Dana Dentata is a razor-sharp dart that’s about to hit bullseye. At 28-years-old, Dana has had music wrapped around her finger for as long as she can remember. Her talent is ambiguous as she warps her respective sound to create music for whatever she’s feeling. With her roots in punk, experience with pop, and even singing alongside Marilyn Manson on his recent album, “Heaven Upside Down,” it seems as if Dana is on her way to greatness, with success being something that’s been a long time coming. After a long hiatus away from music, caused by a toxic relationship and years of abuse, Dana is back and she’s undeniably reborn.
“I’m stronger than ever. I’m in a really healthy, happy place now,” said Dana. “I have so much to say and this is just the beginning. I’m excited for myself to see how I evolve. I can do punk, I can do pop, I can do rap— who knows where it’s going to go?”
Dana’s comeback begins with her latest project, “DANAVI$ION,” an eight-track EP that feels like a voodoo maze of resurrection and hysteria. The EP celebrates the power of feeling sexy and all the tenacity behind feminine energy.
“On DANAVI$ION I wanted to explore all sides of me. There’s some fun songs about me having super powers in my cooch, like the song Magic Pu$$$y. Ride a Cowboy is about how I love firemen and male strippers. I just wanted to have fun and be free. The whole thing I made and recorded on my computer, alone in my room on Garage Band; all the vocals, everything. I got a USB mic and just did it. I had this manager before and everything had to be really thought about and recorded properly. A four-song EP took about six months, but that’s not happening again. I have so much fire in me right now that I have no time to wait.”
It’s almost as if you can see the fire that Dana has inside of her. She’s undoubtedly magnetic and has this vampy, girl-next-door vibe that’ll make you think twice before you cross her. While it seems that she was always cut out to be the femme fatale of rap, Dana’s initial interest in music was much different.
“Ever since I was little I wanted to be Britney Spears. I thought she was God,” said Dana.
This shocked me because Britney Spears didn’t exactly seem like the kind of person that Dana would idolize. With her shaggy dark mullet and WWE t-shirt, I thought she might say someone like Joan Jett or Siouxsie Sioux.
“Oh really? What’s your favorite Britney era,” I asked.
“When she went crazy,” Dana replied.
Oh, okay. This makes sense now.
“I saw her twice when I was little. I saw Baby One More Time when I was seven or eight, and I saw the Oops, I Did It Again era, where it was actually like I was seeing Jesus in the flesh. That’s how it felt, like I saw God. People would ask me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I was like, ‘Britney Spears. I want to be Britney Spears.’ Never did I imagine I’d be how I am now.”
Now, with songs like “Bitchcraft” and “Make It Bounce,” Dana is making music for the Britneys and Christinas of the world, but serving it up with a side of Marilyn Manson.
“Shortly after the Britney Spears thing, I saw Marilyn Manson videos and I became obsessed with him,” said Dana. “I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know why I was just so drawn to the darkness. It felt like I wasn’t supposed to look at it, or listen to it, or like it. Then I became so obsessed with him that he became my idol. He eclipsed Britney Spears.”
Watching Dana live is provocative in all forms. I see the Britney Spears in her that’s flirty and confident. Meanwhile the Marilyn Manson shines through as she slithers around her guitarist and uses a megaphone to yell into a microphone. She’s a modern age triple threat that harmonizes all the glamour and grunge of a stripper, rapper, and rockstar.
Long before Dana moved to Los Angeles, she was the front woman of a Toronto-based band called Dentata. The band’s name derives from an ancient folk tale that describes a woman’s vagina as an unforgiving monster lined with sharp teeth. If a penis were to come in contact with a vagina dentata, it would ultimately lead to the castration of the male; or in other words, it’ll bite your dick off.
“Dentata started because I loved Hole,” said Dana, referring to the 90’s grunge band lead by Courtney Love. “That’s how I learned guitar because I just learned Hole songs and they were easy as shit to learn. I was really into riot grrrl music which was female bands. I wanted to be in a female band so bad.”
Dana’s history as a riot grrrl echoes the giant revival of rockstar antics that rap is living through at the moment. With Lil Peep’s trailblazing harmonies of autotune pop-punk, Lil Uzi Vert’s Marilyn Manson chain, mainstream hits like Post Malone’s “Rockstar,” and more recently, the creative direction for Playboi Carti’s latest album, “Die Lit,” there’s no denying that rap is trying to party like a rockstar, now more than ever before.
Dana laughed at the mention of other rockstar rappers and said, “I think I’m about to shit in all their mouths. I want to do the rock-rap thing like now, but for me it’s going to be more genuine than all those guys that want to attach themselves to that culture, because I actually come from that world. I used to be in a band and spit blood all over the crowd. I had a sledgehammer, I would smash things on stage, all kinds of shit.”
Even with Dana’s maniacal stage presence and notable moments like working with Richard Kern on their “Earwig” music video, Dentata didn’t last long. Eventually Dana found herself in another part of town, where she sharpened her hustler mentality and developed the “Trust No Dick” ideology.
“The band broke up and then I started working at a strip club,” said Dana. “Dancing was so empowering. When you’re in control of your body and you know your boundaries, and you demand respect for yourself; you feel appreciated and worshipped.”
Yet even while in control, Dana ended up falling for a charming man that she met one night at the club. He requested a dance from her that ultimately lead to a serious long-term relationship. Things between them started out as passionate and warm but eventually certain aspects changed, causing Dana to lose sight of herself. After years of psychological abuse, Dana left the man she loved to return to stripping and to focus on her music.
“Stripping helped me bring back all of my confidence. My ex-boyfriend made me feel like I was an ugly loser with nothing to live for. It’s crazy how a person can get in your head. Once I started to feel sexy again, I learned that you can use it to your advantage and feel all these good things about yourself. At the strip club it was all R&B music and hip-hop, so I started to get inspired by that. I always loved Eminem and Kid Rock, and Limp Bizkit, and rap-rock like that. I didn’t feel like with a rock band there was really that far I could go. I could maybe play like a couple festivals but I want to be able to reach everyone. I didn’t want to be so one-dimensional and just be in a metal band, because I love so many other genres too. It’s just evolving— constantly evolving.”
Right before Dana disappeared from music, she experimented with pop as a result of male upper heads trying to direct her sound. While Dana doesn’t hate the idea of making pop music, she knows it’s not what drives her to be an artist.
“I’m more into savage music,” said Dana. “I’ve been trying to do what I’m doing now for the last five years and I let all of these people, especially men, tell me I couldn’t, and tell me it’s not going to work. I went along with it for a while and did the singing thing. They were like, ‘You’re a pretty girl, be a pretty girl.’ I don’t want to fucking be that. I want to change people’s lives, make people feel something. I’m not going to do that by having a cute song on the radio.”
As soon as Dana won back her confidence, she knew she could fearlessly go forward with creating whatever world she wanted to live in. In Danaland the rules are simple: live your life, do what makes you happy, and trust no dick.
“Don’t listen to a word anybody says to you. Don’t let anybody sway you into the way you dress, the way you feel, how you look, what you want your sound to be, because they will really try to tell you not to do it; that is a real thing out here. People love to put down your dreams, especially when you’re a woman. You literally can do whatever the fuck you want, you really can. If you really want to do something, go do it. Whatever makes you happy, just be you. Also, don’t let any fucking man distract you, trust no dick. Don’t trust that dick going inside you, don’t trust the dicks walking around you— none of them.”
ALL PHOTOS by WALTER W. BRADY.