Dasha finds fame in Nashville with TikTok hit ‘Austin’

California native Dasha discusses her TikTok hit “Austin” and her CMA Fest debut at Nissan Stadium.


Within five minutes of talking to 24-year-old California native and former Belmont University student Dasha (born Anna Dasha Novotny), it’s clear she was destined to be a pop star regardless of her breakout country hit ‘ Austin’ would do that too. have been achieved.

“Before I released ‘Austin,’ my music had just arrived at the other end of artistic development, where it was as honest and outgoing as my personality,” she tells The Tennessean.

She speaks while sitting in the front row of Section 110 of Nissan Stadium, where she will perform at the 2024 CMA Fest in June.

It’s time to stop thinking it’s strange that country festivals and the Music City area are breeding grounds for pop music’s next superstars.

Since the COVID-19 quarantine, country music and the Nashville industry’s influence on the Billboard Hot 100 charts has literally grown 100% at the end of the year.

And yes, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Post Malone and electronic artists like Diplo and frequent collaborator Kane Brown’s Marshmello continue to venture into country music.

Giving people ‘a reason to worry’

Two albums and an EP into her career, Dasha had released 16 other songs before working on a songwriting session on a “cheating song” titled “Play Dumb.” Over time, that work evolved into a more recognizable “woman scorned, (Miranda Lambert) ‘Little Red Wagon’ or (Carrie Underwood) ‘Before He Cheats’ type lyric,” resulting in “Austin.”

“’Are your boots gone’ might be one of the craziest phrases that have ever come out of my head, but we ran with it and wrote the song in less than an hour,” Dasha recalls.

“Country music allows me to write lyrics where I don’t have to think too hard, ‘Am I unmistakable on this song?’” she says.

In an interview four years ago, she said she had learned that achieving longevity in a career requires not trying to adapt the music to popular trends, but rather maintaining authenticity, allowing for ambitious success and industry evolutions can cross each other.

That’s finally happening in her career.

She says the process of getting to “Austin” required a soul-searching for her best, most authentic self. It was “harder than anyone could imagine”, but songs were possible that “give people a reason to care”.

In a city that is often assumed to take a decade to become famous (or let’s be honest, with Nashville’s recent stars, 15 years), Dasha is the first of what will likely be many artists for whom an outpouring of social media posts are maintained alongside a The hectic songwriting schedule keeps influences and interests running at a breakneck pace.

She has also been involved in dance and theater for 20 years. Her initial interest in songwriting came from being a regularly performing guitarist and pianist at the age of 9 (in backyards and at coffee shops, hotel restaurants and wineries in the hilly, touristy region of her native San Luis Obispo) and she turned 12 when Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” became a worldwide hit.

A year later, she urged her father to give her a unique birthday present. He obliged. As a result, she had her first song professionally recorded and made available for streaming on Spotify.

Have a ‘song of the summer’

Dasha describes herself as having “music at the core of who she is” and “not afraid to be effortlessly melodramatic.” So she’s excited about her recent success, but even more deeply: With one of 2024’s “songs of the summer,” she views her career as a “stunning rocket ship” defined by continued rapidly rising success.

That success started with creating the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping song that has had nearly a million unique TikTok video views. However, the song’s line dance, unlike any line dance created during the COVID-19 quarantine era, has benefited from a series of live performances that allowed an online trend to produce impressive real-time results.

The line dancing kicked off at the 2024 CMT Music Awards all over Austin, Texas. From there, she appeared on Brandi Cyrus and Diplo’s DJ sets at the Stagecoach Festival. In May, Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama, saw her on the same lineup as country and pop crossover darlings like Zach Bryan and Lana Del Rey.

By late summer 2024, after sharing yet another festival bill with Post Malone at Bonnaroo, it’s possible that her North American superstar turn will be complete by the time she takes the stage at the Calgary Stampede in July in Alberta.

A Billboard interview highlights a minimal number of factors in the song’s marketing.

Dasha, her team at Warner Music, and her manager, Alex Lunt, targeted the female country audience with big pop hooks and lively lyrics, initially doing well with DJs at country-friendly nightclubs.

Couple this with data showing that in 2011, women made up 52% ​​of country music’s pre-pop culture fanbase. The Economist notes that as of 2023, 45% of Americans will listen to country music at least once a month. Streams for country music additions to Spotify’s Top 50 songs in America have also increased 2,000% over the past decade.

“Austin” falls at a perfect time.

More hits will follow

As a foundation for line dancing, Nashville’s foundation as a community of astonishingly skilled songwriters is one that Dasha wields in a way that makes her success feel far less than being of the “one-hit wonder” variety.

“Capturing a similar vibe and staying on the same page” is only part of the solution when you’re in the room working on new material with an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Grammy-nominated songwriter like Hillary Lindsey or Grammy-winning Songwriter Hall of Famer Liz Rose.

“It’s crazy to be in songwriting rooms with icons like that, but I feel like I can hold my own in that room too,” Dasha adds.

The aforementioned material is a deluxe version of her February-released album “What Happens Now?”

“Austin” is that album’s – and Dasha’s – biggest hit yet.

She thinks more hits are coming.

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Her goal is to combine her organic roots as a songwriter, born from pop sensibilities as diverse as melodic, soulful, hook-driven and radio-ready country with beauty inspired by reflecting on the picturesque sunsets of her San Luis Obispo childhood. in the middle of farm-laden mountain trails.

“Yes, the song is king (in Nashville),” she says. “But finding songs that fit the way California is branded with the images of it in my mind will create an exaggerated version of what success can look like for artists like me who now also have Nashville in their blood.”

She adds that she is acutely aware that her success, both for Nashville insiders and outsiders watching with rapt attention, makes her a “buzzworthy artist with eyes on her” who doesn’t have to prove she is worthy of a number 1 hit and that she continues with social media. acclaim. For her, nothing less than proving that she is “a career artist with something worth saying” will do.

She pauses for a moment and then remembers a text she recently wrote that sums up how she is being her best authentic self in her career right now:

“I’m a California girl with a southern heart.”

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