In a white feathered headpiece and leotard masked cozily under the darkness of a dimly lit stage, Dawn Richard belted out her battle cry.

“I thought I lost it all. And I realize that tears will fall …,” Richard sang fervently as she opened her first solo show since parting ways with her Danity Kane bandmates after their brief one-year reunion. And true to first lines of her album’s intro “Noir,” Richard has weathered a great deal of loss over the past few months.

Richard’s grandmother passed away in August, and Danity Kane broke up the same month following a studio altercation involving Richard. As Richard faced the fallout from the breakup — which many fans blamed her for — she was also coming to terms with her father’s lymphoma diagnosis. But in the months of darkness that marked her summer’s end, Richard found refuge from the turmoil by rebuilding her album Blackheart, the project she suspended in 2013 to rejoin the ladies of DK.

An admitted mix of musical styles and inspirations, Richard calls the album a “genre-less” creation that wholly represents her as an artist. And on the stage of Webster Hall’s Marlin Room in New York City, her live band’s thumping bass, cooing keys and swelling drums made the album’s tracks impossibly large for the stage struggling to envelop them.

“We back like we never left this bitch, right?” Richard asked the sold-out crowd defiantly. “They said that we couldn’t, but we still keep going.” And with her two member team — consisting of herself and her business partner Kyle Cabrol — Richard again flouted the odds with her new project. She grabbed the No. 1 spot on iTunes’ Top 100 Electronic Albums chart and the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart without any dramatic promo, conventional album marketing or even a label.

On the eve of her return to the stage for her five-city Black Era tour, Richard spoke with about Blackheart, the second album in her Heart trilogy. She shared how she’s thriving as an independent artist, what she learned from Danity Kane’s reunion and why Kris Jenner deserves some serious respect.

Watch the video above for all of Dawn’s chat with!

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