Jessica Delijani, aka Disco Shrine, blends sparkling melodies and somber lyrics so effortlessly. She's a renowned DJ, and a powerful voice for immigrants, especially during this difficult time in America. We talked about the moving story behind her song "Up In The Air" and the follow-up track "Everyday" which is out now.
How did you get started in music?
Ever since I was a little girl, I always used to ing all the time. I’d sing in the shower I’d write lyrics all the time. I’d write poetry, and I was always making music. When I was 16 my love of music got to the level where I really wanted to go for it. I picked up guitar and banjo. Those were my two first instruments. I guess at the time a lot of my friends were hippies. My sister and I did it together, and we wrote together. It was very folk-oriented. We were talking about the sun and the valley, and it was really cute. As time went by I started experimenting more with electronic music, using Logic and Ableton and that turned into what Disco Shrine is today.
Now, tell me about the backstory for "Up In The Air"?
“Up In The Air” is inspired by my parents moving to America after the Iran Revolution. Before the Trump election, there was so much news about immigrants, and I realized I never stopped to ask my parents what their full story was. I sat them down and gave them some heavy drinks and interrogated them and asked a million questions. My brother was even like, “Jessica stop bothering them we’re supposed to be having fun.” It was this insane story. My dad was a political journalist, and he was imprisoned. My family and my mom fled to Turkey. They had to forge a note that got my dad out of prison and got him to Turkey. Eventually, they befriended someone high up in the government in Austria. This guy really liked my dad and got my family green cards to get into America. I was just so moved. It took me so long to find out their story, and I felt so proud. It was the first time I felt really proud about being Persian.
What’s your opinion on immigration right now?
It’s really sad and really scary, I always think about what my life would be like if I wasn’t living in America. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue my dreams and be a musician if my parents didn’t have a chance to get here. My heart goes out to the families trying to build a better life for themselves.
What’s been one of your biggest challenges, musically?
The thing is I’ve grown so much, and the biggest thing has been realizing who I am and not being afraid to put who I am out there. Seeing the positive feedback from “Up In The Air” has been inspiring. I've learned people really like when you’re genuine. I’ve been indulging in that full force, and I’m able to hone in who I am and what I want my art to represent. I think the people that I collaborate with appreciate that I have a clear view and that I know who I am.
Since you have the production skills, does that help you as an artist?
Knowledge is power and if you're pursuing something you love you should know every aspect of it. That doesn’t mean you can perfect every element. It helps to know a little bit of everything because then you don’t have to rely on other people so much. It’s about you fighting for yourself and If you’re not fighting for yourself how can you expect other people too of that for you?
I think especially as a young woman it’s better to be like, ‘No, that’s not what I want I know what you’re talking about.’ I feel like a lot of men try to tell you what to do.
Every female musician I know has experienced that. I still experience that, even little things when the sound guy immediately talks to my bandmates when I’m like ‘Hi this is my band, if anyone can answer your questions it’s me.’ I feel like I’ve gotten better at that. You have to put people in their place.
And you’re also a DJ! How did you get started in that?
The way I started DJing was almost a fluke, my friend from French Horn Rebellion as throwing an album release party and I didn’t know how to DJ, but I said yes anyway. So I learned how to do it and after that people started reaching out to me. Now I travel throughout the US; I DJ these niche dance parties, one is called “Dance Yourself Clean.” Joel really liked me and asked to DJ his parties. We have one that’s all old 90s pop music like Spice Girls and Aaron Carter. Playing for sold-out venues is amazing. It’s surreal.
Tell me about your new song "Everyday" what's the story behind it?
It’s the follow-up to “Up In The Air” and it’s a follow-up because this song is about pursuing our dreams. It’s a collab between me and a rapper Omenihu from Texas! He’s just moved to LA, and he’s experiencing that feeling of being in a new place and being out here and grinding. It’s kind of somber lyrically, but it’s a fun song.
Finally, what’s your best piece of advice for a young girl who wants to get into music?
The best piece of advice would be…honestly, just know who you are and don’t let anyone discourage you because there’s going to be so many people that tell you what you should do and what you’re doing is wrong or that you shouldn’t even be doing it but at the end of the day if it’s what you love you need to block that out and keep pursuing what you love.