A Conversation With Self-Proclaimed Underground King DeijuVHS
Meet one of the most unique genre-bending artists around — DeijuVHS is a one of a kind underground artist that has the potential to achieve legendary status.
I remember when I was growing up as a kid and often hearing my uncles repeat “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work” to me. Despite being blessed with quite a few talents, I never listened to them as I didn’t realise I had the potential to be great —and to be great you had to work hard, however, I just wanted to chill and have fun — lazy. As the years went by, all the other kids caught up with me on the football pitch, the athletic tracks, their creative writing and even started producing better beats than me. Now, as an adult I’ve noticed the importance of hard work, and rising underground star DeijuVHS is to me; the definition of a hard worker.
The London-based self-proclaimed Underground King may not be the most lyrically spectacular rap artist out there, but what makes him special and standout amongst the other emerging acts within the underground scene is the impact of his powerful and aggressive lyrics, his passion, his desire to succeed, his selflessness and the electrifying energy he brings. Known for infusing genres such as Punk, Drill, Trap and Psychedelic Rock over hard hitting eclectic beats, his style of music is unlike anything you’ve heard before, which is refreshing, especially in a generation where most up and coming acts often copy the artists they are inspired by from the get-go.
Read our conversation below:
How are you doing Daij?
I’m doing alright man, I’m alive so I’m good.
What artists did you grow up listening to?
Growing up my parents exposed me to a wide range of music, R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul, Reggae, Bashment, Garage, New Jack Swing — but my personal favourites growing up would be; Michael Jackson, Gorillaz, Lightspeed Champion, Fall Out Boy, Nirvana, Silverchair and Fightstar. There’s way too much shit to list, I literally listen to everything from post war music to hardcore punk to Harry Potter soundtracks and everything in between.
Wow amazing. What was it like growing up in your area?
I grew up in Walthamstow, East London, it was calm still. If you didn’t want any trouble you’d just stay away from it.
What’s the story behind your artist name?
My names Daij but I changed the spelling to Deiju cah it sounds like some anime thing. And the VHS is there cah when I was growing up I loved VHS tapes, they were my biggest comfort next to my PS2.
That’s interesting.You’ve basically come from nothing, what pushes you to consistently deliver both captivating underground shows and passionate singles with replay value?
I just do everything so pure, I don’t put too much thought into it, I jus do it outta pure love. Music is my biggest passion and the only ting that keeps me content.
When did you start making music?
I started when I was 15, I’m 24 now. Started in a Punk band playing guitar with my bros from school, we couldn’t play our instruments but we didn’t care. That disbanded when I was 17, I think cah I wanted to skate and take drugs, I didn’t make music properly again until I was 19, that’s when I started to learn to produce, I was making Grungy, Psychedelic shit. I was very depressed those times so my shit was dark dark, I used have to whisper to record cause I was living at mumzys and I would be late, and I didn’t wanna wake anybody. When I performed the songs live I’d shout everything and let it all out, that’s when my bro was like you need to shout on record — and here I am today. To be honest, 2019 is the first year I took this music shit serious.
That’s amazing man. What inspired you to create Lamesfest?
Started LAMESFEST in 2016 with my bro Dylan, we just made it cause there weren’t really many shows for me and my friends, so we were like rah we can just do it ourselves, fast forward to 2019 I deeped it, like rah I can put on shows for everybody not just my lot and it really grew from there.
Lamesfest is now a record label too — where do you see the label in five years time?
Everybody on the label will be clouting and caking. I’ma make sure it becomes a subsidiary of a larger label. I’ma always look after unknown underground talent.
I love that. As an artist, what message are you trying to convey to the public?
That you can do anything you put your mind to. I know it’s cliche but a lot of people don’t know that, people really need to deep it, you can make your reality whatever you want, no dream is too big even if you got 1p in your pocket. Bit of advice for anybody reading this get; a notebook calendar. Write all your dreams in it and create a marketing strategy to success also don’t ever give up hope, shit will happen if you want it bad enough and put energy into it.
You’ve released a couple of last year, with “Grunge” and “Flem” being the standout singles. What do you call your sound? What’s the inspiration behind it?
I don’t know what I’d call my sound, I’ve got so many different sounds and people haven’t even heard half of it. You know them niggas who say “rah I’m a versatile artist” and all they can do is turn the auto tune off and on. Well that isn’t me, I’m creating whole new genres, you man will hear it soon. Inspiration wise I’d say Punk, Drill, Grunge, Psychedelic Rock, Indie and whatever the fuck Gorillaz were doing. Not gonna lie I’m really tryna compose classical music soon.
I know, I know.Both of those singles were produced by goodbyechase, what’s it like working with him?
Chase is a genius, I’ve only met him at shows but I can tell he’s a blessed guy. Big respect to him cah he’s doing a lot for the people. We need to hit studio one day though I know it’d be mad.
You have a very loyal fan base, most of them are young, do you consider yourself a role model?
I never really think about that to be honest, a lot of people message me, come up to me telling me that I inspire them so I must be one. I work with SE Demons and they’re my sons, I feel like a father to them, like I wanna pass on my knowledge and experience onto them so they don’t take some of the L’s I’ve taken, shout out the Demons they’ve really made my life more enjoyable! GET EM OUT!
We all witnessed a disastrous General Election loss for the Labour Party here in the UK, and in the past you’ve been very vocal about your distaste for the Government. What are your thoughts about this current Political situation we’re in right now?
Man I’m one big ol’ punk, Politics is bullshit to me, Democracy has never worked, us working class people are always left to rot, so all I can say is fuck all of them and the Earth is getting fucked up everyday by these people in power, so once again fuck them. Our current political situation just shows how stupid the Human race is, like why is the world so fucked, we really think we’re some superior beings but in reality we are the stupidest things to ever have existed for fuck sakes.
Did this inspire “Flem”?
Nah not really to be honest, I wrote “Flem” time ago and I don’t keep my eye on Politics, didn’t even know we were having a General Election last year. I just have a huge distain for people in power. Imagine I didn’t even release “Flem” on results day on purpose, it was just a made coincidence. “Flem” is just about my life and my views, and I know a lot of youth share the same views as me.
Oh right, I see. You had an exceptional 2019, performing at Boomtown, being interviewed by i-D and releasing two powerful singles that are in contention for songs of the year on many people’s list, but what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I’ve only released 5 songs and got recognised by outsiders and people within the scene, no label, no team just me on my dolo, all cah I want this shit so bad and I manifested it. 47.
What can we expect from you in 2020?
My album Forever Hoodpunk2020 is coming out early on in the year. I got a summer album coming up full of beautiful guitars and shit. Got a project with my boy Styx + one with Dex The Freak. LAMESFEST records launch party, Forest Raves, anime nights, more shows. Man I got bare secret clout plans it’s mad, I can’t even spill anything right now. Just expect more from me and my team. Lame SZN. Demon SZN everyday.
Get tickets to see DeijuVHS supporting HEN$HAW + KXZARI at the Camden Assembly on 9th April 2020 here.