In music sometimes, we categorize things too quickly. Sometimes we compartmentalize music into spaces that they can fall into, but they might be so much more than that in ways that are worthy of further exploration. That’s kind of the deal on synth-pop duo, DEGA. A married couple made up of industry veterans, DEGA is essentially synth-pop, but if you really tune in on their latest release DEGA, you’ll find that their music is so much more.
When you dig into the bios of DEGA, you realize real fast that both members have been in music for a good while. Aslyn has had a successful solo career and spent time as a backup singer and keyboardist for Kesha, while Kalen was in the band Ponderosa among others. When looking at the trajectories of both, it’s a wonder that this project could come about as quickly as it did. Though when asked, they admit it was longer than anyone knew. Explains Kalen, “as far as it seeming quick, it was a long time coming. Even though the album just came out, it was done for about five years. She was touring with Kesha and I was touring with Ponderosa when we met, and we were doing those things separately for three years. We put the album together slowly for about a year.”
“It was the answer to us not seeing each other ever, in working on this project,” adds Aslyn.
With their respective backgrounds, Aslyn an artist on a major label and Kalen on New West, their collective expertise in the music industry would help most bands who were starting out. “I feel like the industry has changed so much in the last fifteen years that it’s hard to know what knowledge to apply. I think for us, the relationships we’ve made over the years helped a lot. That and being grateful for those connections. The music industry has a snaky side, and we just want the human experience so we just steer from all of that and keep things more personal. We may have missed out on some things by doing so, but we’re okay with that,” says Aslyn.
The band’s album, DEGA has been categorized as synth-pop, but it’s deeper and more emotive than what typically calls that genre home. The layers of vocals alone are stunning, but with tracks like “Already Know, ” “Don’t CallIt” and “Look Back,” there’s lots of eighties touches and so much more. “My dream situation was to be a band, a five piece that was more realized in live settings. But due to the nature of touring, taking things in a more electronic route made more sense. There was a mix of nostalgia and modern lo-fi sounds I wanted to satisfy myself. The goal was for the album to be a plethora of things including new wave, eighties, and lo-fi. The way we re-amped the drum samples I really liked,” says Kalen.
“We didn’t discuss the sound. We’d been away from each other and we were just having a good time making the album,” adds Aslyn.
The band’s album took some time to make due to the fact that it was recorded all over with multiple engineers. When asked if this was something they’d do again, Aslyn replies, “I prefer to do an album over time rather than in the moment and just live with it. We didn’t really have a plan on this one, it was just a means to an end given our situation.”
When it comes to seeing DEGA live, it doesn’t take long to realize that there’s a lot going on between two people. Multiple inputs, live keys and synths as well as vocals from both and a bass guitar all make their way into the set. “We had Evan Bradford and John Ashley on hand to help us figure the whole live set up out. I did the Ableton Live course in seven hours just to make it all work. We also went into the studio for a week just to sample our keys to have them for the live show,” says Kalen.
“From the arrangement set up, we wanted every aspect of the live show to be dynamic. All we were concerned with for our live show was how can we keep things interesting for people doing it as a two piece,” ads Aslyn.
You can catch a couple more live sets from DEGA before the end of the month. Tonight they’ll be in Los Angeles at Resident, Sunday they’ll be at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, and the 31st they’ll appear in Seattle at The Funhouse. You can stream their album on all streaming platforms or pick it up digitally from all digital shops, or on vinyl directly from Lemonade Records.
Image Credits: Photo Courtesy of Artist.