Texas-based producer/singer/songwriter Upper Reality made a splash on our radar a while back with her unorthodox take on the RnB/soul genre. The multi-talented act who produces ALL of her music was also on deck to answer some burning questions we had for her. So sit back and watch how it all unfolds below.
DEHH: What is the concept behind your moniker?
TBH it was a more sophisticated Instagram name than “Skilledluvr” — I needed something less hoe-ish going into college. I was messing around with fonts on GIMP with this random picture I took on the beach, and I found an upper-case font and thought “upper” — found a swirly font and thought “reality” — I guess it was the spirit talking to me.
DEHH: How did you venture into producing and what was the first beat/song you made?
I used garage band in middle school— I had aspirations to be a classical/Latin composer, so the first beat I made was this slightly Arabic/latin vibe. You can still hear it on SoundCloud “The last goodbye”
DEHH: Which emotion more than any other, currently dominates your music? Joy, sadness, anger or passion etc. , and why?
Passion. Because I’m passionate about the space in life I am now and thankful for not having to sit at a desk cranking out what I supposedly learned from my economics degree
DEHH: What were you thinking about when your songs are developed? Explain your process.
Usually, I’m just in the moment when the song comes. taking in everything around me and speaking the language of the universe. Usually the less I think about it, the better the song is.
DEHH: What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in the music industry?
The idea that you have to sell yourself. I used to think that if you did something dope, the people would just come because it was dope. Now I realize that you have to not only sound good but sound good while sounding like other people that “sound good,” and then — look good. And push that look to as many people as possible as much as you’d push encyclopedias or makeup. It was a tough realization, but I don’t mind it necessarily — backing away from a challenge has never been my thing.
DEHH: What role does the artist have in society from your perspective?
I think depending on what you want to do, the artist has 3 roles — for popularity, speak to what society wants to hear. For a legendary status, do a couple popular songs then speak to what society needs to hear. For yourself, just speak your soul and fight for your role in society as an artist (yes, I do believe part of being an artist is fighting to be an artist)
DEHH: What has been a seminal experience for you?
Heh, seminal… have you heard my tantra song “slowly”? lol, pun intended…anyway, I went to a Lauryn Hill concert once and had this feeling like “hey, my music is just as good as hers..if not better. Why can’t I be her? just the on-time version.”
DEHH: Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?
A couple. The one that gets me right now is “Deeper,” by Freddie Gibbs/Madlib. That beat is a soul beat. Anything you put on it that comes from your soul is going to sound amazing on it, and you will transcend this realm just by engaging it in that way. Freddie Gibbs on top, he just has this way of bringing you into his shoes. But at the same time inviting you to relate his experiences to yours. It’s powerful. Sometimes I cry.
DEHH: What is the importance of the connections you make? How can you utilize them?
Everything is connected. The main thing I do is recognize the connections I happen to see, and just let them fall into songs—not emphasize them too much, because then they can get a bit cliche/tacky—but just to recognize them and give them a nod every chord, every embellishment of the voice.
DEHH: Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I always tell people “just think of Sade with lo-fi synths.” So Sade is at the top. I’m also cool with being compared to Erykah Badu, I don’t think I sound a thing like her but I think it’s people’s way of saying I’m different and they like it. So I’m cool with that. I like comparisons to Tracey Chapman and Joan Armatrading the best because I think I do tap into their sound the most without even trying. We’re of the same lineage if you will. And also Me’Shell Ndegeocello. I guess that was four….
DEHH: What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
Ooh, tough……..Probably how I got into it with a teacher like in the 3rd grade about how she was teaching us art. I just straight up confronted her and said “hey, you say to do things and then you do them a certain way, I do it that way and you say it’s wrong, or messy. What’s that about!?” And she just smiled. I think I earned her respect that day. I realized the importance of speaking my mind, even if it’s different.
DEHH: Favourite or most inspirational place?
Cairo Hookah Lounge, in Richardson, Texas. The only truly multicultural place around. Run through there one of these days.
DEHH: Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?
Shows. Also collabs with some of the bigger people. Its hard to get their attention (as I mentioned, you have to sell how good you are, you can’t just be good) — but the more I do my own thing as hard as I can, I know it’ll come. I have dreams of winning grammies, and also Oscars for soundtracks, like Shaft or Black Panther, something like that.
DEHH: What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
Do it if you want to, for yourself. Not for the accolades, cause they will never be enough. But if you love it, go for it. Do what does right, even if at that moment it doesn’t make sense. If you can see it in your mind, then you can hold it in your hand.
DEHH: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A homeless lady once told me “You take yourself everywhere you go.” That stuck with me.
DEHH: In closing, tell us something about any projects and ideas you have in store or are already working on?
I have a few tracks in store for the winter season. I’m a teacher at Guitar center, so my acoustic guitar has been improving a lot lately. I’ll be incorporating more of that. I also have a music video for “My Language” off my EP coming out soon. Stay tuned.