss Dasha’s highly buzzed-about performance. Literally, in between hushed whispers on whether anyone had seen Lana Del Rey or not, just about everyone asked each other on Friday: “Wait, so are you going to Dasha at the Shoreline stage?”

To say Dasha has made quite the name for herself in the last year is an understatement. However, descriptors like viral, albeit easy to grasp, flatten the hustling experience and writing. It scrubs clean the sweat, tears and bruises of rejection, of finally hitting it big, of performing in wineries, bars, parties and festivals. And if I were a betting woman, even bigger stages to come. Still, if one has been on TikTok or the internet at large in the last year, they have heard “Austin,” her breakthrough single, one of many gems she’s put out since dropping her album Dirty Blonde in 2023.

What Happens Now?, on which “Austin” sits as track number four, buzzes with the same electric energy she brings to the stage. She flexes her writing and vocal ranges throughout, confessional and crooning. “Spilling the tea, too,” Dasha announces to the crowd. Like on “Talk of the Town” a song about a relationship that sets her small town buzzing. Beyond that, she captivates on “King of California,” the album’s standout with all the makings of a great American country song.

When the heat has finally dies down, I find myself in the trailer compound that Hangout’s artists call home for the weekend. Dasha leans close, eager to share the moment, voice brimming with excitement and pride. “I imagined this moment so many times. And today, I really wasn't sure what to expect, because it's my first full set at a festival.” Even the concept of fans still boggles her mind, at times. “I am not better than any of my fans, you know? They are the reason I'm here in the first place.” I ask if the experience of seeing fans sing her songs, even dance, is what she imagined or more. “It's such a wild barrier to cross as an artist, having fans of your music and fans of you. Because, at the end of the day, I'm just a fucking girl. I'm just a normal person, you know? With my music, I really try to keep it real and very vulnerable with them.”

Back in the pit at her set, I watch as fans clamber “Austin.” The sheer excitement and wonder is written as clear across her face as the sun on the waters of the gulf. Read our entire conversation below.

You talked about how your songs are inspired by real events, and you like to “spill the tea” in your music. Has anyone ever hit you up, like, “Hey, I recognize who that song is about?” Like in “Talk of the Town"?

Yeah. I actually started “Talk of the Town” with the guy I wrote about. We were in his backyard, and it was not even a romantic thing at all. We had made out one summer, and it was not even a thing at all. It was just a thing that happened. Then, when he and I were writing the song out for funsies, I was like, “Wait, this is actually good.” Then we ended up finishing it in LA, in a session, and that was wild, because it was such a crossing of barriers. You don’t write songs with the people you write them about. That was trippy. But definitely, people have been like, “Hey, is that song about me?” But for the most part, I’m very honest with people because I think it’s funny writing songs about people and sending them to them.

Speaking of, this is your first big festival set, after appearing at Stagecoach. Is there anyone that you were super stoked to see? Anyone you were stoked to share a lineup with?

Honestly, The Chainsmokers last night. I look up to them so much, and we got to hang out at Stagecoach a bit. It was so cool that they were down to hype me up and have me up on stage with them. Also, Zach Bryan tomorrow. He's such an inspiration for me. And just getting my name on the same poster as all these people!

You said you wrote your first song and put it out when you were 13 years old. Tell me how that came to be?

I started writing songs when I was eight. I got so lucky with really supportive parents, and they saw how much passion I had for songwriting, specifically. My dad became my first manager, so he started booking shows on weekends at wineries and coffee shops, and five to ten people would show up. I got through those reps when I was 10 years old, just ripping on guitar. When I was 13, I had been writing for five years at that point, and I wrote the song “Talk to Me,” and I was like, “This is so good. I want to put it out.” It was about this boy I had a crush on in seventh grade, who's now gay, which is so funny. They always turn out like that. But I really liked him and had these really strong feelings. I was passionate about doing a music video, and I wanted to put a song out, because I think in my mind, I knew how much you had to go through as an artist, and I wanted to see what it was like. That whole process was me getting a little taste, and I'm so glad I got that at such a young age because my come-up was very realistic. I would spend hours every day after volleyball and musical theater practice in the studio, writing and recording. I did my hours early.

So when you were in these wineries, where people ever like, “What's this kid doing on stage?” Or were they living for it?

They were like, “Oh, work girl!” I mean, there's so many great songwriters in San Luis Obispo. Overall, the response was like, “Go girl, get it!” I’m grateful for that. I know a lot of people who come up in communities that are like, “No, that'll never work. Don't do it.” But everyone around me was like, go, do it!

Tell me if I’ve misunderstood this, but I don’t think I have. On your social media, I’ve seen “country” spelled “cuntry,” and I live for that. Where does that come from?

That came from a very cheeky conversation I was having with a friend in LA. I was talking about merch, and I love clothing, and I love fashion. I was like, “When I make a merch, I want it to feel like a clothing line. And that's how I wanted it to feel, even if my name is not on the shirt, you know? Just, if you know, you know. “Cuntry” also came from what I was saying before, about how I want to show up for my fans. I recognize I have a platform, I have influence. I just want to make people's lives better, genuinely, like nothing makes me happier than seeing other people happy. I think that I can help people by encouraging them to be fucking badasses. Like, go run that shit! People are gonna hate, it does not matter. All that matters is your happiness, and doing your thing. I came from a very strong line of independent women who raised kids on their own. My mom was the only female doctor in her grad school. I was just raised by women who were very fearless, and I wanted to carry that legacy on. With my music, I want to encourage women specifically: Just do your thing, girl!

I think that's what's so exciting for people about artists in your class of country musicians right now. It feels like a pivotal time in country music; the old ways are changing, and people's perspectives on country are changing.

Country has been in such a box for so long. I feel like it's time to revolutionize, and there’s so much more to country music, and that’s why I’m “country,” you know? Make it a little spicy!

Photography: Alive Coverage