Most people, when attending a concert by one of their favorite artists, experience feelings of happiness. When [Tiffany Dunn attended a concert by one of her favorite artists, Justin Timberlake, she experienced feelings of frustration. “My friends were dancing around and having a great time, but I was sitting there really upset because I was thinking, ‘Why am I not up there doing that with him?’” Dunn recalls of the concert she attended in her hometown of Phoenix. “I watched and analyzed his every move, I was just in awe. The way he could go to the piano and play and sing so beautifully one minute, then bust out a really complicated dance routine the next. I thought, ‘I can do all that!’ I just needed to figure out how.”
With the release of her debut single, Shut the Front Door (Got My Girls), which she co-wrote with noted hitmaker Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, followed by a debut album in early 2011, Dunn is about to get her first shot at her life-long dream of being a professional performer. A singer, songwriter, dancer, and choreographer, Dunn represents a rare breed of entertainer: one who does it all. Now based in Los Angeles, she is equally gifted as a vocalist and dancer, a rarity amongst female pop artists, which is perhaps why Dunn has found herself inspired by the male performers who have preceded her, like Timberlake and her idol Michael Jackson.
“Their performances are so huge, it just blows your mind,” Dunn says. “That’s how I want mine to be, with people saying, ‘Did she just do a back-flip?’ I don’t want to be another pop star singing and walking through the moves. I want to do all the things the guys do. That’s what I bring to the table.”
Spend enough time with Dunn and her drive becomes readily apparent. Don’t be fooled by the pretty, blonde appearance. Dunn is a passionate spitfire who has always been motivated, rather than deterred, by being told no. Her parents didn’t have money for pricey dance lessons so she taught herself, enlisting the neighborhood kids as her back-up crew and putting on shows for family and friends as a little girl. When she was 12, her father, a guitar-player himself, bought her a guitar and took her on a camping trip where she wrote her first song. “From then on singing and dancing were equally important,” Dunn says. “I never saw a reason to choose between one or the other.”
She also saw no reason to hide her light just because she was a girl. “I always wanted to be the tough chick,” she says. “I hated being told I couldn’t do something. I was always out there competing, trying to broaden my skills, and be the best I could. When I was young, I wanted to run track, be on the dance team, and sing in the choir. Everyone tried to get me to focus on one thing, but I wanted to do everything.”
At 16, Dunn signed up for her first dance class, but what she thought was going to be a lesson in hip-hop choreography wound up being a “breaking” class (or what Dunn describes as a hardcore “B-boy, B-girl” class.) The highly physical, acrobatic, street-dance approach is all about free-styling and Dunn was a natural. The instructor, Bboy House, took Dunn under his wing and taught her everything he knew. “I took it and ran with it,” she says.
As she honed her battling skills, the music Dunn had been writing in her bedroom became more rhythmic, something Jerkins and his Darkchild team have tapped into as they create the songs that will appear on her debut album. The full-length is shaping up to be an edgy collection of reggae and ska-tinged urban pop, shot through with Dunn’s natural swagger and winning charisma, and anchored by Jerkins’ hard-hitting beats. “Shut the Front Door (Got My Girls)” is an island-flavored female empowerment anthem, while the stuttering “OK” finds Dunn giving herself a post-break-up pep talk. “Too Bad I Love You” is a siren-fueled dancefloor clarion call, while the futuristic “Love Me Long Time” is an amalgam of dancehall, hip-hop, and electro-pop that Dunn delivers with appealing bounce. “I knew I had a natural sass, but Rodney pushed me to take my voice to a different level,” Dunn says. “He brought things out of me that I never knew were there.”
After meeting Tiffany at an audition, Jerkins brought her into the studio and the their immediate chemistry led to the recording of several songs a day, ending up with nearly 30 songs. Soon after, Tiffany performed for Epic Records where she turned the conference room into her own stage, wowing an audience of executives which led to her first recording contract. Now she’s looking forward to unleashing the music she’s spent the last several months recording.
“I can’t wait for people to hear it,” Dunn says. “I want these songs to help people get through the day because that’s the type of songs they are. That’s what music does for me — I jam out to my favorite songs and they pump me up and inspire me. That’s what I want my music to do for other people — help them get through.”
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