Following the release of her debut track, ‘Sorry’, we’ve asked DIDI Six Quick Questions!
EP: What’s the DIDI Story?
D: In reality it’s a very short one! I only decided to create DIDI about three weeks ago in early March (2017) after I suddenly found myself writing a song, then another, then another…and felt the need to release solo, which really took me by surprise. I have been in three bands one after the other, since I was 10 (I am now 21) and always enjoyed co-writing the songs, doing backing vocals and guitar but never performed on my own.
I think my work as a producer (since 2013) for a local studio, Cream Room Sound Productions in Dane End, as well as for my own studio, The Den (which was mainly for a folk and acoustic label) helped because while I coached many soloists who had not recorded before in warm ups and vocal exercises, I was also coaching myself at the same time and I found just recently that when I needed a voice, I seemed to have it.
It’s not a particularly outstanding voice, let’s be honest, but it’s quite distinctive, you can tell it’s me once I get going, and I love the song writing and production elements in particular, with no one else to have to consult with, it’s very freeing. I can lose simply hours in the studio on my own stuff, which still seems rather indulgent! Especially as I’ve got other acts I am working on still, with their work to mix and produce! So really, being solo is a vehicle for getting my songs out there, it was never part of the grand master plan, so the singing just had to happen, almost as a by-product.
Initially it was intended for demos only, then I got really into the songs as the lyrics are so personal and wanted to sing them myself, and now I find myself being asked to perform them live which is again, unexpected, but I am loving it! So I’ve been making a fantastic pedal board from scratch, even the frame, and am preparing for my first official support slot, which I was offered after my first open mic in a local pub!
I am gradually gaining some confidence in my voice as people have been so kind since I started DIDI. But it’s the overall effect of the music which excites me, the vibe, the emotions it creates, not the purity of the vocals, for example. It’s the whole package. It’s been reviewed as “neo punk”,”kick ass”, and “exhilarating”, as well as “art pop”, and all of these things stem from allowing myself to get away from”pretty, polished and perfect” scene I’ve been in for years. And I will carry on doing it for as long as people want to listen! It’s always a gamble releasing anything, you never know how it’s going to be received, so it’s been a relief that so many people seem to “get it”.
EP: You’ve established a name for yourself as a producer, now you’ve released your debut solo single, ‘Sorry’ – what’s made you come out from behind the desk now?
D: I have been writing for years, mostly with other people, been touring and in various bands, so the whole”being an artist” thing was very normal for me, although I had never released something that was “mine”. My life as a producer always involves other people’s input, but with this, I don’t “have” to consult or compromise with anyone, so it means I have more control which I really like!
This whole new solo act, DIDI, actually specifically stemmed from writing ‘Sorry’. It’s not a particularly ground breaking song in the grand scheme of things, but it was ground breaking for me. It was something that was undeniably mine, and I was surprised to find that I was proud of it! so I showed a few people, namely my mum – who has a successful record label, and it went from “Here is my little song, what do you think of it?” to, “I AM GOING TO RELEASE AS DIDI” in a matter of hours!!
The timing also worked out quite well, because a week before DIDI was “born” I had a photo shoot booked for a feature in Headliner Magazine about my studio and being a producer, and me being the person I am, I thought I could make the most of this so got loads of different shots and locations to cover any future opportunities. Luckily Cassy (Bellanova Photography) was really on board but I didn’t even tell her what I was thinking at the time, as it hadn’t really got to the definite stages of being a “thing”, she just had to trust that I wasn’t wasting her time and thankfully she did!
EP: Who are your inspirations? And what inspires you?
D: If I am being honest, Kate Dimbleby really has to be up there, I don’t think I would have actually gone through with this if I hadn’t produced her album and seen her perform and record Songbirds, which is pretty unique and “outside the box” with layered a cappella (ie no instruments). We just completely “threw out the rule book” and went for it! it has stuck with me ever since. That freedom and spontaneity, because we were trusted by the label to come up with something good and given complete creative license. I have inspirations on a bigger scale musically, like Two Door Cinema Club, Ellie Goulding, Muse, and on a (only slightly) smaller scale Stevie Parker, Alex Lahey and Declan McKenna for just doing it and doing it amazingly!
But I think what really inspires me are the musicians on “my scene”. I have learnt so much invaluable knowledge from gigging with them, and from having the privilege of getting to go on stage and play with them, artists like Minnie Birch, Alexa Mullins, Kelly Oliver and Emma McGrath. But ultimately it is my mum, Helen Meissner, who has inspired me to get on and do this and follow my heart.
EP: What’s your take on the current state of the music industry, and what do you suggest to others to get along in it?
D: I am so ruddy excited! So many independent artists are breaking though and changing up the way we consume music. Also the improvements in technology mean that it has become so much more accessible for people who maybe didn’t get into it before, because it was too expensive or complicated, who are doing it now and it sounds great!
My main two pieces of advice would be :
1) Don’t shy away from your “brand”, think about what makes you unique and really play on that, and
2) Don’t feel you have to make something sound the same as everyone else, just because that is what you hear day to day, because really, you need to be the one who sets the trends, not follows them.
EP: What do you have in the pipeline? More music (we hope), and when can we hear it?
D: Well, well, well, I have a little “extra” release to do with ‘Sorry’ which I am very excited about and shows how awesome other people are at interpreting my music! Then I have a new single on the way, due out 24th April 😉
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
D: It’s funny you should ask, as it’s not directly that I wish I was asked a specific question, more that I wish that some questions were not asked! It hasn’t happened yet on this project, but when I was in a girl band we would get asked questions all the time about dating tips and my ‘dream man..’ which was hilarious because they were barking up the wrong tree completely! :’) In those instances I would have much preferred that they asked me about my customised pedal board or my favourite guitar pedal, or amp micing technique, but I know that doesn’t make for juicy gossip! It’s about time it was cool for girls to be tech geeks and be encouraged to inspire others to explore the other side of the mic, and get stuck into the production side. It’s amazing what you can do when you trust yourself!
DIDI has three remixes of ‘Sorry’ out on 7 April. Check out the ‘Crazy Joe Cola’ remix: