Exclusive: Interview with WHOAA

A blend of Top 40/Urban and retro pop flair, WHOAA is a duo who attempts to bring fresh music to the scene. Comprising of Ashley and Darren, the duo is known for their energetic stage performances. Calling themselves “genre-bending”, they experiment with a variety of styles and sounds to create music that can make the listener happy.

Recently, the duo released the music video for their single “Candy Love”. Candy Love is WHOAA’s top 40 Funky summer jam, presenting their trailblazing, fully – immersed animated, 16- bit video game music video. The colorful sounds, tropical lush – synths, and heavy bass groove make up this blockbuster Jam. With their unique blend of retro-pop, with a modernized twist is considered a commodity in today’s “follow the leader” crowded mainstream music scene.

In an interview with CelebMix, WHOAA talked about their musical vision and their upcoming projects. Check out the complete interview below:

1. Please tell our readers a bit about your journey as artists.

Ashley “Ring” signed her first record deal with Cash Money Records, after being discovered by CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams. Ring released “Moving Target” featuring Lil Wayne and worked with many top producers and engineers, including Grammy-award winning Ken Lewis, and vocally trained under multi-platinum vocal director Ejay Randolph and legendary soul singer Betty Wright.

Darren “Dolla” Murphy began as a founding member of the successful independent hip-hop trio, EDUBB. His credited indie success of “viral” hit songs “Whooty” & “Rain Boots” with over 12 million YouTube views, garnering mentions on TMZ and placements on Germany’s Next Top Model, allowed Dolla to tour abroad in Europe, selling over 80,000 digital units.  He has recorded and performed with legendary artists such as George Clinton & P-Funk, Cameo, The Bar-Kays, The Ohio Players, Goodie Mob, and Bone Thugs N Harmony.

In July of 2015, the duo joined forces as WHOAA, aligning both artist’s individual pasts and experiences to create a “Retro-Pop” dynamic duo, WHOAA.

2. You have been defined as “genre-bending and a culture shocking duo”. So, why did you decide to go against the current musical tradition and adopt the musical style that you have been working with till now?

We want to bring back that feeling that you’ve been missing from music.  We really enjoy studying musical artists that deliver a message i.e Michael Jackson, Prince, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Just to name a few, those that helped transcend music and the human experience in relation to Life, and the positive impact music can have. These types of trailblazing artists and this is what we came up with.

As for defining ourselves as “genre-bending”, we aim to break through typical genre classifications by creating music that can everyone can love. We are paying respect to the greats before us and we are just trying to push the envelope while staying true to our mission of spreading love aka W.H.O.A.A. (W.hen H.earts O.pen A.nd A.ttract).”

3. Who do you look up to when it comes to music?

We are inspired by many great artists, from all different genres and time eras…   Michael Jackson, Prince, Mariah Carey, Jimi Hendrix, The Isley Brothers, Lita Ford, Janet Jackson, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, Cameo, Paula Abdul, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Parliament Funkadelic, Ready For the World, The SOS Band, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Outkast and Earth Wind & Fire to name a few.

4. Be it “Don’t Take Me for Granted” or “No One” or even “Candy Love”, we can see that you experiment a lot with your sound. So, how do you see your evolution as artists? Has there been a change in sound or musical sensibility?

Yes, we both have individual backgrounds from different musical journeys that allowed us to both experiments with different sounds and musical genres. We share a mutual affinity for 80s New Wave, Pop, Funk, Synth-Pop, R&B and Hair Metal; 90s R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop and Alternative Rock. During the inception of WHOAA, we set out to create a “retro” stylistically vibe, that would bring back soul music to mainstream pop, as well as pulling out the costume and wardrobe theatrics of the 70s Soul, Rock, And Funk Era!  Ashley “Ring” evolution began with an affinity for 80s Hair Metal Rock bands, power ballad vocal theatrics, and evolved into Pop and R & B sensibilities.  DoLLA began as a Southern Rap Lyricist, Evolving into Party and Pop Rap, further infusing melodic singing and rap with stylistically FUNK Music sensibilities.

5. Today, a lot of musicians are coming forth to share the message of love. Your recent music video emphasizes self-love. Please tell us about your vision for your music and the kind of messages that you wish to convey.

Well, WHOAA is an acronym for When. Hearts. Open. And. Attract! We are both always trying our best to live life with a positive mind and always about spreading love and positive energy to others! So WHOAA just kinda came to us as a reflection of our lifestyle! We love to have fun but also love to inspire and uplift people as well! We just love to spread LOVE at the end of the day! “We just want to bring that “feel good” energy and put the “soul” back in pop music, by spreading Love and Hope to those that might be Hopeless, to show the world that music is still a healing tool”.

6. Congratulations on “Candy Love”. Please tell our readers a bit about the single.

Candy Love is ALL ABOUT LOVE! We say, LOVE, 43 times! Catch the vibe??! For us, it is really an anthem about not giving up! Even when times are tough, you just gotta push through! If your true core is love that is way easier and sweeter than having hateful energy in your core!

7. The music video follows the concept of a video game. How did you guys come up with the concept?

Inspired by our LOVE for 16- Bit Video GAMES!!!  The games we grew up playing!  Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo… Mario, Mortal Kombat… Etc.  It’s a TOTAL reflection of our fun, personality!   ALL things Retro…

8. It’s been a few weeks since the video released. So, how has been the response so far?

Well, we are SUPER excited because we found out that “Candy Love” was just featured on Ellen DeGeneres website ELLENTUBE.   This song is our anthem for everything about LOVE! Love has NO boundaries… Neither does this song!  IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!!!

9. Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavors?

As far as 2018 goes we will be releasing a song every month. We are about to release a new song and video titled “Crusin”! We have so much content we will just be unloading. We have WHOAATV coming, more music videos and more music. Our album is almost finished and we are looking to release that around March of 2019. We do have two EP’s available now, THE DAY BEFORE and BROKE HEARTS AVENUE.

10. Lastly, do you have any message for your fans?


What do you think about the music video? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.

Written by Ayushi

Hi! I am Ayushi from India. The only thing that is consistent about me is my passion for writing and reading. Weaving words to form a story is the best thing I know and the only thing I want to do.
"Writer by nature is a dreamer, a conscious dreamer."
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