Deto Black’s Upcoming EP Is a Love Letter To Female Sensuality

Here she talks to Caroline Krager about latest single ‘Tesla’, female sexuality, her mum being her biggest role model and using her platform to raise awareness around social and political issues.

WORDS Caroline Krager
MUA David Gillers
HAIR Louis Souvestre

In a year like no other, DetoBlack has appeared on the music scene, looking like a fourth fabulous member of the Power Puff Girls. With lines like “Raw dinner, eat this pussy real slow though / Mmm you know that I  like that, beat it up / it fight back, now you can catch a flight back / Got no time for chit chat / Tryna get the big stack”, her feminist, sex-positive vibes immediately got people’s attention. With her collab track ’Franchise’  with Skepta, Lancey Foux, and Unknown T, a feature in Vogue calling her a creative polymath going global and an Instagram following that’s bubbling and growing, you better not sleep on the name Deto Black. 

Mid-lockdown number four (though by this point, who’s even counting?), we decide to Zoom. I talk to Deto, born Deto Tejuoso, about her mum being her biggest role model, her first EP that’s being released this summer – with her first single ‘Tesla’ coming out in May – female sexuality, and using your platform to raise awareness around political or social issues. 

Top MMRMS Studio
Shoes Natacha Marro

Dress MMRMS Studio
Shoes Ancuta Sarca
Jewellery Pebble London
Gloves Stylist’s own

How has this year affected you personally and creatively? 

I don’t even feel like I’ve properly dealt with this year yet. It’s almost like I’m trying not to think about it. In my mind, it’s a bit like, ‘it’s going to be over soon, so just stay busy and work on your music and visuals’,  you know? But I’ve definitely had more time to be on my own and reflect on my life, to get to know myself better. It’s forced me to slow things down and take it easy. 

You released ‘Body Count’ together with Odunsi (The Engine), Amarae, and Gigi Atlantis during the pandemic. How was the response to that? 

We got a fantastic response to the song. I mean, it would obviously have been interesting to see what it would have been like if we weren’t in quarantine at the time cause I’m sure we’d have more shows, maybe even go on a tour and stuff. But it’s still been good. Really good. 

You were born in the United States and spent your childhood in Lagos, Nigeria, before moving to London.  You now live between the two megacities. What’s the difference in terms of the creative scene here and  there? 

To be honest, I feel like they’re pretty similar. Lagos is a bit more relaxed, and everyone pretty much knows everyone. I would say I’m more involved in the creative scene in Lagos, and it’s a tiny community. Kind of like a little family, which is really nice. I’ve spent most of the pandemic in Lagos, which has been great. There’s been a curfew at midnight, but the weather is usually hot, and the bars have been open, so wherever you were at midnight, you just had to stay there until 4am.

My mother raised me to be a really independent, outspoken, and strong-minded woman.

Who’s your biggest role model? 

My mother. She raised me to be a really independent, outspoken, and strong-minded woman. I’m the firstborn with only younger brothers, and she never made me feel like, ‘Oh, since you’re a girl, you can only do this, or you can’t do that.’ So I was instilled with the mindset that ‘Of course a woman can do everything!’ Though, inevitably, as I got older, I realized that people outside my family had a more sexist mindset. 

You have a BA in Social anthropology, and a master’s in Global Governance. How do you think that influences the way you approach your music career? 

I would always ask myself what the meaning of life is, and through my studies, I realized that there are no answers, which somehow gave me peace of mind because it was rooted in science. I got to really dive into so many different cultures, and I think it made me pretty fearless. Now I feel like I can do pretty much anything because there are no rules. So it gave me a lot of confidence. 

Top Rosie Evans
Tights Tara Hakin
Skirt Hildur Yeoman
Jewellery Pebble London

You’ve been best friends with the fashion designer Mowalola since you were little. Did you always love  fashion, and what were some of your favoUrite brands growing up? 

I used to love Chanel and Louis Vuitton growing up cause they were my mum’s favourite brands. But now I love Mowalola, obviously, Bailey Prado, 1xblue, Louisa B, and my friends who run Vivendiii, who are super talented. 

How would you describe the difference in clothing style in Lagos versus London? 

Because of the internet, everything’s starting to blend into one. I see the influencers pretty much wearing the same brands and styling things in the same way. So now more than ever, the way people dress here and there looks very similar. Everyone’s exposed to the same things. 

