Opening up the door and showing us in with a smile, Decuma kindly sat down with us to chat about life in southern Michigan, keeping it real and the brand-new project called let’s play pretend!
Hello there Decuma. How are you doing today and where in the world are you as we speak?
Decuma: All things considered, I’m doing better than I should be. I’m struggling with some things but there are people out there that love me enough to keep me afloat. I can’t be doing too poorly with my loved ones. And I’m at home in southern Michigan with my family!
Please tell us more about your upcoming release called let’s play pretend!
Decuma: let’s play pretend! really is the only reason I found myself again. I’ve had a rough few years mentally but the process of forgiving my younger self, rediscovering my passion for classical music, and letting go of my perfectionism ended up being a really important first few steps for me. I hope it has a similar effect on others. I know the core subject of the album is sexual assault but I was vague on what actually happened because I wanted the focus to be more about coping and accountability. I don’t need to tell you sexual assault is bad. I do need to talk about the difficult things surrounding sexual assault though. Hopefully, we can get better together!
Rap, ambient, and classical are the vibe. How do you manage to fuse all these genres together and what was your motivation to get involved in this game?
Decuma: If I’m honest, I can’t claim to be super methodical with my genre blending. My knowledge on music theory is lacking. My emotions just well up in me and spill out in whatever form my brain decides fits the mood. It’s involuntary. My motivation when it comes to releasing my music is a cultural thing. Everything I’m good at was passed down to me by my predecessors. I want to do the same, and find a way to turn my bad moments into catharsis and my good moments into bliss for other people. This is my way of trying to impact people positively.
How did the connection with yska & Issei Herr formulate?
Decuma: I met those two because of Lucy Liyou. I got really lucky that my favorite ambient artist ended up liking my music too and gave me the chance to meet some really talented people. They liked what I was doing and were kind enough to contribute.
You keep it real always and aren’t afraid to speak about those harsh topics which really strike the collarbone. How does your music process work and who inspires you in this rather fragmented world?
Decuma: My process is really chaotic. When my emotions get to be too much, I can’t help but write. The lyrics help me understand myself, and the music is how I release said emotions. I spend a month or two making embarrassingly bad music as I try to figure out how exactly to make art that says what I’m trying to get off my chest and depicts my feelings accurately. Then that third month, 90 per cent of the album come together at once. I spend another few months polishing everything up and getting every detail right after that. It’s a lot of trial and error.
Musically, artists like Xiu Xiu, James Blake, Solange, coin locker kid, and Björk always inspire me to push new boundaries. Lyrically, the works of billy woods, Ben Belitt, K.Dot, and s.al have impacted me a lot. I know I’m missing a lot but if you let me rant about music and poetry, we’ll be here for hours.
Do you feel like the underground scene is alive with promise in your local area and where would you recommend fans go and watch genuine music live?
Decuma: Detroit always has some amazing music coming out. I wouldn’t be the artist I am without Danny Brown or Quelle Chris or Denmark Vessey. I think overall, there’s so much focus on trap that we’re losing our grip on experimental hip hop and R&B if I’m totally honest though. But yeah, Magic Bag tends to book some great artists, The Fillmore is gorgeous. I had a great time at Majestic, too.
Last, what is the vision for the rest of the year and what can we look forward to?
Decuma: This year, I really want to come alive. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an overly anxious recluse, but I want to be a lot more active in my community and online. Improving as an artist, doing more collaborations, a remix series. Expect a book of poetry late in the year and some random pop-ups at open mics.
Hear this song on Spotify. See more on IG.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen