It makes perfect sense that DVWEZ (pronounced: “Dames”) and I’s first conversation would be via FaceTime. So much of this smooth, neo-R&B voice seems to have taken shape on the World Wide Web. Last year’s Pastels garnered her a solid fanbase through premiers on reputable music sites like Stereogum. This strategy been implemented again with her upcoming Paradise EP, as the titular track first appeared on The Fader and she premiered “The Life” just yesterday on Noisey. In preparation for Paradise, she utilized Kickstarter to fund the album’s promotion and a unique live experience — we’ll get into that in a second. And one can’t overlook the songwriter’s own online branding. Her Instagram looks more like a curated art gallery than the meme-filled trash that I usually see.
With all the digital build up, I was eager to speak one-on-one with DVWEZ, to dig past the internet persona and see how it matched to the real Delia Albert. Enjoy.
matthew warhol: It’s good to finally to get a chance to sit down and talk to you, because I’ve been a fan of yours for a while, and I’ve seen what you’ve been doing and like… oh you froze on the screen for a second…
DVWEZ: Where I live in Gainesville, I call it the boonies. The connection is weird so if that happens, I can totally call you back. We can make it work.
matthew warhol: Dope. So yeah, right off the bat, you had a Kickstarter a couple months ago to make a new experience, is it called “The Paradise Experience?”
DVWEZ: Yeah, for lack of a better, non-cheesey title that’s what it’s called. The whole idea behind it is like… have you been to III Points? It’s based off their philosophy of combining art, music, and technology. Living in Gainesville, there’s not a lot of electronic acts to begin with, let alone a different experience than just going to a show and seeing a band on stage. And that’s it. So I wanted to make it more interesting. I had seen some projection mapping at III Points, and the creative team that I worked with, I reached out to them and asked, “Hey, do you guys know anyone who does this?” And they mentioned David Lajas who lives in Orlando. I started talking to him and figuring out how much something like that would cost. In addition to raising money for the press behind my new music that’s coming out every month, I also want to have a really cool way to share the music visually — in an interesting way.
matthew warhol: Can you break down what the experience is live? What people can expect from that?
DVWEZ: So basically, David created these structural shapes that incompass myself and my drummer. He created them out of PVC pipe and wrapped a mesh material around them. So when he’s projecting video you can still see us. It’s really cool to watch. The footage that he’s projecting is expremely unique that we shot specifcally for the live show. With that in mind, we tried to create different visuals that felt similar to the project, so you could experience what I was thinking and feeling when making the music.
matthew warhol: How was the process of putting that together? Were you working on it together or did you let him do his own thing?
DVWEZ: I gave him my music to listen to and was like, “I’ve never done anything like this before. I want you to use your expertise.” In regards to coming up with the structure concept, originally my band was a four piece. He had this idea to put me in a pyramid with my bandmates around me. And that kind of evolved. A week before the big show, I had a bandmate quit. And a couple weeks before that, we went down to a three-piece.
matthew warhol: Wow.
DVWEZ: So when I spoke to him, we came up with the idea for the giant shapes. So it kind of evolved, it wasn’t the original idea. In regards to the video that accompanies everything, I left that up to Liv [Jonse]. I told her that the project is darker than Pastels and that I wanted something to visually represent that.
matthew warhol: That’s… that’s really interesting. Just thinking about the album cover on Pastels and comparing it to your new visual aesthetic, you can tell it’s much darker. Going into this new project, Paradise — that’s an album or EP?
DVWEZ: It’s a four track EP.
matthew warhol: Just listening to the single, I can tell that it’s darker, but also just much more experimental direction. What’s your head like for these new songs? What’s the difference, I guess?
