PHOTO CREDIT: Tee ‘JustSo’ Soulful
BEFORE they have some time to recharge over the Christmas period…
Deliah will take in Bristol’s The Square Club and Manchester’s Fallow Café. The Liverpool-based duo’s current single, Better the Devil is gaining impressive reviews and connecting with their fanbase. Born out of a time of tension and doubt: it is a song that shows how individual and strong they are. The guys – when I put the interview to them – were in typically witty and self-deprecating mood. They discuss their new music and whether we can expect anything more in 2017; the albums that have influenced them the most and how they came together. Their connection, playfulness and affection show through – surely a duo that will enjoy big success in the next year.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! We’re great thanks. It’s been a hectic week post release but we’re getting through it with coffee and… mince pies.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
We (Michelle & Alex) are Deliah. Some would call us R&B; some would say Soul and some would say Pop. Jazz has been mentioned once or twice – I’m not too sure why, though. We personally would say it’s a little heavier than Soul and pulls from influences such as Nao, Shakka and Lauryn Hill.
You two met at university and have been on the rise ever since. Can you remember that first meeting and did it take long for you two to find that shared connection?
We actually met for the first time in our audition for uni. We were forced into a room with five other musicians and told to write a song in an hour.
Alex, being characteristically hangover during that period eased the tension by starting with some wonderfully lazy chords and I fumbled out some melodies over the top.
We bumped back into each other on the first day of uni. and been making music ever since.
Liverpool is where you hail from. The city has an incredible history of music. Who are the current bands/artists of Liverpool you recommend we investigate more?
SPXKEN, SPXKEN, SPXKEN. I couldn’t advise you more to check these guys out. They are doing some lovely things with Spoken Word! Another artist you may have heard about already is Halem – an Electronic duo. Those guys are on the up.
Better the Devil is your new single. What can you tell us about it and its origins?
We wrote this song about two years ago and it bloomed from a time filled with self-doubt. There were plenty of other pitiful songs that came out that time too but Better the Devil stuck out as a giant ‘F*ck-You’ to all of the outside factors and people who were pushing against us.
The lyric “It’s not your job to hate and suffocate what you don’t know” is aimed at that particular type of power-fuelled person who we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives – the type of person who makes it their job to judge your art.
Even today, the song still holds it’s meaning for us and I think always will. I guess it’s a sarcastic take on oppression.
What are your hopes for the single? What do you want to achieve from it as musicians?
The song has surpassed a lot of expectations we set for it already. I suppose every musician wants to further his or her career with every release; and although that is obviously very important to us, we chose this song because we hoped that we could connect with people – to share experiences with as many people as possible. It is the perfect song to introduce Deliah to new people.
When it comes to songwriting: does one of you bring the idea to the table and it’s worked on? How does the process come together?
Our process has always been pretty simple: Alex writes the music; I write the melodies and we write the lyrics together. We find that’s the best way to go about it since I can’t work Logic and Alex doesn’t have my range (haha).
Marble Heart is your previous single and gained huge acclaim. Was that quite pleasing to hear – how did it come to feature on The Only Way is Essex?
We’re with an amazing Liverpool-based publishing company called Sentric and they must have pitched it out on our behalf. We had no idea until after it was aired. Alex was thrilled to sit through an episode of T.O.W.I.E., though.
Recently you have supported Maverick Sabre and played to a capacity crowd. What have been your favourite memories from this year?
Getting to watch Maverick Sabre do his thing from the side of stage – after just supporting him – was a pretty good high as was playing the main stage at Watchet Festival.
But we would both have to say that creating Better the Devil has been our favourite memory of the year.
Every person who has worked on this release has been so invested in its success. We have worked with so many talented and creative friends and that is very important to us.
PHOTO CREDIT: #SPXKENphotography
Looking forward: can we expect any new releases from Deliah?
We’re already in the process of creating the next release so you will hear more about that in the New Year…
Taking things back and I love the textures and colours that go into your music. What sort of musicians are you both influenced by? Who are the current artists making an impact on your own music?
Currently, we’re listening to a lot of lazy R&B. We’re big on The Sound You Need E.P. as well as Shakka’s new E.P. (although I prefer Lost Boys). We recently went to see Nao live so that has left a lasting impression too. But our influences are a whole different story: Alex is into heavy stuff like Deftones and I listen to a lot of Classical soundtracks; so its pretty eclectic.
I know you have performed around the country and have more dates to come. How have you found the live crowds and is there anywhere you’d love to perform but haven’t been able to?
We love performing live; it’s the best part of the job – and our live sound differs slightly from our recorded sound.
We have two incredibly talented session musicians with us so it’s a good show. Crowds always react really positively to our live set: I think it’s because it’s something they’re not used to hearing – or it could be because we open with a speech from The Network.
Looking at press shots and hearing the music; it seems like you two have a great connection. Do you hang a lot outside of music and what is the best asset/aspect of each would you say (in terms of personality traits)?
We live together (along with our bassist and drummer) so as you can imagine it’s a pretty musical household – and we spend the majority of our time together. Alex is a pessimist and I’m an optimist so when were not arguing about who’s right we have a good balance.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lee Houston
I am always curious to know which albums inspire various musicians. If you each had to select three albums – that have been most important – what would they be and why?
Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine: Because it had a message: it fused genres and every song is as good as the next.
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City: It pushed the boundaries of Hip-Hop so much that it’s hard to remember what it was like before it. Kendrick is so clever with his lyrics and satire that sometimes you forget just how strange and innovative the music is.
Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue: I was brought up on E.L.O so I have always had it engrained in me that music can be as catchy as it is clever. Jeff Lyne was a genius at creating great orchestral walls-of-sound to go behind a simple hook in a chorus.
The Theory of Everything Soundtrack: It just makes me calm… and I need that.
Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night: It makes me feel nostalgic. My mum listened to this album constantly and still does; so it’s a great way to feel connected to her.
Lauryn Hill The Miss Education of Lauryn Hill – The vocals hit you hard! It’s all about the vocals.
As you can tell, I’m more about the feelings associated with music unlike Alex who is all about the math. Maybe that’s why it works so well.
Christmas is almost here. How will you both be spending it? What is top of your Christmas present/wish-list?
Alex will be in Cambridge and I will be in little old Liverpool. We’re travelling to Vietnam in January so I think a good backpack is at the top of both our lists!
Is there any advice you’d like to offer any upcoming musicians looking to follow in your footsteps?
Keep going. Persistence is everything. Make sure you’re as good as you can be at what you do and then continue to learn more.
We’re still at the start of our career so we haven’t got heaps of advice but if you stay sane you’re already winning. Oh, and don’t do drugs – it’s not cool anymore.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select any song you like (not yours as I’ll include that) and I’ll play it here.
Alex: I’ll pick Earth Song by Michael Jackson because I’m not sure – but I think it might be the greatest song ever written…
Michelle: I’ll go for Mura Masa Ft. Nao – Firefly. Because, when she played it live, I almost died!
PHOTO CREDIT: Lee Houston