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French singer-songwriter Delphine has been influenced by jazz, soul, and reggae since her earliest childhood. She grew up in a family of self-made musicians and got involved as a teenager in different types of art by taking dancing and acting courses for several years. At ten, she was supported by her hometown Migennes and the Burgundy region when she recorded a single to highlight human rights and the rights of the child.
Still legally a minor but rather strong-willed, she often went to Paris, Lyon, Stuttgart, and even Frankfort to discover the world of music and the way it works. Wandering off the beaten track for a while, she soon mastered both the keys and traps of the job which would help her gain experience, shape her personality and assist her in managing her own project.
At the local academy of music in Saint-Avold, she attended a full training program of classical and opera singing and graduated each cycle with honors. In Paris, she was trained in modern singing with the Mains d’Oeuvres Studio, together with Renaud Hantson, who sings in Starmania, and a music school with Christine Lariche, who sings in the musical Cats and is a scriptwriter for France Television. She also got involved in several writing and improvisation classes as well as gospel courses with Studio Bleu and the F. Gemier Theater. In order to round out her training, she simultaneously joined a couple of different live bands in France and Germany and sang different styles of music such as blues, funk, reggae and soul. She took part in TV shows like ‘Nouvelle Star’ and ‘Pop Star’ in Germany and won many top awards in song contests, one of them being the first prize awarded by Raphaëlle Ricci.
Delphine has been involved in many courses and workshops in Paris, making new, rewarding acquaintances along the way. She sang with a pop rock band in Thailand, then shared the stage in Montreal with Brice Delage (guitar player, self-made songwriter, Fender endorsement, “la guitar.com,” and member of the band ‘What About Your Mom’) and Thomas D’Arbigny (bass player, singer, and member of the band ‘Perfect Line’) for a couple of songs.
Today we can say that she finds inspiration for her songs in these trips.
Having spent much time as a singer, she succeeded in finding a niche in 2012 when she joined the band called ‘57 Roots Band’ and started writing her own songs with singer-songwriter Tony Nephtali. They both united their love for music to form a duo backed up by ‘Hotta Faya Band’ which would lead them to perform in France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and Germany with no fewer than 100 concerts in only 2 years. They were also lucky enough to open for artists like Pierpoljak, Culture, Clinton Fearon, Tonton David, Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Anthony B, Richard Bohringer, Sir Samuel, Roman Electric Bandand Yaniss Odua.
Early in 2014, she decided to start a solo career and to write her own self-produced album. She was supported in her project by all the people who had been following and encouraging her for years and who know and understand all she wants to offer to the musical universe.
She has been working very hard since September 2014 on writing, composing, arranging, rehearsing, making studio recordings, and shooting as the whole team works on every song, all without neglecting any detail. She has also decided to invite the very best musicians of the time in France and abroad to take part in her project: artists such as Romain Omaley, Olivier Baldissera, Fabrice Ach, Patrice Dicuonzo, Dean Fraser, Ken Lewis, Robbie Lyn, Nambo Robinson, Glen Browne, Mitchum Chin, and many others. Of course, the engineers who recorded, mixed and mastered the songs are also among the best ones.
She has chosen Amper Studio in France (Jean-Pascal Boffo), Metropolis Studio in London (Stuart Hawkes, Sam Wheat), Tuff Gong Studio (Michael Howell), Penthouse Records (Shane C. Brown) in Kingston, and Ken Lewis in New Jersey (USA).
The last title ‘WINNING RACES’ of the ‘Blue Soul’ album was recorded in Jamaica, together with the signature of a contract with Tuff Gong.
A first single, entitled “MUSIC,” was released in Spring 2016.
Delphine’s new album, ‘Blue Soul’, was released on March 10, 2017, and is distributed worldwide by Tuff Gong International.
Official Website: Delphine-Official.com
IRIE. You’re originally from Burgundy, France. What was it like growing up in a family of self-made musician?
