Up Next with Deyaz

Weeks away from the drop of his anticipated new EP, the East London music revelation reflects on the importance of preserving his vision from external pressure for Re-Edition’s music column

Looking for the soundtrack for your next adventure? Be wary of the algorithm and let yourself be guided by the entrancing vibrations of Up Next – Re-Edition’s long-awaited music column – where arts and culture writer Gilda Bruno sits down with some of the most inspiring names on the up-and-coming and established music scene to delve into the inspirations, sounds and dreams of a new avant-garde of musical talents.

Today Bruno speaks with Eastham-born mercurial artist Deyaz to explore what it is like to rise to fame in the age of TikTok, delve into his “healing” approach to music-making and get a grasp of what to expect from his forthcoming EP – possibly his most personal project to date.

From old-school house and garage queen PinkPantheress to Eurovision-winning Italian rock band Måneskin, passing through genres-spanning sensations of the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Beach Bunny, and counting, in recent years TikTok’s wide-reaching virality has catapulted what used to be DIY “bedroom artists” into global stardom overnight. While certainly benefitting from the over 895K followers and 16M likes amassed on the platform, self-proclaimed “non-confined” artist Deyaz moves beyond the logic of the algorithm to tap into an understanding of music that feels timeless and deeply universal.

With stints busking the streets of his native London and hitting the drums in Camden’s grimy, pulsating-with-talent, energetic punk scene, the self-taught multi-instrumentalist – who also has experience in sound design and production under his belthad his life turned inside out by his struggle with mental health, homelessness and addiction. Having found refuge in the cathartic power of music, the gifted singer-songwriter leveraged his ability to juggle guitar, piano and the drums to unleash a sonic universe worth living in, as much for himself as for all those immersing themselves in it.

Considering the vibrancy of his musical inclination, the fact that teenage Deyaz was granted a scholarship to attend London’s renowned Guildhall School of Music doesn’t surprise us. Yet, what seems even more fitting is the 23-year-old’s decision to leave to pursue his love of music on his own terms, outside of the boundaries set by any institution. With the release of his debut mixtape WHY NOT (2022), which garnered more than 16 million collective listens on Spotify alone, the Eastham-born mercurial talent has given a sound to the hardships he managed to overcome and the dreams he is currently chasing.

Packed with atmospheric acoustic guitar riffs and intensely evocative lyrics delivered via his trademark full, haunting vocals, I’ll Scream (All the Words) and Bones, the two first singles from his forthcoming project, hint at another EP with the potential to heal us all. We speak to Deyaz about his therapeutic experience of music, the triggers behind his TikTok fame, and how stripping it down to words was the way forward in his anticipated new EP.

Deyaz . Lead image: Courtesy of the artist
Lead image: Courtesy of the artist

Re-Edition Magazine: The struggles you’ve faced during your teenage years are among the experiences that gave life to your first tracks. But when exactly, and how, did music come into the frame for you, and what led you to it?

Deyaz: My musical journey began at the age of 12; my brother had left his old classical guitar at my family home when he went to university. I quickly found a passion for it and started learning off online tutorials and playing by ear.

RE: Think of the way your music has evolved since you first started playing around with it, and even more so since the release of your first single, Helpless (2021), and your debut album, WHY NOT (2022). What drives your musical experimentation today and what is the vision behind it?

D: Life experiences and listening to music across different genres is what inspires me to experiment with sound. I guess my vision is to be able to have bodies of work that can reach any kind of audience, however young or old, whether into metal or jazz music. I want my work to feel universal.

RE: Despite having battled with homelessness and addiction in the past, you went from busking on guitar to make ends meet to amassing over 500K monthly listeners on Spotify in just a couple of years. In previous interviews, you talked about music as a form of therapy. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned while making your way into the music industry? What kept you grounded amid the difficulties?

D: What I have learnt through my brief experience in the industry so far is that it is fundamental to maintain your passion at all costs and to not be diverted off course by external factors such as the business. What would I say to my fellow emerging music artists? Definitely take time to understand the contractual and financial side of things as that is essential to protect yourself as a creative. Still, you also need to constantly remind yourself of the reason why you initially wanted to pursue this path, which is, for most, to make art, express yourself and allow others to heal through the experiences you share. That’s the beauty of music to me.

RE: You are part of a new generation of musicians who have risen to fame also thanks to TikTok. What do you think makes your work so widely relevant to today’s youth? What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the stories captured by it?

D: I hope that my music is resonating with many thanks to the honesty I put into it. I struggle to create something that isn’t pure and stemming directly from my heart: sometimes that is difficult as it means that I am called to confront a lot of my feelings, which I am not the best at, but in return this allows my fans to not feel alone in their problems, which is really fulfilling for me. It felt really abrupt going from making music solely for myself to having a following, but I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share my music with people around the world. Overall, it has given me a lot of purpose in life.

RE: Following the success of your first project, WHY NOT (2022), a new EP of yours is set to drop later this year. To herald the release of this new body of work was I’ll Scream (All the Words), the first single from the project. Landed on April 28, Bones, another one of the songs featured in it, sounds like a mellow, sincere exploration of your inner sphere. What can you tell us about this new single and the making of it? How does it capture the overall atmosphere and vision behind your forthcoming project?

D: Bones came to the surface whilst I was in a dark place with addiction, and even once I had overcome that battle, it still brought me back to that space mentally. After sitting on the track for a while, I realised it was key for me to be open with my fans and share these experiences as I truly want to help make a difference for others through my music. Sonically, this project is a lot more stripped back then my previous; in it, I wanted to allow the songwriting to take the forefront as, having mainly worked as an instrumentalist and producer over the years, I am so accustomed to production taking the lead.

RE: What anticipations can you give us on the album coming out later this year? What new directions has your musical journey taken with it?

D: I think the project has quite a lot of affinities with WHY NOT on a songwriting level, but hopefully it can be heard through a different vessel in this upcoming EP, which will be more minimalistic, intense and personal. Each project I create allows me to hone in on different musical traits I don’t usually prioritise; for this project, the main focus has definitely been following my intuition lyrically and melodically, not allowing my “inner critic” to have any influence on the process.

RE: In recent years, more and more music artists have lent their talent to other creative realms. Whether music, fashion, cinema or art-related, what would be your dream collaboration?

D: My dream collaborations within music right now would be working with James Blake, Labrinth, Bon Iver and Ye; they all heavily influence my approach to creating and maintaining an open mind whilst writing. It would be an incredible honour to work with any one of them at some point in my career.

RE: What were your New Year’s resolutions for 2023? What can we expect from you in the future?

D: Honestly, my resolution for 2023 was to put everything I had into my next body of work, connect with more fans through tours and gigs, and work with brands that I felt aligned with my vision. I am beyond grateful to say that it feels like most of it is coming together. I have two major festivals happening I am really excited about and, potentially, a tour towards the end of the year. I have been lucky enough to partner with two of my favourite brands, Fender and Dr. Martens, which has been surreal. For this upcoming project, I have also got to collaborate with an incredible artist I have looked up to for the past couple of years and I can’t wait to share what we have created together. Anything else that connects this year will just be a blessing…

Deyaz . Lead image: Courtesy of the artist
Lead image: Courtesy of the artist
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