Interview: Amy Bell
Originally from Solihull, Birmingham, DEJA now resides in West London to pursue her career in music. Having grown up surrounded by a family of music enthusiasts, the singer has cherished music for as long as she can remember, sourcing inspiration from a variety of RnB
Mulan’ lands after an undoubtedly successful year last year for DEJA. 2021 saw the release of DEJA’s EP ‘Intro’ (listen here), a project that quickly excited widespread support across the media including Wonderland Magazine, Notion, Clash Magazine, Complex, Trench – as well as ardent support from her local BBC Introducing London.and Soul icons including Stevie Wonder, Destiny's Child, Aaliyah and Usher from a young age.
Beginning her journey at 14, DEJA began singing, writing and performing as well as taking to stages for her school talent shows - music was a second language for this bourgeoning artist from the very beginning.
Now in her 20’s and having crafted her sound into her distinct brand of Pop infused RnB, DEJA has gained the recognition of The Jacksons, Emeli Sandé, Macklemore, Etta Bond and Ady Suleiman to name a few, having been personally selected to open their shows on the basis of her undisputed talent.
Hi DEJA, if you could tell your 14-year-old self anything, what would it be?
I’d tell little DEJA to start her locs journey immediately so that I’d have longer hair right now haha.
You have grown up around music with your family being music enthusiasts, what did you grow up listening to?
I’m really grateful to my family cos they all taught me - in depth - about their favourite genres. So my mother got me into the female powerhouses; real saaaangers. Whitney, Celine Dion and the rest. My father gave me the grooves. George Benson, Micheal Jackson, Stevie Wonder, all of dem. And my older sister gave me everything else! Pop princesses like Britney to R&B badders like Ja Rule and even country and classical gold like Chris Stapleton and Beethoven. In a nutshell I really grew up listening to everything.
You have a new single named ‘Mulan’ out, what is the story behind this new single?
So a few months before I wrote Mulan, I had the police called on me for sunbathing topless. It was a man that called the po-po and there were even 2 men sunbathing topless either side of me. Long story short - I wasn’t breaking any laws so the police that came to disarm my nipples left me in peace. We women still get scrutinised for so many things and I’m over it. I personally refuse to let people (especially society) tell me what to do and ‘Mulan’ is the perfect expression of that.
Did you already have a vision for this and what was the recording/writing process like?
I tend not to have a full blown vision for a song until it’s made. I work better when I’m just writing - not trying to fit a song to a specific brief or “vision”. Saying that though, once Mulan was finished, I knew exactly what I wanted visuals-wise. I’d recently come across illustrator Yuki (@yuquiche) and it made all the sense to have her work elevate Mulan visually. I gave Yuki a folder of images of me shot by incredible photographer Lily Sadin (@lilingtons) and she made the Mulan artwork and animation!
With the writing side of things - I mostly write with bad man Corey K (@corey___k). Our process is quite simple. I’ll bring an idea to the session, Corey will build a likkle production around it and we keep adding until it feels right.
When you’re creating music, where do you look for inspiration?
My life. My music, most recently, has been about idiot boys that can’t satisfy me and my time lol. Like, why would you waste my time like that? - I ain’t no regular bish.
What was the first show you performed in?
I was a rock in my primary school nativity play. Better believe I was the flyest rock on stage haha. Nah seriously, I’ve been on and off stage since I can remember. I was even on the Disney Channel as a kid. But my first notable show was in secondary school. I sang a Whitney Houston song and even the kids that disliked me were singing my praises for weeks after. That’s when I knew I could SING sing.
You have a very go-get attitude, how do you maintain this?
This is difficult to answer. I just do it. But lemme think….
I’m a perfectionist so I’m never satisfied. There’s always more to do and no one can do it for me so I go get it.
I’m sure everyone is excited to know... what is next for you?
Big question. Little answer.I have so much coming. Music, shows, collabs. So keep watching!