Multi-faceted artist Jean Deaux has easily become one of my favorites in music. Not only due to her witty, metaphorical lyricism or off centered infectious style, but because of her sincerity to staying exactly true to who she is. Her ebullient and jabber tone radiates confidence and not in any form of egotism. She’s an artist that knows what she wants to create and deliver, and she plans to do just that with her upcoming work.
As she prepares for the release of a new EP, entitled Krash, Jean Deaux is dropping off her latest cut today titled “Back 2 You.” A straight high energy bop, the newest single was created alongside producer Phoelix (who too has his own work – peep his latest project Tempo). “Phoelix was making this on our tour bus during the ‘Swanita’ tour. I came out the back room and ran to the front of the bus like “yeooooo! GIVE ME THIS RIGHT NOW,”” Jean Deaux mentioned when asked about the track. “He actually never gave it to me until after tour. I didn’t even think about the words (laughs). I just let it flow. I had come off tour wanting to make something that just felt good and powerful. The words matched, I think.”
The artwork is just as impressive, taking us back through time with a nostalgic ode to Black women of yesteryear. “In my artistry I’m very inspired by my ancestors, science (physics), and just colors in general. My music before kind of matched that but the looks were dry, looking back. Jean Deaux is a time traveler and I’m using the visuals to explore that. Tapping into any era I find myself in,” she shared. “This look was inspired by black women of the 50s/60s. I used pictures of women like Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, and the most gorgeous Nancy Wilson to inspire me. The photographer Nailah Howze and the stylist Jinju really helped pull this inspiration together and brought it to life for me.”
While “Back 2 You” is the latest offering, Jean assured that there’s more to come with a few special collaborations to look out for on the EP. “Ugh, I have some queens on the project! All people I genuinely love and appreciate as artists. Kari Faux has a raw verse on a very hard song on the project. However my song “Code” with Drea The Vibe Dealer is going to blow some minds.” When asked about the inspiration for the upcoming record, Jean Deaux related her inspiration to her late cousin, John Walt: “The only song over a year old on this project is the song I made on the day he passed, and it’s one of the most special songs on the project. It deserved to be surrounded by special pieces of music that continue to tell my story. But this chapter is going to be a good one, for sure.”
Krash is due out this fall. As we wait, get through mid-week with Jean Deaux’s “Back 2 You” below, read more from our chat, and revisit her exclusive Roll Back, Play That playlist with us here.
NyAsia: Over the past year or so, I’ve become even more of a follower of your work not just for the music but for you as a person and creative. Everything you deliver is so sincere, which is sometimes hard to come by for an artist. What has kept you balanced in staying true to yourself as a woman while also being a known singer, songwriter, and rapper?
Jean Deaux: Okay sis, I see you with these great questions! Hmm, I think I’m really just going with the flow. I’m blessed that people can see the sincerity with that. We all just want to figure our shit out and enjoy life, but we learn that there’s levels to that. Music is so important because it conveys the pieces of ourselves we’d often leave out of an everyday conversation. It’s why I love music so much, it travels through you. I think just focusing on that, letting life flow through me, and taking it for what it is – that keeps me SANE (laughs). Sane enough to find a balance and sane enough to be ok if I lose it.
Has it ever been difficult for you to be so vulnerable and have your work open for critique? I ask this because as black women, we’re often harshly criticized for any and everything we share with the world. We see it all of the time on blogs and music sites. How do you manage working in such a white male dominated industry?
I’m very strong. I’ve always had tough skin. If it ain’t a nigga in the street who can intimidate me, there damn sure won’t be a Brad to do it. However, when it comes to putting my art out, I’m smart with my business and I’m understanding with my audience. I respect that people even take the time to listen to me. I appreciate any feedback on my music from people truly digesting my work. Noted, people can be a bit entitled with their opinions, but it’s all apart of the deal.
Let’s talk about what’s to come! It seems like this new project will be a very important one. From following you online, it seems like you’ve been working really hard on it while also working through a lot of personal and private issues. Do you think that this project will serve as a way to heal for you?
Releasing this music is going to be everything for me. I can understand any artist who’s ever been in a situation, not able to release a body of work that they’ve invested their souls into. Most of my frustration is just wanting to get over that hump, seeing all my work pay off.
Any special features or collaborations on the project that you can talk about?
Ugh, I have some queens on the project! All people I genuinely love and appreciate as artists. Kari Faux has a raw verse on a very hard song on the project. However my song “Code” with Drea The Vibe Dealer is going to blow some minds.
Speaking of collaborations, I’m interested in knowing, who are some people on your wish list to work with creatively?
Ummm, hey Solo! Definitely looking forward to working with more women. Solange, Nao, Kamaiyah, Tierra Whack too. I’d also love to get some bars off on some Kendrick shit one day for sure.
Outside of your own work, are you interested in any other fields? For some reason, I can see you tapping into the film world and really killing it. Whether that be acting or even behind the scenes doing score.
I’m definitely going to do some more director work! Very soon, finally shooting videos for myself and the first video for this project is going to shake the damn table for multiple reasons. I’d love to get more into acting as well and I’ve even done some auditions. I don’t know about SCORING. I’m a big fan of composers and I respect the craft too much. I’d love to be a part of it one day though, who knows.
Your music has been so versatile over your career so far and as an artist, I’m sure it can be challenging being so multifaceted at times. What feel can we expect on this new project? More singing, more rapping, or combination of both?
Honestly I will always do what I feel a song needs. If it needs just a flow, gibberish, if it just needs ooohs & ahhs, crooning, whatever. The vessel can become any form, so I find it more of a blessing than a challenge. The only challenge is perfecting every part of my craft, vocally, visually. I think this project won’t even have the listener thinking about what I’m doing. They’re just gonna feel the music, and that’s all I want.
How has living, recording and working in Chicago affected your work. It’s always been a music and cultural inclined city, but in this very moment, every artist is absolutely killing it there. I’m sure you’re proud to call the city home.
I’m definitely proud and apart of a big renaissance right now. Its bittersweet though, creating in a city where so many big good and bad events have happened. I think it’s why artists here find their gusto and then move away. But it will ALWAYS be home.
What has really served as your inspiration as you wrap up new music? Is there a specific person, activity or even idea that has been that one thing to keep you going?
My late cousin, John Walt definitely. The only song over a year old on this project is the song I made on the day he passed, and it’s one of the most special songs on the project. It deserved to be surrounded by special pieces of music that continue to tell my story. But this chapter is going to be a good one, for sure.