Described as an alternative pop artist, Deqn Sue is, certainly for many in the UK, a considerably unknown talent, however thanks to her latest album Juggernaut, that may well change very soon.
The album begins with the upbeat and rather funky (I can’t recall the last time I used that word in a review) “Starter Adult”, which tells the story of a young individual who dreams of a big and bright future, but is brought back to reality as she finds herself back at her family home after finishing college. The rhythm and tempo of the song is what really makes it work, but for an opening number, it’s pretty good all round.
In a world where self-esteem and body image are constantly under scrutiny, largely thanks to the media, “Unicorn” plays like an anthem of sorts, reminding all those who hear it that’s okay – and great – to be yourself and to like, even love, who you are.
As someone who works in retail, I related strongly to “Delivery Girl”, written about how sometimes those who work in the customer service sector are deemed almost as second class citizens when compared to those in higher, more managerial positions. “Melanin” meanwhile is another reflection on the power and importance of self-love, though this time more targeted at those with dark skin.
“Messy” is a highlight of the album. With its funny but honest lyrics, directed at someone who can’t keep their mouth shut and who likes to tell tales on – or spill the secrets of – others, the song is a refreshing way of telling off those who really should mind their own business. Closing number “Hello Neighbour” is perhaps the most reflective, sentimental track on the collection, and showcases Deqn Sue’s impressive vocal ability.
Not everyone will like the many sounds and styles Deqn Sue showcases on the album, but, most notably because of “Unicorn” and its positive and powerful message, everyone should hear it.
With millions of streams to her name already, and with a sound reminiscent of Jessie Ware and Lianne La Havas, R ‘n’ B newcomer Janice- pronounced Jah-nees – already has a big year ahead with the release of her debut album and a Scandinavian tour in place for February and March. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to chat dream shows and the advice she’d give to aspiring artists.
TITL: Please sum yourself up in 3 words for me.
Janice: Warm, strong, brave.
TITL: Have you always wanted to be an artist or did you have other aspirations growing up?
J: Yes. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to sing but the confidence to actually do it came much later and also and grew into becoming an artist who creates music.
TITL: If you had to say you sounded similar to another band or artist, which would it be?
J: That’s a hard one. Sabina Ddumba and I have the same character in our voices I would say but totally different sounds.
TITL: Tell me about your latest track “Queen.” Is there a story behind it?
J: It’s about that person that makes you wanna be the best version of yourself and also about never settling for less than a partner that makes you feel like you can do anything.
TITL: The song is taken from your upcoming album Fallin’ Up. Is there a story behind the title and how did you find the writing/creative and recording process?
J: It was harder to come up with the title than to actually write the album! But yeah, I was listening to all the tracks and I heard it so clear. It’s all stories about a place and a state I was in and the place I’ve developed and where I’ve landed now. I felt that I was falling down time after time but I ain’t anymore – I’m Fallin Up! The creative process was long, fun, amazing and exhausting. HYENA and I experimented a lot with sounds and different genres and we found Javeon McCarthy, an amazing artist, songwriter and now friend who we connected with at first sight. We’ve written the majority of the album together. I can’t wait for the world to hear it!
TITL: Which song on the album are you most proud of and why?
J: Oh lord what a hard question! I mean, they’re all my babies and I’ve got so much love for each and every track but If I have to say one, it’ll be “Changing” I think… I wanted to write it as a part two of “Don’t Need To” and it’s a song where I’m so vulnerable yet strong which makes it special. I get to sing my heart out which I love. HYENA’s production is magical and it’s very electronic yet organic which makes it huge. And the backing vocals…SO powerful!!! I’m very proud of it.
TITL: Hailing from Sweden, how are you finding the more global reaction to your music? Is it at all daunting to hear that notably thanks to social media, individuals in far flung places are discovering your music and keeping up to date with what you’re up to?
J: It’s been very inspiring throughout the years to see Sweden’s music export grow and to see the power of music. It’s limitless and that’s what makes it so beautiful. To see how far my music can go is a blessing. Social media is powerful in that way because basically anyone anywhere can discover you and show you and your music love and I’ve really experienced that through this process and still am.
TITL: Are you much of a social media user, and to what extent do you think it’s impacting your career and the music industry in general?
J: Yeah I am but I try not to be for periods of time. It’s so distracting and misleading but it’s also the way we communicate and connect nowadays. I use it as a tool to extend my music and myself as an artist which basically everyone does. You can sort of get to know an artist by following them on Instagram or Twitter for example but social media is also so dangerous in that way. You can post the things you like however often you want to, or not, and in that way, it works great; but I also think it’s important to at least talk about how and why social media can be negative too. You don’t have to share everything with everyone but to show that you are human is important – especially for the ones that look up to you.
TITL: You recently participated in a Paste session in the US, performing as the headliner in their Sweden Makes Music show. What was that like and is breaking into the US market something you’re considerably focused on in terms of your plans for this year?
J: It was like a dream. Couldn’t have ended 2017 any better. And I know it’s gonna be a challenge but I’m ready for it and I’m going to work so, so, so hard.
TITL: You’ve already been nominated for Swedish Grammy in the category of Best New Act, but do you care much about awards and accolades or are you more concerned about what your fans think?
J: It’s insane and I’m so happy! I appreciate that they appreciate what I’m doing but that’s not what I do it for. It’s more important that my music resonates with my fans and that it brings them the kind of hope, joy and comforting only music can bring.
TITL: What are your upcoming tour and performance plans?
J: I’m going on a Scandinavian tour in February-March.
TITL: If you could play any venue in the world, which would it be and why? What is it about that venue that means so much to you?
J: Madison Square Garden. It’s been a dream since I was little kid and a big goal for me still. I like to visualize and I don’t know why but if I close my eyes and think of it, I see it so clearly.
TITL: Finally then, given how hard the music industry can be, especially on new and upcoming artists, what advice would you give to those wanting to follow in your footsteps? Is there anything you’ve been told recently that you wish you’d known before you started on this journey?
J: To keep on doing what you love and don’t let anyone change who you are and what you want. Dream big, visualize, work hard and you can have it, you’ll have it!
Check out the video for Janice’s latest track “Queen” below and for more information on her and her music, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
Jorja Smith will become the first BRITs Critics’ Choice winner to perform on The BRITs main show in the same year as winning the award.
The 2017 winner of Critics’ Choice and British Breakthrough Act, Rag’n’Bone Man invited the R&B prodigy to perform alongside him following an incredible 12 months since winning the awards. It will be the first time that two Critics’ Choice winners have performed together on The BRITs stage.
Jorja was one of the live highlights of The BRITs Nominations Launch which broadcast live on ITV1 on 13 January, stunning the audience at home and in the studio with her single ‘Let Me Down’ featuring Stormzy. Jorja will embark on a sold out UK headline tour ahead of The Awards show.
On the announcement, Jorja said: “I can’t believe I’ll be performing at The BRIT Awards. Rag’n’Bone Man has had an incredible year and is such a crazy talent. When he asked me at the end of last year to perform I was so happy as it’s a real honour to be sharing the stage with him.”
Rag’n’Bone Man’s debut album ‘Human’ went straight to No.1 in February, achieving the fastest selling UK male debut of the decade and selling over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
BRITs Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Sony Music UK & Ireland Jason Iley said: “It will be an amazing moment from two incredible artists: One artist who has achieved huge success last year performing with another artist who is about to do the same this year. Jorja’s performance on the launch show was simply stunning and I cannot wait to see her perform with Rag’n’Bone Man on the main show.”
The BRIT Awards 2018 with Mastercard – Celebrate with us on 21 February 2018!