IAMDDB — Fearless Female

Danny Kasirye
Luci Ellis
Jessica Gianelli

Diana DeBrito is sexy, fearless and independent – a powerful force, who in the onslaught of 2020’s tidal wave of uncertainty, is finding strength in surrender. As a face of Agent Provocateur’s recent ‘Fearless Femininity’ campaign, the Lisbonborn, UK-bred artist who you probably know as IAMDDB, is widening her creative prospects whilst standing firmly in her feminine grasp. Showing gratitude for the support of her tribe, Diana divulges the blessings inherent in following the flow. And as fans wistfully await her debut album, DDB also unravels how her multicultural background has shaped her presence, and how digging to the root of her heritage has unearthed a lustrous new side to her and the music. Despite the preconceptions, we’ve been forewarned, IAMDDB is reclaiming the power that’s her’s – she’s not just “that trap artist” you might have thought she was.

Jessica Luostarinen top, Mimi Wade trousers, IAMDDB’s rings & bracelets worn throughout

Jessica Gianelli: Your independent spirit is palpable through the music and your presence. As you continue to delve this path in your own lane, who do you look to for support and inspiration?
IAMDDB: I have amazing friends. I call them my tribe because they literally keep me sane through the most turbulence. My tribe, my girls, my family, my mum especially. She’s a great support system. My manager as well. Currently, I’ve got myself a new team and they’re really supportive. They just allow me the space to create in to have the space and time to look after myself most importantly, and to develop and challenge the ideas that I have. I couldn’t ask for a better team.
JG: Many of your recent projects like Agent Provocateur’s ‘Fearless Femininity’ campaign pose an emphasis on feminine power and beauty. How has this year brought you closer to your power? What has allowed you to sit into it?
IAMDDB: 2020 has been a year of revelation. A lot of illusions are falling apart, a lot of people’s true colours are coming forward. It’s been a time of reclaiming a lot of my power. Through my sensuality, my sexuality, being the fearless female, doing sensual shoots, doing abstract shoots with fashion designers that I’ve never considered working with. Being open minded has definitely expanded my horizon, and it’s made me realise that the only thing standing in my way at times, is myself. 2020 is a year for women to stand in our power – to not be afraid to speak our minds or to express ourselves truthfully.
JG: Sitting into sensuality and sexuality makes me think of freedom for dream and fantasies, and with all the music you’ve been putting out and the album that’s coming soon, it feels like dreams and manifestations are something very fitting to discuss. So I wonder, do fantasies arise, and hit differently as your dreams unfold around you?
IAMDDB: 100 percent. When I first began this journey, I had a very specific mindset of how I was going to get to wherever I was going. But now I’m a lot more lucid, I’m a lot more fluid, and I’m not putting as much pressure on myself because I know I will always end up exactly where I’m supposed to be. In regards to fantasies and dreams, I feel like I’ve definitely understood this year that music isn’t going to be the only avenue I want to dip my toes in. I want to get into property. I want to get into farming and agriculture. I want to get into law. I want to get into green schools and wells, and clean water for Africa. There are so many  things that I can do. If connecting with the audience is going to happen through music then by all means, that’s what I’m going to do.
JG: And where did you begin? How did you end up where you are now?
IAMDDB: My dad is a musician. He had a studio at home, so I grew up around music. When I was maybe 17, 18, that’s when I really started getting into music, but then it was more of a hobby. Now, it feels like more of a responsibility to carry the right message. I have a responsibility to try and nurture this current generation in ways that will be fruitful in the following years. The intention behind the music has definitely changed. Now it’s wiser, and more aware, whereas three years ago I was really mad. I was just lit all the time, just gassed to be travelling the world. But when you see the impact you have on people at shows, and they send you mail saying that your music saved their life, it really makes you appreciate it. You become very mindful of how you carry yourself and the message you convey, whilst still trying to be true to yourself. It’s a whirlwind but we stan balanced.
JG: As Black women, our roots tend to be tight and strong – unyielding. Especially in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, we are reminded of the necessity to connect to where we come from, and to stand tall amongst our brothers and sisters of the world. What is it that your roots ignite in you?
IAMDDB: My roots remind me of who I truly am. It felt good living in the UK, but my mum always said to me, “please never forget that you may live here, but you were raised differently.” It’s super humbling to have such a tropical background, and it’s interesting to be able to incorporate that into new territory and that I can introduce people to the Portuguese language and bring an Angolan influence to England. The more you know about your history, the more you know about yourself currently, so it’s definitely interesting to go back home, to just have that reality check of a third world country, to see the struggle, the corruption, to see the ugly side, but also to see the beauty in a lot of the things we’re taught to not really show interest in.
JG: Do you feel like this multi-layered background has given you a unique perspective on what you do? And does it give you a certain voice that maybe other people wouldn’t be able to offer?
IAMDDB: If you compare it to someone who had lived in the UK all of their lives, they wouldn’t really have the perspective to be able to comment on certain things. They wouldn’t know about different cultures, or how warm people are abroad. So it’s definitely a blessing to be able to dip and dab through so many different cultures and feel so at home in them all. When delivering to the world, I can give an authentic perspective whilst giving an international taste rather than a perspective of being closed up just in one city.

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello coat & boots

MMRMS coat, stylist’s own earrings

Feng Chen Wang jacket & trousers

Halpern jumpsuit

JG: And for the music? How It’s made, who it’s made with – are there any big shifts you’re looking towards at the moment?
IAMDDB: With my debut album coming next, I’m able to delve deeper into my roots. Anybody that knows IAMDDB probably thinks I’m a trap artist, and that is the furthest thing from what I am. I’m actually jazz orientated. So with the album, I really aim to show a polished, new and improved version of DDB. I take them back to Africa, back to the roots of why I began this journey. The more laid back feels, the more intimate, vulnerable shares, as well as catering for the more commercial trap, neo-soul audience. I feel like 2020 has definitely got a new energy. I don’t really like to force things, I really just flow; If it feels right, if it connects, if it makes me feel good, then we go with it. It’s been such an interesting journey to work with different producers, different musicians, even writers, which I’ve been working with for the first time. It’s been a learning process and I’m enjoying it.
JG: What is something in your routine that keeps you going, that you’d never think twice about?
IAMDDB: Prayer, meditation and saging. I take sage and incense everywhere I go ‘cause you just got to make sure that the energy is correct, if it’s not, just sage and everything will be fine.
JG: 2020 has been a whirlwind, but blessings continue to uncover themselves as we allow resistance to dissolve around us. What does it feel like for you to surrender?
IAMDDB: To surrender is to show no resistance to what is, no matter what circumstances arise. It’s just a matter of moving through the waves gracefully and really just trusting in the unknown, trusting in the higher powers that everything happens for a reason and whatever lesson you’re facing currently, it’s necessary [in order] to develop who you are and to get you closer to where you’re supposed to be. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed. It’s really easy to forget that we’re all here on a mission, that we actually have a purpose, a mission to complete. When people focus less on the problems and more on their blessings, it’s a lot easier to surrender.

Givenchy top, pants, jacket & shoes

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello coat

Jessica Luostarinen top

Ashley Williams top & pants, stylist’s own earrings

Photography: Danny Kasirye
Styling: Luci Ellis
Makeup: Hila Karmand at One Represents
Hair: James Catalano
Photographer’s assistant: Jamie Sinclair
Words: Jessica Gianelli
Download your copy of issue 12 here