After her debut album, Sleep, Dolly Ave is back with a fiery new single “Play With It,” featuring viral TikTok sensation Charlie Curtis-Beard, out on June 30. The song takes on a new attitude, practically begging listeners to get frisky. Upbeat production paired with Dolly’s sweet vocals and Curtis-Beard’s spankin’ good rap feature create a summertime mood everyone’s craving. Dolly’s Sleep continues to gain momentum in the press and digital spaces. The track “Occupied” off the album is on rotation on Sirius XM 88 Rising Radio, with the full project being featured in Atwood Magazine and Forbes. “Play With It” comes with high anticipation to create the carefree, bubbly piece to complete Dolly Ave’s well rounded discography.
The single is coming in hot after Dolly’s wildly strong introduction to music. Her music video for her last single “Try” premiered in Ones To Watch and critics reviewed it saying, “Dolly Ave is a voice needing to be heard.” Dolly and Curtis-Beard are no strangers to the buzz, however. They had a break-out hit in 2020 collaborating on “Sunlight, Quiet, Flowers” which trended #1 on TikTok’s Original Music charts for 7 days straight and over 428K streams on Spotify (and counting). “Play With It” contrasts the vibe of their previous release, allowing Dolly Ave to experiment with playful vocals and lyrics that take on a lighthearted feel. Curtis-Beard’s rap feature on the song completes it, Dolly praises. “I had written ‘Play With It’ and felt it’d be the perfect song to relink on. Our roles reversed funny enough. I had originally written it for myself but I just felt he was perfect to add his spin on it,” the Vietnamese-American singer-songwriter says.
“I know what you’re thinking, let’s just play with it,” Dolly Ave flirtatiously sings alongside Curtis-Beard’s verse. She’s excited to unveil this new angle to her music – “I wanted to write a fun song that didn’t take myself too seriously and showcase a different side of me,” says Dolly Ave. The infectious single will be accompanied by a pastel and pastry filled video that takes a song about sex and turns it into a fun baking and dancing session. Their on-screen chemistry climaxes with their original choreographed dance sequence for the summer’s most fun and shareable song. Leah Zeiger and Curtis-Beard taught Dolly Ave how to dance in just two days for the video, creating an environment of feelgood energy that effortlessly translates to the screen.
Dolly Ave is not only an emerging artist in the creative industry, but also an award-winning photographer who has worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and the Migos. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri by two immigrant parents from Vietnam, Dolly Ave speaks of her inspiration to pursue a creative career with an undeniable fervor saying that she makes music “for young artists, for the underprivileged, and for the misunderstood.”
Dolly’s parents worked as nail technicians and frequently moved the family between Sikeston, Missouri, and Kansas City in their search for jobs during her childhood. Dolly describes Kansas City as a “very strange place to immigrate to”: a small, midwestern town with not many other Asians, and with just as modest and simple expectations for life — to grow up and get a good job. Still, Dolly dreamed of bigger things. Her family was a creative one – her father played the guitar, and Dolly grew up listening to “all sorts of stuff,” from The Beatles to Vanessa Carlton, who specifically left a sizable impression on Dolly when she was younger because Carlton played the piano and sang at the same time.
In school, Dolly did theatre and choir, where she learned to sight-read and where one of her teachers remarked that the way she sang was “Eastern-wise,” she remembers. The advent of the Internet and with it, the vast and new world of YouTube, also played a significant role in Dolly’s formative years. “I noticed a lot of musicians would turn on the webcam and play their songs,” she says. “It blew my mind, like, ‘Wow people are just putting this out there in the world?’” Though she was shy and didn’t share any original music of her own on the platform, she was writing and singing little songs in her bedroom: sad and sweet tunes about feeling alone. “I was 12 singing about being lonely and sad,” she says now, laughing. As Dolly ventured deeper into the YouTube music community, she followed along as the creators she admired, among them Daniela Andrade, AJ Rafael, Tim Atlas, and Sam Tsui, grew their careers from homegrown cover videos to full-blown careers in their own right. “That sparked a lot in my journey in music and the arts,” she says. “This is not just something that always has to be a hobby. There are avenues, or channels to make this a real thing, and [to] enjoy your life making it.” Eventually, at 18, Dolly left the narrow confines of Kansas City for art school in Chicago, where she bloomed. Propelled by the bustling and rich underground music and art scene of the city, one she describes to be tight-knit and immensely collaborative, Dolly found her footing in her own creative endeavors. She navigated the music community by way of her camera, having nurtured a childhood hobby into a career, taking photos and filming videos for local artists.
All the while, she continued to write songs on her own. In June 2018, spurred on by a moment of “what if” curiosity and her friend’s urgings, she recorded and released her first song, “Birds,” a melancholy, and contemplative tune with R&B leanings about finding “the legs to run.” Shortly thereafter, encouraged by the unknown potentials of her own creativity, she began working on her first project, the Sleep, which has finally come to fruition as Dolly Ave steps into the spotlight for the first time with a full-length record.