Many musicians, artists, and other creative souls have come to call Berlin home, since the city is full of talent and opportunities. Originally born in Bulgaria, Dena is now proud to call Berlin home, having belonged to the generation of children that were sent to the West in hopes of finding a better future. Dena had always enjoyed singing in Bulgaria, but it wasn’t until she came to Berlin that she started writing and producing her own music, and finding a haven in the comfort of her home studios to develop her sound.
Read our interview with Dena to learn about what brought her to Berlin from Bulgaria, on how she approaches musical collaborations, and the five words she would use to describe her music.
Could you just tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to Berlin?
I was born and grew up in Bulgaria, and after high school I moved to Berlin, which was like fifteen years ago. And then I called Berlin my home, it’s my new home. Here we are.
Why did you move here?
I moved out of Bulgaria, because I grew up in the ‘90s there and the political situation after the Wall came down was a little bit tricky and a lot of people moved out of Bulgaria. Basically 1/8th of the whole population moved out because parents saw way more chances for their kids and people to even get an education, get a job later on in life. I belong to a generation that was sent out with the hope of a better future in the West.
How did that process of making Berlin your new home affect your music? Do you put that history into your music?
The process was affected just by the fact that I wasn’t making music before I moved to Berlin, Berlin activated my whole life. I just started writing and focused on producing and creating in Berlin. Before that I was in school in Bulgaria and singing in choirs, but it’s mostly here that I became one with everything that was on my mind.
And you had met a lot of similar, like-minded people pretty easily here?
How was that process done?
Berlin is a very good place to meet, if you’re in music and arts, it feels really comfortable. It’s a very natural environment to meet like-minded people. Musicians have always been around, and I’ve definitely grown up surrounded by a lot of creativity and musicianship. I think Berlin traditionally has a lot of people moving here and working, being creative here. That’s what happened to me.
What is your music about basically?
My music is about inter-human communication and relationships and love and everything that’s basically on my mind that I think of and then try to express through harmonies and chords and beats.
How would you describe your genre and how you got into it?
I’ve always been making music at home and writing a lot, just naturally in my room, and I have this homemade bedroom studio set-up, because it’s kind of the easiest to sometimes wake up and capture an idea. I’ve always had a little studio set-up in my place and I love working from home. It’s kind of great that there’s a huge possibility for people to create music without having to spend a lot of money on ultra expensive music gear and studios. I think I was lucky to invent a method for me just so I could work from home, which is now something that’s okay to work with - like to bounce tracks off the bedroom studio rather than me having to go to expensive studios and record with the most expensive gear. My genre is more like bedroom pop (laughs). I hate that word “pop.” It’s kind of difficult to speak in genres but it’s a good moment to be creative out of your bedroom these days.
What’re some memorable experiences from your career so far?
There are a lot of memorable experiences for me - I was super lucky to travel the world on a tour. Being able to travel is the best thing ever, to be able to be connected to a lot of friends and musicians all over the world, traveling and working in every place, and every studio between cities - that’s definitely something that gives me energy. My music allows me to travel a lot and that gives me a lot of energy.
You’ve collaborated a lot with people like Erlend Øye for example on your latest album. Are there other artists that you’re inspired by?
Collaborations are definitely a Berlin thing for me because a lot of people pass through the city and it’s very easy and practical to be able to catch up and to work. Collaborations are definitely something that I was keen on and experimenting with in my past productions. And as for how it happens, there’s no formal way - working with friends is something that I really love to do when you have creative chemistry and you’re in the room. That’s how you write and make songs happen. And then everyone goes on tour and travels the world on their own and every now and then, you reconnect in Berlin or in other places and you keep working on tracks you started on two years ago and that’s how it goes.
So what is “Freaking Out” about?
“Freaking Out” is about trying to stay cool after a heavy breakup and after your whole world has been turned upside down - everything you believed in and worked hard on and had as a system suddenly being shaken. When I wrote this song, it was kind of my way to stay cool and reflect.
Can you give us 5 key words to describe yourself as an artist?
Direct, unfiltered, GarageBand, self-made, bedroom.