Dela: What I've Learned
Dela is a French music artist who made international waves with his Atmosphere Airlines series. He shares his inspirations, likes and dislikes, and his philosophy.
I am inspired by the places I visit. When the energy is different, it can be very inspiring.
I would never change the way I make music to please people. So if one day I feel like doing something very experimental that few people will like and understand, so be it. But after the fact when the music is made and you are about to release it. That is when it gets scary.
I like rain. It inspires peacefulness. Just being home and creating music while it rains outside.
I don’t like the word perfectionist. I don’t feel I am a perfectionist. I am just trying to get to a point where the music I create feels right. It's hard to explain, I might be working on something that sounds good, but until it sounds really special to me, I'll have to keep changing it. It's almost impossible to describe, but everything has to fit. It's like trying to solve a puzzle in the dark.
I really got interested in Hiphop with the first Wu-Tang album.
Going to a museum or a gallery and seeing a lot of nice pieces of art can rejuvenate me and inspire me to create music. Kind of like when you're watching kung-fu movies as a kid, and as soon as the movie is over you want to fight your friends and become a kung-fu master.
When mixing, sometimes you're tweaking sounds and you want to hear a difference so bad that you might get a placebo effect. Your brain can trick you. You EQ something and you think it sounds better but then you realize the EQ isn’t even plugged in.
When I started making music, I wanted to make a rock band. I was 9 years old. I was looking for a band but I couldn’t find anybody. Then I found out about the 4 track cassette recorder. It changed my world. I didn’t need anybody, I was able to make music by myself.
My mother was very supportive. She never pressured me. She always believed in me.
A lot of french artists sing in English to try and get a worldwide appeal. I don't like it very much, I believe your mother language is the most direct way to express yourself. To me, when you start singing in languages you barely speak, it often takes away some of the soul. Everybody is inspired but when it comes time to make art you gotta try and make it your own.
You've got lots of people making art because they think it's cool. For some it's about image and how they want to be perceived. For others I think it's like a cool hobby, kind of like being in a cover band and playing an instrument for fun. Which is cool except nowadays it seems like everybody has an ambition of becoming famous. I feel like few artists really take their craft seriously, and actually have something to say. And to me that's the most important thing about art, if I don't feel like the artist is trying to express his own true feelings, I'm not interested.
When I released my first project, I wanted to be part of that Hip-hop family that inspired me. But I felt like I wasn't being accepted as part of the family. They say never meet your idols and I shouldn't have for the most part! But those bad experiences freed me and pushed me to do my own thing.
Maybe I should express myself more. Maybe I can do better. Maybe I can push it further. I am less and less interested in pleasing anyone.
I am making a living off streaming and I am a small artist.
I am independent. I put money into my own albums. I get 100% revenue and I don’t have to share it with record labels that probably wouldn't help me much anyway.
My philosophy is do what makes you happy and not care about what other people think. This is the main thing I've learned over the past few years and I've been trying to apply it to my work. I needed to free myself from my influences and the industry. My advice to all creators is to try and express yourself in the most direct way possible. There's a Picasso quote that says "Good artists copy; great artists steal." What I get from that quote is that we all have influences and that's fine. But instead of trying to emulate them, you need to steal them and make them your own. Create your own art.