This very soulful and stylish Dallas-born crooner is quickly making waves as a remarkable entertainer here in NYC, and is about to break through in a big way with a gig at one of the city’s most legend-making venues. Five stars for Dezman Lehman, aka Dezi 5!
Thotyssey: Dezi, hello! How is 2018 treating you so far?
Dezi 5: 2018 is busy as hell! Got so much going on: trying to book shows, releasing remixes, and the process of my album.
An exciting time! What is the recording process like?
Recording an album is very strategic, from the creative process all the way to promotion. The most important process is the creation and ideas. I’m a very nostalgic artist, so this album is totally inspired by the music of 1987 and the early 90s. I’m so inspired, I’m doing a lot more raw music versus my traditional dance joints. NYC inspired it all.
What artists from that era speak to you the most?
Madonna, George Michael, Janet Jackson, the sounds of New Jack Swing. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. Whitney Houston.
So, you’re a Dallas native. How was growing up there for you?
Growing up in Dallas was great! I was raised pretty middle class. I was ghetto rich. So we were in the Hood, but we had a little change. I was raised by my grandma, and she was a business owner.
I studied music education at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL. When you study music, you take all disciplines of music – and I began taking private piano and vocal classes from my professor.
And when did singing become a big deal for you?
After college. I put together a band to do a tribute to Chaka Khan, and I’ve been addicted ever since.
You must have acquired quite a following in Dallas, with that voice. Were your audiences always queer, or more universal?
Always universal, the queer scene in Dallas is LAME as FUCK. Lol. I’m so glad the New York LGBT is receiving me well.
[photo: Christopher Sonny Martinez ]
What motivated you to come here?
I’ve always wanted to live in NYC. However, I had a few shows here before I relocated, and I just loved the energy. I moved here January 31st, 2017 – almost a year ago, and it was the best decision for my career and personal life as a homosexual male who needed to belong. I didn’t feel like I belonged in Texas
I always rebel against Texas rules – that’s why they love me so much. I provoked them with crucifixions, DIY crazy warehouse parties. I was a rebel, and I needed to come to NYC with the rest of the rebels. My act wasn’t safe enough for Texas.
To explain your stage name: Dezi is short for your actual name, Dezman. But “5” is a reference to the Five Percenters, a religious philosophical society you subscribe to.
5 Percenters is a way of life, not a religion. It’s all about numbers and symbols, which is what I’m all about. There’s so much power in the number 5. It’s such a prime number. There are 5 human senses, 5 elements of nature.
Five makes seven look basic!
7 is so basic! Although, 7 means God. It’s a great number, but 5 is the ONE.
We all gotta be careful with these numbers!
So I’ve seen you perform twice now, and was blown away both times. Once, for that benefit for Puerto Rico that Monica Blewinsky put together at the mansion near Washington Square Park, and later for Rockbar’s Halloween show with Florence D’Lee. That second show, you sang about half of Lemonade, it was amazing!
So much pop music now, though, is just so empty and plastic. Fun, but empty. There’s still great stuff and great artists, but you have to search a little. Is that discouraging to you at all as an artist, or do you disagree that that’s the case?
I believe that in the words of Tony Bennett, you give to make intelligent music. That rings in my head every time I pick up the pen and paper. Everybody thinks they are an artist now. We live in a social media world, and no one will ever be as big as Madonna or Michael. Nothing is exclusive anymore.
However, I’m a huge fan of this new era of the music business. It makes us work harder as individuals. I used to get discouraged, but when you are doing what you love nothing else matters. There is great music out there. You are right, you have to search, meet people. Music is making a turn back to word of mouth, now. People follow people who have followers.
Is that how you got your name out around here: word of mouth, playing everywhere you can, etc.? Did you already have any allies in this city’s queer nightlife before you got here?
Honey, I got through to the scene after opening up for Sharon Needles in Denton, Texas. I told her I was new to Brooklyn and I needed the hookup. She told me to meet Merrie Cherry and Hamm Sammich. I took her advice.
I was also singing karaoke at Metro on Tuesdays and [host] Katie told me to meet Will Sheridan. [I enjoyed] performing Hot Fruit at Metro with Will. I love how everyone loves it when I lead a conga line and make everybody dance.
I met a lot queer acts at Rockbar’s Queer Music Festival, where I met Corey TuT and Felix and the Future. Honey, I was like a model going on go-sees. Now I consider myself a newcomer with the girls like Ruby Fox and Zenobia. Be on the lookout for us!
Man, I’m so excited for this show. Most of all my band is flying in from Dallas, as well as my New York bandmates. This show means a lot to me, and it totally upgraded my performance resume. I mean, Curtis Mayfield recorded his famous live album at The Bitter End. I’m so honored.
You’ll be part of an amazing legacy! Do you have your set planned out yet?
Yes I do. I’m gonna play some new joints, and then some high energy dance sets from my first EP.
It will be the stuff of legend! Okay anything else coming up?
All very exciting! Okay, last question: what’s the best song to play when it’s time to Get It On?
“Inside My Love” by Minnie Riperton.
Good to know! Thanks, Dezi!
See Also: Dezi 5 (6.18.2018)