1883 Magazine

We meet vocalist and songwriter Deva Mahal, pronounced ’Diva’ the gifted artists music is a powerful mixture of R&B, Soul and Indie. The daughter of the iconic blues musician Taj Mahal and dancer Inshirah Mahal, following the release of her recent EP she is about to drop her debut album ‘Run Deep,’ available to pre-order now.

We chat to the rising star about the story behind her name, embracing your sexuality as a performer, her new music and we have the premiere of her latest track ‘It’s Down To You’.

Did you always grow up wanting to go into the music industry?

I never really thought of it as an industry, but as a place of expression. I never entered into the industry expecting fame, or celebrity status - for me music was a natural form of communicating feelings and a way of connecting with the world. Growing up the most influential people in my life were my parents and their artistry. My mother always encouraged my passion for singing. My father’s work influenced me later in my youth. I started singing in primary school, and did theatre productions. I started performing in karaoke competitions, which is how I dealt with the pressure of performance, and normalised my fear of singing in front of an audience.
The name Deva is very unique, is it a stage name or yours?
When I was born my mother didn’t know what to name me. My mother has always been a strong believer in names and how they are something that is designed to describe your spirit. Apparently as a child I was always crying, and according to her it stopped when she named me Deva. My brother is named after the sun, and the name Deva originates from the word ’moon’.

Tell us more about your upcoming debut album ’Run Deep’?
’Run Deep’ is about my days living in New York. It was a period of time in my life, during which I suffered from heart break and pain. It’s always been my intention to create an album drawing from my past experiences. I developed a good relationship with my label and producer - and we managed to record it in three days. Despite the short time we had to record, the pressure allowed me to be less indulgent with my work and just go for it. We were able to produce something raw, that I am really proud of as an artist and hopefully will be appreciated by my audience. 
What do you think of the role of females in today’s ever changing industry? 
I think the music industry definitely makes females feel that in order to have a successful mainstream career they have to sex their sex appeal. I believe it’s good to embrace your sexuality, and as a woman myself, it’s only right that our sex should be allowed to have expression, in whatever form they choose. It’s easy in today’s society for girls to become pigeon holed into objectifying themselves, because the industry is telling them do it. I think for any female artist out there including myself you should be the one behind the steering wheel of your career and determine the choices you make. You should have the freedom to wear whatever you like, and act as you feel as where on an equal playing field to men in the industry.
Where does the inspiration behind your style/image come from? 
I feel like my first fashion influence was my mother, she didn’t wear typical clothing but had her own unique style. Growing up I was always taught to embrace my own personality through fashion and dress in what made me feel strong and confident. I like to wear androgynous clothing alongside minimal and chic pieces. I find it important as a female more on the voluptuous side to embrace my curves and celebrate my body, this is something that I believe everyone should do. To me fashion is self-acceptance, it’s my identity. I love every aspect of it, and how different it can make me feel. I love vintage pieces, sequins, big hair and shoes- I don’t care as long as it appeals to me. 

Where do you see your career in ten years time? 
I would like to be able to go on tour, and to be an established and successful artist. It would be amazing to build a business and also grow as an artist and be able to buy my mum a home.
How do you keep motivated in such a tough industry ?
I have a good cry, when it feels rough. It can often feel in this career that you can take two steps forward and at the same time take five steps back. I have gone through stages when I have been completely broke, in fact more times then you can imagine! Regardless of this, music has always been my passion and kept me hungry enough to keep pursing this career, even when I have felt like stopping. You need to be humble, kind to yourself and know how to pick your battles!

Check out the prermiere of her new track "It’s Down to You’ below and you can now pre-order Deva Mahal’s debut ablum ’Run Deep’ via this link.
For all her latest news visit www.devamahal.com 

Interview Georgia Verity

Photography Anna Urik 

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