In summer 2012, DENA's video Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools exploded into popularity on YouTube and the girl from Bulgaria became an instant boom-pop hero. Around eight years before she moved to Berlin to study and make music. In doing so, she left the socialist housing estates of her childhood behind, where R ’n’ B songs often served as her refuge. Now she will release her first album Flash on which she presents a raw, rugged, and grainy take on modern-day life in a metropolis. This Saturday DENA comes to Cologne to present her new songs with a show full of massive beats and chords created live on her MPC and keyboard. To whet your appetite below a short interview Carhartt WIP did with her in the last year.
01/03/2014 - King Georg - Cologne - DE
Carhartt WIP DENA interview
When did you decide you wanted to make music your career?
DENA: As an artist, you have to make a lot of decisions, but I don’t think that deciding to have a career is one of them. To choose music as a job and full-time occupation, but a career isn’t something that the artist as a creator plans or decides. You just do what you do and love, for billions of hours, and days and nights, and then suddenly you realise it’s more than a full-time occupation, it’s your life. I started working intensively on my solo project around two and a half years ago. Around then I realised that I was working on something that I wanted to create in a coherent way – my first album.
What do you want to accomplish with music?
DENA: Peace, love and harmony. Breaking boundaries defined by gender, geography and money.
How do you think you are going to leave a mark on hip hop?
DENA: I’m not a hip hop artist, myself, but some of the songs I write are influenced by hip hop. Hopefully, I will influence it back by putting another perspective on the way lyrics and music work together in hip hop. Sometimes, it feels more like recycling hip hop and using it for my own purposes.
What is a typical weekend like for you?
DENA: In the past months, airports, backstage areas and a lot of new faces.
If you could be in any band for a day, living or dead, which band would it be?
DENA: In Beyoncé’s live band or ESG.
What are five words that describe your personal fashion style?
DENA: Instinctive. Original. Fake. Colours. Shapes. Bling.
What are your hobbies beside music?
DENA: I play tennis and started going to the gym regularly. Still can’t believe it, but it’s true.
What superpower would you like to have?
DENA: The power to zoom in and out with my eyes.
If you could spend a night partying with any of your icons, who would it be?
DENA: Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
What keeps you awake at night?
DENA: Everything I have to do tomorrow. Songwriting.
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
DENA: “Keep it strange.”
What is the worst experience of your life?
DENA: Doing jobs for five bucks an hour while trying to study and pay the rent.
Describe the relationship between your work and your identity.
DENA: It’s kind of very tightly connected.
What is something you have learned through music that has helped you in life and vice versa?
DENA: Tour managing. Vice versa: experiencing love, friendship, disappointment and pain.
Who was your biggest crush when you were a teenager?
DENA: Pharrell Williams.