DVWEZ: Sonically, things are very different becuase this project wasn’t produced by myself — it was prodcued by my friend KAIXEN aka Julian in Miami. He’s, simply put, a far better producer than I am. You can feel I went up a level from Pastels there’s more depth, sonically. And also, I think just the headspace that I was in while writing these songs was different. I had just moved back to Gainesville, and I was feeling this weird isolation, having a loving experience with my girlfriend in Gainesville, but also being totally separated from my friends and my family. And also feeling like I was in this area of being a new artist trying to find myself. I was struggling at the time when I wrote. So the concepts are darker, where Pastels was so lovey and airy.
matthew warhol: When you’re working with someone else, do you have the base of the song written, a demo that you bring to Julian? Or did he come at you with stuff he was working on?
DVWEZ: Moving forward, I would like to do it the first way, having an idea and lyrics and melodies and going to a prodcuer to help feel it out. But with this project, it was the opposite. He sent insturmentals that he thought he could hear me on and I worked around that. That’s usually how I do things. I think it’s really cool when artists have ideas and it gets produced out because I think there are more layers when that happens.
matthew warhol: You can build from that.
DVWEZ: But for this it was me hearing the instrumentals and being inspired. “Paradise” for example, I wrote in a car ride from Orlando to Gainesville. I had the instrumental playing in my car. I call it “John Legend-ing.” He would hear something and start mumbling crap that would form into a song. That’s kind of, exactly, how I wrote “Paradise.” I think that the melody gives way to lyrics and the context. That way the music is informing the lyrics.
matthew warhol: You said with the last project was all you. In general, have you preferred making music with other people?
DVWEZ: Um, I think it’s, honestly, just experience. There are so many people out there who are extremely talented. I feel that I’m not necessarily up to par. But in terms of the whole creative process, I hate working with other people. I really like being by myself because it’s a very intimate, grueling thing. I’m challenging myself to be in a creative space with other people, but because I’ve been so solo for the past few years, it’s a little bit uncomfortable with other people in the moment. But that’s what I’ll be doing next.
matthew warhol: How do you go from this isolationist method of creating to then put something out into the world and play it live? For me, as someone who doesn’t perform for people, those two things are completely different. That sounds almost mental to me.
DVWEZ: I’m still figuring that out. When I think I perform best, it’s when I feel like no one is there. And what I mean by that is that there can be however many people in the crowd, but I’m so into what’s happening that I don’t see anyone. I always joke about how my eyes are always closed when I’m really into it. But you have to push yourself because a lot of artists aren’t outgoing people. Not that I’m not — but there’s a performer that you have to bring out of yourself. Once the songs are done, I don’t feel weird sharing it. Showing someone something that’s not done feels so weird.
matthew warhol: When you’re performing such emotional music, do you feel that in the moment? Do those feelings come back to you?
DVWEZ: It just depends. Everytime I sing “Celebrity,” I give myself goosebumps. *zzziiinnnggg* Sorry that’s my dryer. [laughs] I give myself goosebumps, which is so weird. But it happens a lot. I think it depends on the song and how comfortable I am with it, because if you’re still trying to make sure you don’t mess up, I don’t think you allow yourself room to really get into it, feel those emotions and have them transfer to the audience.
matthew warhol: What is it about that particular song?
DVWEZ: “Celebrity” is the only song as DVWEZ that I’ve written lyrics first, then came the music. So it probably has something to do with that, because I was so inspired when I wrote the lyrics. Also, I’ve never heard a song like that before. I don’t know why? That’s the short answer. [laughs]
matthew warhol: How many times have you done “The Paradise Experience?”
DVWEZ: I’ve only done it once and we filmed it. So the idea is to stitch it together and pitch it to venues. Friday, I will have a broken down version of it. It just depends on the venue and the space. But if people are interested in seeing it, we’ll make some version of that work.
matthew warhol: How did the first performance go?
DVWEZ: It went well sonically and in terms of support from the crowd. It took a long time to set these structures up, more than I had anticipated. I would say that the venue we did it at needed to be darker. The videos and photos really capture the projections, but if you were there it was a little lighter, so that’s something to take into consideration. And we’ll be incorporating LED lights moving forward. There’s litttle things that we’ll add. I think it will keep getting better every time.