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Interview:
Detroit's Love Dollhouse gets love from new label, online campaign
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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The members of Love Dollhouse already felt they were in good hands at All Def Music.

The female pop/R&B trio formed by graduates of West Bloomfield High School and Novi High School had signed to the label founded by pioneering music and fashion executive Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkind. They had a hot debut single, "Can I," and an album in motion.

Now a good thing has gotten even better.

"Can I" was one of the first two songs Simmons and Rifkind released as part of their new ADD52 initiative. As the name indicates, the series will release 52 singles from mostly unsigned artists via an interactive partnership with ADM, All Def Digital's ADD52.com web site, the Universal Music Group and Samsung's Milk Music, which will stream the songs to owners of Galaxy phones who in turn will be able to offer feedback about the songs and the artists that boost their visibility on the platform.

"We love the idea," says Love Dollhouse's Ryan Destiny, who met groupmate Jasmine Pore while the two were attending Orchard Lake Middle School, taking the group through several lineup changes and appearing on "America's Got Talent" before adding Novi's Chelsea Stone during June of 2013.

"It really puts our song out there in a special way that will get it a lot of attention. I didn't think this kind of thing would ever happen for us, so we feel really confident and we're thankful they're behind us. It's a really cool way to introduce our first single."

Simmons, meanwhile, says with ADD52 he and Rifkind, both "traditional" music industry figures, have recognized and given themselves over to new reality of effectively distributing and promoting music in the digital age.

"Digital music is the platform where everybody can be empowered," explains Simmons, 56, the older brother of Run-DMC's Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons and co-founded the landmark hip-hop label Def Jam with producer Rick Rubin. Simmons also co-produced the film "Krush Groove" and founded the Phat Farm fashion line.

"People don't get their music from the radio anymore. They aren't waiting for CDs to come out in stores. They find their music online and on their phones and aren't waiting to be told what they should listen to. And most artists who are trying to build a buzz build it through the Internet. YouTube is the greatest radio by far now. So we're taking the music where they are."

Simmons says ADD52 received "many, many thousands" of submissions, but he's confident the project and ADM label off to a strong start with Love Dollhouse and Philadelphia rapper Tayyib Ali, whose "Do It (High School Dropout)" is ADD52's other first-week release. "The minute I heard them, I gravitated towards them," Simmons notes. "It's kind of funny; we have two records that both sound like they came out in 1985 but also sound like they came out in 2014 -- according to my daughter.

"We've got records we feel are very new, very familiar. The thing that makes them both so special is the raw talent of the artists, which is obvious, and the melodies are so beautiful."

Love Dollhouse certainly comes from the musical wheelhouse Simmons describes. "Obviously we looked up to people like TLC and Destiny's Child," says Destiny, 19, who was born in Detroit but now resides in Southfield. "We wanted to take little things from them - not be them, but be this throwback 90s thing because that's the era we love so much.

"But we wanted to keep a really fresh thing going on, too, and be different, not like anything that's out right now."

The "Can I" song, which Simmons considers "a smash," was an easy sell for the Love Dollhouse members. "We fell in love with it instantly," Destiny says of the tune, which was written by hitmakers Claude Kelly and Ashley Rose and produced by Jon Jon Traxx. "It just felt good, groovy, you wanted to dance to it. When we recorded it we didn't know it was going to be our single, but it just hooked onto everybody that heard it. Our whole team loved it."

And, Simmons promises, there's more where that came from.

"Their album is going to be phenomenal, says the executive, who's also developing web TV series -- including the weekly "All Def Comedy" -- through his company. "We went to Detroit as a statement that we can go anywhere, that people from anywhere can be powered through ADD52. It doesn't have to be from New York; it can also be from Detroit, anywhere. You don't have to move to New York or L.A. to get a deal.

"So it's not a miracle to find a great band. Great bands are performing in local communities all over the country, trying to develop their careers. We're just providing a platform that allows them to get their music to a national, even an international audience."

FYI

ADD52 releases a new song every Thursday via www.add52.com and Samsung's Milk Music service, accessible via Galaxy Phones.

Web Site: www.add52.com

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