DVWEZ- Showcase Interview 2017

DVWEZ (pronounced Dames) is an up-and-coming alternative R&B artist from Orlando who takes you into her own atmosphere by combining electronic production with soothing vocals. Turning twenty-four soon, she has already put out two projects under DVWEZ, has beautifully refined and quality visuals, and has been featured on prominent music blogs such as Stereogum and The FADER – and she only started getting serious two years ago!

Known as Delia when she’s not performing, she evokes an air of sophistication and intellect while still being easygoing, warm, and sensitive. Recently, she has worked hard as an independent artist to put herself out into the world. Earlier this year, she started a Kickstarter fund to properly and deeply share her newest project, Paradise, and create a live experience that people can really connect to. With support from her listeners as well as those who are close to her, the Kickstarter fundraiser and party proved to be a huge victory for Delia and helped the Paradise Experience truly come to life. This past Saturday, she performed Paradise at Gainesville’s newest live music venue and recording studio, Heartwood Soundstage and will continue bringing listeners upon this journey into paradise at Swamp Records’ Showcase this upcoming Wednesday.

Delia thrives off of her creative expression and is making all the right moves to genuinely express this creativity with others. In this interview, I got the chance to sit down and talk with her about how she started making these moves, the inspiration behind her aesthetic, and the thought process behind stabilizing her identity as an artist. With her extremely well-articulated thoughts, we are really able to better understand her vision and her passion behind what she does – and even relate to it.

What helps you get into that certain headspace when making music?

I think that most of my tracks are inspired by just what’s happening in my life at that moment, or different conversations that I’ve had. So honestly, just like new experiences…and usually the songs that come the easiest to me are something that I’ve just experienced as fresh. Other times, it’s just getting an emotion out that I think people can relate to.

How do you come up with your visuals and your music videos?

So actually that’s been a struggle for me. I think a lot of musicians are so creative musically, but then they don’t have that aesthetic. Honestly, the people that I work with are really great and that’s why I work with them. I feel like I can send them my song and it’ll paint a picture for them and it’ll help me create an aesthetic that makes sense, you know? My photographer Liv, she is amazing at putting together these images. I’ve been working with her probably two years now. And me being able to say this is the feeling that I have and her being able to capture it.

And you let them run with it completely?

I let them run with it completely…I do because I think that everyone has their specialty with what they’re good at and collaboration is so good. If I were to be like “Ok, this is what I’m thinking, I wanna do this, but not this and this…” – I feel like it would be limiting for them and that it wouldn’t let them explore and work as best as they do. So, I pretty much put it in their hands. If it’s something that I really don’t like then I would voice that, but most of the time it’s spot on.

The album artwork for Pastels - did you plan to make it upside down?

I didn’t. I did however, plan on using my girlfriend in the image because I feel like when artists are in relationships, they steer clear from using their significant other…but to me, it was important because the whole EP is essentially about her. It was an homage to her and I wanted to show that visually. With that EP, there’s so many different themes…But one: I thought it looked really cool upside down, and two: it kind of just made sense to me. And again, with like that aesthetic, that was all Liv. It’s very rare to find people who still shoot film, and she does - which is really cool. That was one of the things I liked about her initially, that she was so skilled in that. Since then, we’ve been using film and digital and all that stuff, but for that particular shoot, I really wanted it to have that grainy feel and texture.

How did you meet all of these people that you work with?

Through other people. So…let me back it up. My friend Brad, who actually lives out in LA now, lived in Orlando for a while. I was introduced to him because of my friend Chandler, who helped me record and mix and master Pastels. Brad started this art collective called Drogue, which I’m a part of…They do a lot of the design work - like posters and stuff – they do all of that for me. And I’m under their label as an artist. So, through Brad, I got introduced to Liv, who has this blog called Always Nothing in Orlando. It’s really cool and well done, they capture different artists and they also do – you know Tiny Desk Concerts? They do that, but they do it in very interesting locations, like at a spring or something. So I did a photoshoot with them, and that’s how I met Liv originally. She was really easy to work with, which is HUGE for me, because if not, then I feel like it would just be awkward. We just totally vibed, I loved her work, loved that she shot in film, and I have seriously been using her ever since. And now we’re totally friends! It’s kind of interesting how that relationship started. I tell her all the time, “I just wanna steal you and use you for everything!” Brad - same thing, we kind of just hit it off. He really liked my music, he really wanted to help me visually, and now he works with this agency called WeThem.us in LA. They do marketing and stuff for Zayn Malik, PARTYNEXTDOOR, the girl who did Justin Bieber’s dance videos…They have a bunch of interesting lines, so under that, they helped me with a lot.

You went to UF, right? And you were in Swamp Records as well. So tell me about the history, your experience!

