Bringing with her a refreshing change from the regular pop-indie-rock riffs that dominate the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, Dessy Di Lauro is on a mission to get fans feeling good and excited for the emergence of Neo-Ragtime. Her new single "Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep" offers up a strong example of how music can be different, but at the same time, ridiculously catchy and hard to get out of your head. It's a simple little number, but full to the brim with positivity, and we all could use a little more of that.
As she prepares to release her new EP later this year, Di Lauro kindly agreed to chat with our staff writer Rebecca for this EXCLUSIVE interview.
PopWrapped: Please introduce yourself, if you would.
Dessy Di Lauro: "My name is Dessy Di Lauro, I’m a singer-songwriter-hep scatter and creator of Neo-Ragtime. Neo-Ragtime is a music genre I describe as a feathered fro-hawk, futuristic, art-deco centric, Harlem Renaissance Hep... So if Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Lauryn Hill and Outkast had a baby, this is what it would sound like."
PW: What would you say sets you apart from all the other artists around today?
D: "The style of music I do. It's very different from anything that is out there today. I am using old 30's Harlem Renaissance inspired music and mixing it in with today's contemporary sounds. No one has those influences. It’s an era lost in time and so important to the culture that I needed to bring it to the forefront."
PW: Who were your artistic/musical influences growing up and have they changed much over the years?
D: "I grew up with really old stuff like Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Donny Hathaway, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, then the newer stuff Lauryn Hill, Bilal, Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Common, D'Angelo and Erykah Badu. It pretty much has stayed the same. All this is what pretty much makes my sound. And of course, gospel music was the staple in my household."
PW: Which artist would you say you're most similar to?
D: "I would say the combination of Cab Calloway, Lauryn Hill and Outkast. A lot of people say Janelle Monae and Amy Winehouse but that's because we have strong concept musically and visually although musically, we are also very different."
PW: What made you decide to make music a career?
D: "I didn't really decide. Music chose me. I had a gift from a very young age and it was inevitable that I couldn't do anything else but music. Music runs through my veins - always has, always will."
PW: Tell me a little about your new single please. Is there a story behind it?
D: "The new single is called "Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep" and was written by myself and my music partner Ric'key Pageot. The song is all about feeling good. And anything can make you feel good, the little things. It's an anthem. If you feel good, “Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep” is kinda like what “Happy” by Pharrell represents – it’s the same idea. I like to write happy, feel good, positive songs because there is way too much going on and we could all use a little something to make us feel uplifted. And we can all take a step back to look at all the amazing things in our lives, and we should."
PW: Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
D: "My partner Ric'key Pageot and I find inspiration in everything going on with us, around us, in the world... so many topics, so many important issues that need to be discussed and put out there in songs. Good food inspires me, as do people's stories, nature, the beach, the sun, happiness, sadness, anger... I use both the good and bad things and moments in life and put them into a song. People look to music as an escape. We, as artists, need to make sure we are bringing the important matters to the table and getting messages across."
PW: If you could have written any song, by any artist, living or dead, which would it be and why?
D: "Oh wow... great question, there are so many! Stevie Wonder – just ask me to try and pick one! He is one of the best songwriters in my opinion. “Visions,” “Superwoman,” there are so many. Also Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield are in there too. They are all people that wrote about what was really going on. Lauryn Hill’s "I Gotta Find Peace of Mind" is brilliant too. She is such a talented being; anything she does is amazing and deep. Duke Ellington's musical compositions made people feel a certain way and it was relevant to what was taking place in Harlem back in the day. I like depth. I’m tired of songs about materialism, bling and all that stuff we hear over and over. People want to hear music that moves them lyrically and vocally."
PW: You have an EP due out soon, what can fans and listeners expect from it?
D: "Well, we just got permission to use Cab Calloway's "Minnie The Moocher" sample on the album so that's very exciting for me. I have a little piece of Cab on this. It’s going to be a very clever CD. And songs with meaning. There will be a song about bullying - an anti-bullying song. It’s a lot edgier then my last album, both vocally and musically. We are taking the Neo-Ragtime sound to another level."
PW: How important to you is social media in terms of helping get the message about you and your music out there?
D: "Social media is EVERYTHANG! To an indie artist like myself, it's the only way we get our music out there. A lot of people have discovered my music via twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I can't stress how important social media is to all artists. People in Japan have discovered my music via social media. The world is at our fingertips and at the click of a button."
PW: Do you have any tours or performances lined up?
D: "I will actually be performing in New York City on September 14 at Le Poisson Rouge for New York Fashion Week. Also performing for the first JAZZ festival in Brooklyn on October 15. There are a few more fall dates coming for Boston, DC, possibly Atlanta, London, Paris, and a few more we are working on solidifying. You can check out my Facebook artist page for more details. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram. My partner and musical director Ric'key Pageot is touring with Madonna playing keys and we are booking shows on the off nights. I recommend that people check out my social media to find out where we will be performing and when."
PW: Which venue would you most love to play in and why?
D: "I would love to perform at Radio City Hall, Howard Theatre and the Apollo. The Apollo especially because of the Harlem Connection and all the legends that have paved the way for artists like me and performed on that very same stage."
PW: Finally, what's your ultimate career goal as an artist? Where would you like to see yourself 5 years from now?
D: "My ultimate goal is to tour the world and bring my music to folks worldwide. A Grammy would be nice. I just want to tour, perform and touch people everywhere with my music. I also want to make more albums of course as well as to perform at jazz festivals worldwide. Singing and performing live is where I excel. I want people everywhere to see, feel and know what I do."
We have no doubt Dessy Di Lauro will be a household name in no time. Many thanks to Dessy for taking the time to sit down and gives us some insight into her craft!