Denosh Interview - Back 2 Front
Denosh Ė people know
Wasnít she the former dance
captain of the Raptors? Yes.
Wasnít she one of the dancers on Aaliyahís last video? Yes.
Isnít she singing backgrounds for
Justin Timberlake? Yes.
Torontoís Denosh has been around the
industry for many years and has now released her debut CD - Back
2 Front which will be available digitally on Itunes.com,
Rhapsody.com and other digital download sites. Her first single,
ďHave FunĒ was chosen for
the Universal Music Canada Honey Jam Compilation CD ďHoney
Jamsí, which also features songs from Nelly Furtado,
India Arie, Pussy Cat Dolls and many other high profile female
artists. Her video for the song is currently in rotation on
Much Music. Denosh is currently singing background with Justin
Timberlake on his world tour, ĎFutureSex/LoveSoundsí.
Denosh has worked on music videos, live stage shows, recording
projects and world
tours with performers such as; Debbie Allen, Mariah Carey,
Whitney Houston, Missy Elliot, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and
many more. Most recently she was one of the finalists on season
three of MTVís and Diddyís ĎMaking the Bandí and made her
Broadway debut in the Tony award-winning musical ĎHairspray.í
No rookie here!
Denosh talked to me on Friday, August 24th, a couple of days
after her Toronto CD release, from the Sutton Place Hotel about
the current Justin tour, her transition from Canada to
the U.S., the transition from being a dancer to being a
vocalist, and much more!
Welcome home! How is it to come home
after all these years and to be part of such a successful tour
with Justin Timberlake?
Itís a blessing and an honour because a lot of people donít
get that opportunity. They donít get the opportunity to leave
and then come back. Itís a testament to what Iíve been doing
and it shows people that Iíve been out there hustling. Itís
really gratifying. I know that itís also encouraging to other
people to be able to see me step out and to be able to see me in
such a big project. A lot of my friends and family have been
able to come and see the show. It feels really good and it
feels like all the hard work has paid off.
How did getting the gig come about?
A friend of mine had got the call about the tour prior to me and
she turned it down because she had gotten married and
didnít want to
jump right on to the road. They asked her if she knew anyone
that might be good for it because they didnít want to do
auditions. She told them that ĎI have the perfect
personí. I was in the middle of doing a Broadway play at the
time (Hairspray) and I wasnít 100% happy with what I was
doing. I loved the job but where I was in my life, I wanted to
be somewhere else.
A couple of months prior to that, I was
watching Justin on The Jay Leno Show or something and I thought
if I have to work for any other artist again, thatís who I want
to work for. I liked him from NíSync and I liked what he was
doing. Iím not mad at him. And then I see my friend singing
backgrounds for him so I called her and said that if anyone ever
gets sick, you better call me! Then a couple of months later, I
get the call!
Has this tour influenced the sound of your
tracks on your CD?
Most of my CD was recorded before I started touring. I did do
tracks Ė one was the intro and the second song ďGet Used to
ItĒ. I knew that I would be obligated for such a long time
the tour and I didnít know when I would be able to sit down in
the studio and do a full studio album. In the meantime, I
wanted to get some product out there and try to establish a fan
base and expand on the fan base that I already have. I just
wanted to do a taste of what Iíve been up to and whatís to
come. So, Iíve added those two tracks.
And the energy of Justinís record Ė the dance energy Ė inspired
me and thatís why one of the songs is an up-tempo one, heavy
with synths just to freshen it up.
Who are your producers and how did they
come to work on this project?
There are two producers on the album. One is
Wilson III and the other producer is
Bernard Edwards, Jr.
and he goes by ďFocusĒ.
Focus I have known for some years now and I met him when I was
dancing background for Brandy. He was her musical director. I
knew that he was a musician but not a producer. At the time, I
was interested in transitioning to background singing from
dancing. I felt that people would take me more seriously as an
artist. So, he did a demo for me and we worked together on
various projects. Pheenom I met because heís Justin
Timberlakeís keyboard player. I met him on the Justified tour
in 2003. I didnít know he was a producer either but throughout
the years he would do some music and I would write and weíve
collaborated on a few projects. Heís been the main producer
that Iíve been working with but when I decided to put all the
songs together, I felt that these two producers were the ones
closest to each other and closest to me in terms of sound and
they compliment each other. I wanted there to be some sort of
theme and continuity.
Youíre in a unique position that many
Canadian artists wish they were in Ė a Canadian making their
mark in the American music industry. What challenges does this
Yes, there are definitely challenges. One was just proving
myself to my American peers. They are leery of anyone thatís
not American. In some situations, they didnít know and they
would say, ďYouíre from Canada? You sing like us and dance like
us.Ē And I would say that itís really not that deep. Once I
got my foot in the door, it wasnít so hard. One of the challenges was getting the work Visas. But I think that the
biggest challenge is just being the newcomer.
When I first moved, people said Ďoh you deserted usí. I
couldnít do anything about it. I did a lot in Toronto before I
left and at that time, I
had exhausted all of my options as far as participating in the
arts and making a legitimate career out of it. There are things
that I needed to do and needed to accomplish that were not
available to me here. But I never ever left Canada
behind. I always have been back and forth and maintained
relationships here. My family is still here. I got a
lot of flack for pursing a career in the States as a performer. But the industry grew and a lot of
Americans were coming to Canada to shoot movies and videos.
