Aaron Z. Katz and Callie Lipton of the Dejas are a performing duo whose music is a unique blend of melodic, ambient, "indie-pop", acoustic folk/rock. Each of these musicians, talented singer-songwriters in their own right, become "something greater" when they present their songs through their combined vision. The dynamic of two parts forming a greater whole was something that was evident from the moment they first encountered each other. Reviewer Chris Elliot (Seacoast. com) writes about the "gentle, unforced, seeming inevitability of the songs themselves". Dejas fans say the music has the ability to move them to dance___ or move them to tears, with wonderful melodies that linger and engage, staying with the listener in some profound, enduring way that is both inspirational and somehow reaffirming.
Aaron Z. Katz
Aaron Katz brings a wealth of experience to the duo as an international touring musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer. In 1995 he created, and then toured the Northeast with the funk ensemble "Vitamin C". In 1997 he was approached by the national jazz/jam/rock act "Percy Hill" and asked to redefine their sound. Aaron was able to bring to the group a mature sense of songwriting, vocal style, and a natural rhythmic feel behind the drums. The album that followed, "Color in Bloom", became Percy Hill's most popular recording and won the "Jammy Award" in 2000 for "Album of the Year." Richard Gehr, reviewer for the Village Voice and author of The Phish Book, referred to this album as "tightly focused, addictively listenable, and downright accessible ...no less organically rooted in site-specific sociology than say American Beauty or Nevermind," and called Aaron's song, "Ammonium Maze," the album's "brilliant centerpiece."
Aaron then formed "The Aaron Katz Band" and released his first solo album, "Simplest Warrior", which went on to win the Seacoast Spotlight Award for "Best Alternative Album."
Aaron Katz is a true craftsman with the ability to combine ultra melodic tunes with provocative lyrics, drenched in colorful imagery and unforgettable hooks.
Scott McLennan, Worcester Telegram and Gazette
Katz has a gift for hooks and melodies, and his voice is as warm and compelling as a crackling fire. Simplest Warrior has an undeniable infectious groove & combines the smooth, soulful vibe of a Stevie Wonder or Jamiroqui with the straight forward singer/songwriter accessibility of a Paul Simon or Dave Matthews"
Haley Kauffman, The Boston Globe
Aaron Z. Katz and Callie Lipton met at the University of New Hampshire in 2005. After many years of writing music, Callie approached Aaron to record some of her songs at his production studio. They felt an immediate connection and began working together in what has become a highly creative collaboration. Callie, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals, is a passionate, energetic but thoroughly grounded and committed young woman whose voice has been described as warm, sensual...even ethereal...but also strong and determined. Her voice was described as "sultry with a fun edge" in a review written for Boston radio's 88.9/WERS. In addition to her Dejas performances, Callie has performed solo shows in California and the Midwest.
In addition Callie brings to the duo the ability to make strong connections with her audience as both a musician and performer. When asked about the "role of compassion in song-writing" in her Ted X interview, Callie explained that many of her songs come from her own life challenges and her connection to the struggles of others. "Compassion and the need for change can be powerfully communicated to others through music because it is a language everyone speaks." Her compelling songs are introspective reflections about love, relationships, and discovering a sense of self; they are both intimate and universal.
Performance and Professional Information
For the last seven years the Dejas have performed in Boston and the Northeast playing shows in such places as the House of Blues Foundation Room, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Lizard Lounge, the Rochester Opera House, and the Shalin Liu Performance Center. In addition they have played at various festivals throughout the Northeast and were chosen by "Spotlight Magazine's Eye on the Arts Award" as "Alternative Band of the Year." They have been featured on Boston radio's "The River" (92.5) and have produced a DVD of one of their live performances. Their debut album, "Speeding Softly", was recorded at 37' Productions with Sean McLaughlin who was the sound engineer for Elliot Smith and assisted on projects for Rush, Tupac Shakur, and Maroon 5, among others. This first album was enthusiastically received by fans and garnered the band licensing deals with CBS, MTV, TLC, and the Discovery Channel, as well as the Lifetime, OWN (Oprah Winfrey) and CW networks. The Dejas are regularly joined on stage by outstanding musicians from Boston and the North Shore...musicians who add their talents to the wonderful melodies, harmonies, and compelling instrumentals of Aaron's and Callie's core duo.
