"I commend any artist that gets deeply vulnerable in sessions with other writers and producers - I really don’t think I could have done that."
For rising London artist Lauren Dejey, releasing her debut EP was not just about launching her music career - it was a lifeline.
Named after the Hindu goddess of the same name - who is considered to be the Master of death and time - 'Kali Ma' is a heady sun dance about overcoming toxic relationships and getting back in touch with who you are.
Here, Dejey gives us the lowdown on channelling the energy of Kali Ma, the "painful process" of recognising and releasing hurt, and coming to terms with not being "a loud, belty singer like I wanted to be"...
Congratulations on a brilliant debut EP, how does it feel to finally have these songs out there after such a long time?
It feels very surreal! I’ve been tweaking bits and sending stuff to friends for so long now it’s wild to actually say: 'IT’S FINISHED, YOU CAN HAVE IT.'
It's named after the Hindu Goddess Kali Ma, how did you channel her energy sonically and thematically into the songs?
Funnily enough, I wrote all the songs before I even found out about Kali Ma so I suppose I more aligned with her energy.
All the dark and light she has was what I’d been feeling and writing about so when I read more and more about her it just made so much sense to make her name the title. I channelled her more in the visuals, because she’s pictured with red palms so I put my own spin on that for the EP cover.
Had you been studying Hinduism for any particular reason?
My wonderful Grandma was Anglo-Indian. She always had Hindu artwork around her house, would sing me lullabies in Hindi, and get me to study the Gods and Goddesses. So something about them has always felt very familiar to me. My Grandma was the epitome of a strong, independent, fierce woman and so she reminds me a lot of what I connected to within Kali Ma.
"I’d lie awake for hours or I’d wake myself up crying ."
"Releasing hurt, reclaiming power, rebuilding your identity and coming out stronger" is such a great way to describe music, a lot of artists can relate to that. How has that journey been for you personally?
Thank you! Oh wow, it’s not easy. There was a lot of nights during the first lockdown, that I’d lie awake for hours or I’d wake myself up crying. Recognising hurt is the first step before you can work on releasing it, and, oh boy, that’s a painful process in itself. Writing really was that therapeutic release for those pent-up emotions though. It was like every day I was having internal conversations with myself, until it all built up, and I had to write it down to get it out. I commend any artist that get deeply vulnerable in sessions with other writers and producers - because I really don’t think I could have done that.
What do you hope the listener gains from your music?
If in any way they can relate to or connect with the topics I’m writing about. If they feel seen or heard and understood. I think that’s the goal for any writer. Above all, if they feel a connection with me as an artist and want to support my journey that would be the best takeaway.
Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
Any artist that makes me feel something, be it with their music alone or their music and visuals. Also, if they’re doing their own thing and don’t seem to be fazed by what’s trending or popular at the moment. Labrinth, Melanie Martinez, BANKS, Grimes, and Jon Bellion are all very inspiring to me, currently.
When did you start to hone in on your vocal style and who would you say is your biggest vocal hero?
After uni, I think I started to understand I’m not a loud, belty singer like I wanted to be. I had to embrace my soft vocals. I’m often told I have a haunting voice that gives people goosebumps, and once I realised that was a strength in itself, I decided to work more on that style. I don’t really have a vocal hero, unfortunately, but someone that comes to mind is Rihanna because she’s has so much emotion and rawness. She doesn’t try to be perfect either.
You have a headline London gig coming up on November 11 at Cocoa Vaults, how does it feel to be getting out on stage after the past 18 months? More shows to come next year?
YES! November 11th. Insane! I’d love to do more so hopefully this one is just the start!
Do you have lots of new music ready to go, are you able to give us a teaser of what direction your next release will be?
I’m still very much in the writing stage but I will say I’m very excited to finish these because they’re all some of my favourites.
Get tickets for Lauren Dejey's debut London show here.
Listen to 'Kali Ma' below: