If you have been looking for new music to play on repeat, then you are in the right place. Electronic artist, DEKAI, breaks through to another dimension with his new EP “LEVEL UP”. From start to finish, each track takes you on a musical journey through your own mind where each melody guides you to a new state of euphoria. Without a doubt, this collection of music will soon be your frequently played tunes. EDM Maniac got the chance to talk with DEKAI about the new EP, how it came to be, and what is in store for his unique live performances:
EDM Maniac: Your latest EP, LEVEL UP, takes the listener on an immersive journey through soundscapes. Tell me about the things that inspired you when you created these songs.
DEKAI: The concept of this EP is that you’re watching TV in another dimension… There’s a world behind LEVEL UP and this is just the first peek into that world. The intermissions (or advertisements) are part of the story which creates a kind of interactive, multidimensional listening/viewing experience. You’ll see more of these as the next releases come to light. The core tracks for the EP tell a story of my own personal life… but are all things that I think most can relate to. So much of its inspiration came after being knocked down earlier this year and then coming back stronger than ever. As many of us experience in our personal lives, sometimes no matter how good you have it, something comes around to knock you down, and getting back up can be hard but when you do it you feel like you’ve leveled up. All I can say is that any time this happens in my life I find myself thankful for the experience and I come back with an absolute vengeance.
EDM Maniac: Your live performances are something special. You perform in a way very few producers do; an original, full Audio/ Visual experience. Tell me about performing like this. How does it differ from other styles of performing? Does it take a lot of practice?
DEKAI: Honestly having the ability to tell a visual story when performing has sparked so much new inspiration in me and it’s changed the way I view the live experience. Everyone is used to watching a DJ mix music on stage. But to see/experience a full visual journey with it is an entirely different thing. It definitely does require a lot of time and practice just to get to a point of being able to perform it and then to be able to fluidly move through the set in almost any direction is extremely challenging. It is so worth the work though and I couldn’t be more stoked to debut this for the world! I would liken it to playing a video game I’ve created and immersing the whole room in it.
EDM Maniac: I can only imagine the amount of creativity and planning that goes into coordinating and creating a full Audio/ Visual experience. Can you give me a glimpse at what your creative process is when you are in the studio?
DEKAI: I actually started by finding content that I could use for already existing tracks and quickly realized the potential of having a visual flow. It was like a whole new art form for me. I performed a version of this during the pandemic in Twitch streams and people were always blown away that I was both the DJ and VJ. For the audio/visual experience I’ve since created, I always start with the music. Having something to draw inspiration from musically allows me to pull together concepts that make the song feel more complete even for me. Once the song is mostly complete I usually start piecing together a rough visual story for it. From there it tends to kind of flow itself into completion on both ends. Sometimes I’m blown away by what the end result is because of how different the audio and visual production processes are.
EDM Maniac: When you look back at the creation of your new EP, what are the things that stand out to you the most? What is your favorite track on LEVEL UP? Which track has the most emotion behind it? When you were creating it, was there a certain theme/ emotion/ feeling you had behind it all?
DEKAI: I’d have to say what stands out the most is how otherworldly the listening experience is… I’m still kind of shook by the way it tends to put me in a trance when listening to it. My favorite track at this moment is Breathe. I’d say Find Yourself is the most emotional for me. There are so many feelings behind each track:
LEVEL UP (the title track) is an anthem for the comeback and the come-ups I’ve made this last year. I wrote it immediately the weekend I got home from playing the late-night stage at CloZee’s VOYAGE filled to the brim with inspiration.
In my darkest hour Find Yourself was a mantra for myself to help pull me out of that dark place. I actually sent it to friends who were also in that place who listened to it religiously as they found themselves again.
HIGHER is a love song that highlights both the beauty and the darkness that come with love. No matter how hard you love and even if you think you’ve found the one, things are going to play out in a way you can’t control.
Breathe was written right after LEVEL UP and signified my letting go and moving forward from the events that had previously knocked me down
Somewhere was inspired by my expansion outside of my old comfort zone. Dreaming about getting out into the world, meeting all of the best people, doing all of the best things, and truly living my dream.
Momentum is about exactly what it talks about – energy and momentum which is what life is all about right now. I’m a whole different person (in my personal life, career, and music) than I was a year ago.
EDM Maniac: As an artist, who are your biggest inspirations? Are you inspired by other artists or groups who don’t make music similar to yours?
DEKAI: My biggest inspirations are my people first of all… I’m incredibly lucky to have my pack, and they’re the reason I am who I am. Tool is my biggest musical inspiration hands down along with Pink Floyd, Deftones, Deep Forest, and more. Regarding electronic music, I’m a super huge fan of CloZee, LSDREAM, Koan Sound, Au5, Infected Mushroom, Zeds Dead, and more.
EDM Maniac: When it comes to your live performances, how have they evolved over the years? What were your performances like when you started and what led you down the path to performing how you do now?
DEKAI: When I played my first show I literally train-wrecked through the whole set so I had to quickly learn to mix my tracks fluidly and create a sort of flow. I refused to play anything but originals and I was limited by my track variety so it was always hard to switch things up. I still always stood out as unique but I knew I had to refine. These days my sets are entirely freeform… no limits to bpm, genre, or even playing other people’s music (but always with my own spin on it). My evolution came from seeing how the crowd responded to certain ’emotions’ over the years and learning to hone in on those moments and learning to recreate them even better. It’s all about what makes people FEEL. The visuals play a big part in how I choose to set a vibe or move from one moment to the next as well.
EDM Maniac: On the topic of evolving, other than your live performances, how have you evolved as an artist since your beginning? How have you evolved over the last couple of years when things started to change?
DEKAI: When I started life was a STRUGGLE! I was a manager at Chipotle and worked my ass off doing 60 hour weeks and still practically starving in order to pay for music gear while I put out my very first content. Getting bookings was hard, and I was still pretty new at producing but I had my mind completely set on creating this music. Fast forward to now, I’ve played shows with some of my biggest inspirations, had dream bookings come true, and I’m Chief Operating Officer at a tech startup by day – being financially set gives me the freedom to comfortably do what I want and make music to my heart’s content. It just keeps getting better and my evolution is still well underway. Don’t let your dreams be dreams, kids! LEVEL UP!
EDM Maniac: With the current state of the music industry, what are things you see that make you happy or give you hope? What are things you’d like to see change in the music industry?
DEKAI: I’m super happy to see certain artists I’ve always been inspired by starting to get the recognition they deserve. I’d say two great examples are Au5 and CloZee. Talk about people who live and breathe music! These are artists that have for sure helped shape my journey and I’ve been lucky enough to meet and perform with them both. I can say they’re two of the most humble artists I’ve met to date, and they absolutely deserve the success they have coming to them.
Some things I’d like to see change are, more recognition for female artists, managers, and agents who are putting in mad work in the industry and killing the game. Also, more accountability in the industry given recent events. These events should be safe spaces for people to be themselves without judgment or worrying about being taken advantage of. It makes me super stoked to see both of these things coming to light and I hope in the years to come we come together even more and change the culture for the better. This is a big inspiration for my upcoming label and movement, Extra Dimensional. We’ll be curating events and providing opportunities for like-minded individuals to come together and grow together. We are the vibe!
EDM Maniac: Can you hint at any possible upcoming tours or shows where people can experience your new Audio/ Visual set and hear your new EP, LEVEL UP?
DEKAI: We’ll be announcing our first show with Extra Dimensional very soon, and we’re in talks about many more shows coming in 2022. I can’t announce anything just yet, but I’ll say keep an eye out for DEKAI in a city near you. We’re taking this show on the road and I can’t wait to show the world what this live audio/visual experience is all about! We’re about to see how far this spaceship will fly.
EDM Maniac: Lastly, do you have any advice for upcoming producers who are looking for a breakthrough or some kind of inspiration?
DEKAI: My biggest advice for up-and-coming artists is to think about what drives you to make music and hone in on that. If you’re able to stay inspired by making music for yourself first and foremost, you’ll eventually find a crowd who vibes with what you’re doing. Don’t let the grind get you down.. just focus and create until you have something that truly stands out. The opportunity and the excitement that follows will come when you really find that stride.
DEKAI’s new EP “LEVEL UP” is something you cannot miss. The complexity and wonder that are seamlessly woven into each melody are truly unique. To listen, find DEKAI on SoundCloud and check out DEKAI’s Website and Facebook for all of the latest news, upcoming shows, and music. Also be sure to follow his new label, Extra Dimensional, on Facebook and Instagram for fresh tunes and releases.
Photos via Press Photos