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Pop Music

Allow Dezi 5 to Reintroduce Himself

Dezi 5 has spent the last three years after returning from New York focusing on new music and his own health. With a new album and a short North Texas tour, the pop artist is ready for the stage.
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Fela Raymond

Dezi 5 is in his era of excruciating self-awareness. For over a decade, the eccentric, barrier-breaking musician has become a household name within the Dallas music scene by way of his extravagant costumes, genre-fluid DJ mixes, and catchy dance floor fillers. Dezi has spent much of his time between Dallas and New York City since 2016. But he has returned home to Dallas, where he has been replanting his roots for the past three years.

Now, Dezi is ready to make his grand reintroduction. He has been working on a new album over the course of the past year at The Kitchen recording studio, and his new project features him going from a dancefloor staple to a soulful, R&B crooner.

“Sometimes when people hire me, they still expect ‘Jump on top of the roof Dezi’ or ‘fishnet Dezi,’ and I feel obligated to still bring him out,” Dezi says. “But I feel like this next stance of music is gonna help them realize Dezi has grown up, and he’s on another level.”

Back in May, Dezi released his single “Pick Up Your Phone,” a jazzy, guitar-and-drum-driven tune on which he emphasizes the importance of communication, something he feels is a lost artform.

“B— pick up your phone / Honey, I swear it won’t be long / All you got to do is tell me the truth / Cuz honestly you ain’t got nothing to lose,” Dezi signs on the song’s chorus.

We catch up with Dezi over the phone during his local “Pick Up The Phone Tour,” during which he launched a small trip across venues in North Texas: Three Links in Deep Ellum, Andy’s in Denton, and a last show at Tulips in Fort Worth on December 23. With this mini tour, Dezi aims to wrap up a tumultuous 2023, and launch himself into a more fruitful 2024.

Dezi plans to drop a new album Key To The Door early next year, and will drop the title track in January. 

“I’m not ashamed to say you can have arguments with friends,” Dezi says. “I’ve lost a lot of friends over the past year through the business, but I still love them. And I always say if you’re a part of my family, and you’re a part of my life, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, I’m going to always leave a key at the door for you. If you were once a part of my heart, you are always a part of my heart, even if you broke my heart.”

Dezi’s love of music began as a child in the ‘80s. His mother was fond of Michael Jackson, Natalie Cole, and Dionne Warwick, which spawned his love for the vocal divas. In the ‘90s, when he was a teenager, his focus shifted toward rhythmic R&B acts, like Destiny’s Child and Toni Braxton.

By 2008, Dezi began a rock band with other instrumentalists, before deciding to focus on his own craft in 2011.

“The guys that I started my rock band were quitting because they said that I was driving the band was bit too hard,” says Dezi. “We would have our rehearsals and I was very strict, and I think because that’s when I really wanted to take music seriously as a career.”

Dezi took time to find his sound. He began performing gigs as a vocalist in cover bands and sang at weddings. As he started garnering more of an audience, he knew he needed to start putting out original music while he was still under the spotlight.

Lady Gaga’s 2013 album ARTPOP was a gamechanger for Dezi. The album incorporated transcendental pop and EDM sounds. In DJ White Shadow and Zedd, who produced most of the album, Dezi found a heavenly, queer audio utopia, which was an escape for him. Over the course of the following year, Dezi downsized his home and begin recording his 2015 debut EP, Crucifixion On The Dance Floor.

Comprised of sweaty, bumpy, and groovy electronic dance tracks, Crucifixion introduced Dezi as club staple, combining his soulful vocals over fast-paced, escapist beats. Though, he admits, he feels his work didn’t resonate with Dallas’ queer scene. By the end of 2016, Dezi moved to New York City to “escape the harsh realities of Dallas.” 

“I went there to pursue music through a connection through the queer scene,” says Dezi. “Almost like Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, when she was singing with drag queens at their shows. I just really wanted to like make a stance and take over the scene. I learned how to party produce, learned how to DJ with drag queens, started bartending, and selling and doing drugs. I wanted to live the Club Kid life. I wanted to meet guys. I wanted to have fun, but I still wanted to sing. I always say that New York gave me the fantasy back.”

Dezi says that had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, he would probably still be in New York City. However, he feels his return to Dallas was timely and necessary. 

“I have definitely trailblazed for a lot of artists and people here in Dallas and I used to create lots of fun shows,” says Dezi. “So I had been told that my presence was missed, and it was good to come back, be able to come back home and just pick back up where I left off.”

Upon his return, Dezi had begun hosting DJ series at the now-closed Deep Ellum favorite Wits End, performing universally acclaimed albums in full, like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Outkast’s The Love Below. He would also curate and produce drag shows at Booty’s Street Food, keeping his finger on the pulse of the city. Through these events, Dezi rekindled his ambition to record new music.

But shortly before the release of “Pick Up Your Phone,” Dezi was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. This traumatic diagnosis put a lot into perspective. He dialed back his partying lifestyle and began focusing more on making music.

“My actions and things that I’ve done over the years caught up with me and it scared me,” he says. “I had a cousin who just died last year, she had to have a pacemaker in her chest, and I was told that I might have had to have a pacemaker in my chest, and then I wouldn’t be able to perform the way that I perform because it’s very much high pressure on the heart. And I was nervous that I was going to have to just quit it all.”

Today, Dezi lives a more “holistic” lifestyle, cooking more frequently at home, and drinking less. And in addition to getting in touch with his physical health, Dezi is also working on his emotional wellbeing.

When performing in clubs during his dance-pop era, Dezi used his sounds as an escape. But through R&B, and with Key To The Door, he is choosing to face his emotions head-on, putting it all on the table. 

“I want to get on stage and feel my feelings, and tell people how I feel,” says Dezi. “Because I never really told how I felt with the dance and the pop music, all I kept saying was, ‘Have a good time, forget your problems, forget your sorrows. Let’s keep the party going.’ And I love that side of me. But there’s also a side of me that I felt like I needed to get out. I’m getting older. I’m single. I’m afraid sometimes, like, ‘Am I ever gonna be in a relationship again?’ Or even just thinking about some of the things that I’ve gone through being a black gay man and trying to make my place in this world.”

Author

Alex Gonzalez

Alex Gonzalez

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