Los Angelos-based rock band Dorothy may be new to the music scene, but that hasn’t stopped them from hitting the ground running. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard some of their music without even really knowing it, considering their songs have been featured in commercials for Gatorade and Levi’s, hit television shows like Orange is the New Black and Pretty Little Liars and, most recently, in the movie trailer for the new Jonah Hill film War Dogs. And if that didn’t make you want to run out and get their new album ROCKISDEAD, then maybe the fact that Rolling Stone listed them as the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” will peak your interest. Lead singer, and the band’s namesake, Dorothy Martin chatted with DIME about ghost hunting, what it’s like to be on Jay Z’s label and the best advice she’s ever gotten from Lzzy Hale.
JENN DEVEREAUX: How’s the tour with The Struts been going?
DOROTHY MARTIN: It’s been going great. We have a lot of repeat offenders come out to our show. We just did a headlining radio show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and it was so much fun. The reception was very, very surprising. There were a lot of fans, and they were really excited so we’re glad we got to make them happy.
JENN DEVEREAUX: You’ve toured with Halestorm and Lita Ford, and you go back on tour with them for some fall dates this year. What’s it like having that much female badassery in one room?
DOROTHY MARTIN: So fun. They’re really, really cool girls. There’s no cattiness. It’s all just very supportive, like having sisters. I get to learn from people who have been doing this for so much longer than me, and it’s awesome. Actually, I was just talking about it with my guitar player, how excited we are to go on this tour again. A lot of their fans have been coming out to support us on this run with The Struts, and their fans are just amazing, super supportive and very much happy to see us and really stoked about the music.
JD: Best advice from Lzzy or Lita?
DM: Lzzy says “Fake it ‘til you make it.” <laughs> I don’t know if she was referring to guitar playing or just rocking out. It wasn’t so much advice as it was watching them tour, watching them perform, seeing them day-to-day and watching what they do. Lzzy is just the real deal and Lita is a legend, and you just soak that up when you’re around them.
JD: Your album is called ROCKISDEAD. What made you choose that for the title of the album?
DM: It was between me and my manager, George Robinson. I wrote down a ton of title ideas, and none of them really sounded that good. He brought that one up, and I started cracking up because I thought it was funny. So it was just us being stupid and funny and sarcastic. It just stuck out because everyone has been saying that for years, and obviously it’s not dead. So it’s just really funny to me.
JD: How did you approach the writing process for this album ?
DM: Each situation was different, and each song was different. I would get ideas at home, and sometimes it would be just a writing session with me and the producers, or I would have poems and lyrics I had written while traveling and things like that.
JD: When writing the lyrics did you already know in your mind how you wanted the music to sound?
DM: No, that’s kind of more of Mark [Jackson] and Ian [Scott]’s forte. The music would inspire lyrics a lot of the time or an idea I had would inspire them to create a sound for the song or the story I’m trying to tell.
JD: The song Gun in My Hand is one of my favorite songs off the album. In fact, I’m constantly listening to that song while driving — and singing very badly to it. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this?
DM: I had come out of a very, very tumultuous relationship before I started this band and this journey with this band. I had come out of a really bad, emotionally abusive relationship, and I also had lost my father. It was just a lot of grief and emotion, and I think it just had a very dark undertone. Through my voice, I wanted to express my pain. When love puts a gun in your hand, it’s almost like maybe you’re so tortured that you drink yourself sick or you self-destruct or you destroy the relationship or whatever it is, so the gun is not necessarily an actual gun. It could be a behavior. It’s a metaphor, you know? So, yeah, it was just an outlet for me to express how I was feeling because I was dealing with a lot of things that were just crumbling underneath the surface. I think I’ve let them go. I’m very, very grateful for where we’re at now, and getting to do music and perform live is awesome and so much fun. I guess if I went through all that, it was worth it.
JD: What’s it like being the first rock band signed to Jay Z’s label Roc Nation?
DM: It’s pretty cool. I guess it’s a talking point. I’m just glad they are an artist driven company and let us do us and be ourselves. And, you know, the music, obviously, it seems to be working. They are all really good people, and I love the company. They let me brainstorm, and they let me creative direct sometimes. They don’t try to make me be something I’m not.
JD: You did an excellent cover of Jay Z and Kanye’s “No Church in the Wild.” What made you decide to cover this song?
DM: I just really liked the song, and we just wanted to try covering a hip hop song and do something different.
JD: Do you have any favorite artists that are also signed to Roc Nation ?
DM: I love Rihanna. I really like the new Anti album that she put out. And Big Sean is really cool. I met him and got to see him perform at SXSW a couple of years ago, and he’s a really nice guy. There’s just a lot of really great artists. J. Cole is another artist that I love who’s very inspirational.
JD: Beyond music, what do you like to do in your downtime ?
DM: I like to paint and draw. I really like fashion and makeup. I really like horror films, like classic horror films. I like to ghost hunt. I definitely believe in spirits and that whole other side because I’ve seen things I can’t explain, and I was completely sober, so it’s not something I can really readily explain to you. I was with other people who saw it as well. This has happened like two or three times. I’ve taken photos where orbs or shapes or human-looking beings have appeared in the photo that weren’t there. So it’s very interesting to me. I’m very, very sensitive and somewhat psychic and intuitive. I have experiences that I just can’t explain, and I want to learn more about that, and if that’s a gift I have, I would love to develop it more.
JD: I want to talk about your affinity for film photography, which people can see on your Instagram. Do you have a favorite film camera to use while on tour?
DM: I have a Kodak from the 80’s. It actually broke recently, and I’m very sad but I’m going to try to find another one. It’s a 35 mm Kodak, and it has a flip up flash and they are very sensitive cameras so it broke easily. I got a lot of use out of it though. And right now Impossible has sent us a Polaroid camera and a ton of film so we’ve just been shooting Impossible Polaroid all over the place on tour. I love disposable cameras and I know that sounds silly but they take really good daytime natural photos. I just love Polaroid and the Impossible Polaroid picks up so much more detail and have more clarity than the Instax, which I use as well. My tour manager Candace takes a lot of photos of me when there is a cool background. But we like to shoot the band and what I’m doing is basically compiling a tour diary and I would like to publish somewhat of a yearbook when I have enough content. I would love to make it into like an art piece with lyrics and songs and things like that.
JD: You have some really awesome tattoos. Can you tell me a little bit about the meaning behind a few of your favorites?
DM: Yeah! I have archangel Michael on my back, which I got from Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood… Freddy Negrete did that piece, which I love, and I got it because I loved his artwork. I love angels and I see them all the time — not in a cuckoo way but just, like, in statues or paintings. I just really love them and think they’re beautiful, so I wanted to get one on my back. And then I have “Wildfire” tattooed on my knuckles, which kind of depicts my personality. I got it right after we put our EP out, so I get a lot of music lyric tattoos or things that are really meaningful, like things I see on the road or experiences I have. Those are definitely my favorites.
JD: Has there ever been a celebrity that showed up to one of your gigs and made you a little starstruck?
DM: You know, I’ve met a lot of celebrities and that is kind of a byproduct of living in Los Angeles or being in the music industry. I got starstruck when I met Jim Carey backstage at a Guns N’ Roses show, and I met Tom Cruise the same night. We were actually standing in a circle talking, and I looked to my left and didn’t realize that Tom Cruise was standing right next to me because he is so unassuming. I didn’t get starstruck by [Tom Cruise], but when I shook Jim Carey’s hand, I did because I was a huge fan of his growing up… Oh! And Erykah Badu! I don’t extensively know her music, but I did a duet with Seal randomly. It was the craziest birthday weekend. It was last year at Coachella. Jack White’s band played, and I got to hang out with Fergie, who is super awesome, and we were basically wearing the same outfit, so we were just geeking out on our outfits and watching Jack White’s band. Then we come home from Coachella to LA, and I got invited to the Opening Ceremony [party]. Seal was there, and he was like, “I love your hat! What do you do?” And we started talking. We went to a private dinner with my manager and part of my team, and Seal asked me to sing a Bob Dylan song with him. Then he introduced me to Erykah Badu, and I was completely starstruck because she was so beautiful in person and just had this amazing aura of energy around her. I don’t know. Something about her just really struck me, and she is just this very vibrant spiritual person. And then I went out to a bar with Ruby Rose and a friend of mine at the time, and Jack White and Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age were there. It was at Jumbo’s Clown Room, and they were fun to hang out with. I barely remember it because, again, it was my birthday weekend so people were buying me drinks. Jack also was like, “I like your hat” and I was like, “I just watched you play at Coachella, and it was mind blowing.” I didn’t even really know what to say to him, but I ended up taking an Uber with them to Chateau Marmont.
JD: What motto do you live by?
DM: “Be the captain of your own ship.”
JD: So what’s new in the works for Dorothy?
DM: Me and DJ Black have been writing a lot. We are going to get the band together and go over some songs and start recording new songs for album #2. Other than that we are just going to be touring a lot. I’ve been shooting a lot with a bunch of different editorial magazines and, you know, trying to stay creative. I’m really thinking about the future and a second album and how we are going to tie it into the first album but also explore new territory.