“Happy accident” is how Dixie describes the release of her new anticipated single, “The Real Thing” — an upbeat and flirty pop bop with a melodic hook (“Cause I’m looking for the real thing, only the real thing will do”) at the heart of the song.
The 20-year-old Tik Tok star and singer is set to play the U.S. Jingle Ball later this year, two years since her initial launch into the music industry. “It all kind of happened because of the way my life was going at the time,” she tells Billboard of the long rollout of this release.
The song was featured in many of her ongoing projects — like the Hulu docuseries The D’Amelio Family, which gave fans an intimate look at the D’Amelio family after their rapid fire rise to fame. Now, Dixie says, she is ready to share more of her life through music, “not showing [my music] on social media and then bringing it in.”
“It’s really scary, because you have an audience of people who don’t follow me for music,” she continues. “So starting to share this part of my life, that was kind of a secret for myself, was very scary. I know there will be people who aren’t following me for music so I do try to keep a balance in my content. If people love it, then I’m so happy. Maybe I’ll find an audience who loves me just for [my music] and doesn’t care for my other content.”
Billboard spoke with Dixie about why “The Real Thing” (currently available on all streaming platforms) is her most anticipated release, details on Jingle Ball rehearsals, and more.
When and how did The Real Thing first come together?
I actually recorded the song probably last year — and over the past year, it’s been a part of the Social Tourist campaign, which is my clothing line with Hollister and a part of our family show, The D’Amelio Show. My supporters have been on me like everyday, saying, “Can we actually get the song? We’ve all heard it!” We’ve played it on radio calls and everything so now we are finally releasing it.
My plan was to start to release songs that I’ve written from writing camps — but because this song has been such a big part of so many big releases and projects in my life this year, I thought it would be cool to finally release it.
What does “The Real Thing” mean to you?
Since this song was a part of so many different events in my life, I kind of think it can mean anything. Originally when I heard this song, I read it as looking for the real boy — but it applies to so many things.
This song was actually written before I even started [songwriting camps] — which is pretty cool, ’cause I get to see how far I’ve come. I still love all the other songs; every single song I record I fall in love with. Sometimes I even forget [which songs I have], but this one has always been at the top of the list for everyone.
What are you most looking forward to with this release?
People finally getting the whole song. I hate having songs out there and not talking about them or not releasing them fully. I have to stop myself sometimes from sharing whole entire songs because I just get so excited!
In your docuseries, your family discusses the connection between your successes as public figures and the strains it puts on your mental health. Those topics come up in your music quite often too, has it become any easier to be okay with being vulnerable through music?
With music, 100% yes. I want to tell my story through song in a proper way and not just throw a song out. That’s what we’re working on now. Each time I’m writing or with a group, when we’re writing a song together, [I ask] how can this be a step to show who I truly am? Because I can tell a story [online] but maybe not everyone will listen the way they would through music. I think it’s gonna take time, but that’s the goal.
You’re definitely there — you’re playing the US Jingle Ball tour! Have you started rehearsals for that yet?
I have started rehearsals, it’s so weird! Being able to sing my songs and putting movements to them has been very emotional for me. I never really expected that because I try to stay strong most of the time but it has been emotional. It has been scary, even when it’s just me and my coaches, but I’m just looking forward to it and I can’t wait for the outcome.
Why do you think performing evokes those kinds of emotions?
Because this is just me…. performing is something I’ve always loved and done, but with this being my own song, it’s not an act. I’m not putting on a persona like I did with theater. This is me. This is my story now, so I want to make sure that I’m connecting.
Have you had a chance to talk with or gather advice from the other performers on the Jingle Ball lineup?
I actually found out who was gonna be on the tour when it was announced. Definitely looking forward to seeing Doja Cat, freaking out about that! Lil Nas, The Kid LAROI, Tate McRae, everyone! These are people who I’ve been around — but not with music, more as friends. So performing alongside them is insane. It definitely gives me a lot of motivation to do the best I can, because these people have done a bunch of performances and have been doing this longer than I have. So that’s definitely a goal — to be where they are.
Most of your releases have been rooted in pop but explore elements of other genres. How have you gone about finding/developing your signature sound as someone who is still relatively new to the music industry?
I love trying everything, when I look at the songs I have, they all sound different. It’s not just one specific thing. I enjoy doing ballads. I think once it’s all released and my fans and supporters listen to it, I’d love to hear what they think about what I’m best at. Once you’re sitting with things for a long time, you kind of get a little blind to what you actually like, so I’m excited for all the upcoming releases.
What genres or styles do you think you’ll want to experiment with in the future?
I keep wanting to [write] a ballad. I’m trying to find the right one that can connect with people because most of the ones I listen to are amazing piano ballads and I relate so strongly to them. When I listen to them, I relive those emotions — and I would love for people to do that with my music.