Demetra is a singer-songwriter who is perfect for anyone interested in thinking outside the (Los Angeles) box. Involved in music since she was a teen, Demetra is a New York-based artist who is both original and opinionated. Presently working on a new project, Demetra agreed to sit down and share with your favorite randy writer. Here is the complete interview:
Phoenix: Thank you for joining me. Thank you for sharing with my readers. For the benefit of some of my readers who have been a bit busy lately, tell us about what you play, your music genre and how you yourself got started in the music, business, okay?
Demetra: I am an electronic rock / pop artist with a background in soul music. I got started in music because my father was a singer in an acapella doo-wop group. He used to teach me how to sing every morning while he got ready for work. I played in every musical play up until college until I met my own little Mick Jagger, who invited me to join his rock band when I was a teenager. The rest, as they say, is history.
In terms of composition and instrumentation, from a young age I learned to write my own songs. I make my own beats, sing and play the keyboards. I also dabble in guitar and drums. I generally play the same disco beat when I beat on the skins, so unless you’re in the BeeGees, you probably don’t want to hire me as your drummer.
Phoenix: Tell us about your album work and what you think is your best so far and why?
Demetra: I have had three demo albums before the one I’m working on now, but I would have to say that this new project is the best work I’ve done yet. It’s the culmination of over ten years of writing songs, and I feel that I’ve really started to perfect my craft. I also feel that I’ve learned to maintain a delicate balance between writing for myself and writing for a wider, international audience. In the past, I think there was too much verbal masturbation going on in my music, and it was not necessarily the most relatable content. I’ve learned to simplify my song content without dumbing it down.
Phoenix: What do you consider your best single song so far and WHY?
Demetra: I think “Don’t Wreck It” is the best single song I’ve released to date. It operates on so many different levels of experience, so it’s extremely relatable. It’s about the death of rock-n-roll, a defunct relationship, a corrupt society, a non-stop party, and basically anything else you can gleam it to mean. It does all this while cleverly using DJ terminology throughout as an analogy. Most importantly, it’s catchy and danceable while still retaining an element of soul, and that is something I strive for in all of my music now.
Phoenix: What do you like best about being a solo artist and what do you like the least?
Demetra: Being a solo artist has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, I no longer have to compromise my artistic ideas or ideals to accommodate other band members. I also don’t have to worry about having to clean up a mess every time a band member decides they want to quit music or the project to pursue something else, such as a career disassembling bombs. I also have no one to blame but myself when something goes wrong. At the same time, I miss that team dynamic of contribution and collaboration. There’s also a lot of pressure handling all of the responsibilities of pursuing a music career when you’re by your lonesome.
Phoenix: Who inspires you?
Demetra: I am most inspired by my father. I’m also inspired by people in my life who dare to be great. For example, I have a friend who invented vegan marshmallows after slaving away in a lab for 365 days when everyone told her it couldn’t be done. Those “dare to be great” stories inspire me every day to continue trying to achieve the impossible.
Musically, I was heavily influenced by the myriad musicians I came into contact with who exposed me to everything from Charlie Parker to the Dead Kennedys. As for popular musicians, I’m inspired by the career and music of John Lennon. He grew so much from his time in the Beatles until his death, and he was always improving his craft. More than anything, I admired him because he stood for something and actually shaped and changed popular culture and the course of history, as a result.
Phoenix: Lately I’ve been interviewing gals with guitars and finding that they often have agendas that influence their music and literally end up in their songs. Is this something that applies to you and your music?
Demetra: I don’t think I have an agenda related to gender issues in my music; however, outside of music, in terms of my lifestyle, I think it is impossible for gender not to factor into how I handle things. The music industry is very male dominated internally. I know this because I worked on the inside for years. I’m really trying to avoid any potential sexism by going straight to the people via social networking sites. I’m picking up fans that way and hope to garner attention that way, instead of being faced with a situation where someone’s interested in having me drop my drawers.
Phoenix: In previous chats you’ve made it clear you have strong views on politics and related issues and a college degree with which to sometimes support them. Tell my readers about all that.
Demetra: Yes, I have a college degree in International Politics. First of all, I think education is very important. I want to be a good role model for young people in that respect.
In terms of politics and music, I have learned to translate my political views into analogies when writing lyrics. Being political is not very stylish right now, and I’m not interested in only speaking to a small group of elite intellectuals. In history, when artists could not speak about their political views outright, they would disguise it in some way in their craft. So, when I am speaking about finding your identity on the dance floor, I am also speaking about a country’s right to self-determination, although that’s probably not clear right off the bat. I also let my political views come out more in music videos, as you’ll see when I start to release them.
As a pop artist, I think I am different than most, since I have a political science education and continuously stay abreast of what’s going on in the world. I think I would make a pretty good guest on Bill Maher. Let’s just say, you won’t be rolling your eyes when I open my mouth. Okay, you might roll your eyes if you don’t agree with me, but not because I’m a vapid artist shooting at the mouth about something I have no background knowledge of.
Phoenix: Along those same lines, are some of your stronger political views and harsh opinions about things really you or are they part of this artistic persona you’ve developed? Could it be a combination of the two? What do you think?
Demetra: Absolutely not. They are completely me, one hundred percent. If anything, I’ve had to tone them down a bit to avoid the risk of seeming dogmatic.
Phoenix: Tell me something you’ve never told anyone else but have wanted to get off your chest.
Demetra: Well, I wouldn’t be telling just you, since I’m assuming people will be reading this. The story I have to tell is pretty serious, but I feel it’s important to talk openly about it for people who may need support with a similar issue. I’ve never told my fans about it.
When I was a child, I had a music teacher who took advantage of me and touched me in inappropriate places. Because of this, I stopped all formal training I had in music until I was in my twenties. In some ways, it helped my creativity, since I taught myself to read, write and play music, but, for obvious reasons, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I probably would have benefitted from formal training, but I don’t like to dwell on the past. I just use it as a learning experience.
Phoenix: Another thing some of my readers really want to know—boxers or briefs? (Smiling) No, no, just kidding I think that’s from The Justin Bieber interview.
Demetra: I don’t care. A little variety is nice. (Laughing) I sometimes like to wear a man’s briefs myself.
Phoenix: I guess you have a pretty big male following! (Laughing). Anyway, what is next for you?
Demetra: I’m going to be releasing my fantastic music video in October and I’m finishing up the album during the Fall. In the meantime, I’m going to be starting mainstream radio and club promotion soon for “Don’t Wreck It,” so look to harass your local DJs. Of course, I’ll always be hanging out in rock-n-roll dive bars soaking up the sounds of the best punk rock New York has to offer in the meantime.
Phoenix: Now here is where I give everyone a chance to talk about anything not previously discussed. If there is anything you ever wanted to see in print but haven’t yet then here is your chance. Anything you’d like to add?
Demetra: I only have one life to live, in this form, at least. So, I plan on living life to the fullest!
Phoenix: Thanks again for spending time with me. It’s always interesting! Thanks again for sharing with my readers.
There you have it, boys and girls, the outstanding, outspoken artist Demetra. Remember, you heard it here first!
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.