Delacey Shares “Chapel” Video and Discusses Debut LP Black Coffee

Photo Credit: Aysia Marotta

Los Angeles-based femme fatale Delacey brings us on an unapologetic journey through her masterful debut LP Black Coffee, released March 27. Reminiscent of a real-life Jessica Rabbit (from 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which combined animation and live action in groundbreaking new ways), Delacey goes beyond seedy man-eater archetypes, creating a complex persona through her work. Crooning with a sultry vocal fry, Delacey brings a refreshing emotional urgency through carefully crafted modern love ballads. Delacey’s stream of consciousness lyrics are raw and confessional – through unabridged sense-memory experiences, she gives her listeners a true window into her inner monologue.

The album, full of self-aware nuances around seduction, sexuality, and witty storytelling, visits iconic settings – a wedding chapel, a busy city subway, rainy NYC streets, and Lana Del Rey’s darkly-rendered Los Angeles – and has a surprising breadth and depth. “Break Up, Slow Dance” (featuring Valley Boy) echoes the dramatic lyricism of a modern-day Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, while “Chapel” will resonate with music lovers enamored with the old school effortless cool of Jazz singer Peggy Lee.

The timeless yet modern music production and arrangements by Ido Zmishlany (Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato) transforms Delacey’s sound into pop perfection. Delacey herself is a seasoned songwriter, having co-penned Halsey’s “Without Me,” The Chainsmokers’ “New York City”, Madison Beer’s “Dead,” and Zara Larsson’s “Ruin My Life,” among others. But Black Coffee is truly her own effort, establishing her solo identity and bringing catharsis, comfort, and hopelessly romantic, escapist bedroom pop to music lovers during a time when our creative culture has been seized and tainted by isolation and uncertainty. During my time social distancing, I was able to chat with the open and charming Delacey about her humble beginnings and the momentum behind her beautiful body of work Black Coffee.

AF: Your sounds echo the grittiness of New York City with the sultriness of a California dreamer. Where are you from?

D: I was born in Orange County, California but people always think I’m from New York – it’s funny but that’s just because I have lived there before, and I’ve written a lot of music there. I’m a California girl – my parents were from Detroit, Michigan. Orange County, CA is like a small town, far from LA. Now I’m living in Los Angeles proper because of my career.

AF: Let’s talk about your name. Where does it come from?

D: When I was little girl, I was obsessed with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (the original) and there’s a family by the name of De Lacey [“the only person who was kind to the monster – despite his deformities. The character represents the absence of prejudice, and the purity of love.”]. I begged my mom to change my name, but she wouldn’t let me. I just told everyone it was my name! And so it’s kind of always been another name for me, it had nothing to do with music at first. When I was eighteen actually my mom told me I could change my name legally to Delacey but I decided to keep it as my stage name.

Photo Credit: Alex Toderica

AF: How would you describe your teenage self?

D: Okay, so it’s kind of weird. I was always really driven by my passions in the arts which led to me barely graduating high school. I actually got kicked out, and had to just finish online! I was a rebel, and wanted to spend all of my time singing, acting, dancing, and doing photography. I had this extreme urgency to express myself through art. I worked a lot of odd jobs as a teenager, like being a nanny, just so I could save up and move to New York when I was twenty years old.

AF: There’s an unapologetic romanticism and urgency to your writing. How did you develop your poetic voice and the lens through which you see the world?

D: My family has always called me a drama queen. I’ve always been very dramatic and intense by nature – passionate in general. Growing up, my dad battled cancer and seeing my parents come out on the other side of that experience really made me value life and live each day to the fullest. It makes you realize how fragile life can be. Seeing my father come out of that battle made me ambitious and goal-oriented. You have to grow up faster, tougher, and fearlessly independent.

AF: How did you get your start professionally in the music industry?

D: When I finally got to New York, my first job was actually in photography. The whole time I was living there, I was just writing songs in my apartment and doing open mics. Music was my life, but I felt like I didn’t know anyone in the industry. A lot of times I felt like giving up and just going home to LA. Luckily I’m the kind of person who sets goals and won’t stop until I achieve them! I didn’t have a back up plan. I eventually went home and through making connections with friends interning, I landed a small publishing deal that distributed my music. They helped develop my writing skills, and explained that I could be a professional songwriter. I eventually parted ways with them when I had my first big cut – a song called “New York City” that came out with The Chainsmokers. That was an “Ah ha!” moment when I realized I could really do this professionally.

AF: What is the most challenging thing about transitioning from being a professional songwriter to releasing a solo record?

