Denitia Odigie voice is one of a kind. When you hear Denitia sing, her voice creates a sense of peace and serenity. She is one half of the duo Denitia and Sene, and recently has created music as a solo artists. We first heard Denitia’s voice on the 2013 project His and Hers by Denitia and Sene, and we were instantly hooked on the rising star. Our first time seeing Denitia live was during a Red Bull Sound Select performance at Rough Trade, headlined by SZA. Denitia’s voice put us in a trance as Sene’s productions moved the room. Now, we got our chance to learn about Denitia, the woman behind the incredible voice, her stage fright, her new single “Special,” and her love of music. Check out the full interview and new single “Special” below.
Music and Other Drugs: For those who don’t know you, who is Denitia?
Denitia: I’m Denitia, I’m a singer, songwriter, producer, artist. I grew up in Texas, spent a few years in Nashville, and now I live in New York City, on Rockaway beach.
M: Can you tell us how it was growing up in Texas and did it inspire any of your music?
Growing up in Texas I was definitely inspired by the songwriting of country music, soul music, and also the wide open Texas sky. I feel like my penchant for dreaminess was boosted by the incredible sunsets I’d always see back home, it’s like the sky is bigger and more epic down there…
M: Texas is a beautiful place. We can definitely see how that would inspire anyone. As a young performer, you had stage fright. Can you tell us what changed and how you morphed into the performer you are today?
D: Yes, when I was first getting started playing in small clubs, wherever, I had crazy stage fright. I just kept getting up there, and the fear lessened a tiny little bit every time. I really wanted to play and I loved making music. It was like one day, I thought to myself, wow I used to get really nervous to do this and I totally don’t anymore. It was like poof it was gone. I just kept at it, and eventually it wasn’t an issue.
M: Now that you are over your stage fright, what is your biggest fear and have you conquered that fear yet?
D: I think failing has been a fear of mine. But now, I see more and more that what might be considered failing is just an event on the way to winning. It’s all a part of the learning journey. I’ve ‘failed’ at lofty, and even modest goals before, but I can remember, more times than not, myself having to pivot out of that failure. And that pivot, that readjustment, is in and of itself a gift. Many times when things haven’t gone the way I expected them to go, I’ve learned a new way of carrying on. And those new ways, those discoveries, are what make me better.
M: That’s a great way of looking at our fears. So tell us, when did you first discover your love and passion for music? What made you want to sing?
D: When I was a kid growing up around Houston, we spent a lot of time in the car driving to and fro and what not. My mom loved Al Green, Smokey Robinson, The Righteous Brothers. Those are some of my earliest memories of music. Those artists were so expressive, and the music was just gorgeous.
When I started playing guitar as a teenager, I felt a shift, I felt like myself. I started writing songs, playing in church, music became a huge part of my life. I always loved singing, but I didn’t think I was any good at it. Being in choir in high school was encouraging, and then in college, I was in an a cappella group where I really discovered harmony, and I was off to the races from there.
M: So let’s get into your music a bit more. On your Ceilings EP, the sound is very euphoric and moving. What inspires your sound and what is your process when creating it?
D: Thank you. What inspires me is beauty, emotion, my surroundings. I wrote that EP in my apartment on the beach in the Rockaways. I feel like life was extra kinetic before I moved here from Brooklyn. And when I landed here, it was super quiet, and gave me some time to reflect. There is a lot of stillness here, which was a huge contrast for me. I wrote the demos in my home studio, and played around with some different sounds. Then my friend and producer, Daniel Schlett, collaborated with me on finishing the project. He got a really killer band together and we flipped the demos in the studio with them and it all sort of went from lo-fi chill to hi-fidelity and technicolor.
M: It’s an amazing project and something really special. Speaking of that, on your new track “Special”, it seems to be about someone special. Is this dedicated to anyone that is special to you?
D: Yes, I was inspired by my girlfriend, especially in the chorus, but the song’s meaning is kinda multi. I worked on this song with Sean McVerry, I discovered we were both transplants from little towns and came to New York to chase the dream. I started thinking about all the people I know that do that, all over the world, in different cities, different settings. This song is to say – hey I know it gets weird out here, you think you’ve made it, and there’s always more to do, more to work for, you’re special just how you are, and we all belong to each other.
M:We all have the need to feel special and to love ourselves. Speaking of love, Who or what was your first love?
D: Music was my first love. Even before I started playing guitar, I was playing piano, trumpet, saxophone. Music was the first thing that moved me, held my attention.
M: Many people may know you from the duo Denitia and Sene, what’s different releasing music as a solo artists in comparison to working in a group?
D: It’s not really all that different, whether I’m in a collaboration or on my own, the sequence is the same: make music I love, share it with people.
M: Collaboration is a beautiful thing. If you could pick anyone else to collaborate with, who would it be?
D: To name a few, Missy Elliot, Toro Y Moi, Kaytranada…
M: Great choices! Definitely some of our favorites as well. So, what is the most difficult thing you have experienced while being in the music industry and how did you overcome that?
D: I think one of the challenges in the past has been figuring out to how to keep doing what I love, and the answer has been to simply keep doing it and don’t stop.
M: Just for fun. If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?
D: Maybe a chef, my second favorite job I ever had, besides playing music, was cooking. I have a degree in art history, so also maybe curating an art gallery, or something in visual culture. But I still might do those things!
M: Last question but its a very important one. What do you want your fans, and listeners of your music to get out of your music?
D: I want people to feel connected, to feel reflected when they listen to my music. I also want to create a world where people can immerse themselves and it can add vibe and beauty to their experience.