Dodie Is The Self-made Musician You Won't Want To Miss

From YouTube to mainstream, find out why dodie's music is what's missing from your playlist.
dodie human ep
Image Source: YoungECHO

dodie, short for Dorothy Miranda Clark, was born in Enfield, the UK on April 11, 1995. She began her YouTube channel at sixteen years old. Now, ten years later, she is an established artist with 2.7M monthly listeners on Spotify and 1.95M subscribers on YouTube. Her first full-length studio album, Build a Problem, is set to be released on May 7th of this year. 

There are many unique aspects of dodie’s music and a musical career that contributed to her building success. She created a career out of her bedroom, uploading original songs and covers as well as vlogs before finding an agent (which also happened through a YouTube video). Her unique relationship with her fanbase has evolved as much as her voice and public image, and in ten years she has gone from a YouTube musician to an established mainstream artist, with her own musical identity. 

Here is a list of things that make dodie stand out, from her first uploaded song to her first full-length album. 

How dodie became famous; the origins of doddleoddle

dodie young youtube video
Image Source: The Johnny Green

In today’s age of social media, anyone can be a star. At the very least, anyone can produce content and post it, making it accessible to anyone in the world with the internet. This is just how dodie started. 

On April 11, 2011, the YouTube channel ‘doddleoddle’ was created with the upload of an original song called ‘Rain’. Backed by recorded piano, dodie belted lyrics about walking in the rain to hide her tears. It was every bit of teenage angst she must have been feeling at the time. It’s also one of the only times dodie relied on chest voice rather than the airy, delicate head voice she would evolve into. 

By posting regularly and collaborating with other artists like Orla Gartland, Rusty Clanton, and Tessa Violet, dodie began to grow her channel. She posted more original songs like ‘A Permanent Hug From You’ and ‘Paint’ alongside covers and vlogs. She also started doing meet and greets and selling merch very early on, making her channel as much about interacting with her subscribers as she could.

At the beginning of her career, dodie also had a Patreon. The platform allows fans to make monthly donations to support their favorite artists. This continued until she announced its close in 2018. 

"Freckles and Constellations"; the song was written entirely by fans

One of the most collaborative projects dodie’s ever done is ‘Freckles and Constellations’. Through the live-streaming app YouNow, dodie’s audience helped her create a space-themed love song that she would later upload to her channel accompanied by fan-made videos. 

This wasn’t the only time dodie incorporated her fans into her music. She’s also featured fan vocals on her second EP, You.

dodie’s LGBT+ fanbase find comfort in her songs 

In 2017, dodie wrote a song to come out to her audience as bisexual. As she put it, “I have a heart that could love plural genders/Yes I’m bi and I’m proud to be me”. The video was sponsored by Skittles and designed for viewers to come out with as well if they wish. 

So much of dodie’s fanbase comes from the young LGBT+ community, and it’s not hard to understand why. Her music is full of truth. Part of dodie’s truth is her bisexuality, and throughout her career, she has sung about her experiences and been vocally supportive of human rights to exist as they are. 

Her song “She”, originally uploaded in 2014 and revamped for her 2019 EP, has become a sort of anthem for many members of the LGBT+ community. 

She has also written “Rainbow”, a song about shame and ostracization of LGBTQ+ people, which will appear on her new album. Many of her music videos feature queer couples. 

Secrets for the Mad by dodie 

Secrets for the Mad, published in 2017, is dodie’s debut novel. It’s a scrapbook of personal stories, song lyrics, and pictures chronologizing her life and what it’s taught her. Meant for the stories too intimate or personal to share through video, this book tackles issues like eating disorders, mental health, sexuality, sex, and grief. It is illustrated in a sketch-style by artist Ben Phillips. 

The book rates at 4.3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and gave her fans another medium to experience her art. 

dodie’s indie-pop musical style 

dodie playing guitar live
Image Source: Metro

Over time, dodie’s style has evolved from pop-based to an indie, folksy style. She uses layered harmonies, unstructured song construction, and string arrangements that she mainly composes herself to have a haunting, ethereal effect. 

dodie’s voice, in contrast with artists who inspire her like Demi Lovato and Hayley Williams, is soft and air-light. She relies mainly on head-voice, a type of singing that focuses on a higher register rather than a fuller, more supported sound from the chest. This style fits her genre of music perfectly; although she has stated that she wants a fuller-sounding voice, part of her success lies in knowing how to write to suit her own vocal style.  

