Sometimes, things just happen quickly.
Californian indie pop artist Delacey will attest to that. Just weeks after recording her debut album Black Coffee she found herself entering into a label deal. The singer-songwriter, who’s songwriting repertoire reaches far beyond just her own recordings, is flipping things on their head at the moment with a stripped version of her song “Break up Slow Dance.” It’s got some serious perspective – a heartfelt collaboration with her fiancé James, of fellow LA act Valley Boy, about their “hypothetical breakup”. Today, C-Heads brings you an exclusive video premiere of the new rendition, as well as some insight from Delacey and James about the inspiration behind the music.
Delacey: I’m from Orange County, so LA-area.
Andy: Did you always know you wanted to do music?
Delacey: Yeah, I’ve been playing some sort of musical instrument since I was really small. I’ve always been obsessed with music, like since I was born.
Andy: Was there any defining catalyst in the equation for you becoming a writer and an artist?
Delacey: I don’t know. My grandmother always pushed me to take music really seriously. I was always into performing and being the center of attention, and she pushed and cultivated that side of me. So I feel like I’ve always known I was going to do some kind of performing art. I started as a songwriter, but that is essentially the same thing.
Andy: Did you go to school for anything like that?
Delacey: No. I got kicked out of high school, and never went to college.
Andy: Tight. Fuck formal education.
Andy: At what point did you see a path forward professionally as a songwriter?
Delacey: Well, when I barely graduated high school, I moved to New York. I was working with a photography agency, because I’ve always been super into photography and I thought I was going to do that. But I ended up writing music the whole time, and I knew I wanted to go back to LA and pursue it. So I moved back, and was recording demos in New York City and LA. The long story short version is it got me the attention of a small publishing company. They kinda showed me that I could be a songwriter and an artist, and I signed a really shitty 360 deal. But at the time I was really excited because it was the first time I had any “in” in the industry whatsoever.
So that was kinda how it started as a songwriter, because that’s when I really started to take off as a songwriter. That’s how I knew, because I didn’t even realize it was such a career before that.
Andy: Are there any songs you’ve had out in the past, cut for other artists, that you wish you could have saved to be a Delacey song?
Delacey: Honestly, no, because I didn’t write them for myself. They always come from a real place, but my artist project is super different from the songs that have been released, even in the sense of how they were recorded and produced. And I’m also really happy in the homes that they all found, and how they connected with people. So I don’t look back and be like “I wish I sang that,” especially because, becoming an artist has made me realize how taxing it can be. Props to them for pushing those songs and making them perform so well, because it’s fucking hard.
Photo by Alex Toderica
“Becoming an artist has made me realize how taxing it can be… because it’s fucking hard.”
Andy: What was the moment you knew you needed your own artist project?
Delacey: Yeah, I was about to sign a record deal because I had gained a lot of relationships in the industry as a songwriter, and it just introduced me to a lot of people. My demos were always circling through all the labels, and I would be getting hit up a lot like, “When are you going to do an artist project? You should put this song out.” And I was getting kinda wrapped up in that for a second, but it never felt really right. I just had this epiphany that if I were to make an artist project, it would be the way I used to write music. Like when I was young, and by myself in my bedroom or my bathroom, writing on my guitar. I wanted to get back to that place. So I called up my friend who lives in New York, who I wrote my whole album with, because he always wanted to do my artist project with me. I called him up and was like “I think I’m finally ready. I don’t know what we’ll make, but let’s just make something,” and we ended up writing the whole album within three weeks.
Andy: That’s perfect cause my next question was about your collaborator, Ido Zmishlany. How did you two come together? What’s it like working together?
Delacey: Our working relationship is hilarious honestly. We’re like brother and sister. We don’t even fight, but we’re very blunt and honest with each other. We can take it from each other too. It’s really nice. It’s how I’ve flourished making this album too, because he pushes me, while also letting me be myself. He doesn’t change how I wanna do anything, or my vision. We just trust each other, which is really hard to find in collaborations. We kinda figured that out early on because we would write for other people.
Andy: I read you quickly signed a deal with LA Reid’s HITCO, right after you made the album. That had to be a whirlwind, what was it like?
