The inner whisperings of Dee Pasha
“In my humble opinion, art should not be about how many people consume it but about how it empowers and challenges.”Dee Pasha
Dee Pasha was born and raised in Bosnia, a country shredded by war in the early 90s, causing her to flee to Germany along with her mother and brother. She found solace in an old cassette tape, (one of the only items available in their temporary lodgings), until the family were able to return to their home after the war ended. At age fourteen she moved away from her hometown to attend music school and having graduated, she moved again to attend Music Academy. Despite the years of education and being actively involved in music, Dee felt her vision for the music she wanted to create didn’t quite fit the Bosnian music scene, and that she couldn’t express herself in the way she felt she wanted, or in a way that was true to herself.
After persevering for a few years her solution was to follow her dreams to New York, where she lived and worked in Brooklyn, honing her songwriting skills, developing her sound and working on her vocals. Ten years later, she began working on her upcoming album, “Dreamer“.
Dee released her first single, “I Miss You” in 2019 which she describes as a self confession and speaks of having to lose oneself in order to find oneself again, in a pure, raw and true form. Her second single, ”Dreamer”, was released in October of 2021, and she is currently working on additional songs for her debut album with high school friend, Haris Rahmanovic Priki, a highly regarded producer, composer and musical artist.
“Dreamer” can be described as dark/psychedelic/ electro pop, with beautifully crafted and captivating lyrics, encapsulated in an evocative electronic instrumental. It shows more teeth and gums than her more laid back and delicate debut, “I Miss You”, but no less seductive. Both tracks left me wanting more… that’s precisely what is in store for the New Year and I (for one) am looking forward to that.
We managed to speak with Dee about her musical journey so far, and here’s what she said… Let’s get into it!
Hi Dee! Let me tell you… it’s been an absolute joy having found you, and your music recently. I’ve been listening to both your recent singles and totally absorbed by them. For readers who haven’t yet had the pleasure, do you want to open with some background? Tell us a little bit about you.
First of all thank you so much for having me. Simply put, Dee is a Bosnian citizen of the world who has been living on her own since the age of fourteen. I’ve left home (with my parents permission) to study classical music and I have been learning, exploring and wandering ever since. I’ve been writing music but never until 2019 have I recorded my own songs. I wasn’t confident enough I guess. Now I understand that there is the right time for everything and I just needed to learn more about myself and the music I wanted to put out there. I guess I have now marinated long enough to release music and share it with the world.
Your background in music traces back to your early teens, where you left home to attend music school, and following which you studied at a music academy. Where did your passion for music come from and what were the most valuable lessons you’d taken from your time spent at the academy?
As cliche as it might sound, my mom always says that she remembers me singing before I even started talking, and I started to talk very early! I remember my first contact with music (that I was aware of) at the age of five. I was more a critic at first hahaha, when my mom would play music I didn’t like I would make her turn it off vs music I liked, I would let her play it. I pretty much terrorized her with my criticism. Poor woman.
Most valuable lesson for sure was living life on my own at such an early age. It certainly wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t dull for sure. At the school we had a very non typical style of education. We had classes six days a week and practiced in between classes. I was fully consumed by it which gave me work ethic and I grew a thick skin from it.
I wish for all the artists out there to no matter how hard it gets-to always follow their intuitions and do music that makes them happy. Only then can you find your crown because they can feel that you are as authentic as you can be, honest and true to how you feel.Dee Pasha
You recently posted a ‘flashback’ video from a late ‘90s singing contest that you participated in, back in your hometown of Sanki Most, Bosnia. I believe it’s something you’d not seen for a long time. What can you recall from those early experiences of singing and performing (let’s talk about those head movements :D) and how do you feel when watching it back after so long?
Hahahahaha! That head move is everything. When I first saw it after so many years, naturally, I laughed!
Then I remembered that exact moment very clearly and thought of that little girl. All her dreams and how much fun she had there and each time I was involved in anything music related. I eventually lost her. I don’t exactly remember when and how. The beautiful part is that after loosing her, I got her back… years later… but I got her back. I wrote her a song and explained that by letting her go I’ve learned to appreciate her feistiness and drive. “I miss you” is about that girl.
I remember as a child, watching the news with my family, and whilst I didn’t understand then, I at least was aware of the conflict in Bosnia and Croatia in the early to mid-1990’s. I can only imagine how challenging and distressing it must’ve been for everyone caught up in the unrest. Do you have any memories of those times?