CALLIE LIPTON (Core band member) - Guitar, Lead Vocals
AARON KATZ (Core band member) - Vocals, Guitar, keys
Cilla Bonnie Arsenault - Bass
Dennis Monagle - the drums
Mike Miksis - Bass
Scott Tarulli - Electric Guitar
Michael Feingold - Electric Guitar
Noah Appel- Drums
New Album "Speeding Softly" 2010
Solid Ground FULL ALBUM (2008)
Solid Ground EP (2007)
The Dejas in The Noise
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THE DEJAS by DJ Mätthew Griffin For the last five years the Dejas, Callie Lipton and Aaro...THE DEJAS
by DJ Mätthew Griffin
For the last five years the Dejas, Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz, have toured the Northeast spreading their original music everywhere from house concerts to festival stages. In 2007, the Dejas won the Seacoast Eye on the Arts Alternative Band of the Year award. In 2009 the band released Speeding Softly, which soon garnered the Dejas many music licensing deals. The Dejas’ songs have appeared on The Beautiful Life, produced by Ashton Kutcher, the Lifetime movie Lip Service, MTV’s I Used To Be Fat, and the CW network’s Life Unexpected. The band’s future is bright, and the tight bond between Callie and Aaron is something that, to them, makes the band seem almost predestined. Through their music they express their connection to life’s varied experiences, dreams, and desires.
Noise: What are the Dejas’ roots and how did the band form.
Callie: We met at the University of New Hampshire in 2005. Aaron was playing in Percy Hill and had started a production company in Dover, New Hampshire. I answered an ad for recording and production of my singer/songwriter material. We ended up sharing our music with each other and there was an immediate musical connection. We have continued working together as the Dejas to this day.
Noise: How would you describe the Dejas music?
Aaron: The Dejas music is ambient, groove driven pop that combines both of our lyrical worlds with beautiful melodies and lush harmonic landscapes. Listeners have expressed that the Dejas music has the ability to move one to tears as well as to dance. We are a consistent duo, but we bring in other musicians to augment our vision.
Noise: Do you have any upcoming shows?
Callie: We are currently playing a Thursday residency at 43 Church in Salem, Mass. called The Dejas Present: The Session. Recently we have teamed up with Michael Feingold of Erykah Badu, Jay Z, and the Roots and keyboard player Ben Zecker.
Aaron: At The Dejas Present: The Session the shows are centered around Dejas material but local talent is also showcased on the stage. Artists submit song ideas to the Dejas in advance, and if chosen, we will learn the material and perform it with the guest artists the following Thursday. The Session also incorporates North Shore visual artists. Every Thursday a new visual artist is chosen by the new, hip store in Salem, The Witch Dr. The art displayed is a beautiful backdrop on the stage. Artists have been successful in selling paintings and have benefitted from increased exposure to their work. These Session nights are about music, food, art, and great people hanging out by the beautiful fireplace at 43 Church. So many different kinds of people come out every Thursday and it’s amazing to see and feel the sense of community on these nights. The room is always full of the most incredibly positive vibes!
Callie: The Dejas, along with Social Palates & Moon Haven Productions are putting on a wild New Year’s show called Past, Present, Future. It will be taking place at the Lyceum Hall at 43 Church in Salem, Mass. This is the exact place where Alexander Graham made the first telephone call ever from Salem to Boston! Pretty Cool! Our band and our good friend Qwill, who is an incredible musician, will also be on the bill for the night as well as some local DJ’s from Salem. It’s going to be one of the biggest and best New Year’s Eve parties in town! There will be light hors d’oeuvres, awesome drink specials, dancing, and even a “time machine”! This event goes from 9:00pm- 2:00am and it only costs $20 to get in, so you will most definitely get your money’s worth! We promise you good times!
Aaron: Then on February 9th we will be opening for the incredibly talented Chelsea Berry at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Mass. This is a beautiful venue right on the ocean and the backdrop behind the stage is a huge window overlooking the water. The show is at 8pm and the tickets range from $20-$35. You can buy your tickets at the Shalin Liu website or at the door but this show will most likely sell out… so we would recommend getting your tickets soon!
Noise: Where are the Dejas based?
