In the wake of the loss of a barrier-breaker like Lil Peep, it seems like anything is possible in terms of musical innovation and unimaginable tragedy. Déhá and I, having already discussed black metal fairly extensively for an upcoming DSBM history report, discovered that we are still reeling in both regards. And so, we knew what we had to do—discuss the matter on record.
While Déhá may be an entity best known for his role in depressive black metal mainstay Yhdarl, he holds another noteworthy project under his belt—Nadddir. Scratching the surface of its description through the spitting of self-deprecation over rhythmic orchestrals, Nadddir’s story is worthy of being told in full. Whether it be fusing the array of underground scenes, delivering hurt and frustration with conviction, or honoring Peep’s memory by interpreting his art through our own, Déhá serves up some pretty heavy bread. But, he ultimately leaves us with the important reminder that it’s up to one’s own inner spark to turn it into French toast.
DIAG: First and foremost, how and when did this project come to be in the course of your musical journey?
N: The thing is, I’ve always been attracted to hip-hop since I was young, like, way, way young. I don’t know. Four or five years old. I grew up in one of those hoods. I mean, it was Belgium, but it was still one of those hoods. Social problems and everything bring a lot of guys together and music was doing its job in helping that, specifically hip-hop, whether it be French or U.S.-oriented. I have been the most influenced by West Coast American hip-hop, and French hip-hop, too. Like, straightforward street hip-hop, if you will, more so than the danceable stuff you’d get mainstream-wise. I was definitely most attracted to the [rappers] who talked about real problems and not just money and bitches.
I always practiced hip-hop and composed, of course. Since I could compose, I would always try to do [hip-hop], even though most of it was still something melancholic—piano strings and playing with beats, nothing more. I thought it might be out of the typical to do this kind of hip-hop because people wanted dance or something else. I was not really interested in that.
Time went on and I just kept doing a hip-hop song here and there, a collaboration with a couple of friends, maybe, but nothing much more happened until about 2016. That’s when I really started to know about the clout-rap trap thing. You know, the underground ones; artists like Bones or Ghostemane. I’ve been seeing that many of the people doing this kind of music are actually coming from the metal environment. Like, shitty underground metal. It made me realize that I’m not fully alone. Then I realized that I really needed to practice my English in order to pronounce shit as fast as the rhythm. It was the perfect challenge.
That’s how [Nadddir] came to be. I realize that a lot of the lyrics I use are pretty edgy in a ‘I’m 16-years-old’ kind of likeness, but I don’t care at all. I don’t really consider myself someone who really had a childhood. So, me talking like I’m 16 years old…I don’t mind that so much.
DIAG: Sure. I think it’s really exciting that people in metal, after a long time, are seemingly more amenable to rap with the introduction of Soundcloud rappers, melancholic rap, emo-rap, and so on. Have you ever found it difficult to oscillate between the worlds of black metal and darker hip-hop, or has it been a fairly smooth back-and-forth?
N: For me, I can compose a melody for hip-hop that I can also use for a depressive black metal song. The thing is, I have the chance to do music as I want to. I’m producing everything myself. So, it’s pretty easy for me to switch back [and forth], especially as a composer. The thing that was a bit more difficult was being able to put real underground metal elements into the music of Nadddir. There are some blast beats here and there, some screams. It’s not like one of those background screams that people would just hear sometimes as some kind of sample. Like, no, I’m actually screaming the text at that point.
Screams are, of course, crucial to anything black metal, or even the primal doom of death metal. For me, there is a huge amount of aesthetic in screams in music. It amplifies the emotion, and that is why I love Nadddir. It has become a very important project of mine. It’s not like I’m putting my projects on pedestals, but this has become very important to me as a composer, and I want to show it to the world.
DIAG: I’m excited that you’re sharing it. I think black metal has gotten the reputation of being the elite way of communicating sadness or anger or darkness. How do you think hip-hop is challenging that notion?
N: Most people doing music in the underground—no matter the genre of music—can relate through some kind of darkness, an inner depression. It has always been the case that any artist in any part of their career can release an album with a lot of sad, depressing songs with very moving texts. Hip-hop and metal both started as underground music. Once again, I’m not talking about this bitches and money kind of hip-hop—I’m talking about the real underground with a message. That was the goal of hip-hop; it had to maintain a goddamned message.
