Everyday Icon: Singer-Songwriter Dominique Pruitt

We chatted with this dynamic musician about why and how she's influenced by bygone decades, where she gets her inspiration and more.
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Barbara Sueko McGuire
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We chatted with this dynamic musician about why and how she's influenced by bygone decades, where she gets her inspiration and more.
Image Credit: Maya Eslami

Image Credit: Maya Eslami

Dominique Pruitt laughs when she tries to describe what her music sounds like. The question stumps the 32-year-old singer-songwriter. Although she was raised in a musically-inclined family and has been singing for as long as she can remember, in many ways her voice is, and will always be, an evolving work in progress.

"I find I'm still discovering and exploring my sound myself, so describing it to someone is really hard," she says. "But, my ideal sound, which I'm trying to achieve, would be old-school country mixed with 60s surf rock mixed with spaghetti western with touches of soul, mariachi and calypso. Sounds a little insane, right?"

Insanity isn't always a bad thing, especially in Dominique's case. For her, the creative process is intensely personal, and getting up on stage and sharing the emotional fruits of her passion's labor can be therapeutic.

While she may struggle to find the right words to classify her music, her personal style — charming, vintage, sparkly and imaginative — is definitely the reflection her songs would see if they looked in the mirror. And when music sounds as good as Dominique's, labels are a superfluous box that need not apply.

What and who are some of your creative inspirations?

I'm super visually inspired, so movies often get my mind going. Movies often are the direct source for inspiration. I'm also strongly inspired by living and growing up in Southern California. The 40s/50s/60s are my favorite eras, so they are hugely inspiring in every sense. For musical inspirations, I love Patsy Cline, Harry Belafonte, Dwight Yoakam, Elvis, The Coasters and Dolly Parton.

What is your writing process is like?

My writing process varies, depending on whomever I'm writing with at the time. I write with lots of different folks, but usually it goes something like, I bring in an idea or concept I have for a lyric, I discuss what kind of a sound I want to write around it, we'll discuss inspirations, etc., and then we dive in. I don't really play any instruments, so I do have to rely on my cowriters to help create the musical sound — I'm a good micro-manager on that though, hahaha.

Can you talk about the hardest song you've ever had to write?

The hardest song I've ever written, I wrote with a friend about a year ago — it's called "Outsider." It's just incredibly personal, and we wrote it when I was feeling particularly isolated in the realm of friendships. It also just paints my story of how I've always felt stuck in between, wherever I am. It applies to friendships, the music business, all of that for me. I wouldn't actually say it was hard to write because it came so naturally, but it was very emotional to write. I definitely cried during those sessions!

Do you remember your first-ever live performance?

My first-ever live performance was in high school. I sang the national anthem when I was a senior, at a pep rally. I would say that's about the age I realized I really wanted to try to be a musician and pursue singing, although I didn't REALLY dive into it until way later.

If you could meet any musician, dead or alive, and pick their brain for an hour, who would you choose and why?

Prince. Because, Prince! No really, he was just a GOD of performance. I would talk to him about performing and his writing process and inspirations.

What are you listening to now?

Now I'm listening to lots of 80s and 90s country. I grew up with lots of it around, so I'm revisiting it on the "Prime Country" station on Sirius/XM. It's kinda golden! I'm also listening to Kacey Musgraves whose writing I really admire, Sturgill Simpson, Lindi Ortega, and the Dixie Chicks — I saw them in concert a couple months ago and they BLEW ME AWAY!

What has been the proudest moment in your music career thus far?

One of the proudest moments so far was having my single on the radio back in 2013 — it was just the coolest feeling to be able to hear myself on the radio! Just like in the movie "That Thing You Do," where they turn on the radio for the first time and just freak out because their song is playing.

What is most challenging?

The most challenging thing for me is my constant battle with writing and creating my sound. I am really trying to depend on myself and write solo more, because I know just what it is I like, and sometimes that can't be explained to other co-writers. BUT, writing by myself is also a huge challenge in itself because I am my own biggest critic, of course.

What about the 40s, 50s and 60s speaks to you? Why do you think you were drawn to these bygone eras from a young age?

Every aspect about the mid-century eras appeals to me — the music, the cars, the movies, the looks, the style, the houses. EVERYTHING! My grandma showed me lots of 50s movies growing up, so I think maybe that's where my love sprung up from.

You personal style is incredibly unique — what inspires your fashion sense?

My fashion is inspired constantly by bygone eras, and, sounds cliché, but just wearing what I like and makes me feel good! I LOVE vintage, but I also like mixing it with modern stuff too, because it makes it even more unique. I have an obsession with showgirls from the 40s and 50s, so I LOVE sequins and fringe and crystals and feathers — and LOTS of skin showing, haha. Nothing looks better under stage lights than something sparkly. My favorite vintage store in LA is Squaresville in Los Feliz, and then just the flea markets. Flea markets are heaven to me!

You're also passionate about horses. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I am indeed passionate about horses — my dad's family had racehorses when he was a child, so he got me into riding when I was eight years old. I started taking lessons and was obsessed. I competed and rode probably five to six days a week until I was about 18. I would love to eventually own my own horses and compete again.

My parents still have horses, so it's nice to go for a trail ride every now and then. There is no better meditation for me then to go out on a trail ride through the mountains, on horseback. There is an old quote that says, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man," and it really is the truth.

Tell us about your pups, too! You have a couple of dogs, right?

My husband and I have two rescue dogs we got at shelters — and they are the loves of our lives! They are two girls named Polly and Sailor. They are both little mutts with hot dog bodies and short legs. I'm a HUGE advocate for pet adoption and rescue, because there are so many incredible pets out there who need homes.