interview by JANA LETONJA

Polynesian-American singer-songwriter and former Fifth Harmony member Dinah Jane returned with two fun, island-style singles, ‘Ya Ya’ and ‘Falling In Love’, after a three-year break. Later this year, Dinah is set to release her first solo album, which will infuse her Polynesian culture, island reggae, and other personal influences, creating new sounds in our favorite R&B and pop genres.

Dinah, you just returned back on the music scene with two new singles, ‘Ya Ya’ and ‘Falling In Love’. What can the fans expect from this new era in your career?
This era, I’m really focused on storytelling through my music, putting my Polynesian heritage at the forefront of my projects and giving the world a glimpse into who I’ve always been underneath the image I was steered away from. I’m also finding beauty in meshing my Hollywood glam life and my ‘at home’ Dinah Jane life, which loudly consists of my family playing a huge part in it. As perfect as I would love and hope for this era to be for me, it’s only realistic to admit that mistakes and failures will be made and I’m not afraid or ashamed of any obstacles I face in front of my fans. It only makes this journey more authentic and thrilling.

dress TIBI

How has this three-year break given you the chance to reflect and develop as an artist?
This break was the biggest blessing in disguise. I was constantly running from my issues and traumas. This break forced me to stop running and face these trials head on. It’s opened my view and my heart to changes I needed to make in the world around me. I’m grateful for how everything played out and unfolded. In the circumstances I’ve been dealt with, it really pushed me to finally put Dinah first. And as selfish as that still felt hearing or saying out loud, it took many lessons for me to grasp, to understand and actually live that phrase. I’ve had such a heavy hand in bettering and saving others’ lives around me, that in serving others, I was forgetting to pour into me.

Soon, you’ll be releasing your first solo album, which is based off you finding your identity as a solo artist and looking further into your Polynesian heritage. Why is incorporating your island heritage into your music so important to you?
There isn’t much of us number wise thriving in this mainstream music world. It’s a whole different ball game than where we comfortably place ourselves in the market. I did an AAPI music camp this past year and I was unfortunately outnumbered by the lack of representation that was in the room. It saddened me, yet I truly felt inspired to knock down walls, doors, buildings, you name it, to fill our people in these spaces. I live and breathe the values and morals that come with my culture. It’s not only important to me to bring the beauty of our people to such platforms, but for the next generation of children to feel encouraged to reach for their dreams. Your dreams aren’t impossible to reach or bring to life, as it was told to me throughout my childhood. If you work hard and keep your faith throughout the process, you’ll bring life into those dreams and proudly share it to the world. There’s more to us than Luaus.

What inspired you the most while creating this album?
My lived experiences. All my records are a reflection of events either me or the people in my circle have been through. I’m a storyteller if you haven’t heard from the previous records I’ve released. It just gets more honest from here. I’ve traveled a lot this year as well and with some of my favorite trips to Hawaii and Australia I’ve only felt more thrilled and excited to release these gems.

What is the main message to the listerens of the upcoming album? How do you want them to feel while listening to it?
When I was creating this project, I was just trying to tell my story and find my identity again. I didn’t realize that these records were feelings that I held deep down inside and never actually vocalized. I hope this project encourages people to walk in their truths, embrace the beauty in their scars and be proud of all their flaws. Sonically, it’s a unique wave of sounds I’m creating and incorporating. The music I’m truly connected to and obsessed with is the one that makes me feel something. So, I hope the listeners take away an emotional feel and connection to this project.

top and skirt TIBI
hosiery FALKE
shoes LANDON

Prior to embarking on a solo career, you’ve been part of the successful group ‘Fifth Harmony’, that was formed during ‘The X Factor’. How challenging was it embarking on a solo career path, after performing in a group for so many years?
It was difficult because I invested so much of myself into being Dinah Jane of ‘Fifth Harmony’ that I didn’t really know who Dinah Jane the solo artist truly was. It was a process, but I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through because it led me here with a full understanding of my purpose, the woman I am working on becoming and the example I want to lead.

From the years in the group, you have amassed a large fanbase. How has this fanbase encouraged you on your path as a solo artist?
My fans mean the absolute world to me. They are always encouraging, very creative and are extremely active and loud. When I had a period of running away from home and from work, I would go to little dingy bars and clubs thinking no one would recognize me and fans would be like “Dinah Jane? What are you doing here?”, blasting my whereabouts knowing damn well I shouldn’t be in these certain locations because they knew my value more than I did for myself at the time. They can be very involved with my personal life, but they have these safe boundaries where they ain’t knocking me down to feel less. I’m glad my fan base ain’t no bullies and I know it’s only because they love me that they’ll go into protection mode, like a mother would do for her babies. I’m so grateful for them. I’m truly blessed with the best.

When you’re not performing, you’re quite a beachy gal. What are some of your biggest passions outside of music?
I am a Cancer, so you know us water signs need to be near the ocean and that’s where I feel so at peace, connected and grounded. My current passion is pickleball. My entire family is addicted and it’s truly our family’s love language. I also like to hang out with my girlfriends. I have my local girls in Cali, Utah and in Australia. It’s a hobby trying to keep up with them all. I also tried cooking a few times, trying to see if the passion will hit me at some point, but I really have no patience. All I know is my future husband better be a great cook to secure all our meals.

full look NOORA HEFZI

You love to include your Polynesian culture into your everyday life. Tell us more about this rich culture and how it is a part of your everyday life.
Family is the center of our culture, everything revolves around respecting and strengthening the family. It’s such a beautiful thing that can also be a little overwhelming at times because doing things for yourself is sometimes frowned upon. My family and I did so much work on creating boundaries so that our love can flourish. I’m so grateful to be from a race of warriors. When I’m facing trials and tribulations, I remember that I have ancestors on the other side pulling for me and strengthening me. We conquered the Pacific Ocean and forged new civilizations by being fearless and relentless in our pursuits. I lean on that method daily with all the things the music industry can throw your way.

Dinah, with the release of your album, what else is coming up next for you?
I’m creating my own music label for the next generation of Polynesian artists. I want to create a freeing place for artists to feel seen and heard. There’s so much work to do, so many rooms to fill. You just got to hop on the journey and ride it out with me to see the way it unfolds.

talent DINAH JANE @dinahjane 
photographer and creative director MEKHI TURNER @mekhiturner 
stylist JACQUELINE TREVIZO @jacquietrevizo
co-creative directors FELIX AVITIA & NATALIE SAKSTRUP @thefelixavitia @nataliesakstrup
hair DOUG MENGERT @_douglasjack
makeup DOM DELLA @domdella
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen