Singer/songwriter and the band DIKAJEE has shown her voice on the stages across the globe with some well-famed names. Her voice, which often pays homage to a multitude of genres from different eras, has captured the attention of other similar-minded musicians such as Fiona Rüggeberg (FAUN), Guillaume Bernard (KLONE), and ARTIS ORUBS (ERIK TRUFFAZ) among others. Now the artist works as a collaborative effort with the aforementioned to showcase the weavings of folk, neo-baroque, neo-classical, progressive rock, and more with her new album Forget~Me~Nots (2021), which received a bunch of positive reviews from music magazines around Europe, UK and USA; Dikajee became #4 Vocalist Of The Year at Prog Readers Poll, and single "Lily Of The Valley" was released on "The Best Of Metal Hammer 2021" official CD. Dikajee can perform solo and with the band so live performance can vary from piano & vocals chamber performance to full folk prog rock orchestral sound. Right now the singer and the band are working on a new album, that’s going to be created and released on Patreon and completely supported by Patreon followers, who can witness the whole process of creation.
Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist?
Wow! Where should I start? Well, as I’ve been feeling inspired musically ever since I can remember myself. My grandfather worked at the shipyard and he ordered a very well-built swing when I was a very little girl. And we lived in a house near Ladoga lake, I spent my childhood surrounded by the beauty of northern nature. So I remember that sometimes I used to spend the whole days riding barefoot on the swings and singing and improvising, listening to the music and imagining performing life singing along. This is one of the best things ever - this sense of a flight, surrounded by nature and music. I think if I’d got paid for that I would do that my profession haha. Well, it seems like I’m doing something similar in my life anyway.
So, my soul was always very full of music and ideas.
I didn’t go to any music school though but practiced singing on my own every day. I was rather disciplined for self-taught I must say. I was always nerdy :) So I practiced different vocal techniques on my own, singing a cappella or along to the music I was listening to. It was mostly Nightwish, Bjork, Celtic folk, Within Temptation, Mylene Farmer and later it was also David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Tory Amos and more. So my vocal «role models» are actually all very different, and I guess this has something to do with my «singing with different voices» thing.
Well, of course I went to school and then to the university in Saint-Petersburg. In the University I studied Art History, so, even though it was all about art, it was not about music. But honestly, I can hardly remember that time. So then I started singing and writing music in my first band, doing some side projects sometimes; and then when the band split up after 6 years, I decided to get some classical music education cause I always had a passion for classical music and operatic singing. (Thank you Tarja) So due to becoming a classical trained singer (I don’t use my operatic voice in my songs though) I came to mostly write all the songs on piano.
So when people ask me if I am self-taught or «educated» I say, I’m both :) I still once in a while record and perform some songs that I wrote when I was, for example, 12 years old. And I think they are cool and have this beauty of simplicity. During my time in the earlier music projects I was surrounded by ‘older guys who knew better» and even though we had fun, I think I couldn’t freely express myself as a composer and as a singer. And it took me a while to have some boldness and just do what I want, giving all I have to give, feeling that I’m not «too much». I’m a very shy person so it took me a rather long time to finally be who I am both personally and artistically.
I feel that I am now closer as a musician to that girl riding the swing than I ever have been in my life.
How did you come up with your latest project?
So, in 2018 I’ve done a successful crowdfunding campaign and became a constantly traveling musician, recording my debut album and playing concerts around Europe with amazing musicians. I was very much inspired by the fact that musicians whom I have been a fan of considered to join the album. Guillaume Bernard (KLONE), Fiona (FAUN), Artis Orubs (Erik Truffaz) among others. I mean I was working on my debut album! I still am lost for words and still can’t quite believe it actually happened.
The album was ready before the Pandemic :) But the release got delayed and only happened in 2021. And got surprisingly noticed! The album received a lot of very flattering (in the most positive meaning) reviews in European, American, British and even Japanese press; Lily Of the Valley was released on the official ‘The Best Of 2021» CD by Metal Hammer and I was votes as #4 Female Vocalist Of the Year (Prog Readers Poll).
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. My dad is Russian with Swedish origins and my mom is what is called «native Petersburger»
One of my parent’s grandmother was a Russian noblewoman. Some duchess or countess, she was forced to marry my grand grand grandfather to change her name and social status during the revolution. Can you imagine that?! Crazy story! I was told that her name was forbidden to mention for the safety of the family. So we don’t know much about her. I think I should do a DNA test!
Where do you live now?
I can’t even remember when it started, but for years now I don’t really stay anywhere for longer than a month, and even if some of my things may be staying longer, I still have to move. I’m in Lithuania now, I was in Kazakhstan two weeks ago, I’m going to Budapest for two weeks, and then I’m going to Serbia for a month. Where do I live? I guess Planet Earth.
Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made?
Well, depending on what step of music making we are talking about. Moments of inspiration - absolutely. There are a lot of beautiful places with a very strong and inspiring energy. There are places with no good studios or good grand pianos (subjective). If you want to get the sound of recording in the forest - you go to the forest. And if you live in the Sahara, you’d probably have to travel to some place with the forest. There are places and countries where women still can’t get an education and perform on stage. And this way the answer is obvious. So, it’s a complex question that requires a complex answer.
What was the inspiration to make music your career?
Euphoria! Pleasure! There is nothing in the world that brings me more happiness than everything that’s connected to music. Composing, rehearsing, recording, performing live, making music videos, imagining performances and something almost forgotten but not for long now - touring!
How do you want to shape your career?
The best way possible. I really want to have freedom to record the music, using all I need - being able to pay the orchestra or go to some special studio, and of course, touring, touring, touring.
Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music?
Depends on a project, but usually I create a deadline for myself, otherwise it’s hard sometimes to stop polishing everything. I always work very hard. And still consider myself a very lazy person haha.
Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done?
The hardest thing is to consider that the music IS done. There is always a possibility to add or remove something, so that’s why I’ve mentioned a deadline. Just let go. It was good enough on your first demos already! Remember how excited you were listening to those? Let go. You can do 10000 live versions.
Do you feel an emotional attachment with your music?
Yes, and not just mine. I’m very sensitive to music.
How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet?
Freedom? Wilderness? Underwater glow? Relief? That's more than one word :)
Where do they go to listen NOW?
What has been the best fan reaction to your music?
Well, I was proposed ones after a concert haha.
Wow, it’s hard to remember :) I get so excited and at the same shy when people react and express their love, that I can hardly remember it later :) Sometimes I get long and very poetic letters where there’s such a deep analysis of the music and lyrics. I love that! I love it when people are also so sensitive and attentive to the music.
Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
I’m recording a new album with my band and a number of amazing guest musicians. This is going to be a Patreon - based album. We will release a song-a-month on my Patreon page, so anyone who follows me on Patreon is going to be a part of its creation, support it, like a long - term crowdfunding campaign, but this way you can also witness the whole process of the creation. It’s amazing and rather unique! Join me on Patreon, guys! https://www.patreon.com/Dikajee It’s a very friendly music-loving community.
Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE?
I was going to tour in Europe this spring but the tour is delayed until the autumn now. I may have a couple of solo performances in Europe during summer. I would love to play more charity concerts.
Give us all your socials and links so fans can link up with you! Thank you for this interview!