It’s the same in black metal in that it is an idealistic music style, and it is supposed to be that way. I’m not going to go nuts about the hipster black metal or whatever. Music is music. But, I must agree that there is something in the black metal entity that goes beyond just music. Some people talk about this form of ‘absolute art’ which means going until you’re at the end of your ideas. For example, Nödtveidt from Dissection believed he had done everything that he needed to do, so he killed himself, and I fully respect that. That’s a part of this kind of belief in living this black metal spirit. I’m seeing this spirit go into a lot of different genres—even emo. In emo rock and emo hardcore, there are a lot of people who have this kind of [spirit]. Of course, no one puts this kind of name on it or considers what you should call it or why. It’s just how it is.
It’s something that I can see a lot of in this modern kind of hip-hop. You know Lil Peep, you know Post Malone, you know Ghostemane, Bones. They aren’t happy artists. They’re artists who really needed to tell something to the people. They always have something to say. If you just say it with strength and conviction, then it’s okay. If you want to scream the fact that you’re not happy with society or that you hate the vision of god, or you’re crying because you just lost the love of your life—it’s all the same. It’s an emotion, a belief. If you just do it well, then it works. It’s going to touch the people who need to be touched. For me, that is the most important thing. There is no difference—hip-hop, metal, black metal, pop music, whatever. If it’s done the right way, it’s done the right way.
DIAG: Absolutely. I just can’t help but wonder if you’ve caught any flak from the black metal purists who can be both visionary and short-sighted.
N: Oh, a lot. I don’t really care much. The thing is, I really consider myself a black metal purist, too, even though I’m pretty young. I wasn’t really in the scene yet when the whole underground started in the 90’s. But, I discovered the music at some point and I got really into it—not just the music itself, but everything that related to it. As for the people who say ‘you should only listen to hip-hop’ or ‘you should only listen to metal,’ I say you guys are just shortening your fucking mind and that is just stupid. You might not like a specific side of music. That’s okay because it’s a fucking democracy, right?
I’m on stage doing black metal with pig’s blood all over my fucking body, and then I’m doing hip-hop. It doesn’t change shit. If someone isn’t happy about that, and that motherfucker starts talking about me, then I’m happy. It just stops there. I don’t really care much about it. I used to, but now I just don’t because I don’t believe it’s worth it to put any strength in it on my part. People will always talk about anything that they dislike, especially when they’re just small people. It’s a bit annoying because it seems like I’m putting myself up on a pedestal when I speak, but that’s not the case. When I start to get a very small name in a very small niche, I know that people are going to hate me for whatever good or bad reasons. I have to tell myself to not spend my intelligence on them.
DIAG: When you consider people like Lil Peep, it’s amazing that people will still unleash hate in the wake of someone’s death. When I saw you posted on Instagram that you are a Peep supporter, I lost my shit. I was so fucking excited. How did your fanhood and tribute come about?
N: A lot of people say that he was a spoiled child; 21 and talking about drugs, money, bitches. But, the thing is, that is a goal that many people want to get to. Also, at the same time—and I’m careful in how I choose my words here—he was like the Kurt Cobain of this generation in that he was about to change fucking music. I’m quoting Post Malone, but he really was about to change music. He was mixing everything about emotional rock music with this clout-rap thingy. It was just about to get so fucking intense. The last EP he released was a fucking masterpiece. I’m a producer myself, so I was like, fuck, the mixing isn’t the best and I would have done something else with the vocals, and blah, blah, blah. But, [the production] brings something so real and so raw right into your face that it takes me back to the 90’s with black metal. It’s so fucking intense.
Then came the pills and drugs. I don’t know the guy and I will never judge him, but what I do see is that the music world is going to miss something. Everything that he did was touching. It’s emotional. There’s some text that he has that I’m not a big fan of, but how he’s doing it, how he’s actually fucking owning it—that’s the thing. It’s something that I like. It saddens me so fucking much. Still.
I decided to make a tribute yesterday because I felt like I really needed to make something. I was sad as hell, just like when Chester Bennington from Linkin Park died and I made a song. I don’t make songs for people to see, I make a song because I want to do it myself. The Lil Peep I song I did is like I’m stealing his style in a way, but it’s intended to be a tribute, not stealing. I’m not choosing any of his words and I’m not choosing any of his instrumentals. It’s like a cover, but it’s not a cover, and I’m happy about it. I finished it today. I needed to do it. I never knew the guy, and even though I wanted to, I’ll never be able to. A tribute is sufficient for me, and he deserves it.
DIAG: My cat and I were just listening to it and I think it’s absolutely amazing. I don’t know a better way of honoring his memory than to create something like that. It still doesn’t feel real that he’s gone, but all the love and inspiration that’s awoken since he’s left the building is very humbling. If there was any for him to know what was going on now I know he’d feel very honored by your work. Well, while we’re on the topic of new music, tell us about the new record you have coming out.
N: I’m almost finished with it. I was actually just listening to it to try to figure out the fucking track list. It’s going to be different from the first album, in a way. It’s going to include a lot of influences and screams in a couple of stand-out songs, but it’s still going to be the same idea. The first song is going to be instrumental because all of the beat-making is mine. There is just one song that I’m not sure if I’m going to put on there because it contains a sample of another band and there’s copyright and shit. I think I’ll just put it on YouTube for free.
I really had a lot of fun with this album. The first was one more of a primal release. It was the first try-out. I’m really happy with it, though. But on this one, there are songs that I’m really, really proud of. As funny as it is to say, I’ve got samples of my own songs and even other bands. The Lil Peep tribute is going to be on there. There is a wink to Nails with a song called ‘You Will Never Be One of Them.’ There is a sequel to a song on the first album called “Landscapes,” and it’s a darker version called ‘Fuck Your Landscapes.’ I have one song that’s fully in French that I have a guest rapper on. I will be keeping him off the record for right now.
One thing that I’m really proud of is that Nadddir is me doing music and actual rapping, but there’s someone else in the band, too. Ohrwurm is doing everything visually-related to Nadddir because we are really into having visuals for the band. Everything is going through him. Recently, he’s started doing some instrumentals, too. There are two instrumentals of his on the new album, and this also makes me very happy and proud. This is going so fast and so well.
Right now, I’m slowly starting to think about going live with Nadddir, but it’s going to be a bit difficult. But, I know for sure that I have someone interested in being the DJ, so that’s already something very cool. I just need a backer. If we have a full band, like a metal band, doing hip-hop, I think it would be nice in that it’s different from people just being alone on stage. So, I don’t know. I’m still thinking about, but I’ll be taking the time [to figure it out]. This is no easy music to do live when you have to do all of the fucking hip-hop behind it. But, I’m positive.
DIAG: You certainly have lots of excitement on the horizon. Well, as always, I leave you with an open mic. What message do you want to deliver to the world?
N: I just want people to know that they should stop hiding behind a PC. If they want to do shit then they should do shit. I’m a bit tired of ‘thoughts and prayers’ shit. It pisses me off because in the world that we’re living right now, it’s not cool. We need people to actually stand up and fucking do something and not fucking hide behind a screen or whatever. People should stop being ignorant and just read and go out and understand the world.
I lived in Bulgaria for almost five years now, and now I’m back in Belgium (I’m Belgium-born). I have seen a lot. Eastern Europe changes your way of seeing the world. There are such fantastic people there. They have so many problems with corruption in politics. The fact that they’re poor countries—Macedonia, Romania, and so on—doesn’t take away that they’re still there. They’re still standing. They know who they are and what they’re worth. This is something that I miss seeing in my side of Europe—Belgium, France, Germany, as well as the U.S.
We have become too mesmerized by technology and we don’t do shit anymore. People should start doing things. I don’t mind if you keep your phone with you, but just do something. I don’t understand why we’d want to be dependent on this kind of stuff or why this is okay. It’s a need that we created. Way back when, we had no fucking cell phones. If you wanted to reach someone, you had to wait until you were back home from your job. It was different, and I miss this.
Ignorance is the biggest problem. I don’t care about promoting my own stuff. If people are curious enough to discover what I do, and I do do many things, then it stops there. I am a musician and I am a music lover. What I do with my music is expose a drawer containing different ‘me’s inside. It enables me to better cope with the problems that I have, like social anxiety, constant depression, and a coma that I had years ago. People just need to get catharsis—drawing, theatre, sports, fitness, writing. I’m so tired of fucking complaining all the time when they could just do something.
I’m so fucking lucky that I get to do what I do. Of course, I’ve been working for more than 20 years producing my own shit and having the fucking open mind that I have—being able to produce anything from hip-hop, to techno, to metal. I am happy because of that. I spend a lot of time on it. But, I still feel very lucky that I can do what I do and not have to pay for studio shit. There are so many people who can’t do these things and it saddens me because they just don’t have the same catalyst to go and do something.
So, that is my message. Find a catharsis. Release the bad shit you have in you in order to find happiness.
You can find Jenna on instagram.