INTERVIEW | RAPPER DEYAH (@iamdeyah) LETS US KNOW SHE IS HERE.

DEYAHPur­pose­ful and enig­mat­ic are the two words that come to mind when describ­ing Deyah. Formerly known as ‘NoNameDis­ciple’, Deyah is a rising Welsh rap­per whose music radi­ates a pol­ished lyr­i­cism that decis­ively artic­u­lates her own call­ing. Accord­ing to Deyah, her under­ly­ing mes­sage “is about seek­ing a rela­tion­ship with God” and while her music does not neces­sar­ily pros­elyt­ise, it does proudly declare her Chris­ti­an faith.

Deyah isn’t the first artist to make good music that explores faith, love and soci­ety, but the enig­mat­ic qual­ity of her music is exem­pli­fied with the way Deyah invites the listen­ers to come to their own inter­pret­a­tions. She touches on top­ics con­cern­ing her fam­ily, career and ambi­tions with a guarded intim­acy, but then offers up occa­sion­ally scath­ing and at times restrained cri­tiques of soci­ety, as seen in A Millennial’s God­fid­ence. It’s pro­found but then she com­bines this with a key ear for pro­duc­tion, that makes her music very listen­able and has garnered her fans, includ­ing Lily Allen.

Deyah has recently released her new EP ‘Lov­ers Loner’, which was recently lis­ted at num­ber 1 on Jamz Supernova’s Top 5 EP’s on her BBC 1Xtra show.

We caught up with Deyah to talk about her name, her music and future.

What’s behind the mean­ing of the name, Deyah?

‘I am deyah’, like ‘I am there’. It’s got that patois spin on it. I want oth­ers to know I’m there/deyah for them, that I care and intend to sup­port and encour­age.

Who were your major music­al influ­ences grow­ing up?

Michael Jack­son for sure, I listened to him day in and day out. Erykah Badu, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac, Mis­sy Elli­ot, Fela Kuti, Jill Scott, Guru, Musiq Soulchild, Brandy, Phar­rell, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, the list goes on…

Last year you were fea­tured as part of a BBC Radio 1 fea­ture on reli­gious rap­pers where you said music is part “min­istry” for you. Is the goal for your music to share your testi­mony and inspire people to seek a rela­tion­ship with God?

I’d say so. I feel that it’s import­ant as an artist to write about what you know and I don’t know much but I do know what I’ve exper­i­enced and who I have faith in, there­fore it makes sense to me to write about that. My testi­mony is def­in­itely on-going, so I’ll con­tin­ue to write about that and yeah my under­ly­ing mes­sage is about seek­ing a rela­tion­ship with God for sure.

Listen­ing to A Millenial’s God­fid­ence, it’s clear you reflect a lot on soci­ety. Are you optim­ist­ic about the world? 

Yes and no. No, because I feel we’re liv­ing in the peak­est of times and situ­ations tend to get worse before they get bet­ter, so I feel we’re at the stage where it’s only going to get worse. How­ever, being a per­son of faith, I have com­plete con­fid­ence in know­ing the best is yet to come after the storm has been endured and I take that com­fort from scrip­ture, know­ing there’s hope en route if we choose it.

Can you tell us about your envir­on­ment grow­ing up? When did you first recog­nise your music­al tal­ents?

My envir­on­ment was pretty unstable, ever chan­ging and very mad. It was like liv­ing in a film half the time but my expos­ure to music from a young age helped me nav­ig­ate through it to a degree. I remem­ber very clearly my pops play­ing Tupac ‘I Get Around’ and A Tribe Called Quests ‘Busta’s Lament”, “Bon­ita Apple­bum” and “Elec­tric Relax­a­tion”

I was able to pick up the flows and lyr­ics on each track very quickly. I hadn’t at that age thought about writ­ing music, but my flow adapt­ab­il­ity was cer­tainly there. That’s when I was like yeah this is kinda cool!

In 2017, you released Ther­apy Ses­sions 77, which is a tre­mend­ous bit of work. How did you approach mak­ing the pro­ject?

Thank you. Hon­estly, I just recor­ded a bunch of socks and slapped them on an EP! There’s like 18 tracks on there and I couldn’t nar­row the pro­ject down to less than that, so I thought you know what, let me release them all.

Can you tell us about any upcom­ing music pro­jects? Will we be get­ting some­thing in the same vein as “Ther­apy Ses­sions 77”?

I’ve got a pro­ject called “Lover//Loner” out now. It’s a little short­er, 12 tracks and an intro. It’s a more mature pro­ject with a lot more thought put into the lyr­ics, pro­duc­tion and over­all struc­ture. I cer­tainly put all my cards on the table with this one!

You pos­ted a video in Janu­ary of you in the stu­dio work­ing with Lily Allen. How’s that com­ing along, will you be releas­ing music togeth­er?

That was a very cool exper­i­ence. It still feels sur­real. Hope­fully soon yes, I need to rewrite my verse because I know I’m cap­able of bet­ter, so I believe the hold-up is on my end!

 

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Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa
Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.