She’s from Berlin and has what it takes to be a pop star. Denitza Torodrova, aka DENA, is the result of a cosmopolitan attitude, an engaging image and catchy tracks. The mixture of all these things becomes her trump card. Dena’s debut album was released 3rd of March following her singles ‘Thin Rope,’ and ‘Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools’ which were released by French label Kitsune and Greedhead earlier this year and created a buzz on youtube, with almost a million plays.
Her passion for songwriting and the impact of her videos are pretty unique and charming. Dena is ambitious and extremely driven and this strong attitude shines through her words during the interview. It’s a pleasure for Gigslutz to have the opportunity to ask her more about her first release, her goals and approach to music.
Hi Dena, thank you for your time. You’ve just released your debut album ‘FLASH’ and are about to perform in London. Tell me a little bit more about your music background. What kind of music do you like? Which voices do you admire?
I grew up singing in the school choir and experimenting with recording myself with a portable cassette player. When I moved to Berlin almost 10 years ago, everyone around me was in a band. I started an almost punk-sounding electronic band with a friend of mine from Toronto. She played the drums and me a synth that we had borrowed. It was like the ultimate experimentation in writing and playing chords simultaneously. After the band was no more, I focused on writing solo songs and changed a couple of band setups until I realized that I should stick to the MPC beats I am programming for my demos. I used to listen to a lot of Dilla, Neptunes and ATCQ, pop music, RnB, everything. I admire the voices of strong personalities and have an infinite love for properly done POP songs. Those that will stick in your head and heart forever. I admire the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, Björk, Beyoncé, Marina And The Diamonds, Katy B, Robyn, Sia. I like when music becomes the perfect combination of instrumental background, lyrics and personality. Then it can be really powerful.
How do you create your music? Do you start with a beat in your head or a melody that catches your attention and seems to be the right one? Do you work in team?
It depends on the moment. I often start with the lyrics and hooks. Inspiration can hit you everywhere, so sometimes I just sing in my phone when I am outside and happen to have an idea. Then I write the lyrics and usually have a melody already in my head, which i later on write the piano chords or the beats for. After this I record the demo at my home studio and try to make it as complex as I can in terms of the vocal arrangements and music. For “FLASH” I worked with my friend Jonas Verwijnen from Kaiku Studios in Berlin on the production.
What’s your favourite moment as a singer-songwriter?
When a song is suddenly just there in front of you and in your head and it makes perfect sense naturally. It’s like, when an unwritten song just hits you and you kind of bring it to life within one breath.
Tell me about your videos. Do you like experimenting new things? How do your videos support your music releases?
The videos I’ve done last year were a very important aspect of communicating the music I create. Especially videos like “Guest List” for example, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate what is on my mind only with the song. I worked with Plamen Bontchev / Sofia Burchardi from Miniartist on those, also on “CDRSP” and “Thin Rope”. It was a great collaboration, cause we got to develop an almost documentary approach of what was around us and involving it in the music videos, which happened to get attention from Youtube viewers, so I guess it was a good support.
When you’re not singing or composing, when you have to relax, what do you do in your free time?
I watch movies or make pancakes in the middle of the night.
I personally think you are very original, I like your beats, your voice and your attitude. How will Dena change or evolve in the next years?
Thank you. I want to develop as a pop writer and performer, so I’m proud of “Flash” being my first step out there. I am so thankful to my producer Jonas for helping me make the songs I wrote the way they are now! I was very connected to the songs and the production through the whole process, because I did the music for mostly all the songs you hear on the album, and now here it is! I am also incredibly happy to have had such amazing support and featuring on the album from guests like Erlend Øye, KOOL A.D., Jence from Digitalism who produced an alternative version of “Front Row Girl” and Robot Koch, who produced ‘Summer Doesn’t Mean A Thing’ on the deluxe version.
Thanks Dena and good luck!