DEJA is ready. If you asked her to pull together a 129 date stadium tour tomorrow, the one-woman band would spring into action.
“I’m ready to excel right now,” she says. “I’ve been preparing. I’m fit. I’m healthy. Practised. I can dance. I’ve got it all in me. I’m sure I could whack together a tour or a big show. I’m just ready for it to blow up”.
It seems that the wheels are already set in motion. DEJA’s latest release, ‘Leave Me’, has been playlisted by Radio 1Xtra for all of their key shows.
Imbued with a strong sense of self-belief, DEJA recites a daily chant: “I don’t chase, I attract. What is meant for me will simply find me…”
“I know the kind of life that I want. The success I want, the love I want, the environment I want. I just keep that somewhere in my mind whilst I’m saying those things. And it is finding me, like I’m here talking to Clash for God’s sake!” she laughs.
Arriving in 2020 with her first single, DEJA has been on an upward trajectory ever since, keeping things fresh with a steady stream of releases.
New track ‘Leave Me’ sees a sonic switch up from DEJA, who has previously sat within the realms of R&B, Soul and Pop. Keen to give her music more of a UK flavour, DEJA found herself leaning into Afrobeats and Amapiano completely by accident on this offering.
All about keeping bad vibes and negative energy out of her aura, ‘Leave Me’ features the Yoruba phrase ‘kiloṣe ẹ?’, which means, ‘what is the matter with you?’ Although DEJA seems to be calm and collected, a pro at setting boundaries to keep her peace, she tells Clash that it wasn’t always that way. “I had to learn. I have not been very good with boundaries. It is relatively new. It’s funny because I’ve always thought I was like, ‘You can’t can’t walk all over me! Big D? Hell no’. Actually, I realised that I was allowing people to absolutely rip the shit out of me for no reason, just because it made their life easier for me to be trod on. This song is a statement; a reminder to myself to not let that be the case anymore”.
Now, DEJA is most certainly living her best life. She has opened up stages for The Jackson 5, Macklemore, Emili Sandé, Etta Bond and Ady Suleiman, and performed at London Fashion Week for the designer Ozawald Boateng. Seeing her magnetic stage presence, you would think DEJA has always commanded a room, but that too has been a learning process. “I’ve always been confident, but in terms of working a crowd and actually understanding how the flow of the performance needs to go, that wasn’t natural, I had to learn that”, DEJA reveals. In fact, she recalls a time when, in her previous band Dutch Cousin, DEJA spent the entire performance rooted to the spot, her eyes glued to the floor as she sang. But, practice makes perfect, and DEJA has had that in spades, thanks to countless live performances at parties and events over the years. “You can put me in any room, stadium or cocktail bar, and everyone will enjoy it”, DEJA tells Clash confidently.
With the new year just around the corner, what is DEJA manifesting for 2023? “More music. More listeners. More shows. More eyes, ears, love for DEJA because all I have is love for people, I just want a bit of love back”, she laughs. “Everything I’m doing now but on crack, 100 miles an hour”.
Words: Aimee Phillips // @aimeephillips94