[MUSIC/Pop/Hip Hop ~ SA]

by Adrian Miller.

The Umbrella Festival is upon us and one of the featured performances is a collaboration at Holden Street Theatres between pop diva Dee Anna and hip hop artist NER$H entitled Follow. The Clothesline speaks with Dee Anna, via email, to find out more about the show and began by asking when songwriting became a passion for her.

“I remember writing my first song at 14; Fairy Bread And Butterflies. Music was my favourite subject at school, however when I changed schools to focus more on dance, I kept writing songs on my piano almost every night. Then at 20, I bought my first guitar and decided it was time to perform them live.”

In 2020 you released the single Follow that this show is named after. This was a [  significant change in direction for you? Had you had much to do with rap before this single?

“A huge change! I never thought I would write pop music. I met NER$H back in 2016 after his father heard me sing at a gig and said we must work together. I reluctantly went along to meet him (was forced by my boyfriend at the time). I was very stubborn and opinionated back then, so I’m glad I changed my mind. Once I met NER$H I soon realised we liked and listened to a lot of similar music.”

How did you find working with NER$H?

“It’s always easy working with NER$H. He is highly intelligent, a gifted lyric writer and has great timing and understanding of so many different genres. I remember working in the studio with him for the first time last year, he just went in and smashed out his verse and literally came up with it in a day.”

You now have a new single What You’re Looking For available. Who else was involved in recording this song?

What You’re Looking For is a song I wrote in 2016 but never recorded it. Later in 2019, I met pianist and producer Will Preite through a mutual friend. I loved his passion for music and producing and knew instantly I had to create my EP with him. It was very much a collaboration between the two of us, mostly working online as he lives in Italy. He just knew what sounds to put with my unique voice.”

What can people expect to see and hear at ‘Follow’? 

It’s sophisticated pop/hip hop with R&B and jazz inspired sounds. It’s almost a healing and nurturing experience as I feel like 2020 took something away from everyone. This show is about love and moving through the pain and shining your light anyway. NER$H is also a huge fan of the late Mac Miller, so he felt inspired to write a song dedicated to the iconic hip hop artist. We also have a surprise Fleetwood Mac cover thrown in, with quite a different vibe.”

What will you bring to this show from your previous musical theatre experience?

“Ahhhh musical theatre! I don’t know if I would call myself a musical theatre performer. I guess I am very theatrical and always have been. It’s something that sets me apart from other artists. That’s just my natural personality. I’m over the top and expressive and raw, probably because I’ve been inspired by bands such as Queen.”

Dee Anna & NER$H

Will this be the first time you and NER$H have performed together?

“We performed back in 2016 for a private Father’s Day memorial ceremony; we did a cover of Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine with a hip hop twist. I played guitar and sang and realised then how much fun it is to play around with timing and tone to create a completely different sound for myself. NER$H of course added another element and wrote a brilliant rap verse over the traditional song.”

Are the songs to be performed all written by you, or will there be some solo NER$H tracks as well?

“I will be showcasing all my latest music, and NER$H will be performing a few of his tracks. We have combined and reworked our own songs to create new versions together.”

How will this differ from your previous Umbrella Festival performance? 

“In some ways it is similar, it’s still my music, it’s still a version of myself. It’s just a little more fun and lightheaded with hip hop thrown in. I have always loved dancing to hip hop music, I may even tap dance a little in the show. So I’m looking forward to letting loose with NER$H. He is the real artist, his writing cuts deep and is beautiful and poetic, I just get to have fun on stage and sing my heart out.”

Will NER$H be doing any of the dance routines?

Hahaha, I’m sure we can get him into a tutu… he can become the first hip hop ballerina. Although, that’s actually not a bad idea; Hip hop and classical music complement each other perfectly. Thanks to NER$H I have a new appreciation for hip hop and the many different styles out there. Once you start listening, you realise artists such as Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande use it all the time.”

What future recording or cabaret performances do you have planned?

“To be honest, this may be my last music show for a while; I want to keep writing and working on new music. Create more of a presence online, but who knows what the future holds? If COVID-19 gets under control we may decide to tour.”

Follow performs as part of Umbrella Festival at Holden Street Theatres from 9.30pm on Fri 23 Jul until Sat 24 Jul.  Click HERE to purchase your tickets.

Umbrella Festival runs from Fri 16 Jul until Sun 8 Aug. Click HERE for full Umbrella Festival program.


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