Interview with Dahlia Schweitzer - Part II - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen Women + Work Leading Ladies im September 2023 - Beitrag vom 25.04.2005

Interview with Dahlia Schweitzer - Part II
Sarah Ross + Sharon Adler

She´s an all-rounder, and her work is always an infatuated, provocative and multimedia-based snap-shot of the current events. Read more about Dahlia in the following close-up.

AVIVA-Berlin: What was your intention when you established the community website "Rocker-Chick"?
Dahlia Schweitzer: I started it in spring 2000. When I first started to play bass in New York, I started this all-girl punk band, and one of the things that was really difficult for me was the fact that I felt no sense of community between female musicians in New York. There were so few female musicians and female bands that it was a shame. New York is full of bands! And everyone is a boy-band. And you got so frustrated sometimes. I organized a night in New York - it was called Rocker Chick - and it was a monthly night.. It was me and my band playing, and there was another local girl-band invited. I started holding on to the contact information of each band that played, because finding a different girl-band every month was really hard. So it slowly accumulated a sort of database. And then I thought that these people should know each other, there should be some kind of back and forth between these people! Then I started a listserv, like a newsgroup. And I invited every female musician that I could find, and that was how it started. Then I thought: "Oh, let´s see what´s at", and there was nothing. And I was like: "Oh, I should do something!" The original idea was just to do an online calendar, where you could see when the chick-bands were playing in New York. And I also started doing reviews on music stores in New York, because when girls need to go to get their guitar fixed, where can they go where no one says "oh, is this your boyfriend´s guitar?". And I thought, there are so many fantastic women in New York who are doing these great things. I want to provide them, get them publicity, interviews, whatever! And that was how the site evolved. I created this resource which I had wanted and didn´t have. And I thought: "Well, if someone has to do it, I´ll do it".

AVIVA-Berlin: What was your inspiration for "Striped"?
Dahlia Schweitzer: Striped was an attempt to take a journal entry what I had written, and turn it into a song. And striped was written right before I moved to Berlin. It was about not having the patience to sit still and wait with things, and saying: "I haven´t learned yet how to stop, how to turn it off!" Despite being really nervous and afraid of what Berlin might having start for me (?), I couldn´t just walk away from it, I had to go, and try to do it.

AVIVA-Berlin: "Truth or dare"?
Dahlia Schweitzer: Truth or dare came out of these interesting photos that I did when I came to Berlin in August. They were later on the TIPP cover. Looking at the photos, and thinking about the whole interesting apparent contradiction when you get really dressed up: You can communicate more of who you are than when you´re not dressed up. You can liberate yourself by putting on the make up and the wig, and cover yourself up with these lies! You can actually be more honest than if you´re just standing there in your everyday clothing. And so, that song is an attempt to communicate this duality and contradiction. In your day to day life you feel that you are very trapped: You can´t shout, you can´t scream, you can´t dare things, you can´t stand on a table, you are a well-behaved girl! And when you get on stage, and you put on the wig and the makeup, you become someone else. You have a freedom to act. For me, this is a lot of what performing is about! When I get on stage, I do have confidence that I don´t have off stage. And when I put on the wig, It´s almost like: "Ah, I´m someone else, how liberated!". But at the same time, the song is about presenting myself as this fake person, but in a way that you can´t draw the conclusion of who I am. You still have to make an effort to get to know me. And that is kind of what this song is about.

AVIVA-Berlin: What are your goals, where do you want to go?
Dahlia Schweitzer: I want to be a role model! I am one of those people who do over think things all the night, and my had goes round and round. I am always like "Am I happy, am I not happy, what do I want, where do I want to go, what am I doing?". And I think like many artists, I also have lots of insecurities about my work. Especially because my work is in so many different mediums. Sometimes you fell like: "Oh this is really, really great!", because I have these ideas that I want to communicate, and I can communicate them through all these different outlets. But in other times, you end up very fragmented. I want to be an artist who feels like: "my message is being communicated!".
Sometimes I think: "I am good at organizing parties, maybe I should organize parties fulltime? I have a background in branding and marketing consulting! People have noticed, people have listened to what I´ve said!" And that´s why I know that I could never live a life where I wake up every morning and go to the same job, and come back home to my husband and kids, and go to bed, and am quiet and well-behaved. I need to feel that I don´t just live in one city. I need to feel that I am larger than one city that I need to feel like: "Hello, can you hear me, do you know what I am trying to say?". And that is what keeps pushing me forward.

