By Jocelle Koh
Asian-Australian artist Dizzy Dizzo a.k.a Dominique Choy is the definition of girl boss. Starting out in the industry as an artist who could do it all, from singing to writing to producing, Dizzy made the switch from performing under moniker Dominique Choy to Dizzy Dizzo in 2016, where she revamped her sound and gained credibility as a rapper extraordinaire, holding her own against hip hop royalty such as E.SO 瘦子 and Barry Chen.
Also a beauty and fashion influencer with over 600k followers on Instagram, a self-made entrepreneur and a new mother, its hard to keep track of all the things that she’s got going for her. But other than considering herself all of these things, Dizzy is a self-professed ocean lover who fell in love with the underwater world after being exposed to free diving a few years back. She shares that it was a transformative experience for her:
“Growing up in Sydney I have always loved being by the beach gave me a sense of freedom and positivity. But I think when I really started to care about the ocean was when we started going free diving. Because I came into contact with a lot of marine life. And it was some of the most amazing experiences that I’ve experienced, that you could be so close to such creatures, but they are absolutely harmless. And we are just a simple visitor of their home. So after freediving and seeing all this marine life, at the same time, I also saw lots of garbage in the ocean while we were diving, and I realised that, oh, what we’re doing in our everyday lifestyle affects these creatures.’ And it just became kind of like, I needed to respect them in some way..Because I absorbed so much from the experience, and it really changed my life.”
Seeing up close the habitats that these underwater creatures lived in up close, Dizzy and her husband Sunny were deeply impacted by what they saw. While they could better appreciate the beauty of these creatures, they also saw first hand how human action impacts the underwater ecosystem, and how little most know about it.
“This is something that we really want to show people because I think in Asia, a lot of people are a little bit of afraid of the water, which I can understand. So, you know, it’s really like this other universe and other world that a lot of people don’t get, they don’t get a chance to be in contact with. And I think that, you know, what we want to do is just to reach people that maybe haven’t really been in close contact and let them understand it’s a completely different world, it’s an underwater world. It’s really beautiful. And we need to try and preserve it for our next generation.”
Working hand-in-hand with world-renowned marine biologists Ocean Ramsey and Juan Sharks, Dizzy and her husband Sunny Wang 王陽明 founded Empire Aqua, a fashion brand that creates shirts out of recycled plastic bottles and aims to raise awareness for life under water through quarterly beach cleanups and donations towards marine life research on creatures such as sharks and Manta Rays. Empire Aqua’s approach to raising awareness about marine life is particularly unique as the animals and stories they focus on are very close to Dizzy and Sunny’s personal experiences.
“So for the first T-shirts, we worked with One Ocean Conservation, which is based in Hawaii, founded by marine biologists Ocean Ramsey, and Juan sharks. And we met them when Sunny was on a job in Hawaii, and we went diving with sharks for the first time. It was a really incredible experience. And we felt so safe and learned so much about sharks, who are normally kind of interpreted as predators, and you know, very scary. So we worked with them on our great white shark T-shirt. Because there was one year when Ocean actually found this beautiful white shark that was kind of passing by the waters in Hawaii. And so every T-shirt we sold, we donated to One Ocean for sharks so they could they could do research and do shark tagging…just to keep a number on sharks in their research.”
Inspired by Ocean Ramsey and Juan Sharks’ tireless efforts towards ocean conservation, Dizzy believes that every little bit counts, and that’s why she is such a big advocate of everyone playing their part by leading a more sustainable lifestyle. She shared her best tips for lessening ones’ carbon footprint:
“I think it’s really really important for people to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. I mean, the first step would probably just to recycle, and also reduce the use of plastic and waste, and also know how much water we’re using every day, bring your own water bottle, just little simple things. Like turn(ing) off lights, and carpool(ing), these are all simple things that everyday you can start by doing.”
While for many the connection between Dizzy’s music and her efforts in marine conservation is not glaringly obvious, the singer states that her time in the ocean has changed her entire philosophy on life, and therefore are a big influence on her music too. Revealing a brand-new single ironically named “Trash Talk”, the song featuring friend and collaborator E.SO marks Dizzy’s return to the music scene after a little break. While not about literal trash, Dizzy’s straightforward, no-nonsense attitude is on full display in this sassy track about life in the public eye.
“It talks about how social media has driven us, like we’re always looked at with a little microscope as celebrities, and … there’s probably going to be a part of the people who… follow you and they… kind of hate what you’re doing. And there’s going to be some that really love what you’re doing. And then us being who we are… it has become a platform for people who when you post something, it’s like the talk of everything. So, you know there’s so much noise, and it makes people kind of a little bit more self conscious about what they’re doing…But actually, originally, Instagram is supposed to be a place where you’re supposed to showcase the most authentic, no filter, no other applications, like it’s just to post like an Instagram photo.”
Applying her philosophy of simplifying her life in both online and offline spaces and getting rid of what’s negative, it’s been five years since Dizzy’s last collaboration with E.SO on “Shui Ai Shui 誰愛誰”. While audiences will be excited to know they’re collaborating once again, Dizzy hopes that this time they’ll both be bringing something new to the table.
“Five years ago, me and E.SO worked on a track, and I wanted him to kind of like sing rap on it, I thought it would be something different from what he was doing before. And this time, you know, when I heard this beat, I thought it’s such a heavy driven bass beat, but really cool. And yeah, just sounded really like fresh to my ears…But overall, it’s like a very cool beat (and) fun song, something different, something I’ve never done before. So I’m really excited.”
It seems there’s lots for Dizzy to be excited for with this coming release, which marks a brand new chapter on her musical journey, and indicates more to come.
“I’m excited for my music fans to hear this track. It has been a while since my last release. And a full album, the last time was about five years ago. And since then, I have been married, and I’ve had a daughter become a mama. So, you know, it’s been a long journey.”
While not giving away too much, we can already see that Dizzy’s go-getter spirit extends into every project that she’s affiliated with. From acknowledging ocean conservation as an important and continued part of her and her family’s lives, she’s opened the doors for many fans across Asia to have access to knowledge and understandings about life beneath the water that they might not have otherwise. And through her music, she continues to pioneer new trends in just the same way, putting forth unorthodox ideas, forging her own path, and leading the way for others to follow. Be it as an ambassador for the underwater world, or a brilliant role model for women everywhere, Dizzy is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
This article is part of our 2021 ‘APW Earth Emergency’ series discussing the contemporary intersection between environmentalism and Asian music. We are partnering with #TOGETHERBAND, a nonprofit global movement to solidify our commitment to concrete environmental efforts. We’ll be holding a contest giving away four #TOGETHERBANDS (sustainably produced friendship bands) over on our Patreon in the month of April, and donating double the month’s earnings to their #TOGETHERFUND. The fund directs aid towards programmes advancing the UN’s sustainable development goals and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the other articles in our ‘Earth Emergency’ series here, and learn how you can participate in the campaign here.