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Auckland singer-songwriter Deryk on how procrastination has helped her creative process

WORDS BY TINA SUMMERS

And what it’s been like making work during a pandemic.

Deryk is the Auckland-based, UK-born artist fast making waves. She’s released three arresting singles this year – ‘Call You Out’, ‘One Star’ and ‘Goodtimes’ – each of which shows her unique potential and diversity in different ways.

Calling on inspirations like PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Esperanza Spalding, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and Bjork, Deryk’s music is idiosyncratic and truly captivating – the result of a brilliant, curious young mind exploring and experimenting with sound to dazzling effect.

Given that her debut EP WOMb is out today, we spoke to the artist about creating in lockdown, unlocking creative potential, and giving yourself a break.

How’s it going in Auckland?

Lockdown’s been okay. Everyone’s still wearing their masks on public transport. It’s great that everyone’s really acting the right way.

How have you found it making WOMb while you’ve been in lockdown?

It’s a weird time! I feel like everyone’s bodies are healing over this time. I know it might sound cringey, but none of us have stopped like this in forever. A few of my friends have said they’re reaching a good place with it. It’s like filling that cup back up again.

I’ve sort of reached this ‘namaste’ place with lockdown. Have you found that for yourself?

No, not really, just because I overdo it a lot. When lockdown first started there was a lot of nervous energy around what was happening, so I was kind of straight into making some music videos at home, spending way too much time on it… I was just so enjoying it. I think I just really over did it. I think some mornings I looked up and it was like 8 O’clock, and I thought, “Oh my gosh.” I just kept going. So I think there’s parts of me that are ‘namaste’ but then there’s other parts of me that don’t feel it. You know, I was speaking with a friend who has a 7-year-old, and she was talking about how when she has sugar, she notices it straight away. She notices the up and then the dive in her mood, even more so in lockdown. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, that is so true for everybody.”

Yes, lockdown I think has made me more aware of those things. I’m drinking decaf right now!

I started drinking coffee during lockdown!

That’s why you’re up until 8am!

[Laughs] When I was doing the videos it started with English breakfast tea and it’s gone to a full-blown flat white.

How do you think the events of this year have influenced your writing?

I actually wrote WOMb last year, so before COVID. I created all the visuals for it this year, though. It’s funny, because I certainly had a very clear idea of how I wanted to portray WOMb visually, for it to be appropriate for the music. I think it would have been weird, for example, for the visuals to be really glossy and full. So I knew I’d go down the lo-fi route, but I wouldn’t have taken it on all by myself…

The visuals I’ve seen so far are so cool! I can’t believe you’ve been doing them yourself.

Thank you! That’s so kind.

What is your songwriting process like?

How do I do it? It changes every time. It truly changes every time. Like, one of the tracks I’ve done recently started from a poem, and that was the first time that ever happened. But each track has been so different. A lot of it starts with the music – it takes a while to build up the music, and then take bits out and put bits in, and then after that it’s about focusing on the writing side of things, once the chord progression is down. In the past I’ve really been interested in formulas, other songwriters – the greats that I love – and structure, but I kind of feel like WOMb was my letting go of holding onto that so intensely, while still being aware of the structure and how a traditional song is written. Like, honouring that, but trying to be as authentic as possible.

Isn’t it funny how many thoughts go through your head, when you’re making something, that wind up shaping the final thing.

Totally. I feel like when you’re working on something that… You know, something that you feel like you couldn’t live without, you just really don’t stop thinking about it, ever. Most creatives, you know, you’re having a break, but your mind’s still ticking away. One of the things I used to loathe about myself was procrastination – I used to think it was pretty bad, but I’ve realised… Well, I read something somewhere, and it was about how procrastination is when a lot of the foundation work happens, and you think you’re not doing anything, but you are. I certainly do that with songs. 100 per cent. I’m not somebody that enjoys the idea of finishing a song all in one day.

Yes! Sometimes I think my best ideas happen when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

Totally! That’s so true! When you’re doing a mundane thing. I used to work at a shop in town and I’d think about so many songs…

Do you have a favourite song from WOMb?

It changes, but I think ‘Men’ I’m most proud of. It was the song that could have gone down a completely different pathway. It’s not about hating on men at all. It’s not even about men; I think it’s about everybody. It’s more about stepping back. I think we could all use a bit of that this year!

Follow deryk here and listen to her new EP here.

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