D: You feel more vulnerable when it’s yourself. Everything I’ve always written was very personal, but now there’s no middleman. It’s just me putting it out – you’re getting judged differently and you’re the one getting criticized or praised. It’s hard to not overthink things when it’s coming from yourself. It’s important to be honest. If you’re honest, the music will resonate.

AF: The song and imagery  for “Chapel” is like a Femme Fatale take on a dark, twisted fairy tale in a Vegas-style setting. There’s an underlying tone of theatrical tragedy and debauchery. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind the song and video?

D: Me and the director wanted it to feel like a getting hitched in Vegas crazy whirlwind romance film. We were super inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s aesthetic for this music video and I love how our spin on it came about.

AF: Your voice echoes tones and textures of classic singers from past decades of popular music. There’s an element of your style that makes me want to catch you performing live behind a Big Brass Band from the late 1950s. What era of music has been your biggest influence?

D: I love that! Thank you. That is the majority of the music I grew up listening to, and Billie Holiday is still my most played artist every year. So to answer your question hell yes – super inspired by an era I wasn’t even alive during.

AF: What artist, dead or alive, would be on your dream tour?

D: It’s so hard to pick but a tour with Dusty Springfield and Elvis and Mazzy Star would be my dream come true.

Follow Delacey on Facebook for ongoing updates.

REVIEW: Ultra Miami Was An Exercise in Letting Expectations Go

Music festivals are disappointing. There, I said it.

Every few weeks or so, somewhere in the world, people spend a ton of money on plane tickets, festival tickets, and hotel rooms, then spend a ton of mental energy figuring out what to pack and what to wear for some festival that will probably disappoint them.

My recent trip to Ultra Miami epitomized this experience.

As usual, I lost a ton of sleep with the planning. I spent half an hour on the phone with my life coach discussing whether to go (I’m admittedly neurotic). I looked up hotels after I booked one just to reassure myself I got the best deal possible (I didn’t). I checked ticket resale sites every day as I anxiously waited for my press credentials to not be approved.

Then, the ticket I paid double the price on didn’t arrive when it was supposed to. I spent three mornings in a row on the phone with the company, eventually pulling the journalist card and threatening to ruin their reputation if they didn’t come through (hey, it worked). Exhausted the night before the festival, I slept through the Above & Beyond concert I’d gotten tickets for. Then, the friend who’d convinced me to come to Miami got out-of-his-mind high and disappeared, and the only other person there I knew didn’t have time to see me. The interviews I’d planned to do fell through. Almost nothing I went there for actually happened.

The festival itself didn’t live up to the hype. The grounds were small and the stages were basic — nowhere close to the gorgeous artwork of EDC or Tomorrowland. Even Armin van Buuren, who consistently kills it, fell flat. My friends and I agreed he lacked a certain energy.

Still, it had its magical moments. The highlight was Marshmello, who brought up Will Smith for “Welcome to Miami.” After him, The Chainsmokers also put on an entertaining show, and Jauz gave a high-energy performance as always with a set that incorporated the intro to Martin Garrix’s animals and Internet Friends’ “You Blocked Me on Facebook.”

When most people come to music festivals, they’re set on which artists they need to see, which friends they need to meet up with, and what parties they need to go to. The irony is, you can’t control your way toward losing control. Sticking to an agenda completely defeats the purpose of a festival: to let go of stress and have fun. Ultimately, many people leave festivals just feeling more stressed out.

I refused to leave Ultra this way. So, at around 7 p.m. on the last night, when my body was telling me it could not continue even though I was dying to see Above & Beyond at 9:30, I called a Lyft, headed back to my hotel, ate some tacos, and played Above and Beyond from my computer. And it was fucking fantastic. Above & Beyond may be what I came there for, but what you come somewhere for is not always what you stay for. Our desires change, and isn’t the whole point of a music festival to live in the moment?

“When I say ‘life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you,’ I don’t really know if that’s true,” Jim Carey once said in a commencement speech at Maharishi University. “I’m making a conscious choice to see challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way.”

That’s exactly how we have to act when things don’t go our way: entertain the possibility that they did go our way; we just didn’t realize it. I didn’t get what I came to Miami for, but I did gain some valuable self-discovery. Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for, no matter where our journey leads.

