Electro-R&B duo DejaVilla take great inspiration from the city where they were raised–Kingston, Jamaica. The duo, also known as producer/songwriter David Marston and vocalist/lyricist Sarah Couch, released their debut single “Suit A Rebel” in 2018 to massive success and followed that up with “Feel Me Running Away” featuring Kat C.H.R. In 2019, they released their self-titled debut EP which earned them a tour in New York City.
Now DejaVilla proudly boasts 39.4k listeners on Spotify–and that number’s only looking to grow.
Though they currently work long-distance with Marston in the UK and Couch in Kingston, that hasn’t stopped this power team from staying creative and putting out new music. Last month, the duo released “Chocolate in Your Pocket.”
We caught up with DejaVilla to talk about the new single, their Jamaican influence, and working long-distance.
Let’s start with the basics–how did you two first start creating music together?
David: Sarah and I went to high school together in Kingston when we were younger but we didn’t know each other well at that time. We were both interested in music then as well – I was in a band and Sarah frequently sang at school events – but we never crossed paths musically. We only connected years later via a mutual friend, Kat C.H.R; we quickly realized that we had a lot of musical chemistry together. I was working on music with Kat at the time, and Sarah and Kat had been hanging out writing to the beat that I had recently sent over to Kat. They recorded some vocals together and I was blown away after hearing Sarah’s vocals. I reached out to her and we started working on more music together.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s pretty much how it went down.
What about the name DejaVilla? How did that come to be?
David: Sarah came up with the name and it is an amusing story….
Sarah: I posted a picture of a beach villa and someone commented that it looks like somewhere they had been, and I said u must be having a DejaVilla .
What do you think people might not know about the Jamaican music scene?
David: Everyone knows that dancehall and reggae run tings in Jamaica, but there are surprising pockets of eclecticism within the scene.
Sarah: I think the music coming out of Jamaica is going to surprise people, the stuff everyone has been working on is just so good. I’m excited.
You guys now collaborate long-distance between London and Kingston–what sort of challenges do you two face with that distant collaboration? Or is it not as challenging as it may seem?
David: It is definitely challenging but we make it work. I think the main challenge has been that we lose a sense of urgency or structure when we are working in this long-distance format, which I think is natural. On the other hand, I feel that collaborating this way gives us space and breathing to focus on what we individually bring to the project.
Sarah: it’s ok for now… we have the internet. I like to get together in person a lot though. But the pandemic.
Since David’s move to the UK, have you two noticed any differences in your sound or production?
David: In truth, most of the foundational material was recorded in Jamaica before I moved to the UK. So, we already had the majority of the album recorded. Nonetheless, I have been focusing quite heavily on my mixing skills since moving to the UK, and I feel like that newfound emphasis on specific mixing choices has had a subtle influence on our sound – I think that overall our sound has been enhanced and that our music is more expressive.
Sarah: I think just generally over time as I go through different life experiences my writing can change… I go through different emotions so that has an impact.
You guys recently released your new single “Chocolate in Your Pocket.” How did it feel to put out new music after such an unprecedented year?
David: It felt positive for sure. We were pretty eager to get this track out and I was very excited to release “Chocolate in Your Pocket” as it is one of my favourite songs from the album. I think the track is an immersive and mesmerizing track, so I hope it can provide some sort of escape to the craziness and chaos that has carried over from 2020 for anyone who listens to it.
Sarah: Really no better time than now to release music. People need music more than ever right now.
When did you first start working on this song and how long did it take to completely come together?
David: I made this particular beat after going through a breakup and moving to a new city in 2015. I remember feeling creatively driven at that time and I finished writing the music pretty quickly and then I moved on to making other songs. So, what would become the CIYP beat just sat on my computer hard drive for ages after that. I stumbled upon it again when I was going through my old sessions in search of riddims that would be suitable for Sarah’s voice, and voila, there was the beat. I sent it to Sarah and thankfully, she liked the riddim.
Sarah: I actually wrote this song in two separate scenarios, on separate instrumentals. One part for Rihanna when everyone was trying to get a dancehall song on her album. And the other for a local producer who said the lyrics were too “complicated.” When I heard David’s riddim I just kinda freestyled those lyrics to his track and it worked really well.
If you could choose any place in the world to perform your first show post-pandemic, where would you choose?
David: We seem to have a substantial listener base in Amsterdam, so maybe there? Otherwise, it’d be super cool to do something by the beach in southern Spain.
Sarah: Wherever they really want to see us.
Lastly, any future plans for 2021 you can share?
David: I am in the UK and there is a slow exit plan for the lockdown here, so it is quite difficult to plan anything concrete. I’m looking forward to releasing the DejaVilla album – the songs on the album are all really good and so I am excited about sharing them with the world. I am also looking forward to possibly doing a bit of travelling and some performances later this year. Fingers crossed!
Sarah: I’ve been renovating my studio here in Jamaica. It has a great vibe and I’m looking forward to creating really dope things in the space, writing camps etc. until the world opens again, that’s my base.
Stream “Chocolate In Your Pocket” here.