A Night Out
Chivalry isn’t dead — and that's in large part thanks to Dixie D’Amelio.
On a particularly balmy May night in New York, I have a girls’ night planned with D’Amelio: a few piercings at Studs and a sneak peek of her then yet-to-be-announced debut album, a letter to me, out June 10. D’Amelio is in town for various press and work engagements, staying at a chic hotel somewhere in midtown Manhattan. I’m with a friend in the East Village, about halfway between D’Amelio and our 7 p.m. appointment at the Nolita piercing parlor. It would be about a 15-minute walk for me — child’s play for New York in the spring — but D’Amelio insists on picking me up. When I hop into the back seat of the SUV, she greets me with a hug and a giant bouquet of white flowers — a gesture I’ll later learn was all Dixie when her publicist notes she had no prior knowledge of said gardenias. Five minutes in, this is already the best date of my life. Gentlemen, take note.
At only 20 years old, D’Amelio has already reached an insurmountable level of fame. What started off as a bored sister joining her younger sibling (the now 18-year-old Charli) on the social media app du jour (TikTok) has translated into about every facet of stardom. There’s a reality show (Hulu’s The D’Amelio Show), a YouTube channel, a clothing line called Social Tourist, and, of course, the followers — she currently boasts 25 million on Instagram and an additional 57.4 million on TikTok. But through it all, and perhaps always leading up to it, was music.
“I’ve never felt as connected with my music as I do with this new stuff,” D’Amelio says as we zip down Second Avenue. “I’ve been writing for two years, but I finally found a writer and producer who I could connect to, and we could sit and connect for hours.” As she explains, she pulls out her iPhone to connect to the car’s Bluetooth and play a few snippets of the new album (its first single “Wild” is out now). The few seconds I hear are instantly catchy, with slithering beats and a pop-rock vibe that fans and doubters alike will eat up. D’Amelio has never sounded better. “I'm confident in [this album],” D’Amelio says, returning her phone to her Burberry bag (after our date, she’ll head back to the East Village for the brand’s exclusive dinner at Lucien). “I think whatever happens with it is meant to be. I've talked to a lot of people and everyone who I've played it for has said very positive things. The little comments don't really bother me anymore because I'm just so excited.”
With the album, D’Amelio displays a new aura of confidence, one she embodies as soon as she steps into the store, as well. She’s decisive in choosing where to put two new holes in her head, opting for a double upper lobe piercing that she will adorn with a tiny skull and heart. Walking in, her ears are fairly untouched, especially by her sister Charli’s standards (D’Amelio estimates her sister has about 15 ear piercings, but hasn’t counted lately), but she’s surprisingly nonchalant about the whole thing. “In high school, I had a few more that I pierced myself with a pushpin,” she shares. “I'm pretty sure I have a video. I took it right off my wall and my sister and I went to my bathroom on a school night and just pierced each other's ears. It never got infected or anything, but I eventually just took the earring out.” For the record, this evening’s piercing is much more hygienic. D’Amelio winces as the needle pierces her ear. “Dang, I haven't gotten my ear pierced in so long,” she exclaims.
Back in the car, armed with two new piercings and strict cleaning instructions, D’Amelio’s attention turns back to the music. Over the past few years, she’s released a handful of songs, including the Wiz Khalifa-featuring “One Whole Day,” “F*CKBOY,” and the song that started it all, “Be Happy,” an ode to D’Amelio’s struggles with mental health that divided the internet and launched plenty of memes. Of all her old songs, “Be Happy” is the only one to make the new album. It’s D’Amelio’s way of embracing the past and standing up for herself. If Dua Lipa can reclaim her infamous hip-shaking dance every night on her world tour, D’Amelio can do the same with her track. “I enjoy ‘Be Happy,’ but I think there was so much negative attention towards it that it’s hard to say, ‘Oh, I love it,’” D’Amelio says now. “It was a great starting point.”
The whole album, she continues, is meant to be a journey, much like the one she took to find herself as an artist. “I feel like everyone's first [album] is always scary and different, but I also think it shows a lot of growth from the beginning,” she says. The album is also very personal to D’Amelio, hence the title, but its lyrics should not be taken as fully autobiographical. “There's no one theme throughout, besides just being yourself and going through different things,” she says. “There are breakup songs, but not specific breakup songs. They are situational. Nothing is for clout or attention because I'm trying to develop myself as a real artist. I think if I was like, ‘Oh, this is about my ex who you all know,’ it would take away from what I'm trying to do. It would just be TikTok drama.”
This summer, she will join Big Time Rush on a tour that will have her traveling across the U.S., playing venues like Madison Square Garden, where she played Jingle Ball 2021 less than a year ago. “I’m excited to perform more,” she says. “When I did Jingle Ball, I realized there are times like, ‘I love this song, but it sucks performing.’ I think ‘Psycho’ is my most fun song, but performing it was so boring and really hard to sing. Now all the songs I have I’m excited to perform.
“I have one song called ‘Not Enough’ that I'm really excited to perform,” she continues as we pull up to Lucien. She pauses, struggling to find the words to describe the songs. “I don’t know how to describe it actually,” she eventually yields. She leans over to give me a hug goodbye. “I feel like a surprise is always good.”