For as much as iann dior has defined the sound of 2020, his story is downright classic.
Immigrating to Texas from Puerto Rico with his family at just five-years-old. Immediately, he recognized just how different America was from the place he called home.
“Puerto Rico’s an island, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” he admits. “The first thing I noticed was the water wasn’t clear like it is In Puerto Rico. In Texas, it’s like coffee,” he laughs. “When my parents took us to the beach for the first time, we looked at the water and asked, ‘Where are we?’”
For as cloudy as the water may have been, he managed to find a silver lining soon enough. Spending his formative years in Corpus Christi, he linked up with his soon-to-be best friend Halftime. The pair share a birthday, and have recorded some of iann’s most impactful hits to-date together—from ‘Prospect’ all the way through the Billboard Hot 100 #1 ‘Mood’ with 24KGoldn. However, it all began when Halftime set up a studio and invited iann over.
“I went to his house, he was freestyling on the mic, and he told me to freestyle,” iann recalls. “I wasn’t really down, but then I eventually did it. That was the first time I got introduced to making music. I was 18.”
The pair came of age and are now together every day—which is a testament to iann’s approach both professionally and personally. Just after moving to L.A., iann soon dropped ‘Emotions’ on SoundCloud. Its initial success was the first indication that music could be a way to provide for his family, and a calling to a higher state of existence. Since then, he’s put all of his energy into honing and creating a brand new sound.
“I blend a lot of genres and a lot of moods,” he explains. “There’s also a real punk influence. Defining my music would just be a mix of pop, rock, and rap. I think I’ve explored a lot more of the pop and rock worlds. In high school, I never even listened to rock. It took moving to LA to open me up to new music. Nowadays, I feel like I’m at a place where you could put on any beat, and I could write over it and make it a hit.”
Childhood musical influences include Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, thanks to his dad. Meanwhile, his mom favored artists such as Marc Anthony, while iann himself defines J Cole as his “absolute favorite. He introduced storytelling to me through music.” He carries this same versatility with him today.
Additionally, he draws guidance from a female forward team. Andile Ndlovu is iann’s manager, while Maggie Sellers helps him curate his brand and style. His business manager, lawyer and stylist also happen to be female. When asked if his team gender makeup was intentional iann responds, “No, I didn’t plan out to have a female dominant team, but women often work harder, in my opinion,” he remarks. It’s clear that being surrounded by such inspirational women has helped fuel his creativity and drive. He continues “Sometimes, my head might not be in the right spot and they guide me in the right direction. For instance, Maggie loves art, so she started taking me to art exhibits, introducing me to gallery owners and artists and showed me what the art world was about to help expand my culture narrative and bring more inspiration into my music and creative. Andile, my manager… she’s straight business. She’ll go get the bag, she’ll do this, she’ll do this. It’s a very good thing for me to have great women on my team. Seeing their drive and dedication to me definitely drives me to work harder.”
At the same time, his songwriting also remains heavily influenced by the women in his life. This is a tradition that dates back to childhood poetry which mom consistently inspired.
He elaborates, “I think seeing what a good person she is has continually reminded me of how I was raised. She set the example for me, and how to treat people and how to act.”
iann holds these values close to heart. This mindset has carried him through a rapid rise to stardom in the wake of ‘Mood’. He goes on, “I remember all those nights in my bedroom wishing someone would listen to what I was talking about. Looking back on that and seeing where I’m at now is such a great feeling.”
Since joining Electric Feel and spending most of the year in the studio, he utilized the pandemic’s break from touring to push his artistry further. iann has also doubled down on his overall persona beyond music, pondering fashion ideas, music videos, and brand collaborations. He’s already got a jewelry line on deck for 2021 and will rollout his mega-anticipated album, with a series of innovative surprises.
‘And This Is Why’ explores the journey between ‘I’m Gone’ and now, and sheds light into the inner workings of iann dior behind-the-scenes and out of the public eye. It has all the ingredients of a definitive body of work.
It’s the culmination of his journey so far. As a kid, pops had just $20 in his pocket. These days, iann registers among the Top 35 most-listened to artists in the world on Spotify. He’s gone from the “one music studio everybody would go to” in Corpus Christi to the Electric Feel ecosystem in Los Angeles. His own sphere continues growing too. He’s set his sights high for future collaborations, naming Kid Cudi, Bruno Mars, and Harry Styles among “dream collaborators” as well as one of his biggest inspirations and artistic role models, Travis Barker.
“He always seems to have the answers for everything,” iann comments. “He makes me want to keep moving ahead.”
Speaking of moving ahead, iann has gone from a self-proclaimed “sad boy” to a dynamic and diverse presence, breaking genre barriers as he breaks records. His coming-of-age remains relatable to his fan base. That audience interprets his music as gospel for their future journey into adulthood or reminiscent of their own experiences.
iann celebrates the small and large victories equally with the level-headedness and vision to understand that small steps of progress are the way to big change. At the same time, he blurs the lines between rock, funk, and pop like never before.
Between brand meetings via Zoom and upcoming collaborative singles with “incredible artists,” it’s clear that iann dior and his Electric Feel family around him are paving an entirely new path in the music industry, of genre-fluidity and true team-building mentorship.
iann is reaching new highs on every plane of his existence. “I was in the studio one night at three in the morning looking through my iPad,” he remembers. “I stopped by a piece of art I’d made and said, ‘I’m not a sad boy anymore. I’m no longer sad’. I immediately sent it to Maggie and Andile to reaffirm that I’m moving in a different direction. I’m really fortunate right now because my recent success has allowed me to meet a lot of new and great people. I know a lot of people don’t get to do that kind of thing right now, so I feel so fortunate.”
In five years’ time, it’s clear that with iann’s business acumen, unrelenting drive to push himself into art (he’s began visiting galleries), educating himself as much as he can, and submersing himself in the fashion world.