Purposeful 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!