Over the course of the past few months, Detroit trio DMK have catapulted into the spotlight as one of R&B’s rising girl groups. That’s not to say their journey has been a quick one; members Damoli (22), Melanee (22), and Kourtney (21) have been together since they were little girls, singing and preparing for this moment to shine, and it seems destined. Not only do they come from the city that birthed the Motown sound, Kourtney’s grandfather was Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the legendary quartet, The Four Tops.
Lately, they’ve been making quite the buzz. Their first single “Love The Way You Love” generated quite the stir and their acapella cover video of Boyz II Men’s “Thank You” solidified that they aren’t slacking on the vocal chops. Their second offering “On My Way Over” and video for another single titled “Major” was a precursor to their debut, self-titled EP. On top of all that, the group scored an appearance on FOX’s hit show Empire.
The ladies took some time out to chat with Singersroom about it all, from representing the Detroit’s musical legacy to cherishing the sound they love, 90s R&B, and their experience filming on the set of Empire.
Purchase DMK’s EP on iTunes HERE and get to know the group below!
You guys have been together since you were 9 and 10 years old, much like Destiny’s Child. Do you get Destiny’s Child comparisons?
Kourtney: We do sometimes, and of course it’s an honor to be compared to them, but yes, we get that quite often.
Does being from Detroit, home of Motown, have an influence on your musicality?
Melanee: It does influence us. Every aspect of Detroit music has some sort of Motown influence because that’s where it started for us. And that’s where it started with us, personally, because Kourtney’s grandad was the lead singer of The Four Tops, Levi Stubbs, so we got a chance to get his influence first hand, so it’s definitely played a part in our careers.
Yes, I was gonna touch on that. Kourtney, how has being a descendant of such a legacy influenced your musical growth? What things did he advise you on?
Kourtney: He always warned us that people are gonna come in and try to break up the group, they’re gonna get in your ears and tell you that you’re better than the next, and he just told us to remember that every group member plays an important part, and no group member is bigger than the actual group. With him and his group, literally, the only thing that separated his group was death, he’s always been on our heads about staying together and the importance of one another. And that’s one of the reasons I’ll say we’ve lasted as long as we have.
You guys channel a heavy 90s influence in your music, so some who consider that time a “golden age” of R&B. How would you describe your sound?
Damoli: I would say that we’re all 90s babies, so it’s what we group up on. We were never like, “let’s be a 90s group,” but it was like, let’s do music that we like and what we feel, so us being 90s babies probably helped out, though (laughs).
Kourtney: And the fact that 90s music was like, the real R&B era, and we definitley wanted to bring that real R&B sound back.
Who are some of your favorite girl groups and why?
Melanee: Ooo, it’s so many. We love everybody from The Supremes to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas to En Vogue, SWV, TLC, Destiny’s Child of course, Total, it’s so, so many.
You guys appeared on the May 11th episode of Fox’s Empire. How did that amazing opportunity come along?
Damoli: They had an audition, a bus that went around, and they went to, I think, 15 different cities, and there were six thousand people who submitted audition tapes, so from there they narrowed it down to ten, and from ten they narrowed it down to four, and then from four they narrowed it down to us (laughs), but it was a really cool experience, it’s just unbelievable.
Tell us about the song you guys recorded for Empire.
Kourtney: Once they called us to know we won, they had somebody from Fox who they use to do recording, he came to Michigan actually to record in one of our studios here at home. And the song was written by the Empire writers, the team that they have. They sent us the demo and lyrics ahead of time for us to learn before the studio session. Our studio session was maybe two weeks before we taped, and it took us maybe four hours tops to record the whole song.
What was the experience like filming on the set of Empire?
Melanee: The experience was absolutely amazing, that’s something we’ll never forget, something we’ll never take for granted. They didn’t treat us like we were contest winners, they laid out the red carpet for us. They treat us like we were regulars on the show, the cast and crew were extremely nice. Everything about that experience was unbelievable, sometimes we can’t believe it happened ourselves, but it was great.
What are the stars like Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard like?
Kourtney: They were actually so super humble, everybody was. We actually got a chance to talk to Terrance Howard. He walked up to us, and all just kinda looked at each other like, is this really happening?” But he was just like, “You guys are so amazing, you’re so dope, who writes your music? You guys have a great sound!” Then Jussie, we had a conversation with him about our group, and we had a chance to tell him how great we were. But the entire cast and staff was super, super humble. We were sitting next to Taraji, she walked in the trailer, we were all getting out hair and makeup done in the same trailer, and she was like “Good morning everybody!” She has such a good spirit. Once you see them on TV and meet them, they’re exactly who you expect them to be. They’re really, really nice.
I know it’s been a roller coaster ride of. What other memorable moments do you guys remember from this journey to music success?
Damoli: I think beside “Empire”, of course that was really really big, really memorable, I would say filming our first music video. ‘Cause as long as we’ve been together, we’ve been in the studio, but we’ve never actually did a video. We actually shot two so far, and it was a cool experience.
Where do you see yourselves in 3-5 years?
Kourtney: Ooo (laughs) that’s such a long time for now. It’s so much that could happen. I would say winning Grammys, I would say having endorsements, I would say being on our own tour, having multiple albums out, giving back. Being able to be in a position where we can give back to our city, inspiring other young girls, maybe even having some kind of foundation for performing arts, because that’s where we started, in a non-profit organization. So even to have something like that, where kids can have an outlet the way we did, so I think those things will definitely be in the works for the next 3-5 years.