Oh my god. So …my freshman year I got into SGP. So Swamp Records…that was before it was even called Swamp Records. It was basically just an idea when I was a freshman. Then, when I was a junior/senior is kind of when it actually became Swamp Records. So I just started out in SGP, fliering and all that stuff. Then, I kind of got more away from it but still knew everyone in it. So last year actually, I played Showcase… which was really awesome. I’ve always wanted to, I just didn’t have everything together and the stuff to do it...

How much of the local Gainesville music scene and Swamp Records do you attribute to your success? Or is it more because of Orlando?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think that my success is local at all. I feel like it’s primarily through the Internet. The Internet’s a weird place, where you can put a song online and you can have fans all around the world. London strangely…Korea strangely…stream my music a lot, which is really cool. And I think that, of course, just by being from Orlando and now living in Gainesville, that’s where I play shows and stuff. But I really don’t feel that my success is local at all. Maybe more recently I’ve been trying to play shows and put out myself that way, but before I was really just focused on the Internet presence.

How do you garner people’s attention on the Internet?

Mostly through music blogs. Being a PR major at UF, I interned at an artist relations firm. Basically that’s their whole job: to get artists played on SoundCloud and streamed on Spotify…So I kind of learned from them. I would just write myself a pitch and pitch it to blogs and be like, “Hey, I released this song, it would be awesome if you could feature it!” And that’s kind of how it started…blogs would just feature my music and SoundCloud plays would go up. For the project, I got more serious about it and I actually got an agency to do that for me. Through that, they were able to get me on Stereogum, which is a really cool blog, and then on a Spotify playlist. I still work with them - so for the Paradise release, they were able to get me on The FADER, which was awesome,and BBC Radio. So I think that it’s crucial right now for artists (if you can afford it, since it’s expensive) to use an agency because your music could be amazing, but if you don’t have the right push behind you, then people won’t hear it. It’s kind of sad, but that’s just how it is.

Did you plan to become a musician? Since you were a PR major, that obviously helped you so much in understanding how the music industry works.

I didn’t…I don’t know, it’s so weird. When I came to UF, I started out as a graphic design major and I really just wanted something where I could feel like I could relax. I did IB in high school, so I was like, “I’m trying to chill.” PR for me, came natural because I already felt like I was a strong writer. I thought that it would be useful for music, but I didn’t necessarily know exactly how I was going to use it. So, I did study PR with the intention of hoping that it would help me, and it definitely has. But, I got more serious about music my junior/senior year.

Do you produce your own beats?

For Pastels, I did. I completely wrote, produced, did all the stuff for Pastels. For this new project, I did not. I actually worked with my friend Kaixen, who lives in Miami. He produced all the beats, and then I basically wrote and performed the songs.

So, what is the creative process like for you?

I think it’s different for each song. I think the best songs I have written have actually been in the car, which is really weird. I’ll just have the instrumental and I’ll be driving – because I travel so much. Just either going to see my family, or going to do a shoot in Orlando, or like playing a show or whatever. So I’m always in the car. When I just have the instrumental and I’m just riding, melodies just come to me. It’s probably super dangerous, because I literally have my phone out, recording a million voice memos. I have a million voice memos and I honestly think that, if you’re a musician, your voice memos are ridiculous! Everyone I’ve talked to…their voice memos are crazy. But that’s basically what I do; I just ride and I have these ideas and I’ll record them. When I get back to my house, I’m able to actually record them and put them on the track and stuff like that.

How long have you been singing for?

A while. I was in my first band at age 11. So I’ve been somehow involved in music for a while. But, this project is very new. The summer of 2015 was when I was like, “Ok. I’m gonna do this.” Before that, I was in a duo called Palmetto and we made electronic synth pop, which is still an ongoing project in a way. I was doing that with my friend Sam, who also went to UF. He introduced me to that world of producing and all that stuff. He taught me how to use Logic, which is everything I use now. When we graduated, we both moved back to Orlando and we were kind of just on different paths…you know, just trying to find a job and the weird post-graduation thing. So, I just started writing all this stuff and I was like, “I should probably do something with all of this,” and then that’s kind of how it started.

Who are your influences and who are your favorite artists to listen to personally?

I think my biggest influence is probably Sade, just because of her super smooth, breathy, effortless vocals. Right now, this is so weird, I didn’t realize this, but if I look at my Spotify, I have streamed the most Zayn. I don’t know if that an embarrassing thing or not, but like…Zayn apparently? I just really like alternative R&B, that’s my thing. I listen to A LOT of hip-hop, which I don’t know if that influences me or not…I love Shura. I saw her in Texas and I literally fangirled super hard…it was kind of embarrassing. I like Wet, they’re awesome…a bunch of people. But basically electronic R&B. I love R.Lum.R, he’s the homie, he’s dope.

So your name. I know it’s the whole reading it upside down thing… but, is it related to your name ‘Dane,’ or is it more the definition of the actual word ‘dame,’ which means an honorable or mature woman?