Delphine. Growing up in a house where music was always present fostered in me a feeling of beauty but also energy and vibrations which were both strong and quiet. It is also having the opportunity to see members of the family playing an instrument without having ever taken any lessons; it was just like a gift granted by nature. As none of them became a professional musician; it was also growing up in a universe where music was not a mean to make money but rather a way of living. For example my grandfather used to play the violin and I can’t remember a single day when my grandmother wasn’t singing.
IRIE. You recorded your first song, a track highlighting human rights and the rights of a child, at the age of ten. Can you share with us the story behind that song?
Delphine. On the day when France celebrated the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’, the school where I was studying decided to take part in the recording of two songs. A couple of school children were invited to take part in that recording and of course I accepted without any hesitation!
At that time I was still very young but already aware that these words conveyed the weight of sufferings, differences and battles. And I remember very well that I wasn’t singing very loud but with a strength that was coming from deep down inside me. I was feeling so proud and now I can say with total certainty that this was the start of my musical life, the very beginning of my duty. Today, I can’t say I have high expectations in some countries’ politics and culture—particularly in the one I was born in. In fact children are my hope, they are our future and if their brains are controlled or wrongly educated by our TV programs, our politicians or even our educational curriculum, then I’d rather struggle in order to sway them the way I have been educated, which seems to me a healthy one. I don’t feel better than others but I just think that there aren’t a lot of ways of being a good person but just one.
IRIE. Tell us about your trips to Paris & Lyon, France and Stuttgart and Frankfurt, Germany, when you were still a minor. What was it like for you to discover the world of music?
Delphine. In France, Paris looks like the city of Art and I was dreaming of joining a famous theatre or dancing school as I started my artistic life in these two fields before having the cheek to sing.
Therefore I used to run from one big city to another, constantly abreast of the latest casting, audition or meeting with professionals. At that time of my life I needed to face juries in order to be sure that my passion could become my future job, or not! I think all the artists should face professionals one day to make sure they have that magic, that charisma, that talent needed to be successful.
Among all these auditions I had to be confronted to many singers or musicians who were only longing for flakes and glory which made me sad as this is not at all my way of thinking. I’m just driven by my passion for music and not by hunger for glory.
Nevertheless, these auditions also gave me the opportunity to meet nice people and to discover all the aspects of the job. In fact, even if I was not selected, nobody ever told me to stop singing or do something different, quite the contrary. Also, I realized that I was never sad or disappointed, or even cross, but just happy to meet all these people and feeling that I was overcoming several steps.
IRIE. You attended the local music academy in Saint-Avold where you developed into a world-class musician. Can you share a few memories with us during this important time of your life?
Delphine. A music academy means discipline, method and skills which I appreciate even if I am convinced that spontaneous music is the best, but you also have to practice and learn from others. Very often did I have a better feeling of my instrument, my voice and even my body through the understanding of how the body functions while singing. Mastering its functioning is even more significant!
And this was also the time when I had my first opportunity to sing in front of 700 people, accompanied by a professional pianist. When I left the stage I just cried for joy, hoping this presentation would be the first but not the last one.
IRIE. In 2012, you join Marcel Sawuri & Tony Nephtali’s band, ‘57 Roots Band’, as a backing vocalist. How did you all meet? I hear that three members from this band are still part of your team and were involved in the production of ‘Blue Soul’.
Delphine. I met ‘57 Roots Band’ while I was looking for a place for the rehearsals of my ‘Blues Soul’ band. I had been listening to that kind of music for ages but in these days Reggae bands were hard to find in my place and I got really fascinated. Just imagine you’re living in a place where nobody speaks the same language and you suddenly enter a room where you can communicate! That made me come and listen to them more and more often. Not long after did I start to do a jam session on their riddims. I alsomet the singers they were working with later on and became their backing vocalist. Tony Nephtali realized at once that I had many wonderful things and values to share, as well as charisma and a lead-singer voice. He taught me how to write a song and soon after I wrote ‘Run’, which hasn’t been produced yet – it’s my gem which I want to record in a special way, then I wrote Love from heart, Music and Pon the Road.
