When it comes to the beat scene, there are honestly only a handful of discographies that I find myself visiting on a regular basis. Among the few names that crop up, DESH (aka Nadesh Lighart) is certainly one of them. A multi-colored world forged by Jazz and Neo-Soul arrangements is what we're welcomed to the moment we hit play. We later on find out that this sonic influence is passed down from her dad, and she's capitalized on and the work that she's put in as a musician to become a sought-after name within the Chillhop space - to the point of being a brand ambassador for the largest cymbal and drumstick maker in the world 'Zildjian'.
As a female producer and musician she's faced a variety of latent and overt push back throughout her career. Although when I had talked to hear about the gender pay gap in the music industry, something I discovered about her is that she has SUCH a positive outlook on not only this topic, but on life itself. I'd have massive chip on my shoulder if I were in her shoes. This sense of optimism and blessedness radiating from her aura translates into her music too as each track you dive into FEELS warm and comforting. Her recently released track "Night Ride" featuring her long-time collaborator delaney. serves as a marvelous example. In this interview DESH tells us more about about the making of "Night Ride", her childhood, and the value of collaboration.
For those who don't know your story, how would you describe your journey with music thus far?
It’s been a long journey already! Haha. Growing up with my dad running a music school it has been very easy for me to get access to all sorts of different instruments. I started playing the keys at a very young age and switched to drums a bit later on. I’ve been playing in bands as a drummer for artists like Joya Mooi and Tom Browne and got into producing late 2017. Currently my main focus is on my ‘DESH’ project; I make beats that I’d say are jazz/soul influenced and most of the time I do this in collaboration with the great musicians/friends I have gathered around me.
You've mentioned to me before that your dad was (and still is) a working musician... What kind of pressure comes with growing up in a musical environment?
Stay up to date.
Yes, he is! He’s an amazing drummer, but also skilled on keys and when it comes to his music theory. He never put any pressure on me and both him and my mom have always been very supportive. Imagine driving a kid around with a drum set in the car all the time... Times in my life that I cherish!
I think the real pressure came when I was certain about doing music full time. I feel like my parents definitely found that a bit scary and were a bit insecure about the inconsistency of a gigging musicians pay cheque.
Nonetheless always have been supportive of it, but it definitely put a pressure on me and I felt like I had to prove myself. I never stopped believing in it though! I just know that this is what I am supposed to be doing.
Soul and Jazz music are very much entrenched within your sound, and I think that allows your beats to exude a certain kind of elegance throughout your discog. What's your background with Soul and Jazz, and how those two influences became so prominent in your work?
My dad studied jazz drums, and my uncle Ari Ligthart was part of the Dutch Swing College Band. So jazz definitely has always been around very prominently, although it really took me a while to appreciate it. I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out with a lot of great musicians that would show me all the good stuff, and talk to me about music.
Music was just the main thing in our household, but also in school I’d be around kids that love music, so we’d spend our breaks listening to new music and watching videoclips, mostly R&B and Hip Hop. But yeah, I really have to thank my parents for taking me to the North Sea Jazz festival and so many shows and concerts at such a young age. I saw James Brown when I was 8, Robert Glasper when I was 10, Destiny’s Child when I was 6. Haha, and the list goes on. Those are experiences that have shaped me as a musician. I really love music and listen to it all day.
On the subject of your discog, I've noticed that you collaborate a lot more than most producers out there. What does collaboration give you that working alone doesn’t?
I think that because of the fact that I’ve always been playing in full bands I really appreciate the input and creativity of other musicians. To me a band is supposed to feel like a team; you’re working together on creating a piece of music, everybody has their own role but in order to make something sound/feel ‘good’ you’ll have to connect with each other.
The musicians I’ve been working with are all people that I appreciate and cherish, not only for their musicianship but also for their energy and personalities. I think connecting with musicians on a deeper level is one of the keys to producing meaningful music.
Please take us through the creation process of your latest track "Night Ride" with delaney, it's such a magnificent track that's soothing to the soul!
Thank you so much!!! I’m so excited to see it receiving so much support. This track is dedicated to a road trip me and Delaney took to pick up a keytar in Belgium. I think the trip was supposed to be 4 hours total, but we ended up getting stuck in a snowstorm so we spend 12 hours in the car together. That’s really the trip where we discovered that we had such a similar music taste. We’d go from listening to Chris Brown’s first album, to listening to Marvin Sapp, to Coltrane, to Dwele, Soulection, and the list goes on... We just love singing and listening to music together, so with this song we wanted to set that smooth vibe that makes you feel like cruisin’.....
For those that don't know, delaney is actually a frequent collaborator of yours. What is it about your guys working relationship that brings out the best in you two?
Oh man... Delaney and I have such a special friendship, that’s truly one of my best friends. Before we started working on our own music, or even before I started producing, we were already playing a lot of gigs together. That automatically means that you’ll spend a lot of time together; rehearsing, driving to gigs and all that and we just really bonded over music and life hahaha. For our music it also helps that 90% of the time we work together in the same room, so it’s easy to communicate and feel each others presence and energy.
Since you've been making music for a while, I'm curious as to why you prefer dropping many singles rather than EPs/albums?
That’s a good question! I think it has to do with different things for me, one being that I’m pretty new to producing so I didn’t really felt ready for a full length project. Over the past 2 years I’ve been really experimenting with discovering my own sound. If I listen to songs that I released 1/2 years ago I really can hear the growth and that make’s me very excited and appreciative of the process whereas to in the beginning I was very insecure about my productions.
Another thing is that I think it’s pretty hard to grab the attention of listeners, there’s so much (good) music. Now that I have a pretty big catalogue and I’ve put my name out there a bit more I’m ready for an album. So... That’s what I’ve been working on! I hope to release the first DESH album in the summer.
For you what makes a "successful" release?
For me a release is successful if I find listening to it myself enjoyable, even after a while. I also really enjoy seeing people using my music under their video’s. That’s a great feeling. In general just seeing people enjoy my music, or reaching out to me to let me know that they are enjoying it, is what makes a successful release for me.
What are the kinds of environments and conditions that tend to seamlessly put you in a space of clarity and creative flow?
I really depend on the vibe in a room. If I’m working alone in my homestudio I like to have the candles on, I’ll have some vibey lights going on, my desk will be clean etc. I’ll spend some time preparing the room to a point where it feels good for me to sit down and get to work!
In your opinion, what bad advice/recommendations do you most commonly hear in the music industry?
I’ve had people in the music industry telling me that I won’t make it and that I should stop pursuing doing music full time. That was pretty bad advice. I’m a firm believer of sticking to your dreams. Of course you’ll come across a lot of people in the industry, but as I get older I think I’m getting better at letting people go that don’t align with what I stand for or that are not open to growing and evolving with me. Being an independent artist you get to choose who’s on your team and just as a person you get to choose who’s in your ‘inner circle’. Trust your intuition and you’ll be fine.
So... 1) An artist/band you would have a D.M.C (Deep Meaningful Conversation), 2) An artist/band you’d love to party with. 3) Artist/band you would like to be within the studio for a week.
Oooooo... Love this question
I’d have a deep meaningful conversation with Herbie Hancock, because that’s just the goat.
I’d party and turn up with Erykah Badu, I just want to experience what it’s like being in her presence.
I’d love to be in the studio with Robert Glasper/Terrace Martin’s collective R+R=NOW, because that’s just really my favourite project/band right now. Or D’Angelo, that would also be amazing.