Callie: We are now a Salem-based band. We’ve lived here for three years and have loved being a part of such a rich, diverse, and creative community. We recently got voted favorite Band in Salem by a public poll done by the North Shore magazine, Art Throb. Not only do we perform at many of the music venues and festivals in town, but we also have our own recording studio in downtown Salem. The studio is located at the Creative Salem office space at 265 Essex Street. Creative Salem serves as a creative hub that helps individuals and businesses network and grow, thereby helping the creative economy in Salem. At our studio we provide music lessons, recording, and also production work. If you are interested in working with us please get in touch at email@example.com.
Noise: What makes the Dejas different from any other musical act out there?
Aaron: When we are not playing shows or promoting events, we run a number of music programs in Salem. We have been active at the Plummer Home for Boys for over three years and have recently started getting more involved in the Salem community by starting music programs at the On Point facility, the Boys and Girls Club, and the YMCA. In our programs we teach the kids to play instruments and write, record, and perform music. It is inspiring to see a child’s face light up when they play that first note on the instrument of their choice. From that point on the journey is theirs. We take great pride in helping them find their own voice and the joy that comes from self-expression.
Noise: What’s the best way to stay tuned in to the Dejas news?
Callie: The Dejas Facebook page has been the best tool for us to connect with our fans. We have all of our shows posted there, and we keep everyone updated about band news. You can hear our music on the Dejas Facebook site and also purchase songs on iTunes and CD Baby. There’s plenty of music videos and recordings of live performances on our YouTube channel too, so definitely check that out! Our Dejas website is currently under construction, but it will be up and running in the next couple of months! You can also connect with us on Twitter and Sonicbids.
Noise: Are you involved in any other musical projects outside of the Dejas?
Aaron: We like to keep it fresh and interesting by writing and performing in a variety of projects. We recently wrote the music for a midnight horror film/ rock production called Scary Mary and the Audio Corsette. In the band, we wear crazy wigs and get to experience loud volumes and the over all rock ‘n’ roll.
Callie: Aaron and I have also been working on an ambient hip-hop project with local rappers and spoken word artists. I have learned how to play the bass for this project and it’s been an amazing experience being able to express myself in another outlet with a different instrument. It’s been cool to step away from being the lead singer, and instead my role is to deliver the steady foundation for the music. At some point in time, I would like to incorporate me playing the bass with some of the Dejas material! It’s definitely an amazing, important, and powerful instrument and I’m completely in love it with it!
Noise: How are you gaining an audience as a band and maintaining growth and exposure?
Aaron: While Salem is home to the Dejas, we have toured the Northeast and plan to get back on the road after the release of our next album. Living in Salem has been so good for us because it is a small, but very interesting city. The combination of history and mystery brings over 200,000 visitors to town a year. In some way, it is like touring without touring because the crowds come to us! In Salem we are able to reach new fans without ever having to leave town.
Callie: The Dejas are also reaching greater audiences through licensing deals with CBS, MTV, TLC, the Discovery Chanel, and also the Lifetime network. We recently were asked to contribute our thoughts about music education toTed Talks on a wide variety of topics—from the influence of technology, to the importance of compassion when working with students.
Noise: When will the next Dejas album be out?
Callie: We are in the middle of pre-production for the next album. We have grown a lot since our last album, Speeding Softly. We still will have that beautiful undertone of sound, but were going to give it a little bit more power, and it will have some different spices and flavors. Our music is always expressed as a contrast, it’s dark yet beautiful, sad yet happy, chill yet danceable. We are super-psyched to get some more Dejas music out into the world! We will most definitely keep everyone posted about the album release date as it comes closer!
Noise: Where do you see the Dejas at in the future?
Aaron: We plan to continue to write and release music, tour nationally as well as tour overseas. We will always remain community activists/youth mentors and work to use our talents to light up the places we live and the people we love.
DEJA-VU ALL OVER AGAIN
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DEJA-VU ALL OVER AGAIN At this point, it can be said that The Dejas are the soundtrack to a Sal...