All this came out naturally without having to push the fate!
A couple of the band members then decided that music wouldn’t be their major occupation so we had to split, but three of them are still my musicians and some have even composed some titles of my album, such as Tony Nephtali.
IRIE. Your music is a mix of blues, funk, reggae and soul. Who were some of your influences that helped you find your sound?
Delphine. My musical influences are very wide, to mention just a few of the most famous ones, let’s name Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mary J Blidge, Lucky Dube, Amy Whinehouse, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Steel Pulse and Alicia Keys.
All these different styles contain untold riches which I didn’t want to split up but rather combine.
IRIE. You started a solo career in early 2014. What was going through your mind as you prepared to embark on this musical journey?
Delphine. I always want the best and I’m not used to being served on a silver platter so I just energetically go and fetch the thing I want. Because of my demand for excellence firstly from myself then from others, I thought there would be only one single album that’s why I wanted to be proud of it but also and above all live unforgettable experiences which had to be great and running to the max both musically and on a personal level.
When I started I had nothing, just a few riddims and some savings. I directed everything on my own and did everything to find the means to offer myself a dream but that was not without many challenges and personal sacrifices.
IRIE. You just release your album, ‘Blue Soul’, on March 10. What is the meaning behind the album title?
Delphine. The music of ‘Blue Soul’ was influenced by what is called ‘Blue Eyed Soul’. When white musicians started playing black American music: Soul, Rhythm& Blues, it was called ‘Blue Eyed Soul’.
This is what I often defend because one must not forget where music comes from and use it with high consideration for those who have made it. Here is what stands at the roots of my album.
But I can also say that I chose the word ‘Soul’ because the album comes from deep inside my heart and my soul, and ‘Blue’ because it’s a color I love, just like the blue sky, the blue ocean, nature, the one I love to see when I open my blue.. eyes!
IRIE. You went to Jamaica to work on one of the tracks from Blue Soul. What was it like to record ‘Winning Races’ at Tuff Gong Studios?
Delphine. The story of ‘Winning Races’ is just wonderful. I heard the riddim a couple of weeks before the recording. The album was finished but when I heard it I decided it had to be on the album, and more than that, I wanted it to be recorded in Jamaica and worked with Dean Fraser. Two weeks after, the text wasn’t yet finished but we were in Jamaica in Tuff Gong Studio, with remarkable musicians such as Dean Fraser, Robbie Lyn, Kirk Bennett, Glenn Browne…And what was the most magical is that they behaved with me like with a real artist, a musician who could take her own decisions, which is just impossible in my home country. Being recognized as a musician and a leader of my own project, what a change this was!
That very same day, at the moment I was recording “Winning Races”, as if to emphasize the artist’s choices, Usain Bolt, the fastest runner in the world, was there in the same studio. This was so incredible that I told him about this chance encounter- which I don’t consider as one. Later Usain will thank me for having shared my story. Let’s say it is “The story of a pure heart which always ends up its races as a… winner!”
IRIE. Is there a track from ‘Blue Soul’ that resonates most with you? If so, why?
Delphine. They all reflect myself: an experience, a story, something I had to live through, a pain or a joy. Though, ‘Love from Heart’ is the title that particularly affects me as it deals with my feeling of being a mother and the love I have for my daughter. Every single word in this song expresses a responsible and
powerful feeling. In my eyes, there’s nothing more important than my child and my family, not even music. They are one and a same thing which brings me pleasure, balance, love between people and for music.
IRIE. What do you hope your fans and new listeners take from listening to ‘Blue Soul’?
Delphine. I hope that while they are listening to Blue Soul, people will find what makes them happy, what they miss in their everyday life, support and share what makes them suffer or find joy in sunny rhythms. In this album I share a young girl’s dream, a couple of trips, and I hope I will manage to offer listeners part of this dream.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the IRIE audience?
Delphine. What makes me Irie is not to talk about me but to know that I can bring some positive feelings to those around me. Thanks to Michelle and Nico. Blessings.