We think of iann dior in purple. It’s all over his Instagram, his new album’s cover art and outfits: “Purple’s the colour of royalty and that’s how I would want to carry myself,” says the 23-year-old Puerto Rican-Texan from his base in LA, the city where his dreams came true. From a SoundCloud sensation to releasing four studio albums, and recently making it big on 24KGldn’s ‘Mood’, iann has all the rights to claim the crown. Already chilling with industry royalty like MGK, Trippie Redd and Lil Uzi Vert, he’s proved himself a worthy member of the crowd with his 2022 album, onto better things. As he strips from protective golden armour, we see iann nakedly vulnerable in his suffering, looking up for a ray of sunshine and waiting until someone grabs his trembling hand: just like us.
“I want [people] to feel that they’re not alone in their head. We all have the same thoughts. Some people just are afraid to express those thoughts that are going through their minds. I’ve always been very open about that. The biggest and the most beautiful thing about making music is knowing that a kid from across the world is sitting there with his headphones and listening to the song and appreciating what I’m saying to them, that I’m hoping to help them,” iann opens up.
In fact, he poured his soul out to spit the most personal bars up to date: “Looking back at it now, I put that album out very much for me and the people that needed it,” iann explains. The two years of radio silence were turbulent, he admits: “I wasn’t in the best mindset. It was really hard for me to go through my everyday life, but I knew that putting it out there and being vulnerable and talking about where I was could help somebody else that’s also in that same situation”.
With a freshly broken heart on his sleeve, a covid-struck apocalyptically-spiralling anxious mind, iann needed a space to shove all the overwhelming emotions in. “Now when I listen to this album, I get to go back to that point in time, and compare it to where I’m at today. I’m in the best position I’ve ever been so it’s beautiful to listen to,” he smiles.
A suffocating beauty flows in the cinematic shots of the video for ‘complicate it’. “The song is about a particular person that I was super in love with at the time,” iann says, “I wanted to explain the bad situation that I was in, but I wanted it to look overly beautiful because, at that point in time when I was talking to that person, everything felt beautiful even though a lot of things were going wrong at the same time”. Every video his directs is an exclusive snapshot inside iann’s world, “I just try my best to give you the best image of what’s going on inside of my head because I haven’t figured it out yet.”
Never mind the confusion and obstacles that life has thrown at him, iann always gracefully makes his way through them. He’s a born fighter and his sword is self-belief and cathartic, brutal honestly. It disarms anyone trying to put unwanted pressure on the artist. “I could sit here and tell you that it’s easy, but there are always those messages that you see, it gets to you. But at the end of the day, those are just opinions. I’m here for a reason. If those people are saying that, then you must be doing something right,” iann proudly admits.
He’s been doing better than right, not everyone gets to gain respect and collaborate with people who they’d listen to and love. From day one, he set himself on a mission of connecting with musicians who made an impact on him. They say never meet your heroes yet iann made friends with them. “When I walked in the same room as Uzi, for the first time, he was exactly what I like imagined,” he says, “So is Trippie, exactly the same. A lot of the people that I’ve worked with are exactly what you would think they are in person. Those types of artists don’t put on a front. They are who they are. They don’t care, you know?”
And neither does he: chameleon-like, iann dior is unafraid of changing the sound up at any given moment. “When I’m in the studio, sometimes I can’t really make up my mind on what genre I want to go with. At this point, my music is my music. It’ll always sound like me on it,” he shares. Brought up in Puerto Rico, coming to Texas was a big cultural shift for him. “I was hearing nothing but Spanish music growing up, and then suddenly I was opened up to the hip hop culture, and the pop culture here”, he says, “A fun fact is, I learnt to speak English from my favourite cartoons.” Wanting to incorporate his heritage into his music, he recently went to Miami for a first-time recording session in Spanish. Apparently, the song’s perfect for summer: “A lot of it is just talking about a bunch of beautiful women,” he says, “Because there’s a lot of those. It was just all very fun. The music is very much like something you would listen to at parties”.
Just like Spanish music, fashion runs in his blood. Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens, Ambush and, obviously, Dior are amongst his favourites. “Even before I was an artist, fashion was everything to me. I’d work two weeks or two months and use all that money to buy a pair of jeans or a pair of shoes that just came out or pre-order,” the artist remembers, “To be here today and have the fashion world accessible to me now so is just super cool”. iann is a big believer in hard work, the power of will and the law of attraction: “Manifestation is the biggest thing. It’s the key: once you figure that out, the possibilities are endless. I’m always looking for the next big thing. ‘Till I’m 65 I’ll be doing this.” At 65, iann dreams of directing movies and working with the likes of Tim Burton. For now, he’s manifesting his way into a blockbuster series: “One day I want to be a part of Stranger Things. It’s one of my favourite shows that’s come out in a while”, he says.
Amid preparation for his tour with Machine Gun Kelly, iann reveals plans for a new album: “I’m talking about what it felt like to get sober. The experiences that I went through while I wasn’t sober. There’s a song in there where I’m talking to a couple of friends that I’ve lost in the past. I was thinking about the arguments that we had while they were here. In the chorus of the song, it says that ‘if you can hear this song, I hope you can forgive me up in heaven’”.
iann dior is here so you can hear him out. If the stories he shares hit you straight in the heart, you’re not alone. iann rents a shoulder to cry on and a handkerchief to wipe the tears: he knows how valuable it is to have someone like that. For him, it was J. Cole: “He saved my life so I know what that feels like. That’s why whenever a kid comes up to me and tells me, ‘I listened to your music and it saved me and helped me out so much’, I appreciate it to the fullest because I used to be that kid”. Today, the kid is all grown up, dressed in purple and about to be crowned.
Press play on iann dior’s ‘I Find It Hard’ here now and shop tmrw #44 below now to see the full iann dior cover shoot…