An Interview with Singer-Songwriter, ERICA DEE On Music, Inspirations and More!
Posted On 07 Jun 2016
Erica Dee’s honey laced voice and playful melodies have become a staple among collaborations in the Hip Hop community, but the time has come for this Canadian DJ and MC to open her heart and release her first ever solo album.
Her album, “New Skies” was released worldwide on May 13th on Berlin label, Long Lost Relative and was produced by DJ Werd. The first track, “Smile” has already made the rounds online and her New Skies collaboration with DJ Nu-Mark, “When You Were Gone” is available for the first time here: https://soundcloud.com/long-lost-relative/erica-dee-new-skies-06-when-you-were-gone-feat-dj-nu-mark
A chameleon of an artist, Erica Dee can hold her own in any environment; as a MC and DJ at some of the biggest parties and events from Germany to Brazil, performing with a wide array of artists such as Quest Love, Mark Farina, Masta Ace, Lil’ Kim, Nneka , Thievery Corporation, Erick Morillo, Justin Martin, and Bassnectar.
But it was diving into her own solo album that has allowed Ms. Dee to really get personal. At the heart of New Skies is the sincerity and warmth in Erica’s delivery. Her voice carries the tone of Erykah Badu, the raw honesty of Amy Winehouse and the sweetness of India Arie, all of which are woven throughout every single track. Backed by a combination of hip-hop beats, modern and vintage soul as well as classic R&B, mixing live drums and percussion with Analog Synths & Rhodes, New Skies will captivate existing Erica Dee fans as well as swing the door wide open for new ones.
Most recently, Erica Dee is featured on the brand new album by Mr. Lif, who she joined on stage at last weeks Knitting Factory show in Brooklyn, NY and again on May 5th at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA.
The daughter of Bostonian jazz musicians, Erica Dee has been immersed in music her entire life. She discovered her sound within the underground electronic and hip-hop culture of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Erica began singing with DJs and bands at the age of 17. In college, Erica quickly built a name for herself when she began DJ’ing a live set of her own in 2007. After seeing her live, DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5 was so impressed with her performance, that he invited her to write and record in Los Angeles. That same year she embarked on her first nationwide tour with DJ Shadow and released her classic mixtape, Golden, which combines 90’s R&B flavors with nu house and beat music.
Learn more about Erica Dee in the following All Access interview:
How’s 2016 been treating you so far?
2016 has been incredible! I have been working hard on my Album release as well as doing a lot of touring. I’ve toured from LA to BC, Brazil to NYC. When in Brazil I had the opportunity to shoot a music video there, which was beyond inspiring and exciting. I also got to take part in a collaboration project with some very talented producers and MC’s at the Redbull Base Station in Sau Paulo, which was one of my goals when I first started touring Brazil in 2011.
What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
I spent the first 3 months of 2015 living in Berlin working on my solo album, “New Skies”, as well as recording for another project. This is the darkest and coldest time to be in Berlin, but being there pulled so much creativity and productivity out of me that I was able to find an abundance of light through the darkness. I also enjoyed touring Europe and offering my first ever youth music camp in my hometown during the summer.
Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I remember at a very young age, perhaps 4 or 5 singing at the top of my lungs to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson. I even remember after my parents had separated asking my Dad, “Daddy, would you marry Whitney?” he said yes (obviously). My sister and I had a set of blow up guitars and we use to put on in-house concerts for anyone who would listen, I have some really incredible photographs of these concerts. By the time I was 8 I was taking Guitar lessons from my Dad and learning to sing. I sang in school & talents shows. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I wrote my first song. I then realized that being a singer/storyteller/performer was my soul’s purpose.
As the daughter of Bostonian jazz musicians, how do you think that influenced you to become an artist?
There was always music in the house. I would sit through my parent’s practices and concerts at a very young age. Most of the music around me was Jazz inspired; I feel that it reflects in my natural tone and singing style.
Can you imagine doing something else today if you weren’t a musician?
I have always had a keen interest in photography, I could see myself perusing that. I also love food and entertaining so I could see myself owning some kind of a lounge/restaurant.
Later this month, you will release your first solo album, “New Skies.” What does that feel like?
It feels amazing and surreal.
Why did you finally decide to put an album like it together?
The album came together naturally; a series of songs that I’ve written over a period of time where I was experiencing heartache and finding myself as a young women.
How long were you working on it?
I have been working on this album since 2011.
You’ve worked with so many incredible artists. Who stands out the most memorable to you?
There are some great memories to choose from, but one of my first writing sessions was with DJ Neighbor, a house producer from Vancouver B.C. He impressed me with his incredible ability to use all of his instruments to create a dynamic soundscape. Jumping from his guitar to bass to synth to drum machine, then pulling out his percussion suitcase and playing all sorts of shakers into the microphone. I admired his creative process and was inspired by his talent.
What is one piece of memorable advice that another artist has given you while you were working together?
DJ Nu-Mark told me when I first landed in LA in 2010, that I could either follow the path of many artists who have come before me, or take my time and follow my own.
How’s your current tour been going?
My latest big tour was in Brazil, and of course it was incredible!
What have been some favorite shows/venues/crowds?
I performed at a party called Makossa in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, it’s a great party filled with dancers and true hip-hop heads, they all have great energy and were very perceptive to my original music mixed with my DJ set.
What makes a perfect show for you?
I am not sure if there is such thing as a perfect show, but a show were I know that I have done my best, connected to my higher self and shared as much of my heart with my listeners as possible, will always leave me feeling satisfied.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Bob Marley, India Arie, Prince, Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Dungeon Family, Sade, Erykha Badu, Jill Scott …… The list goes on and on and on 😉
What musicians continue to inspire you through the years?
I would say all of the above because their music is timeless.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Alica Keys, Cee Lo Green, Pharell Williams, Taylor McFerrin, Bonobo, Toki Monster, Frank Ocean, Leon Bridges.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music?
Be you, be free. Feel & express yourself. Live through your heart. Believe that you can create anything you hope and desire in your life by living your true self.
What do hope listeners take away from your songs?
I want you to feel inspired and have the courage to be exactly as you are, shining from the inside out.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’d love to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my heart with you! I hope that you feel it as much as I do.