DUVV is an artist with a unique sound that you need to hear for yourself. With her songs about feelings we often keep inside will make you think and feel as you listen. DUVV has a beautiful journey to music that she describes as a calling for her. She has a special mission in using her music as a platform to create dialogue with how you as an individual are feeling. GIGsoups Thomas Darro had the pleasure to sit down with DUVV and talk about her path with music, her upcoming EP in which she self produced 5 of the tracks, and how she ruins every karaoke party. Check it out below.
We talked a little about my move to New York, I know you also felt kind of a calling to move to Seoul, South Korea right?
Yeah so that was unexpected for sure. My first trip there I was at the tail end of my sophomore year of college and the purpose of my trip wasn’t music related at all. It was an exchange program. It wasn’t actually until my last week of the program that I started playing around with writing music. So from there it grew, I came back to the States and music was kind of like my hobby, I got really passionate about it. I was like “oh this is my thing!” So then I had that like existential crisis that happens when you graduate school. Like “What do I do?” I was also on track to go to law and was studying political science so this was a huge 18…no 360 it was a full 360 move and it scared me.
You know a lot of peoples parents are like you go to a good school, you get a good job and its kind of that linear trajectory and I had no idea what pursuing music even looked like. So it scared me that I felt so strongly about it and I didn’t know how to pursue it so that kind of freaked me out. I took some time off just to figure things out and I went to Korea in January of 2016 for a month. I was just saying to myself “Alright so you started music here, but you started it in a vacuum.” I was in my room like a dorm room playing around. So I went back to where it all started like a back to the beginning type trip, and it was really amazing! The people I met were really welcoming and based on the warmth I felt and the support I felt during that 4 week trip I decided to move there. So I kind of did a scouting trip. So when I went back this year I was able to re-connect with the different people I met last year.
And how long were you there for?
I was there for a bit over a year this time. I’ve been back now for eight months.
So you went back to the place it all began, and were in the clubs and meeting producers would you say this is where you kind of found your sound?
I think even when I touched down there this time I didn’t know my sound. I was still trying to figure it out writing wise and melody wise. And I made a mixtape when I was there like a collaborative mixtape called ‘With You in Mind” and that was me being very openly experimental with the sounds that I sang on. I still wasn’t sure at the culmination of that project and that was released at the end of August. So I had been there five months a half a year and still wasn’t certain what I wanted my sound to be. But when everything started to click was December-January which was 2-3 months to when I had to leave. I realized that I really resonated with the pulse of club culture. It inspired me and changed my writing for this project and has inspired my writing from here on out I think because it left such an impact on me. Because you can be experimental but you can still ride the pulse of a club.
So what happened was I had a performance in a club setting and I was singing a song and I felt awkward. Cause in Korea sometimes you are performing in clubs not like concert halls, there’s no like formal stage it was an actual club behind the DJ booth. But I was singing and I felt what I was singing wasn’t matching the space I was in. And I was like “Oh man I still have like 25 minutes left to sing and I’m already feeling awkward.” But that was what kind of woke me up into realizing that there was a rhythm and pulse to the club. So I wanted to write according to that pulse, so I was in the club all the time. A lot of people I met were DJ’s, producers, and i’d go to their sets and parties and what not. I’d say I want to make music that fits in this space. So that was a huge driving force for this project.
Wow so one night feeling awkward kind of shifted how you were looking at music. Would you say that you are still discovering that sound? Or is it more of an evolution?
Yeah one night. But I think so I think that its always an evolution. For me at least, because I try to be open to learning and I think that’s whats helped me get to this stage of my music is being open because I’ve never produced a full song before. But now I’m trying it and I like the control I have over the sound. Even being in Korea there were still things lost in translation because I’m not fluent in Korean and the person I was working in may not be fluent in English. But on top of that even if you speak the same language you can still lose a bit of the concept you are trying to express because it’s a different person. So whatever you are saying they might be perceiving in a slightly different way. So me wanting to hone in on the sound I wanted I tried my best to have full control which is kind of the inspiration behind producing. But I think that despite that I will always be evolving and trying different things and learning about myself and about my sound.
Because of how unique your sound is I wanted to ask how you would describe it?
