Artist and songwriter DeAndre Wright has recently released her wonderfully eclectic EP 9 Lives: Vol. 1. We were blessed with the opportunity to interview her to find out more about her musical journey so far. Here’s how it went.
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Hi DeAndre – thanks so much for the interview. Loving the EP – you seem to fuse elements of rock and roll with electronic dance and even a few flickers of jazz and soul – it’s a brilliant sound. What prompted you to first start making this kind of music?
Thank you for having me and for that wonderful compliment.
Honestly, I wanted to make music that I wish I heard on the radio. I know it sounds kind of crazy but I’ve been really wanting to hear those musical elements in the main stream for some time and with a different twist, so I decided to shoot for it. It’s also kind of my way paying homage to the artists I love. I’m a true fan of music and I think you can literally hear what I was raised up on from listening to my music.
How to you get started when writing a new song?
Ideas pour in from literally everywhere. My process is all over the place and based off of how I’m feeling or what I’m doing at that moment. Sometimes it starts with a beat, sometimes I’m in the mood to write and at my desk or on the couch thinking about things that have happened. Sometimes I’m brushing my teeth and it hits me! If I’m out, I might have a notepad or my Voice Memos and I begin with the idea and just build on it and finish it up at the studio.
Strangers offers a mellow groove and a notably delicate ambiance that lets the song’s story-line stand out quite distinctly. How did you come to write this song, and what does it mean to you?
Strangers is extremely special to me. It’s a song about human connection and loving people within our communities and without condition. I knew I wanted to talk about the state of the world that we’re in now, with all the politics and hatred we’ve been overexposed to, and to just encourage folks to live like they actually love one another. It means live by example. You say you’re a loving, caring person…act like it, live like it. Be a walking, talking example of love even through the hard conversations or opposing views.
Who or what would you say inspires you the most to pursue and put your time and passion into music?
I wouldn’t say a who or a what inspires me to do music. It’s something I have to do. I’m a writer at the core and the way that I express and work through my own personal issues has been through writing music. So it’s more like something I need to do to stay inspired.
Life Happens is a beautiful song, inspiring – the sort of piece its important for people to hear. How did you come to write this, and how long did it take?
I wrote it because I want folks to know we’re all going through life every single day. We all have our things or our obstacles that we overcome. It took me like 20 minutes to write and, as you can imagine, I was a mess when I recorded it. It was easy to write because everything that I sang was/is my life and exactly how I feel.
Which song by another artist comes to mind if I ask you to name one that had a huge effect on you in terms of positive influence or empowerment?
This is like the hardest question for me to answer! I’d have to say Prince has had a huge impact on me artistically because he knew no limits. I want to be able to break through ceilings with my own sound and to never be restricted to what people assume or feel I should be doing. I think that’s what Prince has taught me over the years and he has definitely made me more aware of what my artistry means to me.
How have you honed such a powerful, soulful leading voice over time – or has this always come naturally to you?
My voice has seriously gone through a journey. I actually had surgery on my vocal chords almost 14 years ago and had to relearn how to use my voice for singing. I grew up in church and singing in gospel choirs and you can’t help but to pick up the strength and the spirit of the church. I’d say church gave me vocal confidence and my vocal coach gave me the tools to use my voice to the best of its ability.
Who plays guitar on this record?
My producer Aaron Musslewhite plays on everything throughout the EP and my good friend Lou Flores wrote and played as well on Into the Sun.
Do you produce your own music?
I co-produce, write and arrange. I have so much more to learn about production though.
What’s a full band live show like from you?
It’s liberating and just flat out fun. I get to feed off of the energy my guys put behind me and just let loose.
What’s one of the most important values you wish to represent with your music?
Live your life. Live your truth, whatever that is. Own your story.
What was life like growing up with a passion for music in Houston, and what’s the music scene like there right now?
At first it was kind of tough but eventually people really started taking Houston artists seriously. We have some of the most ridiculously talented and polished professionals in the world living in Houston. The scene is exciting. Artists are taking matters into their own hands and really going for it. You will definitely be hearing from Houston artists over the next couple of years.
You’ve called this EP 9 Lives: Vol. 1 – what can we expect from volume 2?
I think it will be a continuation of the journey I’ve begun on Vol. 1 and I’ll be experimenting with more of my influences but you’ll have to wait and see. 🙂
What steps are you taking to reach as wide an audience as possible, and what advice would you give to artists who are close to releasing their music but are anxious or aren’t sure where to begin?
I’m using all of my resources, reaching out to my networks, family, friends and all that. No one is safe! I’m mobilizing everyone I know to get the word out and it will take time but I’m enjoying the process.
I would tell artists to become resourceful, be mindful of your business, leverage your network and have fun. Join organizations, listen to music business podcasts. Find the way that works best for you in order to learn and arm yourself as much as possible with information that can help you throughout your journey.
What’s next for you – what’s the bigger picture, and what are your hopes and dreams creatively?
I’m going to keep pushing Vol. 1, I hope to write for the world’s biggest artists, make successful albums, and to become a huge singer/songwriter/producer. I want to write books and really make an impact in music media. The sky’s the limit!
Is there anything else we should know?
Check out deandrewright.com for my music, videos, blogs, updates and all that fun stuff. And again, thank you so much!
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