Written by Kelly Holm
Even at a time when live stages sit dormant, 2020 is proving to be a whirlwind of a year for Houston-based “poetic pop” artist Deza, and it’s only halfway over. January saw the premiere of her single “Boy Violet,” and within the span of the last two months, she’s written, produced and filmed the music video for her latest release, titled “June.”
“I started writing ‘June’ in April of this year, in the middle of falling in love during the quarantine,” Deza said. “I just spent the past year studying music in Lillehammer, Norway. Because of who I am, I, the American, fell in love with a Norwegian boy. At the end of June, I [had] to go back to the states and leave him there in Norway.”
The track moved through several hands during the production process. After crafting the initial verses and chorus, Deza co-edited and produced “June” with industry friends Elvira Lundahl and Alton Sato, finally passing it off to Philip Handeland— who, by the way, is the aforementioned Norwegian boy. Its video features several personal mementos from Deza’s time in Lillehammer.
“I really wanted to include the fans inside this little cocoon of a world I’ve lived in for the past year. I wanted them to see… these are my friends, this is my ‘June’ love, this is real, this is honest,” she says. “The whole song is just me processing our atomic end on the horizon, almost begging the universe for the life I get to keep him. It’s my most unshielded, vulnerable piece yet.”
Not to imply, of course, that Deza is any stranger to emotionally-driven lyrical content. “Boy Violet” centers around a love so deep that it encompasses an entire color.
“It’s one of those songs in my catalogue that will grow with me no matter where I am,” she says. “It’s exciting to watch the meaning of the lyrics take on new context each time I perform it.”
Having been born into a musical family, it’s no surprise that Deza chose the path she did in life. From holding impromptu concerts during elementary school recess to serving as president of her high school choir to studying opera and pop performance in college, the desire to entertain runs through her veins.
“In preschool my teacher would notice the days I wasn’t singing and ask my mom if I was feeling okay,” she shares with a laugh. “Second-grade talent show came around, I was ready as hell. I got up, amped, and ended up running the length of the stage to high-five all of the audience like the little ham I was.”
Deza’s enthusiasm for her craft hasn’t at all waned since then, leading her most recently to the Lillehammer Institute of Music Production (LIMPI), where she studied under such prolific songwriters as Emily Warren. In years to come, she’d like to blast out beats with influences like Charli XCX and Jon Bellion, but as for the nearer future, she’s focusing on preparing for her debut EP, tentatively scheduled to drop later this summer.
“It’s a bit of a poorly kept secret… and it’s some of my best work yet,” she says of what fans can expect from the EP. “Since I’ve recently been in planning [and] business mode, I’ve spent more time tidying up the million other sectors that an independent artist has to curate: managing the unreleased catalogue, reaching out to PR and marketing, creating visual content, planning future releases.”
One currently-unreleased track “Temper” is one that Deza loves to perform, calling it “super addictive in the moment.” Inspired by an incident of unwanted touch in a bar, it’s meant to give voice to the rage such behavior inspires in victims.
“I’ve always wanted to craft a safe space for emotions in my music,” she says. “I want my listeners to be able to access these uncomfortable feelings, be able to sit with them quietly, and then let them pass when the song is over.”
Watch the official music video for “June”