MILK.XYZ International: Dafina Is Turning Queens Into Kings
Swedish-born musician Dafina has had a busy few months—she just dropped her new single “Told Ya” off her forthcoming EP King, released a music video for “Four Seasons” featuring French Montana, and being featured on French’s track “Jungle Rules” on his most recent album, Jungle Rules. After growing up in Sweden and moving to Kosovo to pursue music, the musician began to gain traction, eventually leading her to New York and LA.
Now, the singer is finally ready to make her mark in the US with her new EP King, dropping later this year. The singer stopped by Milk to talk the story behind her album name, working with French Montana, her new track “Told Ya,” and more. Also, peep the premiere of her new lyric video for “Told Ya.”
You just released your new single, “Told Ya.” Can you tell me about it?
Definitely, I’m super excited about it. It’s actually one of my favorite songs off of the EP. When I found out that that was gonna be my second single, I was like yes, yes, yes. Growing up a tomboy, I would get attention for the energy I had, but at the same time, I would get bullied for not being feminine enough, for not being whatever. Growing up and becoming more feminine, I would look back and be like, I told you. I would help people, I’d be nice to other people, and I would wonder why people took it for granted. I thought everyone thought and acted the same way as me. A lot of people go through this, so we decided to write a song about this, and say don’t get too comfortable or take my kindness as weakness. I know my energy is strong, I am who I am, so be cool with me and I’ll be cool with you. Somebody should’ve told you. I’m just super excited, everything is happening at the right time, the timing is right.
Totally. Do you want to talk about “Four Seasons” and the music video? It’s so cool.
Yeah, thank you so much. We were out in Miami, Rick was going through some instrumentals for the EP, and the Four Seasons instrumental came on, and I’m a sucker for old R&B. It just gave you that relationship kind of emotion, when you listen to it you just start vibing and writing about how relationships change like the seasons. Everyone goes through this, no matter if you break up or meet someone or stay together, things go different ways like the seasons. We shot the video in LA and we needed a male lead, and French Montana is like family to us. I was like, man, I wish French could be in the video. We hit him up, and he said yeah, he’s always wanted to support. We’ve known each other for a couple years now through Rick, so that was even more exciting. The video came out so cool, we had so much fun. I’m just overwhelmed by everything, it’s super exciting.
You said “Four Seasons” is about relationships, and the other one was more about you growing up. Is the EP about different parts of your life?
The EP is called “King” because I feel like women nowadays, and even back in the day, work like kings, but we were always called queens. We are just as powerful, we’re doing a lot of similar things. I was born and raised in Sweden, and the mentality over there [Kosovo] was totally different, that the man is in control and you can’t have more money or power than the man. In my household, we were just women. I was the tomboy but I was like, no, this is some bs. My EP is about empowering women, saying we should be on the next dollar bill. If you look back in history at women who fought through harder times than now, they gave us the opportunity. It’s up to us to take it to the next level, and inspire the next generation of youth and for them to take it to the next level. People say it’s never gonna happen, but I don’t like that. We always have to take it to the next level. The EP is about relationship, growth, and women empowering.
You said you grew up in Sweden. When did you move to New York?
I’ve been back and forth between Kosovo and New York for about six years since I met Rick, my producer, in 2012. I grew up in Sweden, going to children’s festivals, but then it reached a point where I had to decide to go out on my own. I decided to go back to my roots, go back to where my mother was born, Kosovo, and I was feminist because I was like they need this energy and power. It was so hard. Coming to a different country, people look at you different and say, who does she think she is, coming here and thinking she’s gonna take over and take it to the next level. They said I needed sponsors, I needed men to help me. I worked hard, and it was tough because it was a new thing. I’m proud because the youth and the fans I have now understand that we can do it too. You can do anything, you just have to believe in it. I love the energy here, the hard work, it’s basically what I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid. This is where I wanted to be. Being here, taking this big step in my life, it’s amazing.
How did you get from Kosovo to New York?
I got stuck over there. My plan was to go over there, make some nice music, see how it goes, and then come to the states. I was over there for ten years. I felt like I was losing myself – I wasn’t being myself as a person and I wasn’t being myself as an artist. I told myself, it’s time for me to travel. I chose to go to New York to free my mind and luckily I found myself over here, I met up with Rick through a close friend, and him and I just clicked. Everything made so much sense. Everything happens for a reason. I needed to do a change for myself, and when I came here, everything turned around.
How would you describe your music and your musical influences?
I’ve always had problems expressing myself. It’s hard to get it into words. Music really helped me to express myself through my lyrics and to me, it’s amazing that I can share how I view life, through my eyes, with other people. There’s a lot of people who can connect to my music and feel the same way, and it’s helped me a lot – it’s been like therapy. It’s a great help to people who’ve been going through things. You can tell by the tone in someone’s voice in their music whether they really mean it, whether they’ve been through it all. My influences? Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Mary J, Whitney – all these ladies were powerful women in their own way. Their music was powerful, their image was powerful. When I was a kid, that was my dream, I wanted to become these incredible women who were gonna make younger women feel the same way they made me feel. My music is like old-school R&B mixed with hip-hop, a little pop, and it’s amazing to me that I can do music that’s like what I grew up with. I don’t need to make music to be in, to be popular and have shows or whatever. I’m making something special.
Can you talk about the vibe of your album or who you’re working with?
My manager/producer Rick is like my mentor, best friend, and I told him he can never leave my side in this life and in music. We have another song co-writer named Fresh who’s like family as well. We work with a couple of really cool people. Our circle is really tight, and I believe after the EP comes out and we go back to LA, since it’s been a while since we’ve been out there, we’re gonna start working with a bunch of new producers.
Are you gonna start working on the album as soon as the EP comes out?
I hope so. I’m so ready, I’m like let’s go in the studio, I wanna work, there’re a couple friends out in LA who just can’t wait to get in the studio with me and work. Listening to the EP over and over again, I already know how it goes but I want to get working on the album. I’m so excited for the EP to come out. I feel like I’m different from what’s out there right now, but also I see a lot of other new artists that I love. H.E.R., Kehlani, SZA, there’s so many. That flow is coming back, and my EP’s coming out, it’s amazing.
What’s one thing you want people to get out of the EP?
I hope they will feel the energy that I put into it when they listen to it. I really hope I can change people’s mood, let them know that everything is a process. You’re supposed to go through things where you have doubts, where you’re depressed, you think you’re fighting with a demon. It’s a part of the process and I’m one in a million who’s here to tell you, you can do it. If I did it, just like some other artists, I’ve been there and I’m here now. I want to bless them with my music and connect with them and let them know we’re giving them the opportunity just like the women of yesterday gave us the opportunity to take it to the next level. We’re opening up the doors for people that have problems with themselves, whatever it is they’re going through, to be like come, take my hand. That’s the message I hope they get out of it.
Stay tuned to Milk for more new artists.