D. Woods Interview
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D. Woods, of Bad Boy Records’ Danity Kane, is a self-proclaimed “chameleon.” In addition to her work as one fifth of the platinum-selling singing group, Woods is a talented songwriter and entrepreneur. Heck, when Beyonce was telling all the independent women to stand up, D. Woods was already on her feet.
In addition to her work on Danity Kane’s forthcoming sophomore release, “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” Woods leads an all-female “replica of the Wu-Tang Clan,” has an ab-workout video in the pipeline, and was a celebrity model at BET’s Annual Rip The Runway fashion show.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” D. Woods steps inside the booth to talk about Danity Kane’s decision to return to MTV for a third season of Making The Band, how to bounce back from a damaging relationship, and what you’ll find inside her Girl’s Club.
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D. Woods Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is one fifth of the talented, sexy and show-stopping girls group, Danity Kane. Please welcome my girl D. Woods – how are you?
D. Woods: I’m great, how are you?
DJ Booth: I’m wonderful. You know, you sound a little tired this morning; I’m also a little tired this morning. I think we maybe both partied a little too much last night…
D. Woods: Maybe, but then also I’ve been workin’ really hard. I just finished shooting a video for Danity Kane’s first single, “Damaged.” We work hard and party hard at the same time – it’s gonna be a great video.
DJ Booth: I can’t wait to see it. I’ve followed your every move since you and the rest of the girls started the Making the Band process, but for the sake of our interview, let’s pretend this was the first time that we were introduced. Since you’re already familiar with the phrase “You don’t know me,” of course you hooked up with Gorilla Zoe on that single, reveal to the world the inner depths of D. Woods, so that we all do know you.
D. Woods: [laughter] The inner depths… well, I would have to say there’s a lot of layers to me. I’m a Cancer, if you wanna start there. I do a lot of different things, I’ve been exposed to so many different aspects of the entertainment world, so I adapt quite well to a lot of different situations. Like you mentioned, the song that I recorded with Gorilla Zoe, “You Don’t Know Me,” kind of touches on that subject, that there’s more than meets the eye.
DJ Booth: Do you feel like, when you are part of a group that gets such exposure – you’re on TV, people are seeing you constantly, you were on tour with Christina Aguilera – you can be who you are, or do you have to be someone who is more appealing to whatever goal that your label and your management have for you?
D. Woods: Well, I would definitely have to say that I felt the pressure to be something that everyone else wanted me to be, and they were trying to actually change my image. Some of the other girls in the group went through this, too, and basically fit into the stereotypical mold that they saw you as. But it was a little bit of a tug-of-war between myself and outside influences, just for me to be myself and really be comfortable in my own skin. Because that’s the last thing that I want, is to become something that I never intended to be from the get-go. So it was just, the album came out, out of common courtesy I wanted to appease the record label. You’re like, “Okay, I’ll try; you guys know better than me, obviously you’ve been doin’ this longer. Yeah, I’ll straighten my hair out; yeah I’ll wear this. But then, if the shoe doesn’t fit, during the during the whole year-long process when we were all on the road, I just decided that, no, I really don’t like that. And for me, anyway, it was a better idea, and a better fit now. I see people from the label accepting it and liking it and actually believing it was their idea. [laughter]
DJ Booth: In terms of the show itself, from an outsider’s perspective, it seems the show producers are more interested in revealing dirt and showing drama than actually documenting the album recording process. Did you sense that as you’re taping the season, or now, looking back on it, is that a realization?
D. Woods: During the taping of the season, because I’ve done Making the Band – this is the third time, third season that I’ve been on – I’ve kind of become aware of their process and their objectives, the network’s objectives. They want to get ratings, they wanna have a television show, they’re competing with other shows on the network – yeah, they’re going to focus those things that most people draw to, which is drama, romance, controversy, and what have you. So it was just important, as the artist who was on a television show like that, to definitely play into that, because that means I would get ratings if the people tune in, but also give substance to that. It’s almost like bait, a little bit. It’s just a lot of objectives going on…
DJ Booth: Was this all explained to you before you shot the new season?
D. Woods: No. This is just something that you pick up on. This is just something that I had to stand back and observe myself, have talks with the rest of the girls of Danity Kane.
DJ Booth: Did Danity Kane choose to do this new season, or were you all contractually obligated to sign on for another go-round?
D. Woods: It was a little bit of both. We ended the last season of Making the Band, and because the network went on to make another band, it was kind of a gray area of, “Are we going to do another season?” But because there was such a high demand for a follow-up story of Danity Kane, it was almost like we cut the umbilical cord on our fans; they didn’t know all the ins and outs of what was goin’ on with us. They missed us on television. It was mutual, we wanted to come back, and then MTV kind of had another option for us to sign on to.
DJ Booth: Okay. So it worked out for everybody.
D. Woods: Mm-hm.
DJ Booth: Late last year I spoke with fellow group members Dawn, Shannon, and Aundrea, and we talked about the expectations of this group moving forward. Shannon said that as a group, your expectations have always been very high, but after achieving platinum certification, anything less on the follow-up would be disappointing. But, the climate of the music industry – and I think you’d agree with me – has changed considerably since your first album dropped in August of ‘06. So, realistically, what are the expectations for Danity Kane in 2008?
D. Woods: I just try to visualize, the sky’s the limit. Yes, the record industry has definitely changed, and I think everyone is trying to get a grip on the new media sources and how to access the Internet and all those different outlets. Because we’re a group that came from such an alternate way of introducing a group into the public, we have one up on a lot of artists out there. We have such a huge television viewership and fan base that now, our record company is kind of understanding how to access them, how to grab their attention, how to make them know about the music and actually turn that viewership into record sales.
