DEVA, RECLAIMING ONESELF IN URBAN MUSIC

D’Valentina is one of the most essential names to understand the urban music scene from the last few years. That’s exactly why it seems so surprising and at the same time very telling that D’Valentina has decided that she doesn’t want to be D’Valentina anymore, as of now she’ll be herself: Deva. Her own name. The artistic place in which she feels comfortable in and in which we want to interview her.

The music industry has discovered the urban music field, and it’s clear that they’re going to exploit that field until it runs dry. Big record labels like Universal or Sony have started to recruit a whole army of kids that are gifted in the musical and urban sense. However, as it happens every time that the industry puts their hooves in a new creative territory, scepticism and distrust start to grow. This might be why the newer generations of artists are growing in sort of a paradox: they want fame, but they’re suspicious of it. Or, at least, the fame that may be offered by a record label, so different from the fame that can and should be offered to them from the streets. It’s the street cred that counts.

Deva Joseph  knows it very well. In fact, she knows it so well that recently she decided to change her artistic alias, leaving D’Valentina behind, that name which so many knew her by though they’re now going to embrace her own name. Deva. Full stop. An exercise in name synthesis that reveals that she comes first, feeling at ease inside her own musical project, no matter how complex – and annoying – her transition may be, like having to explain one thousand and one times that she no longer is D’Valentina, she’s now Deva.

What’s not changing is the focus in music on the artist’s behalf, her extremely distinctive sonic imagery that, just as it should with any young person, doesn’t understand of genres or labels. She might be known by her dancehall banger that made people call her the new Bad Gyal, but soon enough she started exploring those hip-hop intersections, the dark depths of R&B and even that trap that, when thoroughly understood, still keeps on being amount the most stimulating music that can be made –and listened to– to this day. We have to talk about all of this with Deva.

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You were born in Santander but with British and Jamaican origins, can you clarify us a bit this mixture of origins and, above all, explain to us how that has influenced your own conception of music?

I think that me being mixed and the kilometres between the places I belong to has made me want to know which are my cultures, who I am and the music that exists in those places. I was different from the rest, and that gave me an advantage when discovering music and composing.

You’ve just changed your name from D’Valentina to Deva, your real name. Why have you decided to take a chance on this change that could be tough for many people as we already knew you as D’Valentina?

We sometimes need a change. Especially when it comes to something as sensitive as music. I don’t identify myself with who D’Valentina used to be, even at a personal level.

Dancehall, R&B, trap and hip-hop seem to be the genres you usually explore the most… Do you think these musical co-ordinates are the ones that represent you the most?

Yes, definitely. Even though I have songs from almost all the genres you could ever imagine… I love experimenting.

Which was the exact moment in which you decided to take the plunge and try your luck in such a difficult world like music?

I know that I don’t see myself working in something that I don’t like, and so I took that step only with the intention of surviving. I prefer to starve while loving the work that I’m doing rather than the other way round. I’ve never been good at doing something that I don’t like.

In your recent single Money we can see that you’re disillusioned with the subject of money and the music industry. How come you’re so wary towards this issue

I think that people have to calm down a bit. It’s OK not to have any money, but pretending that you do is dumb. Money’s a double-edged sword and one side of it is worse than the other.

Some people are starting to talk about a “trap girls” scene in Spain when in reality the scene is much more complex and cannot be only reduced to the trap category. Are you comfortable with these types of generalisations?

Labelling these types of things is so last century. Everything’s mixed. I don’t think much about it, because people say stuff without being informed first… But nobody likes it.

So, do you feel like you’re inside of any kind of scene?

I hope that in the future I’ll be considered as a reference in the R&B scene.

Lastly, it’s very obvious that aesthetics are particularly important in the urban scene… What is that piece of clothing, which you build your outfits from every morning?

A pair of killer sneakers.

Trousers NIKE ACG WOMEN, jersey NIKE ACG WOMEN.
Sweatshirt CONVERSE X ASAP NAST.
Sweatshirt CONVERSE X ASAP NAST.
Shoes NIKE.
Jersey NIKE ACG WOMEN.
Jersey NIKE ACG WOMEN.
  • Photography: Cecilio Barrantes