Emotional, avant-garde and independent are three words local Denton pop artist, Dahlia Knowles, also known as Lorelei, uses to describe her music. Beginning to play the piano at a young age and expressing her love for music with family and friends, she has been writing songs and pursuing her pop music career since she was 15.
Dahlia began her career as Lorelei when she was 17. Going into the pop industry, Dahlia was drawn to the genre due to pop being an open and broad category. Dahlia uses her music to express her feelings on tough issues and share her own life experiences with others.
“I think whenever I first started getting interested in making pop music specifically, it was just a bit of a different place in my life,” Dahlia said. “I like the accessibility of that and how the genre of pop is such a huge umbrella. There are so many different ways you can go about making pop music and at the time, I was really interested in this kind of fun, sort of dance-y music. It’s a means of expressing difficult emotional topics but in a kind of glittery and glamorous sort of tracks. That’s what I was doing at the time when I started Lorelei.”
Dahlia is an independent artist and makes all of her own music. She is her own manager, booker, social media manager and writes all of her music and lyrics. Being an independent artist poses some challenges, Knowles said, especially financially.
“As a local or independent artist, the most difficult thing is a lot of financial strain,” Dahlia said. “With not having a label, not having a manager, not having a booker and having to be all those things for yourself really call into question what you truly want from music. Artistry, I could be as fulfilled just writing and doing my music on my own and have my music for myself, but since I want it to be received in a certain way, I have to take on a lot of jobs and a lot of work.”
Although Dahlia puts in a lot of work for her music on her own, she has the help of her producer at Civil Audio in Denton, Michael Briggs.
Briggs and Dahlia have worked together since 2016 and has helped Knowles produce her one album and her new one set to release Oct. 25. Briggs is inspired by Knowles’ creative abilities and her work ethic when it comes to making these albums.
“[Dahlia] is one of the most creative, inspired, motivated and imaginative people that I know,” Briggs said. “She is a very talented musician and an amazing and very prolific songwriter. Producing her last two albums has been a joy and a great creative collaboration. [Knowles] definitely inspires me to continue to be creative and to think outside the box. Her style is a bit left of center and it’s always more fun to take that creative license together and see where it takes us.”
Although Dahlia is in charge of everything when it comes to her music on top of managing her personal life, she continues to push through for the end result and being able to hear her final products. Being a transgender woman in the music industry, Knowles finds inspiration within the LGBTQ+ community and the Denton area to help her keep going. Knowles said there are some challenges that do come with being a transgender artist, but with the support she finds through community, she is able to overcome them.
“It’s an interesting position to be in,” Dahlia said. “I like it, I enjoy being transgender and being able to be an image to other transgender independent artist. It’s empowering really. It is just a lot harder to be taken seriously. I think women artists in general have the struggle of being taken seriously for more than just the image and having music being taken seriously for just itself. Most of my ride-or-dies are in the queer and art umbrellas in some way, shape or form. There is like a whole little tribe of [LGBTQ+ artist] just sort of existing.”
Dahlia is grateful for the accepting North Texas area and for her family and friends. Coming from the area, Dahlia finds it easier to feel accepted everywhere when traveling to play shows.
“I think North Texas in general has been pretty open and accepting of what I do for the most part,” Dahlia said. “Denton is super open and having Denton as my home base helps a lot when I’m on tour and faced with sketchy, weird or scary positions. Having this backing support makes me feel good.”
Growing up, Dahlia played music with her brother, Denton resident Charles W. Knowles, and continues to do so to this day. The two began writing music together when they were 15 and 17. Dahlia is grateful for her brother being involved in her musical career. Dahlia said it helps to have her brother’s support when it gets hard because he reminds her that this is what she truly wants to pursue.
“It feels amazing watching Dahlia pursue her dreams. I know she always wanted to be a pop star and I truly believe that we’re just a few years away before she’s a household name,” Charles W. said. “I see how much time and effort she puts into her music and aesthetic and I’m more than confident that she will only become more successful in her craft as time goes on. She’s killing it in every way and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s amazing seeing someone from our family go out and pursue dreams so aggressively.”
While Dahlia faces many challenges in the music industry, there are many rewarding moments. According to Dahlia, being able to perform in front of a live audience makes everything worth the while.
“Touring is what I want to be doing forever,” Dahlia said. “I love being on the road and performing music for people who have never heard me before. Just knowing that my music has brought me to all these different cities and is bringing me to all these new cities is why I’m doing it. I love playing live.”
“Lightbender,” Dahlia’s sophomore album, will be available on all streaming platforms on Oct. 25. Although this is her sophomore album, Dahlia said she feels like it is her first due to the amount of work put in and how different the album is from her other. “Lightbender” is the strongest album she has released, Dahlia said.
“The hustle can be so rewarding, but it is not for the weak,” Dahlia said. “You have to keep that single vision in your head super clear. You have to have this single stream line idea and chase that only. I can be working on a song for months and months at home and it can sound a certain way, but once it’s finally to a point where I’m performing it in front of a group of people and I’m feeling this type of way about it, it’s really magical.”
Dahlia said there is nothing that can prepare you for the amount of work it takes to be a musician, especially as a solo artist.
“You have to be really ready,” Dahlia said. “There are no days off and it’s a constant hustle.”
Featured Image: Lorelei K poses for a portrait at Jupiter House in Denton, Texas, on Sept. 23, 2019. Image by Hope Alvarez