I always have a hard time with this question. When I started singing I just said that I was a singer-songwriter I didn’t start with a genre. I think that I’m inspired by elements of electronic, alternative, R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, I love Bass (laughs) generally speaking if it has a lot of bass in it there’s a chance i’ll like it! But it’s hard for me to pigeon hole it because I have tried different things but I would say ‘Acid’ is more electronic, alternative, pop-ish.
I think not being able to describe it is what makes your music so special and so that is why I asked that. You mentioned ‘Acid’ which is coming out soon on 11/16?
Yes the official release is Friday (the 16th) everywhere Spotify, Apple, all that. But I was talking about this before like I told you this detox I was doing… I didn’t even realize that the project like I knew that the project was going to be called ‘Acid’ because I knew the name before I started writing for it and said that I was going to write something and it’s going to be called ‘Acid.’ But I did not foresee this detox in my future. So just a couple weeks ago it was recent I was just sitting there and said “Oh snap this project is called acid” and the whole concept for acid was toxicity, balance with your body, spiritually, all of that stuff. And it didn’t hit me that I was literally going through it as I was writing and recording it. I was so distracted with like working on the project I forgot I was like literally experiencing what it meant as I was making it which was crazy! Because we finished recording in August or September I’m not sure. So I was definitely in the throws of my detox when the project was still being finished and I didn’t process that the whole reason and little blurb of the entire project I was literally experiencing it. So I thought that that was a funny little full circle type thing that added a different weight to it. That that sort of cleansing of your mind and spirit is actually something that is real and not just a concept. It happens. So that was fun.
That is awesome. I love that. What else can we expect from ‘Acid’?
There is slow stuff on there, its got the most uptempo song of music that I have written so I am excited about sharing that. So after some of my performances that I’ve done with like sneak peeks of the project live people have come up to me and shared with me some really personal things that they were experiencing and how my music has touched them. So I really appreciated that and I really hope that that continues, I hope that people feel comfortable coming up to me or their friends and opening up about how they feel. Because another huge part of the project is to kind of shine a light on things that people hide and keep buried within them. So that is the first release that we did was a song and video for the first single and first track on the album called ‘Was You’ and it discusses going to a place like the club where you want to escape and you just want to go to a club and forget about it. But what happens is whatever it is you are running away from you at some point are going to have to confront it. So this song discusses going to the place where you intended to escape something and then ending up facing it. So that type of discussion and singing songs like that and exposing some things that are internal dialogue and singing it out loud maybe people can resonate with it privately and can inspire them expressing it outwardly. So I am looking forward to that I hope people feel what I am trying to say and that it helps them discuss how they are feeling about whatever they’ve got going on. So they can expect a lot of feelings.
So a lot of this project was self produced I read?
I produced five of them, one of those five was co-produced with a producer named HVNS and we produced that together. Then one of the tracks ‘Kite in the Sky” was produced by someone else. So I fully produced four tracks, co-produced one, and one was entirely produced by someone else.
And so with much of the project being about feelings and what we feel deep inside, How did it feel to be able to have more control with it by being such a big part of production?
No absolutely, I felt like I had more control this time around because especially the last mixtape the collaborative one I did when I was in Korea. I was working with seven different people on seven different songs and it was a lot communicating what I was trying to express. Not only language barrier wise but just the general concept of communicating with another person. So when I started producing myself though I had less technical skill and less development than the producers I worked with with years of experience. I felt I had a stronger grasp of what I was trying to convey which was really great. So I feel that something that I want to keep moving forward. I also feel that producing this project is a stepping stone because I am really happy about it and I feel that once someone hears it they can have a better idea for the sound that I’m going for and interested in exploring. I think it’s afforded me the opportunity to figure out what’s in my head and how to execute it so now it is just kind of growing my technical skill from that point onward. It is also a good reference point for if I do work with another producer I can say “Hey I made this…like I really like this can we use this as a reference point?” But we’ll see because I’ve been working on some new music now that I want to release at the debut party in Korea.
So I love karaoke and I am always curious with musicians and artists that have performed on major stages, what songs do they choose in more intimate karaoke type settings? Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
I will ruin the party and sing Coldplay (laughs)
Is it a specific Col….?
Yellow. It will ruin the entire vibe and I do not care. (laugh) I am telling you one person will go spice girls, the next Nelly, they’ll rap whatever they need to rap and I will take it down all the notches.