I also wanted to ask you about the BLM movement, as it’ll soon be a year since it all kicked off. How did you feel about it? How did it affect you and your community more specifically? 

It was just kind of sad to see that that’s still where we are, but it is what it is. It was just really disappointing to see all those things happening. In Nigeria, we obviously have our own sort of movement, which is called End SARS. They have been targeting young Nigerians who dress in a very expressive way and just based on that, they’ve assumed that they were part of some sort of criminal activity, which is extremely ridiculous. But yeah, it’s just sad to see. I still can’t believe that this is happening. 

I love female rap and the fact that women are actually being respected as rappers now. It’s progressive and so beautiful to me. 

And how about the aftermath of it. Do you see permanent and positive changes being made?   

I have noticed some changes being made, but I hope it’s not just performative. I see brands trying to  include more black people and people of color in general, but it’s kind of a bit like, why did you have to be  called out before you did that, you know?! Why did it take all of that? The world is such a big place, there  are so many different people, and people look different. Everything we see should be an actual representation  of that, not just the same type of person over and over again. 

Your social media following is starting to grow quite a lot. You now have 32k followers. Do you think it’s vital that people who have a platform like that use it to raise awareness around political and social issues,  and how do you approach it on your own Social Media?

Definitely! But it needs to be done in a genuine way, where people talk about the things that actually matter to them. There’s no point in just jumping on every single thing like, ‘Oh My God, Yes, save this, save that.’ It can’t just be to please people or be politically correct. I’ve always been super passionate about my country, its political situation, living standards, and women’s rights. I try to shine a light on those issues whenever and wherever I can, especially regarding women’s rights. I just want us to work towards equality in Nigeria because I believe the women in my country are extremely intelligent and deserve to have a say in things. 

During the last decade, we’ve seen a handful of female rappers really make it big globally, paving the  wave for a new generation of women to enter the hip hop scene. What are your thoughts on that? 

I love female rap and the fact that women are actually being respected as rappers now. It’s progressive and so beautiful to me. 

Bodysuit Elissa Poppy
Shoes Natacha Marro
Bra TLabel
Trousers Clio Peppiatt
Necklace Pebble London
Jacket Tara Hakin

What do you think are some prejudices about female rappers we still need to overcome? 

There’s a lot of sexism. It’s getting a bit better, but it’s still a fact that if you’re a woman who raps about your sexuality or sensuality, some people will think that makes you a certain way. I wish that people could understand that whatever you choose to speak about in your music is up to you. I don’t think anyone should be judged on how they express themselves. I hope people will get more accepting and understand that it’s art. 

You’re releasing your very first EP this summer, and the first song is coming out soon. Congrats! What  can you tell us about it? 

So my first single is called ‘Tesla’. It’s a very sexy song where I try to make the girls feel like their sexuality and sensuality are superpowers. I want them to own that part of themselves cause I feel like a lot of people are shying away from that, and it’s such an important thing! You should take complete ownership of it so that other people don’t take ownership of it for you. It’s being released in May with a music video as well. 

I try to make girls feel like their sexuality and sensuality are superpowers.

And what’s the theme or vibe of the rest of the EP? 

It’s all very connected to who I am. There’s another song on it called ‘Geeked and gorgeous’. My friends said like ‘Wow, this is literally your personality in a song!’ Since it’s my first project, I just experimented with all the stuff I like and just put it all together. It’s very girly, but also tough and sexy. It’s an introduction to me as an artist. I’m very excited! 

You’re a proponent of women being proud and vocal about their sexuality. How do you think we can begin  to fully embrace that side of ourselves? 

Start by accepting yourself, however, you are. Whether you’re someone who likes to dress sexy or prefer being conservative, whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Don’t manipulate yourself to become someone else, just to fit into what society or culture tells you to be. Cause at the end of the day, if people are not happy with themselves, they can’t really be good people. Once you’ve accepted yourself for who you are and think, ‘I’m not a perfect person, but I’m trying my best. I’m complex -sometimes I succeed, other times I fail,’ it gets easier. I want to encourage people to be kinder to themselves so that they can be kinder to others. 

And where do you see yourself in 10 years, Deto? 

I see myself in a house in LA! Haha. I wanna have several businesses. A clothing line, makeup company, hair… an empire! And definitely be involved in causes related to women and gender equality all over the world, not just in Nigeria.

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