Identity

Singer and Activist Dounia on Being Young, Educated, and Politically Active

From attending the Women's March to releasing her first album, Dounia tells Broadly about her life-changing year.

by Linda Yang
Dec 30 2017, 2:16pm

Photo courtesy of Dounia

Dounia Tazi is a 20-year-old model, activist, and singer-songwriter raised in Morocco and Queens.

This October, Dounia independently released her first album titled Intro To . Before that, she cultivated a huge online following for her outspokenness about the issues she holds important. She is a Black Lives Matter-supporting body positive role model hellbent on destroying Eurocentric beauty standards who started her year advocating for intersectional dialogue at the Women’s March.

As 2017 comes to a close, Broadly caught up with Dounia to learn more about her new album, what she thinks we should do post-repeal of net neutrality, and what a moment of pure joy looks like in the dumpster fire that was 2017.

BROADLY: What’s your most memorable moment of 2017?
DOUNIA TAZI: It would have to be releasing my 8-song album Intro To. I’m proud of every song on it.

Intro To was your first foray into releasing music independently. What did you learn from that process?
I learned everything that I know about music from that process. I recorded the EP when I had no insight on the inner-workings of music. I was clueless. For me, it was a casual thing. I recorded it all within a span of seven days. It just gained a lot of weight and significance along the way and became this amazing, life-changing maneuver.

You told Dazed that we’re living in an age where music lacks authenticity and musicians are too busy putting on personas. Do you think your music cuts through that?

Absolutely. If I’m anything in my music, I’m authentic to myself. The other day I was listening to Eminem, and this man, he’s telling people he fell off and can’t write music anymore. He’s giving people an accurate representation of himself. That’s really rare nowadays. I want my music to constantly be documentation of what’s happening in my life. I’m okay with people knowing how I feel and what I’m going through.

You’re not only transparent in your music but also on social media, where you're known for strongly advocating for social justice and body positivity. You’ve also garnered a large following. Have you seen that following grow and evolve as you do?
I’m living life and talking about the things that I care about. I do think that my audience has grown with me. I think that they’re really cool and they understand my perspective and are figuring out their own, too.

You started this year in DC at the Women’s March, what was the experience like?
It was a cool experience. It was a lot more diverse with more intersectional dialogue than I expected and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go. To see if there was actual impactful dialogue in a setting like that, that could easily just be on some white feminism.

Since the Women’s March have you continued to see young people entering and becoming active in political spheres?
I think most young people are politically engaged. We kinda have to be. Young people have platforms that are imperative to be engaged if you have this seemingly limitless reach. It wouldn’t make sense for us to not be concerned about policies that directly affect our lives.

How did you feel when the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality? What were you worried about?
When the vote happened, I wasn’t surprised at all. I don’t think people understood where the concern around the repeal of net neutrality came from. For me, the repeal means less opportunities for lower class people and a continued amount of opportunity for people with already abundant resources. That was how I viewed it. It means a step toward deeper economic disparity.

It’s generally just important to stay educated. People are quick to feel hopeless and often bypass the first step which is to genuinely understand what’s occurring to you and your community. Power rests in knowledge.

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2017 has brought ups and mostly downs. Looking back, did you experience any moment of pure joy?
A lot of moves have been made this year, I’m very blessed. A moment that sticks out to me was my EP release party earlier this year. It got shut down because the venue was crazy and I’m not 21 yet. I ended up inviting everybody to my apartment in Queens. Then it dropped and made it onto the iTunes top 10 R&B chart. That felt crazy. I was extremely gagged.

You're turning 21 in 2018. Is that what you’re looking forward to in the New Year?
I’m turning 21 in March. I’m excited for it just because it’s sort of inconvenient being 20. I’m also extremely hyped for a few collabs I have coming up in 2018; I also have videos coming out. 2018 is generally going to be fire.