Which is unfair because you are the one with the good voice.
I don’t even think about that, I just go! Even if I’m not singing it right I just go and am like “you guys need to hear this!” That is so funny that’s a great question do you have one?
So I don’t have a good voice, I cant do a song like ‘Yellow’ like you. So I have to go with songs your voice wont stick out in. So what I do is usually something Destinys Child. It gets the crowd going.
You’re done. You’re a star in the making. (laughs)
(Laughs) Thank you! Well with that is there anything else you would like to say to readers to end the interview?
Umm.. no I think I am just looking forward to seeing peoples responses to it. I hope that it opens up a lot of conversation to the things people are burying inside. It could be heavy…it’s like bringing heavy topics to a club so I am interested in seeing how that plays out and I am looking forward to performing it in the first place I ever performed it in Korea like going back and doing a release party. I am doing my debut performance in Tokyo on Friday, and then the release party for Acid is in Seoul is on the 23rd at the first club I ever performed in. So I felt like it’s like giving to Seoul what it gave to me like this is what happened when this whole year came to a close. This is what came of that so performing it where people welcomed me into their community and treated me so warmly or people I recorded songs with and some are friends. I feel like every time I go to Korea I have this insane internal retrospective thing that goes down so going back there to perform and release this project means a lot. Then after we are doing one in New York on December 7th if you’re around and can come through.
Amazing, I know I posed that as my last question but I just thought of another one. Is that cool?
No of course, go for it!
So at first you were doing a foreign exchange thing in Korea and wrote for the first time. Before that was music ever in your sights or a thought for you?
No like when I was younger I used to play the violin but stopped that in High School. I was doing like blogging or things to feel out, but in terms of music like getting involved in music as a singer no! Even I left for that semester in Korea the length of the program was February-June. If you asked me in February if i’d be singing what? March what? Like I literally was in there and it was not on my mind. It was literally that last week and I was like I’m going to try singing. It was very much in a vacuum very much like… that’s why I felt it was a calling because the thing about the music thing is that it is easy to get distracted like “Oh I need to write a song like it needs to be released” and the logistics of pushing music but the root of it is expression and a lot of it was stemming from pain I was experiencing or wanting to express hardship and finding an outlet that I felt was fulfilling to me. I felt going the path that I was going and doing essentially what my parent was guiding me to do I wasn’t going to live a fulfilling life. I was living a life that would make my mom happy but I would have to live with these decisions after she’s gone. I felt really trapped because I didn’t know what the alternative was. So what happened in Korea I was surrounded by people that had different ways of thinking because i was staying in the international dorm and just meeting different people and thinking there is more to the world in general outside this bubble that you have created and maybe you need to step outside this bubble and see what you can actually contribute to the world that you are in because at the rate you’re going to be a miserable wreck.
So i feel the music was very trans-formative to me which is why I take it so seriously it is very much like God’s calling for me which is something that was unexpected and all the challenges that came with it unexpected life changing things happened through this music. I connected with people I didn’t think I would, I lost friendships I didn’t think I would , things happen when you are learning more about yourself. Music was like God’s catalyst for me to like wake up and improve myself. So I feel that that is why I am very particular with my lyrics. Like I don’t like using I don’t use profanity anymore. Nothing crass I think of how can I express this message so that everyone can here it. I feel like there is a lot going on in the world and the way that we consume things on loops and I feel like a lot of the things people are taking in constantly are not good for them. You know its like a diet if you constantly eat bad food your body is not going to feel that great. I believe the same thing happens with the music you consume. If you constantly consume music that is damaging to your psyche it is going to reflect in your actions. So I try to make things that people can listen to that will encourage them to be better instead of playing on the lowest common spiritual denominators. I am trying to make more positive music that will inspire people to be their bests selfs rather than panning to the lowest frequency. So it’s always great when someone resonates with it like you can play this with your child . I keep the children in mind when I write because they are the future. I think that is a part maybe I don’t talk about as much. It’s cool that was a great question Just how music has impacted me personally and why it means so much to write something that other people can react to because I know how much meaning it had for me in my life and how much growth I was able to undergo because of it. So having something like that if I can provide that for other people.