An unstoppable fixture on the underground NYC scene, Queens-based rap diva Dai Burger is as notorious for her freaky performances and eccentric style as she is for her serious musical chops. In short, Burger is as New York as it gets.
A mash-up of styles and influences truly reflective of her hometown, Burger’s raw, unapologetic attitude has gradually won her a loyal fan base. The rapper and her close group of collaborators, including Chicken (A.K.A. Burke Battelle) and Darq E. Freaker, have been crafting a new sound and aesthetic for the next chapter in Burger’s alt-pop evolution. With a forthcoming self-titled EP in the works, slated for release on UK label Rinse, Burger’s bound to surprise long-time fans with an eerily minimal, vocal-heavy set of R&B-infused tracks.
We caught up with Burger to discuss her New York roots, disregard for trends and new EP, while stylist Jake Levy dressed her in looks inspired by stories of romance and crime throughout history.
Talk about you new self-titled EP.
“My new self-titled EP is just that—it’s a more detailed, inside view of who I truly am as an artist and human being. I feel like everything I’ve done in the past has led me up to this very moment.”
How does it differentiate from your previous work?
“The first thing I’m absolutely sure that people will notice as they listen to the EP is the more mellow, ambient approach to the songs. Though I’ve been labeled a rapper, my first true love has been and will always be R&B. My previous bodies of work always had a couple of R&B album cuts sprinkled in, but my singles were always rap-based. This time we let my singing take the forefront.”
What were your major influences for this project?
“I’d say Chicken (a.k.a Burke Battelle), the producer, helped me to further explore what was already inside of me. I’ve always been a great vocalist and songwriter, so with Chicken’s help, we’ve pretty much created a whole new sound. My influences have remained the same over time, and it usually surprises people that I’m never aware of who’s hot or who’s next because the honest truth is I’m still obsessing over sultry hotties like Toni Braxton, T-Boz, Kelis and Gwen Stefani. These are my major influences in life.”
How do you expect the sound of your new EP to manifest visually?
“Visually I’ve always been vibrant in my approaches. I’ve come to accept that the Burger is an acquired taste, and it’s not for everyone. I think this time though, people will finally see what Dai Burger is truly all about without being blinded by my awesomeness. But let’s not get it twisted, I’m always going to be a sexy kitty on the prowl when it comes to my camera time.”
In what ways do you think your fans will be surprised by the new sound?
“I think they’ll be surprised because they’ll actually be listening to me and not just bouncing along with me, though they will do that too because I’ve included every aspect of my artistry from the Baltimore Club-infused ‘Class President’ to the London Grime-based ‘Choppin Necks.’ But I’ll really be getting inside their brains with the new vibesy sounds of ‘Dai 1,’ ‘My Lil Dance,’ and ‘730 (Ridding).’ I wouldn’t be surprised if OVO is kicking down my door to sign me once this drops.”
How was it working with new producers like Darq E Freaker and Chicken?
“Awesome, these guys have become like family to me. I used to hear ‘no’ a billion times, or ‘change this, do that, be more like that.’ It’s just an amazing feeling to finally have people in my corner who accept me as I am, and help to encourage and bring out the best in me. There’s so much more to come and really I see this as only the beginning.”
How has living in New York influenced your sound?
“Being a born and raised New Yorker is just something that can’t be taught or bought. My accent is strong and my demeanor is real. As a New Yorker you’re always aware of your surroundings and it makes us a good judge of character. These two skills alone are part of the reason I am where I am today.”
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a musician in 2015?
“The Internet. It is my favorite and least favorite part of being a musician in 2015. As quick as the Internet can make you is as quick as it can break you. You have to keep up with it because if not, you will easily be forgotten. But then you have overnight artists popping up left and right all because there’s a video option on Instagram. I attribute most of my success to online outlets, and I’m so grateful for all my online accolades. But it’s so sad that if I were to go one month without posting, all could possibly be lost. How crazy is that?”
What do you have planned for after the release of Dai 1?
“I am very excited because Dai 1 will my first ever project available on iTunes. The EP is also set for International Release in London, so I feel this will open up new windows and opportunities for me. I look forward to traveling more and expanding the Dai Burger brand.”