DEJA-VU ALL OVER AGAIN
At this point, it can be said that The Dejas are the soundtrack to a Salem life. Would you believe they only landed here in 2009? And then began to play at every bar in town, at the farmer’s market, on the Common, when Santa descended from the roof of the Hawthorne Hotel, for non profits like Parents United and at festivals on Essex Street. Their music is on the pre-movie loop at CinemaSalem. On nice days, they can be spotted teaching music to young people near Palmer Cover in the Point. This last Halloween, they co-wrote and performed an original rock opera. Last February, they could also be seen on a local cable access TV show about their lives as a dynamic duo.
What makes Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz such a community fixture is that they simply love Salem. It sort of took them by surprise with its coolness, its many artists and vibrant music scene. I met them several years ago and immediately asked them to play an Art*Thorb event at Soma in Beverly. Since then, their music has appeared on an Art*Throb cable access TV show and an Art*Throb online fundraiser.
Their “big studio” album — produced by Sean McLaughlin, who was sound engineer for Elliott Smith — was Speeding Softly, where most of the duo’s recognizable sing-along hits come from. It offers a whole tour of their sounds, switching from a reggae sound to dance to folky songs that employ the ukelele and even kazoos. Another album recorded live at Salem’s Gulu Gulu Cafe is getting downloaded from around the world. That means people in Lithuania and points all over the globe know about Gulu, Katz says excitedly.
Meeting in New Hampshire
A natural born leader and producer, Katz is at the helm as drummer, keyboardist and vocals and Lipton is the crooner with a guitar. Since their inception, the fabulous looking duo have sold out the sexy Foundation Room in Boston’s House of Blues, will play later this month to a sold out audience at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport and their music has been featured on MTV, the Lifetime network and CBS.
When the two began to collaborate seven years ago, Katz was “an old veteran dog with all the road scars,” he jokes. “Callie lit up my life and made it positive again,” he says, lifting him from his road warrior tour days after coming off of touring nationally with the award winning jam band Percy Hill.
Katz was starting his own production company in the Portsmouth, N.H. area. Lipton, with her smoky, sweet folk vocals was graduating from the University of New Hampshire in Dover and the two soon found success in Boston. Looking back, Lipton says the two bonded quickly. “One of the things that stuck out to me most when I first worked with Aaron was how insanely deep he feels music and how he puts every ounce of his energy, soul and heart into the songs. He had and still has the ability to paint the most beautiful landscapes of sound through his own songwriting and also in what he adds to my material. Those magical and fulfilling early experiences of writing, recording and performing with Aaron have honestly been some of the most beautiful moments in my life.”
Embraced by Salem
They discovered Salem when Lipton’s parents moved from Newton, Mass to the McIntire District and the duo found work teaching at the Plummer Home, a non profit residence for boys and young men. “We found a whole world here,” says Katz, “Salem had a vibrancy all to itself.”
Salem embraced the duo with requests for them to play everywhere. With uplifting lyrics about nature and mysticism and a sound that can be folky, reggae or funky, the two are beloved everywhere they go. Katz is obsessed with natal charts (He has voluntarily done mine.) and it shows in his lyrics. When he was with Percy Hill, they were seen as sort of plaid shirt stoners, says the graduate of Worcester Academy, a combination born only to those who graduated from high school in the early 90s. Describing the sound of The Dejas, he says, “It’s about beauty, color and positivity.”
Lipton describes their sounds as “a combination of melting, smooth airy sounds, just like a breeze blowing through your hair and the sunshine beaming into your soul and skin. It can be soothing and chill yet there is also an undertone of powerful rhythmic forces that can move you to dance. I’ve always looked at our music as being a contrast of beauty and darkness, the yin and the yang. When people ask what genre our music is I always say it’s a mixture of ambient-alternative-pop rock — with a splash of reggae!”
They even have a sort of benefactor, a fan from Atlanta who often visits Salem and met them at the annual Witchstock concert in The Willows. He fronted seed money for the various projects they have done in the last year. People often laugh about how much time the two spend together. Though they are not dating, Katz describes them as “best friends,” but then decides he can do better and tries “partners in crime” and then “opposite sex life partners.” He lives down the street from Lipton’s family in a tiny apartment. “If they have something heavy to lift, I’m there,” he says. Apparently it does work both ways. Two days after our initial interview, I bumped into Katz waiting for Lipton on a street corner. She pulled up in their gig van, ready to take him to pick up a Craig’s List found couch for his place.
