Born in Ukraine, Delena (formally Boba K) releases her new single, “Animal”, the perfect, empowering pop anthem for the times in which we live. Replete with energetic hooks and spiky melodies, it’s modern pop song with a sting in its tale.
“Animal” opens with a suitably feral, scuzzy guitar riff as Delena’s hushed almost conversational vocals stealthily prowl in the mix, biding their time for an opportunity to strike. Filled with unmistakable determination, her voice gradually grows in confidence, turning from a low growl to a resounding wild, roar as she launches into a powerful, alt-pop chorus. Delena’s commanding vocals are the key to the song, building from a gentle breeze to a full-on hurricane in barely a blink of an eye.
“Animal” is an edgy, alternative pop song that should, by rights, be dominating mainstream radio. There’s a barely tamed beauty to it that suggests Delena will be ranging around the higher reaches of the charts soon enough. Below, Delena gives PopMatters an exclusive insight into the song and tells us a little bit about her musical journey to date.
What was the first album you fell head over heels in love with?
I think it probably was Britney Spears album Hit Me Baby. I was about six when it came out, and it was huge in Ukraine. Of course, we loved the dancing and tried to copy her but I now really love the production and the songs written by Max Martin. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Sweden and write with some of their great songwriters when I got that opportunity. Id love to work with Max Martin one day. They do make great pop records in Sweden. My first two singles were quite pop, but now I’ve gone a bit darker.
When did you start making music for yourself?
Well, I first started singing and playing the piano when I was quite young. My dad is a doctor in Ukraine but he is also a brilliant pianist, and he used to play, and I sang very much in the Ukraine way. We sang traditional Ukrainian ballads and some jazz stuff. Then when I was at school, I decided that I wanted to take it seriously and decided to come to London to go to music college where I really started to learn about songwriting and also took singing lessons. Since then I have started collaborating with other songwriters. I got the chance to go to Sweden and work with some young songwriters which produced the first two singles and then more recently I have been collaborating with some great people here who I wrote “Animal” with.
Who did you want to be like when you were starting out?
I quite like much older artists like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Everyone laughs at me for this as they are considered so camp and quite old school, but I really love their over the top ballads. So I did try to sing these kinds of ballads, but it’s not easy to be that kind of artist these days unless you are Adele of course. She would also be a big inspiration for me. Then there is Madonna who I absolutely love. She was the first artist I saw live in concert, and I will never forget that. It was a big moment for me to see someone doing all of that on stage and I thought I want to do that!
What is the idea behind “Animal”?
Well, I think it has many meanings but it’s about struggles in life. We always have big deep struggles in our lives in Ukraine you know, life is complicated on so many levels politically and personally. My parents have been through so much in their lives and my grandparents even more and we have a very dark side to us. Things are either very good or very bad in our culture. It’s just how it is. So it’s about struggles with friendship, family struggles, love and being unfairly treated or judged. At the end of the day, we are all animals.
What do you want the listener to take away from the message of the song?
I want my listeners to take away from this song that it is very important to believe in yourself! You are not alone in your struggles and you can fight it just have a little faith. That it is important to stand for your beliefs. This can apply to so many different things in life and it can be personal or about the world.
Are you an instinctual, spontaneous writer or do you prefer to meticulously plan out how parts are going to sound?
I would say it depends where I am writing. When I go to the studio, I plan out the style and the mood in advance. But when I am writing at home and alone it happens spontaneously usually at 3:00 am.
Who is your go to quality controller? Who do you look to for honest feedback?
I would say my family. Also my sister is very honest with me, and she sees a lot of details and always make sure that I know it was there in case I missed it. Then there’s my manager who always tells me what she thinks whether I like it or not.
When do we get to hear more?
There’s an EP coming in the new year with four more tracks on it. I even got to put a ballad on there Then I’ll do another singe that Im about to cut with my UK producers and an album for next year. So, yes lots more to come from me; you better watch out.
Finally, who would your dream collaborator be and why?
I don’t think I can choose only one. I have so many artists I would want to collaborate with that in my head it would be unfair to all the others not to name them. Ha Ha.