Dasha Unpacks The Viral Success Of ‘Austin,’ Gives A Preview Of Next Album

The viral country star says she “always knew” “Austin” would be the song to put her on the map.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 19, 2024

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Dasha; Photo by Adam Budd

Dasha is one of the newest independent names in the business to earn viral success with her punchy, breakout single, “Austin.” The 23-year-old singer/songwriter has already got country music lovers worldwide hooked on her unique sound and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. 

How Did Dasha Get her Start In Music?

Hailing from San Luis Obispo, California, Dasha began pursuing her love for singing at just eight years old. Artists like Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton and Avril Lavigne acted as strong female role models for the hopeful singer, leading her to find her confidence on stage through musical theater and performing for her parents. Naturally, her interest in songwriting followed shortly after, and she became “obsessed with how words fit together in rhymes and rhythms.”

“I started writing songs in the back of my notebooks at school and then I started playing piano and guitar, and my parents were like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’ They were kind of my first managers, and just started booking me little shows when I was 10 to play my original songs at coffee shops and little wineries and stuff like that,” she explained to Country Now.

Dasha brought that musical passion to Nashville, where she attended school at Belmont University from 2018-2020. This experience helped her dive deeper into her desire to create country, folk, and Americana music, and also made it clear that she needed to make Music City her home after completing her time at Belmont. 

“After I decided to go back to my roots and go back to more country stuff, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do. I just wanted to be involved in the culture and the industry and it just felt like the right thing to do in my gut. So literally within a month’s time, I found a place to live and I just went for it.”

“Austin” Gains Major Traction

Things took a major turn in Dasha’s career this year when her song “Austin” started gaining traction on TikTok. The track released independently through VERSION III, began amassing over 1.5 million streams daily, claimed the coveted No. 1 spot on the Viral Top 50 US Spotify playlist and was added to the rotation of Sirius XM’s Hits 1, The Highway and TikTok Radio. As of Tuesday (March 19), the song has earned Dasha her first career entry on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

She also cleverly choreographed her own line dance to match the infectious chorus, which has now prompted over 320,000 TikTok users to join the dance phenomenon. 

“It’s been really wild, but also, I always knew it was going to happen,” she said of the song’s viral success. “Right when I wrote the song, I was like, this is going to be a song that puts me in the map. I knew it. My manager knew it. I feel like my whole team kind of came around being like ‘yeah, this song’s gonna go crazy.’ It’s just been a wild though to see how fast it’s gone and how people are reacting globally. It’s been blowing my mind, so crazy.”

The Story Behind The Song

Dasha; Austin
Dasha; Austin

“Austin” was penned by Dasha, whose real name is Anna Dasha Novotny, with Adam Wendler, Cheyenne Rose Arnspiger and Kenneth Travis Heidelman. The idea stemmed from Dasha’s intense desire to pen what she calls a “scorned woman country song,” similar to those by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.

Using the anger she had acquired from a man in her life at the time, she poured her emotions into the lyrics that speak to the frustration of empty promises and being let down time and time again.

“Adam Wendler, who plays guitar on the song, he started strumming the chords and they were fast and we all got amped up. I have this voice note…I just started freestyling the chorus, “did your boots stop working, did your truck break down.” I literally freestyled those first two lyrics with a melody and we’re like, ‘whoa, what is going on here?’ And we wrote the song in less than an hour.”

@itsdashabitch had to hit again 😮‍💨 @Zoeyaune ♬ Austin – Dasha

Dasha Says She Wants To Always Be “Real” With Fans

Fans were quick to take a liking to “Austin” not only for its catchy, sing-along chorus, but also for the fact that it showcases Dasha in a very raw and authentic way. She admits her goal in music has always been to make songs that she would want to listen to while also putting her visual storytelling skills to use, and with “Austin,” fans seem to feel as though she has hit the nail on the head. 

“It just makes me so happy because the reason this all started working and connecting with people is because I just started being so real with myself and my fans, and really not giving up my personal integrity and what I love. My main goal with my fans is to inspire them because I have so many females who are my age, who are young 20s and kind of confused and I’m confused half the time about life and what’s going on. And the most amazing, beautiful thing you can do as a woman is to be unapologetically yourself and not care about what people say and think. Just do you.”

She continued, “I really wanted to inspire my fans to like really accept that part of them and just be the most unapologetic, bada*s version of themselves. So that’s how I try to be in all times, but especially online when I’m representing myself. I just want to inspire them to build up the best life and not be afraid to take some chances and make some new marks.”

Debut Country Album

Dasha; What Happens Now
Dasha; What Happens Now

In the midst of racking up listeners from her online platform, the female songstress dropped her debut country record, What Happens Now?, which finds “Austin” as the focus track. This project further exemplifies of the current era of life and music Dasha is in as a young twenty-something. 

“It’s really weird navigating all these very adult things when I still feel so young and so resistant about growing up because I don’t want to grow up, no one really does. Being in this weird limbo period and also feeling so many deep things and experiencing a lot of hard things for the first time with different people, this album really summarizes what it’s like to be a young female in your early 20s and just not really knowing what’s going on…I always want to keep my music super honest and vulnerable and show that I’m literally just like you. I’m no different. We’re all going through the same sh*t.”

New Project Already In The Works

What Happens Now? was unveiled on February 16, and Dasha hinted that her next full-length collection is already in the works. The success of “Austin” has opened many new doors, which includes allowing her the chance to get into the room with some “incredible writers” who are helping build out her forthcoming collection. 

“I’m so proud of it…It’s just an elevated version of what you’ve already heard,” she said before offering a preview into one of the new tracks. “We made a song yesterday called ‘Run Like Hell’…I’m down here in Miami right now with my brother Bardo and we’ve done this three-day writing camp and written all these songs. And this one, ‘Run Like Hell’ is just…I was tearing up last night listening to it because, this is one of the best songs I’ve ever written in my entire life. It was so exciting.”

Preparing To Make Her Late-Night TV Debut

Dasha; Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Dasha; Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Another milestone is up ahead as Dasha will make her late-night TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with her viral hit this Thursday, March 21 at 11:35 pm ET / 10:35 pm CT.  The singer admits she was “screaming” when she heard the news that this bucket list moment was finally happening. 

I was so, so unbelievably excited. It’s like everything I’ve ever wanted. I just literally cannot wait. It’s going to be the best night of my life.”

Dasha has no official tour on the books yet, but she shared that she is looking forward to being on the road and connecting with her fans very soon. 

Listeners will have the chance to see Dasha perform live at festivals like CMA Fest, Bonnaroo, and Stagecoach this summer.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.