Katz is especially proud these days of the work they are doing at the Plummer Home. This holiday season, they produced their fourth album with the boys at the home, who also performed at Endicott College in front of 1,000 people, says Katz. And they are proud of On Point, an outreach program for at risk youth that is a collaboration in Salem’s Point Neighborhood of the Plummer Home and the police department. In a tiny building undergoing construction, they are teaching guitar and drums to young people who need help with anger management or confidence to get a job. The program offers focus and discipline, says Katz, adding he has learned “how to deal with a wide range of temperaments and personality types.”
You might say the gig of teaching young people, which they also do at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem, has been therapy for the the duo. “I remember the people that helped shape my life and helped me discover who I am,” says Lipton. “They have had a lasting profound impact on my life, and when I am with my kids, I think about that and it blows my mind that I can do the same thing for them through the power of music. It’s an absolute thrill for me to witness a student’s break-through a-ha moment after learning an instrument or writing a song because it has potential to change and enrich their lives. I have found that in many ways I have taken on a music therapist role by helping them use their connection to music to deal with the ups and downs of their everyday lives…I can’t drive the band van downtown without one of our students chasing after us screaming ‘The Dejas’!”
This is their year of purity, of light and love, says Katz, who admits to years of partying like a rock star. When I met up with Katz, Lipton was at a yoga class. Despite their late night gigs all around the North Shore, Boston, New York and the region, Lipton has not had a drop to drink in two years and Katz has spent this winter taking her lead.
“Being sober has opened up so many levels of awareness,” says Lipton, “it’s being face to face with every ounce and every particle of life whether it’s good or bad…its real and I’ll take it! Being sober and pursuing a career in places where people are always partying is just part of the package.”
Constantly making good connections, Katz is working his magic to get a real venue in Salem, someplace people can play when they stop in Boston for a night. His vision sounds much like the one for the Salem Community Arts Center people have worked for at the site of the former St. Mary’s Italian Church. After all, it wouldn’t take much to get Joan Baez to Salem, since she is good friends with Lipton’s parents after the couple taught her son in the 80s in California, says Lipton.
“I remember constantly going to her shows while growing up and getting a real behind the scenes experience into the life of a famous musician. Even at a young age I loved everything about that lifestyle… from the green rooms, to the beautiful concert halls and festivals, the gazing eyes and energy of the audience, watching their smiles-tears-standing ovations from backstage and understanding what it was like to be touched and truly moved by music. I remember taking trips on her tour bus around the block of wherever she was playing and hearing about her adventures on the road. I was incredibly blessed to get to experience these things at such a young age and was in many ways inspired to be a musician because of them!”
Joan Baez came to Salem last October, says Lipton, got “fully decked out in Halloween attire and truly adored the city.” Lipton says she will try to get the folk icon to Salem and would be honored to play with her.
Meanwhile, these days The Dejas spend evenings writing, rehearsing and recording at the offices of Creative Salem above the Salem Chamber of Commerce on Essex Street. They can be found Thursdays at 43 Church, erasing any lingering thoughts that the place draws mostly those over 40. A collaboration they created called The Session takes advantage of the restaurant’s beautiful decor, huge windows, sophisticated food and cocktails, as well as its historic reputation as a lecture hall that featured the important minds of the 19th century. With the exciting idea of showcasing hip hop artists from Lynn and Boston, the evening has morphed into featuring all kinds of musicians from Michael Feingold who toured with Jay Z and Erykah Badu to well regarded keyboardist Ben Zecker and recent performances by Berklee professor, guitarist Scott Tarulli. Through it all, Katz is the driver behind the drums, eyes closed, taking the music new places.
Their October rock opera experience, Scary Mary and The Audio Corsette, produced by Kevin Letourneau of Creative Salem, tells the story of two musicians whose souls were trapped in a cassette tape in the 1980s and discovered today. The production unearthed The Dejas’ doppelgangers. Katz found himself in leather and a wig, while Lipton became an androgynous mohawk rocker chick, playing heavy bass lines. (It is a natural instrument for her, says Katz , since Lipton is a triple Earth sign.) They were suddenly playing what Lipton calls “loud hair-metal-glam rock.” Taking front and center at the microphone was Jacyn Tremblay, an in your face young rock singer.