Yeah, it’s definitely the definition of women. I actually never really get to talk about this, but I really wanted to make that visible. I feel like a lot of LGBT artists starting off - maybe more so not now - but in the past…Speaking of a love interest, they wouldn’t use pronouns like “she” or “her” ever. So it’s important to me, in my music, to say “her” or “she” so people listening could possibly relate. Not that that’s the only thing I’m speaking of, but you know what I mean? Also, my middle name is Dane so I wanted it to have some sort of relation to that as well.

Did you come up with that right away, or did you go through a few other names?

I definitely went through some other names…But I pretty much was set on that. And the reason that I flipped it was because I’m a PR nerd, so I wanted it to be the first thing that comes up when you Google that.

After reading your Kickstarter page, I saw that you said Paradise is all about embracing your individuality and creativity. How did you have the courage to do that, since that can be a scary thing?

Honestly, I think there’s always a struggle. I struggled a long time with saying “I’m definitely gonna do music.” At one point, I was talking to my best friend…I remember this conversation three years ago. I was like, “I’m gonna quit, I’m not doing this anymore.” And that was when we were still making music together and he literally convinced me - he was like, “No. You’re not gonna quit, you’re gonna keep going.” So because of that conversation, I kept going. But, I think that over time it has just become something that I can’t ignore. I still work in my field, in marketing, and that’s really my side job. My main thing is music. It’s really the only thing I see myself doing. It’s the only thing I could do all day, every day. I just feel like it’s why I’m here and it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I just can’t ignore it, so over time it’s gotten easier and easier to accept that. But it definitely is hard, especially when you have gone to school…it’s kind of hard to deviate. But as soon as you accept that, there’s no turning back.

The new album artwork for Paradise…the knife…that’s kind of intense!

That’s kind of violent right, it’s intense? Yeah, that’s funny! That’s just the single for Paradise. So, shoot that we did for Paradise (the album,) I called it a pathetic birthday party. There’s balloons…in the next single, there’s cake…I kind of just wanted that aesthetic of the juxtaposition between that kind of violence and also celebration. That’s how I feel about the project, I think it is something to celebrate. A lot of the themes are about success, but about the struggle as well, so that’s kind of why I went with that. Paradise specifically, is about feeling separated and isolated. The knife isn’t directly correlational, but it just has that feeling.

Do you feel like being solo and in your head is kind of like a Paradise? Or no, since you love collaboration too?

The being in my head is the isolation part. I feel like collaboration and being with other people and the success – that’s the Paradise part. But you’re kind of torn because if you’re an artist in any capacity, whether its drawing or whatever…I think that you’re always a little weird. Creative people are always just a little bit weird. You have your moments when you’re totally isolated and just in your zone, which can be hard for people to relate to sometimes. I think that is the separation. But then lately, I feel like all of these things have been happening that are good and positive – and that’s the Paradise.

Was your performance in the Always True Co. basement your first performance?

No, my first performance was actually Swamp Showcase 2016, which went really well! The Always True Basement Show, that was specifically to raise money for the Kickstarter. I was at a good mark, I was probably like $1000 or so off, so I wanted to throw the (Kickstarter) party to make sure that I could hit my goal and also, just bring everyone together and have a good time. It was really nice. I was REALLY surprised by the turnout and how supportive everyone was. It was just rejuvenating, because if you’ve ever done a Kickstarter, it is the hardest thing. There were so many days during that Kickstarter that I was just praying for it to be over, because it’s so hard asking people for money…And also Kickstarter is a platform where it’s all or nothing. So that stress of just like “I have to get this!,” you know what I mean? But that was a moment (hitting the goal for the Kickstarter party) where I was just able to relax and without the party, I wouldn’t have been able to reach my goal.

What are your favorite places to perform?

Right now, out of all the places, I would say Will’s Pub in Orlando. The sound there is just awesome, I’ve also played there three times now, so that’s just been a good venue for me. I’m really excited about Heartwood, I think that’s gonna be amazing…one, for the show on Saturday, and two, for Swamp Showcase. I think that what Heartwood is doing is really cool. I’ve known Dave for a long time, so to see how he’s grown and for him to have Heartwood - I know they’re gonna do such amazing things. I’m really happy that everyone is seeing that.

How do you stay humble and grounded?

I think the people around me keep me super humble…I feel like this is just the beginning. I mean, there’s so much work to be done and I think that every time something exciting happens, it helps you see that there’s a glimpse of what’s to come. But at the same time, you know how much you put into that to get there, so I think the fact that there’s so much work to still be done is what keeps you humble. And also, the people around you who know how hard you’re working - I think that’s crucial.

Now, a deep question that tells me a lot about you as a person: pineapples on pizza or no?

Oh my gosh. Um…sometimes. I don’t know if that’s a cop out, but sometimes. I think that if I’m getting the pizza, I probably wouldn’t put pineapple. But it really depends. My girlfriend always gets pineapple and sometimes I’m like “Eh…” but other times I’m like, “Yo…lemme get a slice.”

Experience DVWEZ’ real life Paradise for yourself at Showcase, tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19th!

- VNIKV Huda

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