Although she is a soprano, her voice has also gotten deeper over the years. It’s difficult for her to revisit songs from 2016 and earlier because of their high register. 

A softer musical style also allows her lyrics, which most people claim is the biggest draw to her music, to be a major focus in her songs.

dodie plays many instruments in her music, the most prominent shifting from ukulele and clarinet to guitar and piano in recent years. She also composes string instruments. For her upcoming album, she worked with a full 13-piece string section to revamp her song ‘Rainbow’.

dodie’s discography – EP’s and upcoming album

After signing on with Manager Josh, and with the support of Patreon, dodie was able to start putting out professional projects. This resulted in three EP’s, or ‘extended plays’- Intertwined (2015), You (2017), and Human (2019). Each EP is between six and seven songs.

The dodie concert experience from someone who was there 

Seeing dodie in concert is different than any other show you’ll go to. Hosted in intimate, standing room-only venues and accented with soft lighting and strings, her shows provide a unique experience that matches her identity as an artist. The structure of her shows varies between dancing, upbeat songs, and emotional ballads, giving her audience both sides of her music without being weighed down by melancholy or completely neglecting the freer, happier aspects of her songs. 

dodie primarily tours in the UK, where she’s from, but I was fortunate enough to see her on a US Tour in Nashville, Tennessee in 2019. Her next tour will take place in 2021- details can be found here. 

How mental health has impacted dodie’s musical career 

dodie guiltless
Image Source: Them

Some of dodie’s best-known songs deal with mental health issues. Her melancholy and honest way of expressing heavier feelings is a huge draw for her audience.

“Guiltless”, a newer song, talks in very vague terms about family-based trauma and navigating a continuing relationship with someone who doesn’t understand they’ve hurt you. “6/10” speaks on social anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. “Down” is an older song, one she may revisit and revamp, that speaks about feeling isolated from those around you and weighted in depression. 

The most impactful mental health dodie song is called “When”. It was featured as a bonus track on her first EP, Intertwined

“When” speaks on dodie’s depression and depersonalization, idealizing the past and waiting for a time in life when she could feel happy again. The simple arrangement, bittersweet and melancholy, holds just enough light to reminisce on the idealized childhood with all the aching and longing of knowing it will never come back. 

To understand dodie’s music, it’s important to know about derealization and depersonalization disorder.  

Depersonalization/Derealization and what it does to the brain

In response to stress, the brain sometimes dissociates. This means that in an effect to distance itself from the situation, the brain can go into a state of ‘spaciness’ that feels disconnected from reality. 

Depersonalization and derealization are similar reactions to stress. Derealization is a condition in which life feels like a dream all the time. Symptoms can include distortion in vision, feeling ‘spaced out’, or feeling like you’re watching yourself from far away. Depersonalization is a similar disconnection, specifically from one’s body or self. In most cases, someone who experiences derealization will also experience depersonalization and vice versa. 

This is still a misunderstood disorder, but there are some treatments available. EMDR therapy, TMS, talk therapy, and medications are all possible treatments for derealization and depersonalization. Physical sensations can help with grounding. 

dodie first began speaking about derealization on her channel in 2016. Since then, she has collaborated with mental health expert Kati Morton to educate her audience about derealization/depersonalization and talk about her own experience. 

dodie’s changing relationship with fans and fame 

One of the best things about dodie is how much she genuinely cares for her fans. From prioritizing live concerts and meet and greets to using fan vocals on her professional projects, dodie’s relationship with her audience has always been a top priority for her as an artist. Given her roots as a self-made musician, this is not at all surprising. 

The boundaries between authenticity and oversharing can blur sometimes, and in her earlier years, dodie shared everything with the internet. A lot of this had to do with her mental health struggles. Eventually, it got to be unhealthy for her as well as her fans.

While she always shares authenticity through her music, the time has shown a shift from blatantly sharing what she’s going through in Snapchat and Instagram posts to more interpretive lyrics with vague references and multiple meanings. This doesn’t make her or her music any less relatable or authentic. Rather, it draws a boundary between dodie’s professional and personal life and allows her more control over how much she chooses to share with the internet. 

