The Year of the Dahlia: A Conversation with Lorelei K

In Victorian times every flower had a secret meaning, and bouquets given as gifts could be translated as sentences, paragraphs, or entire letters. The dahlia is a flower indigenous to Mexico, and it represents standing out from the crowd, following your own path, and staying graceful under pressure. Each one of these attributes seems apt to describe Dahlia Knowles, who left the DAM Awards two weeks ago with six awards in tow: Best Lyricist, Best Solo Act, Best Makeup Artist, Best Queerlesque, Best Pop Act and Best New Act. In essence, she swept the music scene and beyond, accepting each award with the utmost grace and an immaculate hair flip.

In the past year, Knowles (whose stage name is Lorelei K) released her first full-length album, "Be the Doll", to sit alongside two previous EPs. “I feel like I grew so much this year, and I’m only really getting started,” Knowles said of her year’s success. “I’m really starting to hone in on my style musically as well; it was all a growth thing - writing "Be the Doll", performing it, and playing way too many shows for my own good.”

Knowles plays an impressive amount of shows around Denton, and is always a crowd-pleaser. With only a laptop, a synth, and a tangle of wires, Knowles stands alone as Lorelei K, entrancing the crowd - an impressive diversion from the usual fare of DIY house shows.

“I was a poet first. From the first performance I ever did, I realized there was a power and vulnerability that people really appreciate and there wasn’t enough of that,” Knowles said of her decision to begin as a solo act. Knowles trusts herself more than anyone, so why not perform the same way? In the future, Lorelei K will be joined by an onstage band, featuring a bassist, a guitarist, and an additional synth/keys player, and of course the lady herself, equipped with the iconic synth and guitar. “I’ve been playing guitar on-and-off since I was twelve,” Knowles explained, adding that she never felt she was good enough to play it on stage. Parker Larson, an instrumentalist who contributed to "Be the Doll", reassured her that was a myth - no one believes they’re a beast on guitar when they first play.

The lyrical content of "Be the Doll" is well deserving of an award, as Knowles stated she was a poet first - it shows. “I’m a pretty open person when it comes to relationships. I get a lot of lyrics from human interactions and human hearts. I’m real dramatic about it.” Many songs on the album spell out stories of unrequited love, the perils of modern dating, and even more political messages. The track “21” is a scathing critique and exhibit of trans and gender inequalities in society, with the names of trans victims of homicides listed at the end. Each song on the album drips with a literary perfection, featuring vignettes of relationships, worries and the conceptual musings of Knowles herself.

In addition to musical pursuits, Knowles works at Davanti Salon and Spa primarily as a hairstylist. When beginning cosmetology school, Knowles thought she would pursuit makeup artistry.

“I love painting faces, it’s really cute,” Knowles said. Her personal style and beauty icons include Cher, Patti Smith, and drag queens with their radical expression of femininity. Knowles also accepted an award for Best Queerlesque Act, which she admitted was a “difficult [award] to take.” “I wouldn’t say I never used queerlesque in my act, but it was a hard one to take because everyone on the ballot was so incredibly deserving.” Knowles remains honored for each award, and says she wanted to accept that particular award on behalf of the community.

Lorelei K/Dahlia Knowles has risen to the top in the past twelve months as a powerhouse of beautiful lyrics, powerful messages, and trans visibility. She is looking forward to this summer, wherein she is currently planning some “dope shows” (which she can’t discuss), and for next fall, when she anticipates dropping her newest album. For Knowles, every year is the Year of the Dahlia, and we’re waiting with bated breath for what this powerhouse has in store for Denton next.

Photos by Garrett Smith
Header image design by Christopher Rodgers