ONLY NOISE: With A Bullet

Last week, after publishing “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” I took the train across the East River to see a movie. A bit of distraction seemed necessary in that moment, even if it was in the form of a demonic clown named Pennywise. Sitting on the Manhattan-bound C train, I noticed a man in a grey flannel suit to my left. He, like most modern passengers, was fixated on his smart phone. The glow of its screen did not reflect Candy Crush, Snapchat, or Instagram, however, but a P.O.V. shooter game. The tap of his thumb did not cause hearts of affirmation to burst with confetti, but rather, launched bullets from a high-power rifle, bumping off “bad guys” one by one. I watched as my well-dressed neighbor selected guns, tightened his scope, and fired and rooftop gunmen.

At that moment, it had only been four days since the mass murder of festival goers in Las Vegas, and seeing any gun, whether real, toy, or two-dimensional gave me a swift kick of nausea. It goes without saying that the events that plagued Las Vegas on October 1st still plague us today, and will continue to do so – and it is because of that lasting sickness I write on this topic again.

There were a lot of things that didn’t make the final draft of last week’s Only Noise, in part because I felt there was a hierarchy of importance with certain details – namely pointing out the arcane excuses for assault rifle-ownership in America. What I did not have the word count to include, were profiles on the scores of musicians who have had the guts to protest groups like the N.R.A., and ideologies which uphold the mass armament of US citizens with little to no discernment.

Artists like Harry Nilsson, who, after his best friend John Lennon was murdered by a crazed fan with a .38 revolver, became the official spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). In 1981, a year following Lennon’s death, Nilsson told the L.A. Times, “I’ve never been an activist before, but when I was one of the people who had to hold Ringo’s hand after John Lennon was shot, I became involved. I said to Ringo one night just after the shooting, ‘If I could take this from you, I would. But I can’t.’ I was helpless, and that was the worst time in the world for me.” Nilsson’s life work became twofold: music, and gun control. Eventually he became National Chairman of a campaign called End Handgun Violence Week, which ran between October 25th and October 31st in the early 1980s.

247 people have been fatally shot in this country in the 10 days since the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Perhaps the CSGV could bring back End Handgun Violence Week, although the public faces far more frightening weaponry than just handguns these days.

Despite her recent op-ed in The New York Times, Roseanne Cash is no rookie to the gun control debate. Her activism traces back twenty years. She spoke out in 2015, when a gunman at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon killed nine people. This tragedy coincidentally occurred on the first of October as well – two years to the day before Stephen Paddock wreaked death on Las Vegas. The day after the 2015 attack, Cash urged citizens to sign a petition to reinstate the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons. “If you are as sick of gun violence in this country as I am,” the country artist wrote on her Facebook page, “then let’s stop talking about it and just do ONE simple thing.”

Unfortunately, this ONE simple thing has not appeared so simple to lawmakers. The 1994 assault weapon ban was never reinstated. Assault weapon opposition does continue to grow, however, especially after so many lives were lost at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Guitarist Caleb Keeter of Josh Abbott Band was one of the first country musicians to completely alter his stance on gun ownership in this country, after the massacre in Las Vegas (he was at the festival when the shooting occurred). “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life,” Keeter wrote on Twitter the day following the shooting. “Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was.” He added, “We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a long list of country musicians who have done a 180 on their firearms position since the massacre – but a few do seem to be distancing themselves from the NRA. On October 2nd, the artist roster on the website for NRA Country (an organization linking upcoming country artists with the NRA brand and lifestyle) shrunk from 39 names to 37 – the slots for Florida Georgia Line and Rhett Miller had suddenly vanished.

Of course, more opposition has come from musicians outside of the country bubble. Artists like Lady Gaga, John Mayer, The Chainsmokers, and Vic Mensa have all spoken out on social media, demanding gun control. Ariana Grande, who has seen her fair share of concert-targeted violence, tweeted, “My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call this what it is = terrorism.”

Moby posted a meme on his Instagram reading, “MAKE IT STOP” above an assault rifle graphic. Below it, the artist wrote, “How many more mass shootings will it take? How many more lives ended? How many more families destroyed? We need sane, rational, sensible #guncontrolnow. The @nationalrifleassociation and every Republican who opposes gun control has so much blood on their hands. Mass shootings are evil, passing legislation that enables them to happen even more so.”

One can only hope that players in the country music scene – the scene most affiliated with the NRA and gun ownership – will eventually put aside the political demographics of their fan base and speak out. Perhaps country artist Will Hoge put it best when he spoke to Marissa Moss for Politico Magazine:

“Will this be the thing where all of a sudden every conservative artist comes out and supports gun control? That’s an unrealistic idea,” he said. “I do think this is the point where country artists are going to have to take long hard looks in the mirror and ask, ‘What’s more important to me: maintaining success at commercial radio, or doing what’s right?’”

I hope there are plenty of mirrors in Nashville.