Friday night is Damaria Daniels’ night. While most are gearing up to jet off into the Houston nightlife, Daniels is preparing the last thing they’ll need before heading out: a reminder. Many choose Fridays as their day to escape and unwind. Their selective day to be assured that nothing can get in their way of a good time. Enjoy the vices, slip into something comfortable, be seen. It’s a mode of operation that has stood the test of time. In Damaria’s world, Friday night means it is time to pull back the curtains and navigate your own way to temporary mental freedom.
On three separate Fridays in September, Damaria shared information from her recently released Love Overdose (stylized Love
“I love the term ‘femme fatale,’” she says. “It’s even carved on my pocketknife.”
It’s a few days before Love
“Bob Marley’s 'Three Little Birds,' if I had a choice,” she says. “That was a tough one.”
The build-up towards Love
Beyond falling in love, Damaria once found herself hesitant to even pursue music full-time. Stuck in a job that yielded her no passion, she looked for an answer to show her the light. Surprisingly, she found it in the text of a man probably most famous for flubbing a pageant victory and being one-fourth of one of the greatest comedy concert films of all-time.
“Have you read Jump by Steve Harvey?” she asks. I squirrel off a few thoughts in my head without saying a word. “Steve Harvey?!”
She laughs, “I’m a national recruiter, so I pretty much just help people find jobs across the country. It’s a fulfilling job for that reason, but it takes a lot of time away from what I love to do. I rather spend that time creating of course. I was doing it last year with a different company, and I was working overtime constantly...having to work weekends. I got really depressed because I didn’t have time to make music... I was uninspired.
Then Jump came out right before my birthday," she continues. "I read the book, and put my two-week notice in soon as I [finished] it. I needed that time off to get my mind right and start a business plan. I quit my job in January. For six months I didn't do anything but work on my music and record. Now the company I’m at now isn’t as demanding; I have my weekends off. Plus I’m able to write music on the clock.”
I ask her about whether or not her co-workers have heard any of the material, or even caught wind of the “Never Find Another” video and she breathed a sigh of relief in regards to their support. “I haven’t shown my manager because I’m scared,” she says with a laugh. Still, there is one concern that she has that lingers, beyond a natural fear of spiders. “Regret,” she said with a bluntness.
“I’m afraid of not ever making music happen as a career ... which is why I invest as much time & energy as I possibly can into it.”
If there are any distinguishing fears within Damaria, most of it bleeds into the music. Keeping up the exterior of being strong is also a sign of vulnerability. “Thinkin’” and “How I Feel,” the two closers for Love
It speaks to her early inspirations, solo stars such as Janet Jackson and Aaliyah who defined their sensuality in their music and the vocal runs of the girl groups Destiny’s Child and TLC. Growing up as a choir kid, she couldn’t escape DC; it all came full circle last January when she performed in front of one of her childhood heroes, Kelly Rowland.
“That was so crazy for obvious reasons, I’ve been a huge Destiny’s Child fan since I was 9,” she says of the day, still conjuring up the same excitement as if it had just occurred moments before.
These days, making harmony-driven R&B like the sounds of her childhood isn’t as rapidly accepted as it once was. Most young artists get hunkered down into certain notes and cadences, trapping themselves into sounds or boxes. When it came time to record her EP, Damaria went in with a simple goal in mind: make the music for her, not to fit what someone would want.
“I think I just got to a point where I just wanted to make the kind of music I enjoyed listening to,” she says. “I love ‘90s R&B just like everybody else, and I wanted to help bring a similar feeling back...like that time period. Even though I sing R&B, I like my beats to knock. I’m a rap fan too, so I love hard drums in my beats. Beats that make your head bob.
"it gets difficult sometimes, so I try to find a balance with it," she continues. "I have a few tracks on Love
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Which brings us all the way back to the “Never Find Another,” video, the initial introduction where everything matches up. The glances, the feels, and allusions to Lynn Whitfield’s character of Brandi Webb in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and her favorite knife. A small script tattooed on her forearm simply reads “Faith.” As Damaria sighs and prepares to start her day over again tomorrow, she hugs onto one thing about her that won’t soon be forgotten.
“I’m comfortable in my skin, and in my imperfections,” she says. “I don’t have a perfect body according to today’s beauty standards. But I love my body. It took me a long time to get to this point. And I’m not afraid to express sensuality with my music. I’m actually kinda proud of myself. You kinda gotta know you’re the shit and have the right confidence. Cause it’s gonna be a lot of people trying to say otherwise.”
Hear Damaria’s Love