When the war broke out in Bosnia we left the county and went to Germany as refugees. My mom, brother and myself. My dad came a year later. My only memory of that time is my mom crying a lot, not knowing if dad was ok, or her whole family who stayed back in Bosnia. My second memory was me seeing my dad for the first time after a year. I was too young to even notice that I’ve missed him until one day he showed up in front of me. As a young child who didn’t understand what was happening I truly did feel that things weren’t all to well because of how everyone around me was feeling and how it made me feel. The place where we arrived as refugees was completely unfurnished with only a single cassette player and a cassette inside. The cassette was the album “What is Love” by Haddaway. It became my ultimate best friend for the next three years. That was my ultimate escape from the reality that was happening around me.
The war stopped in 1995 and that’s when we came back to Bosnia. I left the cassette player with the cassette behind because I though that after we leave another child will come and find it and perhaps find escape and a friend in it as I did.
You mentioned that you were musically active in Bosnia, but felt you couldn’t express yourself musically the way she felt she should – can you describe the challenges you were facing here, and what prompted you to follow your heart, to NYC?
I sang a lot of backup vocals in studios and live for other musicians and also had a few attempts of a solo career. However, the music climate in Bosnia wasn’t the best and only one genre of music prevailed. One that didn’t resonate with me. I was constantly reminded that I needed to compromise my sound in order to “make it”. That I had to look a certain way to make it. I did fall for that a few times but it didn’t take me long to understand that I am not really great at saying yes just to please someone or to “make it”. I felt that I needed to carve may own path and no matter what is on the other side I had to find out on my own. NYC was a dream of mine forever so naturally I went. I always knew I can go back if things didn’t work out. I had no plans I just wanted to have time to be on my own and away from everything I knew. It’s important to take a step back if you want to truly understand what you are about.
And so, I found myself in NY. Not knowing anyone, having to find a job, to pay rent, to survive. I’ve spent years there not having anything to do with the music business but constantly writing and improving my skills as a writer. After years of doing so I think I found my tune and I’m exactly where I sonically need to be. Dark but happy 🙂
Watch “I Miss You” by Dee Pasha on YouTube:
Having ‘found yourself’ after leaving home for the USA, you released your first single ‘I Miss You’ in 2019, a ‘self-confession’ which talks about having to lose yourself before emerging again as the artist you have now become. Can you talk us through the origin of this track, and what it means to you?
After years and years in NY and constantly working on my sound and writing skills I have mostly struggled with finding my so called muse. I was always looking for that someone in others. When I was finally able to invest everything in myself instead of agains myself, I was able to see ME. So I started writing songs like letters. From me to me. No need to look for anything on the outside. I had it all along but just needed to find a way to filtrate my emotions and feelings. “I miss you” was the first piece of puzzle. I needed to confess to myself that the part that I had let go of was very much needed. That’s the little girl we mentioned earlier. The girl with the funny head moves form the late 90’s, hahaha!
Gotta love those head moves… I also love story-telling and cryptic/ mysterious lyrics, and find myself hanging on to each line you’re singing in both tracks. I put this down to the beautiful, evocative emotional tone in your vocal and the fluidity your delivery. The opening lines of ‘Dreamer’ “I am grateful for my mind, I can see beyond the walls, I am grateful for my pain, hope that some will still remain” really draw me in, and coupled with the video where you’re all dressed in black, as if mourning a loss… maybe part of your ‘self’? Or the idea of ‘self’. Can you talk us through the emotions that you attach to this track?
I am guilty myself – I love mystery in every possible form, hahaha! I feel like deep and dark emotions inspire me very much. It’s always been like that. So much so that it is something that actually makes me happy. I let pain happen and I take the best from it. My life hasn’t been always easy so I choose to make it as good as I can I guess you can feel it in my music. No one would buy it if I was singing happy songs, it would totally be fake hahahaha. This is truly me. That’s why the line, “I am grateful for my pain-hope that some will still remain”. Pain is a constant reminder that there is something more to be learned and that there is room for growth.
As for the video part – yes. Me dressed in black is supposed to be me accepting my darkness and deepness fully. Letting go of insecurities and confusion. As you said, like I am mourning a loss but the opposite way- celebrating differences and accepting that we all can’t feel, look, talk and behave the same. That me not wanting to compromise my sound and vision is ok and that I don’t have to. It’s ok if I don’t. There’s a piece of cake for everyone and I chose mine to be more of a velvety texture and flavor hahahaha!
Watch “Dreamer” by Dee Pasha on YouTube:
I like that description! And regarding the music video for Dreamer, it is incredibly well done – something you’d expect to see from a well funded mainstream artist. Your performance is fantastic. You’ve obviously been in and around music for many years – was this a new(ish) experience for you?
