In the heart of the expansive world of progressive rock, where musical boundaries are constantly pushed, we find Dede Booth, a seasoned drummer turned multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with a musical journey spanning over 30 years. We had the pleasure of delving into Dede’s artistic universe, exploring her influences, creative process, and the profound stories embedded in her music.
Introduction: A Fusion of Genres and Eras
Dede’s journey into the intricate realm of progressive rock took an intriguing path. “I’ve been playing drums for over 30 years, and what’s interesting is that I started out as a funk and jazz drummer,” Dede shared. Her entry into the world of progressive metal occurred through the gateway of Dream Theater‘s “Images & Words” and “Awake” albums, setting the stage for a transformative exploration of the genre. This journey led her to traverse the landscapes of various prog bands, ultimately immersing herself in the classic sounds of the ’70s and ’80s.
From drumming in prog rock/jazz fusion bands and touring with a post-hardcore/modern progressive rock band to fronting a progressive goth rock band called Sententia, Dede’s evolution as an artist is a testament to her versatility and commitment to musical exploration. Her musical hiatus in the realms of post-rock and experimental theater compositions further expanded her creative palette before returning to the prog rock scene in 2017.
Featured Track: “Act III: Divided Lines” – A Journey through Desolation
Dede’s contribution to the new compilation, “Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity,” includes the standout track “Act III: Divided Lines.” Explaining the inspiration behind this piece, Dede shared, “It’s tough to release a ‘single’ for a concept album, but the third act, ‘Divided Lines,’ is a song I feel like can stand on its own too.” The track is a pivotal moment in her latest album, “Parallels,” a conceptual exploration of existential philosophy, psychology, and outer space.
“‘Divided Lines‘ is a song about choosing life or death and the angst that comes with human self-awareness,” Dede elaborated. The protagonist, in the midst of depression and existential crisis, grapples with a dystopian perception of their world, questioning the very fabric of reality. Despite the heavy lyrical content, Dede approached the composition with high energy, creating a unique blend of intensity and catchiness.
Creative Process: Crafting Sonic Narratives
Dede Booth’s creative process is a meticulous journey that begins with an acoustic guitar. “I approach all my songwriting on an acoustic guitar first,” she revealed. The initial phase involves crafting chord progressions and song structures in a singer-songwriter fashion, intertwining lyrics and vocal melodies with rhythm guitar parts. The transition to the studio sees the transformation of acoustic sketches into fully arranged compositions, incorporating electric guitars and synths.
For “Parallels,” Dede embraced a new approach, drafting a storyboard before even picking up a guitar. “This was the first time I attempted to allow movements to flow into one another rather than have each song be a separate track,” she explained. The decision to create lengthy songs challenged her comfort zone, emphasizing her commitment to pushing artistic boundaries.
Influences: A Mosaic of Inspirations
Dede’s musical influences weave a rich tapestry, encompassing prog legends like King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and Dream Theater, alongside contemporary voices like Porcupine Tree and Riverside. While her sound is a fusion of prog, post-rock, post-punk, art rock, and ambient electronic, Dede acknowledges the profound impact of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson on her music. “I think I take the most inspiration from Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson in general,” she expressed.
Challenges: Navigating the Modern Music Landscape
In discussing the challenges faced as an artist in the contemporary music scene, Dede highlighted the dual nature of self-releasing music. While the convenience of digital platforms allows easy dissemination, it also contributes to oversaturation. “It sort of feels like you’re at the whim of an algorithm,” she mused. The shift in the industry towards streaming poses a challenge, especially for independent artists striving to break through the noise.
Overcoming geographical barriers is another hurdle, as Dede, a Boston-based musician, aims to gain recognition in the European prog scene. Platforms like Prog Sphere and compilations serve as vital avenues to bridge the distance and connect with a global audience.
Evolution of Progressive Music: Navigating Diverse Sounds
Dede offered insights into the evolving landscape of progressive rock and metal. She sees a convergence of traditional and modern sounds, with artists embracing influences from atmospheric and post-rock genres. The nature of prog, polarizing yet captivating, allows for exploration across diverse sonic territories. “I think it’s possible to make music that honors all those styles in a way that hopefully sounds a bit different from what someone else is doing,” Dede reflected.
Memorable Moments: Artistic Milestones and Collaborations
Reflecting on her journey, Dede shared memorable moments, including playing renowned venues in Boston and receiving reviews in magazines like Prog. However, a recent highlight involved a unique CD release for “Parallels,” combining art and music through a curated exhibit. The event allowed attendees to step inside the album, experiencing a fusion of visual and auditory elements. Dede emphasized the significance of collaborations, appreciating the diverse perspectives that shape her solo work.
Personal Favorites: Navigating Vulnerability
Discussing personal favorites among her compositions, Dede highlighted the title track from the EP “The Illusion Machine” for its experimentation with electronic sounds. However, from her current release, “Divided Lines,” holds a special place due to its deeply personal lyrics, showcasing vulnerability.
Future Plans: Exploring Histories and Patterns
Looking ahead, Dede shared glimpses of upcoming projects. Her next album, while still progressive, will lean towards a more song-oriented approach, exploring themes of histories and patterns repeating themselves. Beyond music, she is applying for an artist residency in Boston, aiming to create field recordings from cemeteries and compose music inspired by untold stories.
Compilation Experience: A Collaborative Showcase
Being part of the Prog Sphere compilation holds special significance for Dede. She expressed her enthusiasm for the platform’s role in promoting the prog scene, emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts like compilations in fostering community and visibility.
Message to Fans: Embracing Open-Mindedness
To fans discovering her music through “Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity“, Dede conveyed a message. “I’ve been told that my music is a good listen for ‘open-minded prog fans,’ and I take that as a compliment,” she expressed. Encouraging listeners to connect with the emotional depth of her music, Dede highlighted her focus on addressing themes of mental health, aiming to break stigmas and foster reflection.
Dream Collaboration and Musical Aspirations
In the quickfire round, Dede revealed her dream collaboration with David Byrne, praising Byrne’s innovative approach to life as art. If she could master any instrument besides her primary one, Dede expressed a desire for proficiency in the piano. When asked about her all-time favorite prog album, she couldn’t choose just one, highlighting King Crimson‘s “Discipline” and Dream Theater‘s “Scenes from a Memory.”
Closing Thoughts: A Gratitude for Connection
In closing, Dede expressed gratitude for the conversation and the platform provided by Prog Sphere. Her final reflections emphasized the joy of delving into prog, being part of the vibrant scene, and the anticipation for more music in the near future.
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Dede Booth’s musical journey continues to unfold, promising new sonic landscapes and thought-provoking narratives. As we eagerly await her upcoming projects, it’s evident that Dede’s artistry will continue to contribute to the ever-evolving tapestry of progressive rock and metal.