DJ Booth: One of the biggest differences between the debut and this follow-up is that the material is going to be mostly written by the group. I believe you did at least three songs on the album – how much did that change the dynamic of the recording process, knowing these were your words now?
D. Woods: It changed it immensely. It’s so great to have material actually come from you, and it be saying something that you actually feel, that represents the type of woman, the type of artist that you are, instead of somebody just saying, “Okay, this is what you sing. Stand here, sing this, sing it like this, move like this.” As I explained earlier, I’m a chameleon; I can adapt to a lot of different things. I have great expectations. I’m very proud of the work, I’m very proud of the process of the group, that we stood together and stood for what we believed in and didn’t back down. There were some moments we was a little nervous. It was like, “We might be pushin’ the envelope a little too far, I don’t know if Puff is gonna go for us bein’ this rebellious. But hey, whatever – let’s just try it and see what happens.”
DJ Booth: Exactly. You mentioned a chameleon. There’s a fine line between a chameleon and a robot – you don’t wanna be someone’s robot, but it seems like the group was able to adapt nicely. We mentioned earlier, you just shot the video for the lead single, “Damaged,” off of the forthcoming “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” Let’s talk about “Damaged.” Have you personally, D, been in a damaging relationship?
D. Woods: I think everybody has been in a damaged relationship. I was able to bounce back from mine very quickly – I felt a little bit of damage, and I didn’t stay in the damaged world. I just learned from it and kept movin’.
DJ Booth: Good. In the song, you ladies ask the question, “How you gonna fix it?” and then of course, “Fix it, fix it.” Since you’re asking for it to be fixed, do we agree that there is a reasonable, fixable solution?
D. Woods: Yeah.
DJ Booth: But the problem is, most men don’t know what that is. So from a woman’s perspective, share with the world how to go about mending that broken heart…
D. Woods: Man, I think communication is key. Like, actually, it’s up to the female to not be so emotional and caught up in her emotions that she can’t articulate what it is that she needs. And it’s up to the man, also to do that, because men are damaged, too. They don’t wanna admit it sometimes, but they just need to communicate.
DJ Booth: I agree wholeheartedly, and I love that you opened the answer with, “Women cannot be so emotional.” Are you single right now? That is the most idealistic quality for all women; not to be so emotionally wrapped up – we need to clone you!
D. Woods: I can’t really say that I’m not emotional. I mean, I’m a Cancer, and the stereotype of Cancer is to be emotional.
DJ Booth: [laughter] Okay, so you’re breakin’ stereotypes. D, as of this interview, the new Danity Kane album is set to drop on March 18th, one week after your male counterparts, Day 26, drop their self-titled debut. Are there any behind-the-scenes bets, wagers, or gambles, that are being made between the groups on who will sell more records?
D. Woods: We play around and say stuff like that. We made bets on radio shows, but I know Danity Kane doesn’t really take it seriously. We just play around with them. I hope for success for both of us. It’s be great if Day 26 could feel the same rush that we felt on our first album, where we debuted at number one our first week, knocked veterans out of the number one spot on Billboard.
DJ Booth: See, really there’s no bet to be made because no matter what the guys do on their first album, they’re still gonna start off one million behind you.
D. Woods: Exactly. They’re already behind us.
DJ Booth: In addition to your work as a member of Danity Kane, you started up, and I’m going to rip this line directly out of your bio, “an association of females in the entertainment industry,” otherwise known as the Girls’ Club. So explain what your goal is for this new entrepreneurial endeavor.
D. Woods: The Girls’ Club is kind of like our industry sorority. We have writers, which is myself, my sister – who is also an artist, signed to Ne-Yo’s production label, Compound Entertainment; her name is Chanel. Another one of our really close friends, her name is Mika Means, she’s also an artist and writer. So we started off with us three, just really supporting each other in the different venues that we’re working in, but we’re all similar, so why be stingy? Females tend to be very catty and stingy in the industry like there’s not enough work to go around for everyone. So we just started off like that, and we also have other female artists like Keri Hilson, who was down with us, and Chrisette Michelle. We did a mix tape, and it has Aubrey participatin’ in the mix tape, so that was really cool, to get her rappin’ – it was funny! [laughter]
DJ Booth: Funny, like, “I’ve never heard her rap before,” or funny like, “She can’t rap?”
D. Woods: I mean funny, like, you wouldn’t expect it from her. She was like a little Eminem, really, for a second. [laughter]
DJ Booth: Now I don’t usually parlay these interviews into promotional opportunities, but I cannot resist asking you about this Urban Fitness workout program you have. Crunk Abs – I’ve been trying to get my abs crunk for a long time now. So without actually watching this video while we’re talking, walk me through some steps so I can get these abs crunked!
D. Woods: Well, it’s gonna be hard to just talk about, but because we threw in the vocabulary of crunk – you know what you have to do right off the bat. You gotta be extra energized to get the abs right. You gotta keep that heart rate up, not to get too technical and too fitnessy talk – you gotta get that heart rate up. That’s why we say “crunk,” you know what I mean? All the crunkness that goes into keeping your abs crunk.
DJ Booth: Well hopefully by summer, I will have the Danity Kane album in my hands as well as a video for Crunk Abs, and I’ll be able to listen while I’m workin’ out my abs – it’ll be the best of both worlds. D, give everybody a website or a MySpace page for the group, so everyone can find out more about “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” and all of the endeavors you have this year.
DJ Booth: Great. Well, thank you for your time. I wish you nothing but the best of luck, obviously, with the album, coming up just right around the corner, and to do big things in 2008 with Danity Kane.
D. Woods: Thank you so much.
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