Thank you very much. I don’t have so much experience shooting music videos but I like the idea of having to portray something in front of the camera. Especially something I believe in. From the get go I knew how I wanted the visuals to look like. I knew it had to be dark with a bit of sugar and spice to really paint how stuff approximately looks in my head. Haris, my friend and producer, introduced me to Nedim Fox who directed the video and the second I told him my vision he was onboard with it. They soon managed to get a team together to work on it. Sead Okic who produced the video, and Dragan Gajanovic and his crew behind the cameras. They all did a great job. I am grateful this experience was so good.
You’re credited for the music and lyrics for both releases, with Haris Rahmanović producing ‘Dreamer’. The instrumentals are a beautifully layered blend of electronic/ synth pad sounds punctuated by sharp beats, and electric guitar swells. Can you talk us through your process of creating these epic tracks?
Haris and I have been friends since High School and that plays a great role. He knows me well but we also had somewhat of a similar path in life and now in this moment we kind of thing alike. Minus my darkness (Haris is a bundle of joy) hahahahhaah! He is also super open minded and is not afraid to experiment which is very important to me. He doesn’t go by any rules, and neither do I, so It is amazing when we get together and work on something. Nino Mujagic, also a friend who has been working with Haris for the past two decades has also a lot of influence on how we work. He has a fresh set of ears with a unique point of view so it’s always important to us to have him share his side of the coin. The electric guitar was the biggest pain in the whole process of making dreamer because we didn’t know if it went well with the sound of the song but I felt that it needed to be there. I can envision my whole album having a light motif in the sound of the electric guitar throughout the record.
I had a bit of a “harder” delivery with “I miss you” who was produced by Damir Bečić. Simply because it was the first one 🙂 but I am supper happy how it came out and I have learned so much in the process.
For the record, I really like the electric guitar threaded through Dreamer, and surprised to hear it was the biggest pain for that track! And, speaking of challenges… iIt’s incredibly difficult for independent artists to catch a wave, so to speak. Whilst it seems you’re still early in your journey having released two singles – what do you feel have been your greatest challenges to date with regards to getting your music out there to your audience?
With social media and the internet in general came so many opportunities for artist to share their music with the world. You could be sitting in a rural part of China and someone in New Zealand could hear/see you in matter of seconds. That’s great. No more gate keepers as we know them. However, in a sea of creativity it can take time for your work to be heard if you are an independent artist. Finally the most common hurdle that most independent artist encounter-finances which can slow down the process. However I will be diligent and I do my best to overcome these obstacles. If someone wants to sign me feel free to contact me hahaha just let me keep my creative freedom, hahahaha!
Who do you consider to be your main musical influences today, and how have your tastes changed/ broadened over the years?
I divide music into two groups. First is the one that I genuinely enjoy and listen to as a fan and to me that was always Rock’n’Roll. Whitesnake is my ultimate favorite band. Most people are shocked when I say that but I always go back to them. Crosby,Stills, Nash and Young are the bomb. Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin just to name a few. However, I was aware that my vocal isn’t the typical rock sounding vocal. So I learned how to sing to other genres. So there is music like pop, soul and R&B. Artists like Sade, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Erikah Badou and so on. Both of those have influenced me in this, or that way. Today I am trying to find my own voice and do me as best as I can. As far as change, as a child I used to believe that my main skill is singing so I focused on that. Today, I see singing only as a tool to express what I feel in those songs I am writing. I guess because I find so much more joy in creating then only interpretation. I like it this way much more. I feel like even whispering or talking instead of singing would be fine as long as that meant I would be getting my message across.
You’re planning to follow up on the singles with a full album – How far are you into that process at the moment, and when might we expect its release?
More music is already in the making. I don’t have any official dates to share at this time because we do work from two different continents for the majority of the time and get together physically when we are ready to record the vocals and fine tune the song so it’s hard to know exactly when the album will be done. We are under no pressure and therefore want to primarily make sure that we are pleased and satisfied with the work we have done. Music is like that, you can’t force it. It needs to marinate and sit, and when it’s ready we’ll just know, and so will you of course. I am excited to share.
I’m excited too… I don’t think I can hide it! Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t covered here?
You did a great job with these questions! I wish for all the artists out there to no matter how hard it gets-to always follow their intuitions and do music that makes them happy. Only then can you find your crown because they can feel that you are as authentic as you can be, honest and true to how you feel. In my humble opinion, art should not be about how many people consume it but about how it empowers and challenges.
Thank you so much for your time Dee, it’s been a pleasure talking music with you. We all wish you the best for the upcoming album and we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open!
Readers can find Dee on Instagram, Facebook, her website and all the usual music streaming platforms. If you enjoyed this, check out more reviews from IAMUR here… You might just find your new favourite artist!