Decked out in all white and wearing a purple flower crown on her ball cap, DVWEZ stood confidently on the stage at Gramps in Wynwood. “Hey, everyone, I’m DVWEZ, and this is Reid, and we’re so happy to be here in Miami,” she said into the mike. Equipped with her guitar and keyboard, and with her drummer by her side, she kicked off her set with a "Passionfruit" cover by Drake that made this writer spit out her expensive-ass drink. DVWEZ's alternative twist on classic R&B is a sound we had no idea we needed — and wanted.
Although R&B is the easiest way to classify the Orlando-born singer’s music — which she'll perform at Soho Studios this Sunday during a free weekend-long musical showcase in Wynwood to introduce the new Volkswagen Jetta — it's really somewhere between sweet vocals and a dark romance. “I think my sound being different is my biggest asset,” says DVWEZ (pronounced "Dames"). “It definitely straddles the lines of alternative R&B, feels familiar enough to be relatable, but different enough to set me apart.” The fact that she can act as a one-man band says a lot about what goes into her production. “The vocal delivery and soundscapes [thanks to her producer Kaixen] is really what sets me apart. Given the right platforms, I think it'll actually help me cut through the clutter of the industry.”
The music industry is a shit show. What’s popular on social media often reflects what’s getting radio play, making it difficult for unknown artists to break through. The perception of “making it big” sometimes makes you feel as if that particular sound is the only way to go. “Every day, music on the radio gets more and more indie. I have faith that music on the radio is going to slowly start to reflect the underground viral hits that everyone is playing on repeat,” DVWEZ says. “You cannot deny a hit, mainstream or underground.”
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Luckily, hits come in all sizes and shapes. The industry believes that plays and likes equal dollar signs and popularity, but DVWEZ proves them wrong. With only a cool 7,000 followers on Instagram, DVWEZ still made her way to Austin’s South by Southwest music festival and showed them what indie could do. “I've always wanted to attend, and to be able to experience it as a performer was unreal. I felt very inspired by the other acts — so much talent in one place, and it's hard for it not to affect you positively,” she says.
That positivity is now reflected in her music. “I'm just starting to get into this judgment-free creative zone. I used to approach songs like, I can't do this because it doesn't sound like that. But as soon as I let those creative restrictions go, I've felt much more liberated,” she says. “I stopped taking things so seriously because I'm constantly growing, and the music is going to reflect that.”
Though DVWEZ refuses to divulge too many details about what she’s working on, her unique sound will always translate. “I have a new single coming out soon. It really reflects where I am right now — going through an intense breakup and relocating to New York. Shit has been real. It's a hopeful, loving track that I think we can all relate to.”
Jetta Haus. Friday, May 11, through Sunday, May 13, at Soho Studios. 2136 NW First Ave., Miami; 305-600-4785; jettahaus.com/miami. Admission is free. DVWEZ is scheduled to play at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 13.