Now I feel like people are looking for their way in. Iíve
always been one to help, suggest and advise but itís interesting
that some of the people who werenít so supportive then are now
looking for a way in. They see now that I have longevity and
see the growth. Itís bittersweet because itís nice to be
appreciated and to be able to come back but at the same time,
there are those people that do hate on me because they never had
the outlet or they never took the chance. Iíve always
encouraged my friends and said that itís there for you, you just
have to want it and go after it.
What has been one of the highlights in
your musical career so far?
One of the highlights of my musical career was when I made the
transition professionally from background dancer to background
singer. I was working for one of my mentors,
Faith Evans, as a
dancer, and one day on the tour bus she heard me singing to
She asked me for a demo of my music, and after she heard it, she
told me she was going to make sure I was on the mic singing with
her as soon as possible. A month later, a spot opened up on her
team of vocalists, and she hired me to sing for her. I never
What pieces of advice would you give to an
artist that wants to enter the business?
First, I would say to make sure that being in this business is
what you want to do. Even if you donít know how long you want to
do it, make sure at that moment, itís all that you want. Second,
I would encourage them to educate and prepare themselves as much
as possible on the business side of things as well as their
craft. And last, but not least, I would encourage them to never
give up, no matter how far away their achievements may seem.
Sometimes it just a test to see how badly you want something,
and sometimes the closer you get to realizing your dreams, the
harder things becomeÖ
What would you say is the unique
contribution of Canadian urban music globally? Is there
something you hear outside of Canada about our music?
Well I would definitely say there is a global presence of
Canadian music. The good thing about is that weíre so diverse in
nature, and people canít really say ďthat sounds CanadianĒ.
Uniquely, I feel like as Canadians, we just do what is natural
to us, we donít try to fit into any mold musically. Weíve got
rock, alternative, Pop, R&B, soul, and everything in between.
The funniest thing is that people expect Canadians to be less
talented or something, and are so surprised that some of their
favourite artists or top selling artists are Canadian.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian
Sarah McLaughlan, Nickleback, Celine Dion, kos, Tamia, Avril
Lavigne, Divine Brown.
Who are some of your influences Ė not just
musically but anyoneís whoís made their mark for you?
My mother, my sister, Bob Marley, Debbie Allen, Michael Jackson,
Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston.
What direction would you like to see your
In the near future, Iíd like to tour, maybe open up for some
artists, headline my own tour. Iím also a songwriter, so I plan
to write and produce for other artists and projects real
soonÖ.there is so much to be done in this business, and I want a
piece of it all!
If you could work with any artist, living
or past, who would it be?
I would love to work with Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone
and Iíd love to work with Timbaland. I think that as far as
todayís producers, his longevity, his creativity, the way that
heís flipped it Ė heís ridiculous.
What do you want people to remember you
I want them to feel like I gave them something. Iíd want to
feel that if they heard me sing, they got something from the
pain in my voice, or the tone of my voice Ė that they got want
they wanted. Whether they wanted to be cheered up or whether
they wanted to connect because they liked the song. I want them
to feel fulfilled. Denosh is that type of person that no matter
what song she is singing, that you always get something from
her. Also that they see the struggle or the hard work and they
see that itís not just fluff and that they appreciate the
story. I want to be able to
encourage people from my walk and what Iíve done. I want them
to feel inspired to be able to do whatever it is they want to
So, whatís in your iPod player right now?
Amy Winehouse, Al Green, Beyonce, DíAngelo, Fred Hammond, Jay
Moss, Kim Burrell, will.i.am, Justin Timberlake, Timbalandís new
CD, Sarah Vaughan, Janet Jackson, Ludacris, Pat Matheny, Linkiní
Park, NeYo, Ė so a little bit of everything. I feel that you
have to have a little bit of everything because you never know
how youíre going to feel. Some music is workout music, some is
to get my mind right, getting dressed music, unwinding music. I
have my album in there too.
Do you have any message for your Canadian
This might sound corny but if you want something, you have to
believe in yourself. You have to want it and have to believe
that you deserve it and that you can have it. When I was young,
I didnít know how anything was going to happen for me. Always
follow your heart and your dreams because at the end of the day,
you want to be happy and to able to look at yourself in the
mirror and say, ďI did the best I could and I gave it all I
had.Ē I know it sounds corny but itís really been all that Iíve
ever lived by. Iím still realizing more and more dreams every
day. A lot of dreams Iíve had, found themselves to me in a
different way Ė ways that I thought that I would get this dream,
came to me in a different way and in a different time. Itís
very easy to lose faith and lose focus but right when you feel
like youíre going to give up, push that extra mile.
Look out for Denosh - keep
your eyes and ears open Ė she definitely will be filling the
airwaves and stages soon Ė a determined and
talented force that will not be quieted anytime soon.
Many thanks to Denosh and taking the time for our interview and
to Elaine Quan, her
publicist, for setting it up. For photos from Denosh's
performance in Toronto in January as well as her recent CD
release, go to my
For more information and
updates on Denosh, check out