Signed to Method Records, Liv Dawson has been obsessed with music since she was 10 years old, an obsession that manifested itself in repeatedly watching Whitney Houston YouTube videos and learning every track from Dreamgirls OST, which she’d belt out on long and boring car journeys.
These days, the 18-year-old’s love of music has taken a different direction, as she’s fast becoming known in her own right. Born and raised in the sleepy suburban town of Shepperton, which sits on the outskirts of London, the singer-songwriter has always known that musical prowess was her long-term goal. She’s been dreaming of achieving prestige as a vocalist for as long as she can remember, calling upon Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill and Etta James for inspiration.
Despite still being in those oh-so-sweet late teen years, the fashionable singer has already racked up an impressive list of collaborators which includes Adele’s co-writer Tobias Jesso Jr, BRIT-award winning dance duo Disclosure and the super eloquent Oscar-winning wordsmith Jimmy Napes – not bad for a teen who is yet to release her first album.
Her collaborative relationship with Napes is one that she feels is an advantage over her peers. “We’ve grown together over the past couple of years, so we really understand each other when collaborating,” she says of the writer, who last year won an Academy Award alongside Sam Smith for their Spectre Bond theme. Together, Dawson and Napes have worked on her sensation singles ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Reflection’. Their perfectly interchanging tempo and pitch assisted by mature lyricism and layered beneath an emotive and gorgeous vocal has attracted attention from the likes of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Beats 1, firmly placing her on the map of the future.
Liv’s powerful writing capabilities are something that she says is in part because she’s still so young. “I feel being the age I am, I naturally bring lots of quick changes in my life, so in that sense, it influences what I’m writing about day to day,” she tells us. “In the last six months, I’ve definitely felt I’ve found my way.”
A further testament to Liv’s fast-building career was her recent sold-out show at London’s Omeara. Having been practically brought up on stage as a result of her dad taking her to open-mic nights, she’s grown used to testing out her material to a pub-full of punters. Despite this, she insists she still gets nervous, “I think everyone does, if I wasn’t nervous, I think there’d be something wrong.” She also admits that she loves the buzz of being on stage, confessing that she gets a thrill out of being able to perform in front of hundreds of people. Large crowds are something which she’s all too familiar with, especially after supporting British electric-soul duo HONNE on their UK tour. “I grew up spending a lot of time in the studio not seeing daylight, so finally going out on the road and performing my songs was different, to begin with. I really had to adjust, but now I love it,” she says.
Currently working on her debut album, Liv says that her “picky” personality is making it difficult to decide what to include in the final track list, but assures us that despite the success of her releases thus far, she’s not feeling the pressure. “I’m writing as much as possible at the minute. I’m in a good space right now, and I realise I have so much room to grow as an artist.”
Aside from working on her debut, Dawson’s year is already filling up nicely. She’s penned in a few festival appearances and tells us that she plans to set some more headline tour dates later in the year. “I’ll continue to release more music as well and hopefully have people continuing to connect with and enjoy my music,” she adds. If her trajectory of first-rate collaborators and ultra-catchy singles are anything to go by so far, it’s fair to say that Dawson has a very healthy career ahead of her.
Words Ryan Cahill
Photography Charlie Cummings
Fashion Kiera Liberati and Sian Saunders
Hair & makeup Lucy Thomas using Bumble & Bumble, Illamasqua, MAC Cosmetics
Hair & makeup Assistant Emma Temple, fashion assistants Shereena A-Grey