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The Della Kit Takes The High Road With “Keep Your Head High”

Dive into this soothing neo-soul track informed by heartbreak, perseverance, and self-discovery.

by Grace Gearon

Photo by Brandon William Fletcher

Vancouver-based neo-soul singer the della kit serves up an affirmation-fueled anthem of self-discovery and perseverance, channelling positive energy and good-vibes-only on her latest single, “keep your head high.” 

Within this sonic journey of soul-searchingdriven by heartbreak after being ghosted in the digital-age della delivers us a reminder that we can find beauty, even in life’s most trying times, inspiring us to keep our heads held high. 

Produced by Junia T, the della kit’s jazz roots are prominently woven into the fabric of the track.  With a significant amount of her music crafted during her morning rituals, we hear an ethereal, bright and airy piano bassline gently narrating her story. It’s intertwined with a melodious cadence of syncopated drum beats, adding a liberated, unrestrained, and unscripted quality to the song. Her layered velvety-smooth vocals provide the listener with a soothing ASMR-like experience, prompting us to repeat our personal mantras together as she sings “Imma keep riding tough, I’ll move through these emotions.” 

Echoing the della kit’s exploration of self-empowerment, hip-hop artist Kapok reinforces this poetic message in his verse: “You don’t have to hide when they pass by, tell me you gon’ keep your head high,” he raps, granting us with the wisdom that we can forge ahead and persevere without being bound to our past.

We caught up with the della kit to chat about her new single, the story behind it, and how her day-to-day routine inspires her musical process.

Congrats on your new single! You’re a vocalist, DJ, producer and writeryou must be busy. What does an average day look like for you living in Vancouver? 

Usually, I start my morning off with a coffee and a smoothie followed by my morning meditation. Afterwards, I read, write, play the keys and improvise before I get out for a hike or a yoga class, all before turning on my phone! In the evenings, I often teach private or group singing lessons or cook food for a homie, then check out a live show or community event.

How did you first discover your passion for music, and what led you to pursue it as a career?

My parents are both jazz musicians and they actually met at Berklee College of Music. But ever since I can remember, I used to perform for my family and have always loved to sing. I was born in Boston, but was raised in the beautiful utopian town of Nelson, BC. But when I moved back to Boston at 16, I feel I was most inspired to write songs and rap verses. While living here with my Mom and younger sister, we stayed in a subsidised, suburban apartment complexI experienced a massive culture shock. I was exposed to a lot of struggle and hardships I hadn’t experienced before, which led me to want to share my light and make the world a better place through my music.

Photo: Jevon Grant

Who are your biggest musical inspirations? 

Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, india.arie and De La Soul.

On your new single “keep your head high,” you collaborated with Junia-T and Kapok. How did this collaboration come about and what was the recording process like?

Junia-T is a legit beat wizard and an amazing human and spirit to work with. He created the beat to both my topline melody and lyrics, and then I had a session with him in Toronto. Kapok is a prolific writer, and a big inspiration of mine. He added his verse and the amazing second hook at the end: “I keep my head up high ya.” I loved his interpretation of the story I shared, so I wanted to stack some vocals and harmonies over his parts too. ‘’keep your head high” is a modern collaboration between three like-minded souls.

“keep your head high” is an emotionally charged anthem of self-discovery and perseverance. Why did you feel this message was important, and what inspired you to write on this theme?

I have had to do so much unlearning to arrive at this place, but I always find that I grow the most out of the most painful situations. Originally, this song was about queer love, and being ghosted without any closure. At the time, I was sick for weeks with heartbreak. I let my guard down and fell deeply for them, and I needed something to help me release my mind, body and spirit from these feelings. As the song evolved, I realised it had more meaning than just a breakupit could be about anyone who hurt us. That’s why I wanted to sing something that reminds us all that no matter what, we would be okay. And I wanted to create something that others could resonate with and sing along to too. Kapok’s verse adds some serious depth to the subject, and I love his line “You don’t have to hide when they pass by, tell me you gon’ keep your head high.” It’s like he is saying we must wear our scars with pride. With all of the heartbreak and grief we experience, it makes us grow to become these strong, resilient beings that we are today.

Your style is described as neo-soul and jazz-inspired, which often involves improvisation and a strong sense of storytelling through music. How do you approach this in your writing, and what story do you want to tell through your music?

I generally practise keys and find chords that I find interesting, then loop them, build drums, sing a bassline, then start building some vocal ideas. I usually improvise on keys or with my voice until I find some melodies I like. Sometimes, the story comes with the melodies, or if not, I will freely write and catch a vibe for what needs to be expressed. For me, music has always been a way of healing, or a therapy. The stories I write tend to be part of my healing process, or words that I sing as affirmations for whatever challenge I am dealing with. It’s a way of guiding myself and others towards a resolution, acceptance or a better understanding. I also love to collaborate, so I’ll often pull in other songwriters, musicians and producers to see the vision through with me. It’s a beautiful thing having folks who I trust and love in the studio, who also believe in me and my music, and who are down to create the dream with me!  

What have you been listening to lately? 

Honestly, I listen to so many different types of music. I have been listening to the new Super Duty Tough Work record, an artist named Matthew Halsall, Mereba, Phony Ppl, Reservoir and IAMDDB to name a few. 

Vancouver is a great city to explore nature, music and food. Since you’re a local, what would you describe as a perfect day out in Vancouver? 

If it was summer I would head out to Cypress Falls for a hike, then to my favourite secret beach in Lions Bay. I would finish my day with a meal at Lunch Lady on Commercial Drive and head to the Bside radio at Beaumont Studios to listen to some friends DJ.

In an alternate universe where you didn’t pursue a career in music, what would you be doing?

I think I would be a restaurant or live music venue owner. I really love feeding people. I know it’s in my blood as my Italian Nana used to cook for a living, and that side of my family is obsessed with cooking and eating. Another thing I would do is take photos. I love capturing everything from nature to live music. I studied manual & dark room photography in Boston and found that I was actually pretty good at it. Or perhaps, I would be a politician and try to clean up some of the mess we are in.

What’s next for the della kit? Anything else you want us to know?

I am heading out to LA and NYC in November for a couple shows and to work on some new music. I will be releasing an instrumental record and a “Live in NYC” recording in the beginning of next year. Lastly, I am committing my next six months to composing, producing and writing my next EP. I am really excited to get these new projects out to you in 2024.