With 'Austin,' Country Artist Dasha Line-Dances Her Way To TikTok Stardom

The Nashville singer-songwriter's new single is a viral smash, but she's got a lot more stories up her sleeve, too.

Dasha is happy to align herself with legions of country artists before her time when she describes her music as “three chords and the truth.”

As traditional as the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s approach may be, however, she also understands the cultural impact of a viral moment. All it took was a line dance to set her on a path toward stardom.

Austin,” the first single from Dasha’s second album, “What Happens Now?,” is a delightfully catchy ode to a lover who just won’t commit. It’s also proven to be social media gold, catapulting to the top of Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 chart thanks to a plethora of line-dancing reinterpretations.

Though Dasha says “Austin” was always her album’s “north star,” it was recorded after she and co-writers Cheyenne Rose Arnspiger, Kenneth Travis Heidelman and Adam Wendler scrapped a different track, “Play Dumb,” which just didn’t fit her vibe.

Listen to “Austin” below:

“It was a song about knowing you’re getting cheated on — a whole horrible story, but I couldn’t relate to what we were writing. I wanted to pivot,” the 23-year-old told HuffPost. After a quick “reset,” the group took the scorned woman’s perspective of “Play Dumb” and reworked it into “something really boot-clappy and fun and kind of badass.”

Two weeks before the release of “What Happens Now?” last month, Dasha unveiled the “Austin” line dance on TikTok. A little more than a month later, her moves have been replicated thousands of times by her fans on the platform.

“The plan just went so smoothly,” she said, “and I’m so proud of how we executed that.”

A native of San Luis Obispo, California, Dasha grew up listening to the likes of Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift. Her current sonic influences include Zach Bryan, Noah Kahan and Kacey Musgraves.

Still, she didn’t envision herself as a country artist at first. Her first album, 2023’s “Dirty Blonde,” was firmly in the pop and R&B vein. In 2020, she collaborated with electronic music artist Lyfes on a dance remake of R.E.M.’s 1991 smash, “Losing My Religion.”

Nashville musician Dasha unveiled her new album, "What Happens Now?," in February.
Nashville musician Dasha unveiled her new album, "What Happens Now?," in February.
Adam Budd

Though Dasha is still influenced by R&B, she feels country is the best fit for her breezy, yet vulnerable, songwriting style. Listeners who check out “What Happens Now?” in full are sure to be impressed by her musicianship. As it turns out, “Austin” is part of a three-part narrative on the album that follows a decadeslong relationship. It’s followed by the wistful “King of California” and “Drown Me,” an acoustic ballad in which she drops her defiant facade to reconnect with the deeply passionate romantic within.

“I love seeing women who have written songs for themselves and for others who were so unapologetically themselves,” she said.

But as artists like Parton and Swift have proven, genre-hopping can be divisive with listeners. Country is, also, still widely viewed as a male-dominated space.

Though Dasha is acutely aware of the overall scarcity of women in mainstream country, she’s hopeful that will present an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“One of the top comments I’ve gotten after releasing ‘Austin’ and my album has been: ‘Wow, I don’t like country music, but I love your music,’” she said. “And that means a lot because I feel like I’m converting people from different genres into country fans.”

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