Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Ones To Watch #SouthLondon is a series created to showcase all the up and coming talents throughout South London! We caught up with Christian artist De.V/ZION to hear about his journey so far and his involvement with the Wandsworth community album.
SDS: How are you and how have you been?
De.V/ZION: Yeah, I'm good man. I'm blessed, happy and excited to have this interview!
SDS: For those who don't know, who is De.V/ZION and where are you from?
De.V/ZION: I'm a Christian artist born and raised in Ghana, living in the UK at the moment, London to be specific. I just do primarily Afro Gospel kind of sounds but really just you know the word of God in music form. I'm based in South London and I live in Wandsworth.
SDS: Your name used to be Tinkez, why the change to De.V/ZION?
De.V/ZION: Tinkez was more of a name that I got when I was in high school back in Ghana, so it was kind of something that you know people used to call me. I always used to say that it probably wasn't in the best kind of conditions or from the best perspective that I got that name but when I became a Christian and started to do christian music I wanted to use that (his name) for something positive. Last year I went to a Bible conference and I just saw God speak to me about changing my name to De.V/ZION. He gave me a bit more of a meaning to it, the Bible says that you know in Christ there was no longer Jew or Gentile that we're all one (Galatians 3:28). So, my vision is that we can all become one in Christ and I hope that the music will be like a vehicle for that message.
SDS: What is your creative process when producing music?
De.V/ZION: I think my creative process is really inspiration, more than anything. I wouldn't say I'm the usual kind of artist who's very talented in putting words together and making them sound a certain way, I certainly didn't grow up thinking that way. The whole music thing kind of started off when I became a Christian and so I think it's really inspiration. Sometimes you hear something and you feel like it comes with a message, so I hear the message in my mind and pray over it, I try to translate that message for people to be able to hear it. It's more of being inspired by something but recently I've been doing a bit more focus writing.
I'm actually recording a community album for the people of Wandsworth, we're aiming to talk about specific topics and that has put me in a position where I'm now thinking about specific things to write about. I usually get a beat, I listen to it and I just kind of listen for the message that comes to me and I'm then able to channel and translate that to a format that people can hear. I think I describe my music generally as very happy and energetic, just motivational to a certain extent. Obviously, I'm primarily meaning for it to point people to Christ but I know that people that don't even believe in Christ sometimes they hear it and they're like, 'alright I like the bit that you're telling about your story, I like the bit that you're talking about how God has changed your life it's really positive and is really encouraging'. So I'd say all of that is meant to be hopeful, my music is not something I'm hoping people will just listen to kind of get through a bad day on a bad turn, I want them to listen to it and just feel that, you know what I can keep going, I can fight, I can overcome whatever it is that I'm facing at the moment. I don't think you can be sad when you're dancing and most of my songs you can dance to and so that's really something that captures just a good mood, still hopeful.
SDS: You released a song called Agape Love, talk us through that and what's about.
De.V/ZION: In the Bible there's kind of different forms of love that described, there's Apape there's Eros and Philia. They're basically different love forms, so Agape is unconditional, Eros which is a more kind of sexual love that people usually think about when they think about love and there is Philia which is more of a friendly and family type of love. Apape is the type of love that God has taught us is an unconditional love that means regardless of what happens he still loves us. I released that song and the scripture attached to it is John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life', John 3:16 NKJV. This kind of captures the gospel message that because God loves us so much Jesus died to pay for our sins, we did nothing to deserve it and we can't do anything to deserve it at the end of the day but God is able to do that for us because of His love. I wanted to put that in music form.
SDS: You spoke before about producing a community album, can you talk to us through what that's going to include?
De.V/ZION: It's a community album that's being done with funding from Battersea Arts Center. It's really a programme called the Agency Programme where you go and pitch an idea and you either get funding or you don't. My idea was to record an album with artists who have a connection with Wandsworth and so we're talking about things like general encouraging songs. We released one song at the beginning of lockdown called ‘Keep Moving Forward (Philippians 3:13)' that wasn't the plan but that was one of the songs that we had recorded before locked down and so thought that it was fitting to release that song - It was just literally just encouraging people to take one step at a time. You know you just don't stop, the country may have stopped, you know a lot of things may have stopped but in your daily life you just take one step at a time, progress doesn't mean big leaps, progress means moving forward.
We've got songs talking about injustice, just in communities in general, I got a song that I share a personal testimony about a time where I suffered injustice and how I dealt with it. We've got songs talking about career paths and not knowing where you fit in or where you can go, it's really just a collection of the stories of the artists in different spaces of their life (family wise, faith wise, education wise, job wise). Every song tells you this is what happened, this is how I dealt with it or this is how I'm dealing with it, we hope people can connect to it and hopefully find some solutions in the songs. For every song, we are doing a video podcast where we just sit down with the artists and talk a bit deeper into why they wrote the song and what they want the listeners to get from it. It's really about your stories and allowing the people in the community to kind of see themselves in one another. The artist might say something and you identify with that and you're like yeah I can connect with this artist I can connect with what they're saying. Hopefully it will lead you to accepting the solutions that they bring forth, being something you can try and apply.
SDS: If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be and why?
De.V/ZION: Haha that's pretty simple for me right now because I'm trying to get my driving done at the moment. I'm going to the whole 9 yards, if I could just click and be a seasoned driver that would be a blessing.
SDS: If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
De.V/ZION: I think currently it would just be somewhere in Ghana. Obviously with everything that's going on, travel is a bit here and there but since I've kind of started music, I've not been to Ghana. I've not done anything kind of music wise in Ghana live so I think that would be a place of choice for me - to go back home, you know really just be among Ghanaians and just to see what the vibe would be like. I've seen the responses over here and it's a blessing! Sometimes you get videos from over there but I think it would be great just being among the people. Some of their words aren't even English so having Ghanaians sing the song and seeing how they would respond, I think that would be an amazing experience.