Note how her Instagram post captions have changed from long passages to simple phrases (2018 vs. 2020):

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by dodie (@doddleoddle)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by dodie (@doddleoddle)

In recent videos, dodie has talked about sharing the ‘1%’ of herself online that she feels comfortable sharing. At times, she has expressed worry that it’s too dramatic of a change and that sharing so little of herself isn’t ‘enough’. But in watching her vlogs and listening to more mysterious songs like ‘Guiltless’ and ‘Burned Out’, it’s obvious that what she shares is more than enough for her audience and for her music.

dodie the complete timeline: from 2011 to now

dodie you cover art yellow album
Image Source: EUPHORIA

The Beginning of doddleoddle 

Apr 11, 2014- dodie uploads her first YouTube video, an original song called ‘Rain’

Feb 2, 2014- dodie uploads her first ukulele video, ‘The lil ukulele song’

Sept 27, 2014- dodie uploads the fan-favorite song ‘She’. Her guitar is tuned down to an open D, giving it a dusty, darker sound that she will continue to favor throughout her career.

Jan 5, 2015- dodie moves out to live with friend Evan Edinger and opens her Patreon to support her channel

Sept 1, 2015- Josh Edwards with Ministry of Sound reaches out to dodie. He eventually becomes her manager and remains so to this day. 

Dec 4, 2015- dodie uploads ‘Freckles and Constellations’, a song was written over Livestream by her fans.

Aug 1-3, 2016- dodie’s first attempt at ALOSIA (A lot of songs in August). This will make a reappearance later in her career. 

The Intertwined Era

Nov 10, 2016- Intertwined EP is released 

Nov 22, 2016- dodie uploads ‘I’m blowing up? Maybe?’ vlog about the positive reaction to her EP and her relationship with fans. She worries about not being taken seriously as an artist and whether or not building an audience that helped to put her on the charts is ‘cheating’ the system. 

Dec 6, 2016- dodie uploads ‘Secret for the Mad’, a song about hope and recovery from mental hardship that she wrote for a friend. It becomes one of her standout songs for its simple, one-note instrumental and uplifting message. 

Dec 9, 2016- dodie Vevo uploads her first professional music video for ‘Sick of Losing Soulmates’

The You Era

Apr 11, 2017- doddleoddle channel reaches 1M subscribers on dodie’s 22nd birthday

July 2017- dodie begins to question sharing so much of her personal self and mental illness online. Her relationship with fans begins to change and she moves towards a more private personal life. 

Aug 11, 2017- You EP (the yellow album) is released. Fan vocals were collected via email and featured on track ‘6/10’

Sept 11, 2017- dodie uploads a video with mental health expert Kati Morton about derealization/depersonalization and her experience. 

Nov 2, 2017- Secrets for the Mad book is released 

The Human Era

Apr 21, 2018- dodie uploads ‘she back’ vlog and talks about how she has changed and hopes to reflect that in future videos

Jun 12, 2018- dodie’s vocals are featured in an Audi car commercial

Sept 18, 2018- dodie announces upcoming music video for ‘Human’ and the closing of her Patreon.

Sept 21, 2018- dodie uploads ‘Human’ music video 

Jan 18, 2019- Human EP released

Jan 22, 2019- dodie uploads ‘I hid a secret song in my videos’ vlog featuring the track ‘Arms Unfolding’ 

Jun 10, 2019- ‘Guiltless’ music video premieres 

Sept 27, 2019- ‘Boys Like You’ music video premieres 

Oct 5, 2020- dodie hosts ‘the ultimate throwback show’ livestream to encourage US fans to vote using Headcount. This resulted in 204 US citizens registering to vote, 1,316 voters verifying their registrations, and 594 citizens creating a voting plan. 

The Build a Problem Era

Apr 1- Sept 2, 2020- the return of ALOSIA and release of nine song demos on doddlevloggle

Oct 2-Oct 18, 2020- dodie uploads a series of vlogs in preparation for announcement of her first album

Oct 19, 2020- official announcement of Build a Problem, dodie’s first full-length album. ‘Cool Girl’ single released at midnight.

Nov 2, 2020- ‘Cool Girl’ music video released

Dec 11, 2020- ‘Rainbow’ single released

Jan 12, 2021- ‘Hate Myself’ song and music video released

Why dodie is a musician you should be watching and where you can find her

With the release of Build a Problem coming in May, dodie’s career will only become more successful as she continues to cross over into mainstream music. Her two YouTube channels, doddleoddle and doddlevloggle, are still up and accessible online and her Spotify playlist can be found below. 

There are so many things that make dodie a unique and successful musician. Her sense of self as an artist, relationship with her fans, captivating lyricism, and collaborations with other successful musicians are only naming a few. To truly understand dodie as an artist, the best thing to do is listen.

A twenty-something writer trying to find her place in the world. I love my dog, mugs of hot tea, and all things make-believe.

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