Delacey: Yeah, it was a whirlwind honestly, because I wasn’t even fully planning on putting out this music. I just wrote it, and didn’t know what was going to happen with it. Then it all just happened very quickly. The deal that I signed, and the path that it was going to be from the beginning, it was just “go go go go go.” Which was also weird because I wasn’t really able to balance my songwriting career at all at the same time. That was an adjustment for me. It was definitely a whirlwind, yeah, but it was exciting.
Photo by Aysia Marotta
“I just had this epiphany that if I were to make an artist project, it would be the way I used to write music. Like when I was young, and by myself in my bedroom or my bathroom, writing on my guitar. I wanted to get back to that place.”
Andy: Why did you pick the slate of 13 songs that you did?
Delacey: So the songs that I wrote by myself with Ido are the ones I wrote in New York City, and it just felt like it was one moment.
*James from Valley Boy, collaborator and fiancé of Delacey, enters the chat*
Around the same time, James and I wrote “Break up Slow Dance” together. The whole album is about him, pretty much. It was when we had just fallen in love. We had a crazy whirlwind of a relationship at the beginning. We got engaged after like eight months of knowing each other.
Andy: Oh, congrats!
Delacey: Thanks! No wedding in sight with Covid, but, you know.
Andy: You’ll get there, it’ll happen.
Delacey: Yeah (laughs). So yeah, when we wrote “Break up Slow Dance” together, I knew it definitely had to be on the album. It’s about our hypothetical breakup, which is dark. But it fit with the time I wrote the album. Like I said, it was all one moment to me. All the songs were just so cohesive with what I was going through in my life at the time, so it was just kind of obvious that those were the songs. I didn’t keep on writing after I wrote all of these songs. I was like, “This is the album.” And then I was just working, all the time.
Andy: That’s an interesting perspective to write a song from. Does that add a layer of introspection to your relationship? It’s pretty heavy.
James: Oh yeah. We finished that song right when we got back from Paris – the day we got back from Paris. And we went to Paris to celebrate our engagement. So literally coming off the high of being in love and engaged, we finished those lyrics.
Delacey: Yeah, and I was kind of the one who was like “We have to write this to be about our hypothetical breakup. You have to go with it. You have to go to that place. He would get so mad at me.
James: Yeah, the first couple months where the song was really new, and really only our family knew it…
Delacey: He would get upset when I would play it for people.
James: Yeah, I would get very upset. Like if my mom asked me to play “Break up Slow Dance” for her – I would be offended that she even asked me.
James: Now that it’s out. I can listen to it and be happy, but right up until then, it was terrifying to listen to. It was like “oh my god, have we written this self-fulfilling prophecy?”
Delacey: It fucked with us a little for sure. I remember when we recorded it too…
James: Oh yeah, that was also fucked up.
Delacey: Ido made us record it staring at each other.
Andy: He’s (air quotes) “Lighting The Candles.” That’s what they all say.
Delacey: We were singing these words to each other. It was dark.
James: Yeah, it was some dark magic there.
Delacey: Yeah, you were worried (laughs).
Photo by Aysia Marotta
“I didn’t keep on writing after I wrote all of these songs. I was like, ‘This is the album.'”
Andy: For perspective though, it’s cool.
Delacey: Yeah, and so many people hit us up about that song. It’s connecting with a lot of people.
Andy: I mean, it’s different. There’s been how many great songs ever written?.. but from a perspective like that, it’s unique.
Delacey: Yeah, I agree!
Andy: Do you two collaborate often?
Delacey: Yeah, we actually do write together often. He’s in Valley Boy with another guy, but we do love writing together. We live together, so we write together a lot.
Andy: So you did a stripped down re-recording of “Break up Slow Dance” which we’re premiering with this interview. Was it live instrumentation?
Delacey: Yeah, it was all live. We like it better than the real version. We think we sound better. It just sounded so cool stripped back like that. We just realized before we got on this call with you, it’s the first time anyone’s gonna see me playing any instrument. For some reason, no one’s ever seen me doing that in any of my videos. I’m such a performer; I love to dance. I’m so lyrical, that I love to just be with a microphone, but it’s the first time I’m playing an instrument too, and we’re looking at each other which is cool.