AVIVA-Berlin: If you would have a kid, what would be the message that you would give to the child?
Dahlia Schweitzer: I think you learn a bit from your parents - mistakes. I think the most important thing that I would do is to tell my child that he or she could be whatever they wanted. There are so many people who I have seen, who live lives, because they feel they should, because they trapped into that. Because they are too afraid to get off the beaten past, and they are miserable! And on one hand, part of me does crave the safety, stability, and having a normal real job. But there is no way to go back to that, because I would feel like my soul was locked in a box! To me it is important to feel that I can do what ever I want! My father told me when I was 21, 22 maybe, that I was wasting my time for a singing career and music, because I was already to old. That it was a too risky career path, and I should do something that was more dependable. And if my kid says: "I would like to be an astronaut", I would say: "Go for it!" This is something that I actually do have in common with my mother. I would rather be incredibly poor, but somehow spiritually fulfilled, than have a million dollars in the bank, and have a job I hated. As long as I have enough money to eat and pay my rent, and survive, am happy. And I can´t live in the other way. I definitely would encourage my children to really do what they want: if you work hard, you can accomplish anything.

AVIVA-Berlin: So that is your philosophy: "Go for your dreams!"
Dahlia Schweitzer: Yes, and fear is the biggest weakness! Absolutely! I really don´t think it is about talent or luck. It is maybe 30% talent and 70% hard work! And I know that I have a lot of fears and insecurities which hold me back as a person. If I didn´t had this fears and insecurities, and if I didn´t have parents who are like: "Go get it, you can do it!", who knows where I would be now! I still have been held back by fears and insecurities, and I hate it when I look at people where I can see on their face "Oh, I really would like to that, but I can´t". To me it is like: "If you want to do something, just do it!".

AVIVA-Berlin: What are your fears?
Dahlia Schweitzer: I am incredibly insecure about my singing, I am a very shy singer. This is part of the reason why I have this kind of spoken word, kind of style, because I am really insecure about singing. When I first started my band in New York, I wrote all the songs, but in the first two years, I gave them to someone else to sing, because I was too afraid of being on stage. And I still have this very love-hate relationship with performing.I get really nervous beforehand. So, I am very insecure about my singing, which holds me back - I don´t even know how much! I did it, but very insecure. I really wanted to learn how to play guitar, and for some reason the guitar terrifies me. I am also very insecure about my body image, like I think many women are.I also have this kind of love-hate relationship with that. On one hand I´m like: "I´m gonna wear these outfits on stage, even if my body isn´t perfect". But than I hate the fact that I get insecure, and I am neurotic about going to the gym, and exercising, and watching what I eat. I have this whole sort of "up-and-down-thing" that I think so many women have. On one hand I hate myself for it, because my body is o.k. But you do fall into this trap: one inch smaller here, and one inch bigger here.
I am also a shy person! And I have too often give myself a pep talk to push myself into social situations. But I think what saves me is the fact that I am such an impatient person. That I can´t allow myself to sit at home and be shy. Because I have these things that I need to do, and I have to accomplish, and I know that in order to do them, I have to be out, I have to be public, I have to do these things, I have to get attention! But I do go back and forth. I have a couple of nights where I go out, and I am very social or whatever, and then I hide in my room for three days. I think that is one of my big problems.

AVIVA-Berlin: You have been a management consultant or a marketing consultant. Did it help to establish your own brand?
Dahlia Schweitzer: I definitely learned from it. But I think, what I ended up learning from my work was to listen to my intuition. I didn´t learn marketing and branding in school. I worked for Loreal, and it was a really interesting work, because so much of what I do, has to do with reaching out to women, and trying to help make them feel beautiful. It is like: "What is it that women are looking for? What is it that makes women feel special?". For me, it was an interesting experience to do it, and to put out my ideas. It gave me a kind of courage, I am good at this, I can do this! That has definitely been helpful for what I do. To look at myself with this detached perspective, and think: "What is it that women are looking for, what is it that they need, what is it that they want? What is it that they see when they project on to me?". It is very interesting to me to talk to people after my shows, and see what they get out of it. And sometimes you get that existence between being and seeming, because they look at me, and I know they don´t see Dahlia! They see Dahlia, or something. They see their projection of who they think I am! And sometimes that is a complete fabrication, it is not real, but it is interesting. It is interesting to see what holes in their life they fill through their projections on me. I find that very interesting.

More about Dahlia Schweitzer:

Women + Work > Leading Ladies

Beitrag vom 25.04.2005