In Erica Dee’s latest music video “Smile”, the soulful Kootenay beauty wanders down gloomy Portland streets, balances on train tracks and meanders through shadowed alleys in the rain.
But the song itself is anything but dark.
“I wrote this song 4, 5 years ago and I would say it was inspired by thinking about dark things that have happened to myself, my friends, in the past. And I was trying to figure out a way to not let those things get you down,” said Dee, who shared her video with the Star in the days before its Spiritbar release on Saturday.
“I really like the contrast in this video because it doesn’t feel super fluffy like the song is. The video’s dark and edgy, and I love how we filmed it.”
She said the message of the track is simple: sometimes all it takes is a smile to turn things around.
“A simple smile can totally lighten someone’s day. It’s a total game-changer.”
Dee is well-known in the Nelson community as a positive, community-oriented artist, and that’s something she wanted to capture with this track, which will be officially released on YouTube on June 17.
“Truly, as cheesy as this must sound, it’s coming right from my heart. The reason I sing is to bring that heart-energy to the listener. Even in my dance songs I’m trying to get that feeling of love and consciousness and unity and inspiration. Even in a depressing song, I want them to feel like you can still come out on top. We can keep moving forward.”
Dee traveled to Portland two years ago to film “Smile” with Dani Bayliss of BeyondBe.TV. It was her 26th birthday and during the three-day shoot Dee performed at a local night club. One morning they stayed up to watch the sun rise. She said she can’t wait to share the result with a Nelson audience.
“I really wanted to give the Kootenays a chance to get a sneak peek. So at Spiritbar will be your first chance to see this video, which is the first of six we’re going to put out with a ten-song record called New Skies.”
New Skies will be released on October 3 by her Berlin-based label Long Lost Relative, at which point Dee will be traveling back to Europe. She hopes to ultimately do East and West coast tours of North America. Her producer is DJ Werd, an artist originally from San Fransisco who has been living in Berlin and stars on The Voice of Germany.
While Dee was living there this year she worked with him to put the finishing touches on the album.
“It’s been four years in the making, and I’ve gone through a few different producers that weren’t quite the right fit. I ended up manifesting this producer who helped me make this whole album cohesive.”
One song is produced by DJ Nu Mark of Jurassic 5, but the rest were overseen by Werd. Dee noted that Mark Spielman and John Tucker, her teachers from Selkirk College, both contributed to the final product.
“This is a homegrown record from Nelson, but with a magic sprinkle on top that happened in Berlin,” she said.
On top of performing and recording, Dee will also be offering youth workshops in July at the Nelson & District Youth Centre. She said she wants to give Nelson kids the same opportunities she had.
“I feed off working with people. Every time I’m on stage as a DJ or a singer I’m inviting people to come up with me. The first real powerful writing I did was when I was 16, and I think that’s a really important period of anyone’s life.”
Dee will offer two 5-day workshops at the Nelson & District Youth Centre from July 13-17 and 20-24. The classes will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the week costs $150.
“We also got sponsored by Shambhala, so low-income youth who can’t afford the full price can apply for a scholarship.”
Dee said anyone who is interested should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dee will perform at a number of festivals over the summer, including Bass Coast, Gravity and Atmosphere. She will also be performing locally while teaching singing and DJ lessons.
Dee’s Saturday Spiritbar appearance will feature DJ Ginger of Meow Mix and Ocean Sasa.
Tickets are $5 before midnight and $10 after. Doors are at 10 p.m.
For more information visit Spiritbar Events on Facebook.