denitia & sene
FEBRUARY 5, 2016
On electropop chemistry.
interview by: al burton
Chemistry sees complementary elements producing the strongest bonds - an apt metaphor for Denitia and Sene. The Brooklyn electro-pop duo burst onto the scene in 2010 with their Blah Blah Blah EP and subsequent album His & Hers.
The pair have consistently kept things interesting since then with Soundcloud singles and, most recently, a four track follow up EP - Side FX. The marriage of infectious vocals with progressive pop soundscapes place them in a space unoccupied since the days of Groove Theory. They still refer to their pairing as a “project,” but a growing fan base and an obvious chemistry both on song and off suggest otherwise.
GT: You recently released your second EP, Side FX. What has changed for Denitia and Sene between His & Hers and this record?
SENE: I think the main thing is we got stronger. We know how we work with one another and so things became easier.
DENITIA: Yeah, I think we’ve just refined what we do on a whole.
GT: You all met about a year prior to the release of His & Hers. Was the intent at that time to form a group or did it sort of just develop over the course of the year?
DENITIA: We met at a party. We had both performed with other acts. I was kind of like the new girl in town and we just hit it off. I think like a couple of months later he hit me up and asked me to sing a hook on one of his rap songs. And from that song things kept going and then we found ourselves here.
GT: You were each doing your own thing before this. What would a ‘Denitia’ album or a ‘Sene’ album have been like? How would it have been different from a Denitia and Sene album?
SENE: Well, I was coming out of rap so it would have been quite different for me. DD [Denitia] was doing a lot of singer songwriting stuff, playing the guitar and having a backing band, so we were both kind of making different things. But one could argue that we were on a similar trajectory in that we were looking for a new thing as far the sound and that we’re always trying to push ourselves in different areas, musically and sonically. And so yeah we were definitely very different soundscapes. But I feel like the wanting to go to the same place made things a lot easier than the transition would normally be for a rapper.
DENITIA: I will note that before Sene and I met we both had playing music our whole lives and I’ve always been interested in many genres and I feel like we’ve both been influenced by a such myriad of sounds, and categories and artists that when we met things just overlapped in a way that just felt organic.
GT: Were there challenges?
SENE: Personally, for me I was coming off of an album that was spreading nicely, and people thought I was absolutely crazy, not having heard a lick of what we did together, for saying, ‘Hey I’m going to take a break from rap.’ They were like, what do you mean you’re gonna take a break? You just put out this record. It was time to do radio promos, and I was just not interested. So, coming from where I was leaving, it was a huge challenge.
DENITIA: For me the transition was pretty seamless creatively. It was effortless. It just felt like a good groove to be in, that’s part of why we even started the project.
SENE: Yeah, music is all emotion. But when we first started working and getting into the studio together, It was so smooth, I’ve yet to experience anything like it. It was so smooth that it was hard to explain to anyone. I was just like ‘Oh, they’ll hear it, and it will make more sense when they hear it.’ Effortless is definitely a good word. You know when you’re having fun and then all of a sudden you realize ‘Oh, we’ve been screwing around for two hours and we have 3 songs.’ It doesn’t happen like that a lot, so I was just grateful.
GT: Talk about your process in the studio. How does the collaboration come together?
SENE: That was kind of one of the only rules we set for ourselves, is we don’t talk about it much before we get in there. If you make music, you’ve had the experience where you get excited and you talk about it and you almost feel fulfilled just because you spoke about it. So we try to keep the talking, as far as what the music is going to be, to an extreme minimum. We just kind of get in there, listening to things together, and when both our ears perk up like a dog, we’re like “OOOH, Let’s get going on this”.
GT: So Denitia handles the songwriting and Sene handles the production?
DENITIA: I think that’s what’s unique about this particular collaboration. I actually don’t write the songs. Sene puts the lyrics together and the production. I just come in and interpret them, make them my own and perform them. It’s all pretty much performance based, as far as the vocals go.
SENE: Some of the newer stuff we’re working on is more ‘come to the table with less’ and just work it out right there together. So in the same way this collaboration, or this group, came from me starting to produce and write things that weren’t rap and getting into new stuff, now Denitia produces as well. So there’s no rule to how this is going to work.
GT: Is there more music ready, and can we expect another full length soon?
DENITIA: We have a gang of music that we’ll be putting out this year.
GT: Will it be a continuation of what we heard on Side FX or something different?
DENITIA: It’s more like we’re not even trying to frame it as anything other than ‘we’re doing new things.’ We’re creating more content, more media, we’re filming ourselves. I feel like whatever we do next is not gonna be the same format we put into His & Hers, where we put out an EP and then we create an album around that. It’s gonna be less of that and more of like us just taking our sound to another place and pushing ourselves a little further as far as how we put out the music and how we present what it is we feel like we’re about.
SENE: We went into His & Hers like, ‘Well everyone liked this other stuff so much, let’s make it an album.’ And now we’ve kind of moved past that. Luckily the times are changing, so we’re like ‘Let’s just keep making music that gets us both excited and also let’s think of different ways of putting it out. Like Denitia mentioned we’re filming shorts, and there are talks of a movie, and a whole bunch of other things. It’s not gonna be thought of like it was the last time, where it was like, ‘We have this EP now we have to add 7 songs.’ It’s more like, ‘Alright, we have this body of work, let’s make it make sense, and then how does this make you feel? Let’s go get the camera and see what’s up.’
GT: You all are amongst the leaders in this new category of independent artists known as "Do It Yourself Artists," also referred to as Soundcloud Artists. You seem to be having some success with this model and you seem to enjoy the creative flexibility it provides. Are you looking for a more traditional deal or are you looking to remain in the category of DIY artist?
DENITIA: We want to improve and refine what we already do, just the two of us, and make it as expressive and as grand as we feel inside. So whatever that looks like to people on the outside, we just want to make better stuff. We want to be better for the sake of the art itself. And also because we can sort of employ this model where we don’t seek out, or where we don’t depend on major label presence to realize our creative ideals and what we really dream about and what we want to see happen for ourselves. So we’re not closed off to the traditional route it’s just that there are so many other exciting ways to go about this whole thing that we want to explore that and make that as big and vast as we can.
GT: The banter between you two on some of the tracks on His & Hers - was that intentional, or is that just indicative of your normal everyday interaction?
DENITIA: (laughing) I don’t know how to take that.
GT: It wasn’t meant in a bad way.
SENE: I didn’t know we were recording, so you really just caught us out there. So yeah, we just have a good ol’ time. If we didn’t we probably wouldn’t working together. We’re both people that like to work extremely hard and have an amazing time doing it. So it’s fair to say that that’s the genuine interaction and probably how we sound to other people.
GT: How does that chemistry play out on stage?
DENITIA: We spend a little bit less time talking when we’re on stage than we did on that album.
GT: So when will we be getting that new alum? Summer, Fall?
DENITIA: In due time. Better yet, at the right time.
SENE: Yeah, at the right time. We don’t want to oversaturate but we’re also big on not leaving the silence there too long. We have a lot more coming.