By Tyler Fox (@TylerFox585)
Sometimes, there are just some stories you have to share. Canadian R&B pop artist Délon is has one of those stories. Délon has done it all. He started his career as a runner-up for Canadian Idol. He found commercial success in Canada with his group StarChild X and he has become a champion for social justice — all the time, remaining humble and embracing his roots.
Délon is about to embark on his next venture; a solo project simply titled “Délon”. He just released his first single, “Fever” from his upcoming album “Dreams Deferred,” which will be coming out in July. I had the chance to get the full story on Délon in a one and one interview earlier this week. You can find “Fever” on Délon’s Soundclould page. And if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, be sure to catch him live at The Mod Club May 20th (tickets avaiable by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
You have been involved in music for a while now. How did everything being for you?
I can still remember my very first audition for Canadian Idol. It was such an interesting experience for a singer/songwriter, but I did learn quite a bit about stage presence and showmanship. After that, I worked in a pop trio called StarChild X and we were fortunate enough to get our song on the radio and sign with a major label. They say every step in one’s journey is just as important as the final destination and I believe that because those experiences shaped by perspective today as a musician.
You call the Greater Toronto Area home. I am only slightly familiar with the scene up there, and it is mostly punk and indie rock. How have you found your way in the scene there? What is the scene like?
The GTA is definitely home — affectionately referred to as the 6ix. Toronto is such a dynamic city and our reputation is growing because of incredibly talented musicians such as Drake and The Weeknd. They both have really created a movement in the city, opening doors for artists like myself. Yes, Punk and Indie Rock form part of a rich tapestry of the city’s music scene, but Hip Hop and R&B, I think, are gaining currency and popularity and the city is all the stronger, and better, because of that. With regards to the Pop scene, I really hope to do what Drake and The Weeknd have done for their respective genres, but I wish to add a little twist: the addition of tabla percussion, steel pans and many more global sounds which will make my music much more transnational in scale. Also, I challenge myself to write from different headspaces: one song will be about social justice, while the other will be about consumerism, or even lustful desire. I really don’t want to limit myself to one topic. So far, Toronto has been very welcoming to my music. I’ve had incredible opportunities and forthcoming ones to work with the city’s best and brightest in so many fields.
Early in your career, you were a runner-up on Canadian Idol. What was that experience like?
It was memorable, but I feel somewhat ambiguous when I look back on it today. I mean, the very first day the contestants lined up and prepped for their performances, the judges entered the room and declared that they “knew who was going to be Canada’s next idol”. I was somewhat taken aback by that statement because it proved how contrived the entire production was and how authentic artistry was somewhat compromised in favor of pre-conceived notions of who should actually win the competition. I think when such productions are contrived like this, artists miss out on the spiritual component of performing, worrying instead about the competitive nature of the show.
Soon after that, you found radio success in your group Starchild X with the single “Superstar.” What was it like to start hearing something your created be promoted on the radio?
I’ll never forget the very first time I heard the song I co-wrote on the radio. It was so surreal. It debuted at noon on Kiss 92.5 FM- right after a Bruno Mars song. I was driving through the 6ix, on my way to a meeting with a colleague from the university discussing potential publishing opportunities for my dissertation and it dawned on me: I’m completing my PhD at York University, whilst signing with one of the world’s biggest record labels —“Life Is Good”!
You have since moved on to become a solo artist and have some new music on the way. You come from a South American and Caribbean background. How important is it for you to include those influences in your music?
It is extremely important for me to include the sounds of my ethnic background. I think Caribbean culture is so rich and when you consider how influential creolization is as a relational process in identity formation, I couldn’t resist incorporating facets of my Amerindian, Indian and Guyanese ethnic identity. I have also had the utmost pleasure of working with gifted musicians/producers such as S-luv, J Raj and ShaikYu- all of which challenge me to find my voice and sound in mainstream music by brining a bit of South American and South Asian flair. While S-luv and J Raj have been around for some time, ShaikYu, who is Indo-Guyanese, is definitely a producer to watch out for. His sound is fresh and he brings so much brilliance and passion to his production. I cannot wait to start the next album with him. His version of “Girl” is an undeniable game-changer and I cannot wait to share it with the world.
You do a lot of admirable work helping youth in the Greater Toronto Area. You run a program at York University that helps students transition to college and work with Elevated Grounds, a group that uses arts to help kids in the GTA. Why is this such an important cause to you? Do you find these causes making their way into your music, be it lyrically or through other avenues?
Empowering youth with education and giving them the skill set they need to navigate through unfamiliar terrains is a great passion of mine. There was a brilliant sociologist named Pierre Bourdieu who researched what he called “cultural capital”- that is, non-financial social assets which enable people to exercise social mobility; an example of such capital, for him, was education, especially how it gives power and status to those who are privileged enough to gain it in the school setting. Now, we know that inequality in our world is linked to access to resources such as cultural capital and it’s getting worse as people cannot afford to attend schools because of economic, cultural and institutional barriers — not to mention extremely high tuition fees. This is a huge problem and my goal is to level the playing field — so to speak. I’ve been very fortunate to have attended post-secondary schools and learn the things I’ve learned. That is why I’m so passionate about teaching and empowering others who wish to expand their horizons. And yes, this shows in my music — conceptually and lyrically. I try to address issues that other artists shy away from for whatever reason, making it accessible to listeners from all walks of life.
What can we expect to hear coming from Délon in the next couple months?
Well, my team is working on some very creative campaigns for me, showcasing both of my passions: music and social justice. Some of the videos we’ve got planned range from LGBT rights to critiquing consumer culture, so it’s going to be a very interesting ride for the listeners. Do stay tuned!