You could say they have spent a year on these playful projects of self examination. Another of Letourneau’s projects, the Valentine’s TV show for SATV had Lipton and Katz playfully try to understand their relationship. All of this veering off the path has perhaps led them back to where they started.
“Like any relationship, you have to explore new things and together, we do that musically,” says Katz. The two are working on an exciting sounding “Afro-Cuban thing,” but will always return to “home plate,” says Katz, which is the original sound they are now known for in Salem and beyond.
The Dejas- Speeding Softly
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The Dejas - Speeding Softly By Shane Handler March 01, 2010 The Dejas may be fall into the dr...The Dejas - Speeding Softly
By Shane Handler
March 01, 2010
The Dejas may be fall into the dream pop/ indie-pop/rock duo category, but these two kindred spirits are far from pretentious. Following their sold out Speeding Softly CD release show in late February at the House of Blues Foundation Room in Boston, Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz, who make up The Dejas, proved to be more than grateful to the packed room.
From The Swell Season, She & Him, The Bird and The Bee, Dresden Dolls, Viva Voce, Mates of State, Beach House and even to a louder degree the White Stripes, the duo format is a niche that is becoming more common for its simplicity and lo-fi direction in both musical and aesthetic terms. However the Dejas are not your typical quirky Zooey Deschanel matched with M. Ward made for Spin special.
Lipton (guitars and vocals) and Katz (percussions, drums, keyboards, vocals) met in Dover, New Hampshire in the fall of 2005, where Katz, who had stepped away from the musical spotlight after years of drumming/singing with Percy Hill and as a solo artist to form his own production company – Aaron Katz Productions. It was here in Dover where Lipton was attending the University of New Hampshire, that she answered an ad put out by Katz.
“When Callie first came to my studio she was one hundred percent raw talent and pure uncontaminated positive energy. Callie had not yet been through the highs and lows of the musician lifestyle. She had not lived in a van with a bunch of hyper flatulent hairy dudes and she had not experienced the erosion of the soul that can devolve while dancing the music industry cha cha,” explains Katz. “ Callie's presence was very angelic and it was healing and rejuvenating for me. She inspired me to get healthy and back on track with myself as a creative human in tune with my life's purpose.”
Lipton was further enamored by Katz’ credentials and talents as a producer, his strength for making connections, understanding the vision of musical material, and bringing out the essence of what is being expressed. “Because I met Aaron at the beginning of my music career, I was exposed to opportunities that most beginning musicians don’t have,” admits Lipton. “He was already an experienced musician so he was able to open a lot of doors for me. I skipped the “open mic” stage as a songwriter and was able to jump right into playing at “legit” venues all around the northeast.”
At Katz’ studio the duo were able to do all of the writing, recording and playing, so it was a natural course to move their studio environment into a live setting, where they have since earned a loyal and growing following. Having built up a base in the Seacoast area, the duo calls the "in between" of Salem Massachusetts as their home, where they often play the Gulu-Gulu Café and while down south in the Boston area they play frequent gigs at Cambridge’s Toad and Lizard Lounge.
Lipton strums earnestly on acoustic guitar and offers soft yet meditative vocals, while Katz truly has his hands full on stage. Early on in The Dejas he was playing a dumbek (goblet shaped hand drum) with kick drum and djembe, but now he plays the drum kit with keyboard bass lines at the same time and then moves over to djembe,guitar or piano. And if that weren't enough, a harmonica on a neck holder has been added to help handle some of the chords. Unlike Percy Hill where Katz stayed focused live on one instrument to achieve as he describes, “ a meditative state where music flows effortlessly, “ changing up instruments with The Dejas pushes him in and out of mind states. About his live multi-tasking Katz expresses, "there is more to control but with that comes more pathways to becoming completely free while getting lost in the process.”
When it was time to record their sophomore LP Speeding Softly, The Dejas hooked up with producer/engineer Sean McLaughlin at his 37’ productions studio in Rockland, MA. McLaughlin was an engineer for Elliott Smith and he has also worked with Maroon 5, Rush and Tupac Shakur. Described as a technical guru with his vintage gear and Pro Tools HD3 Accel set up, McLaughlin makes tracking and mixing a song with sixty plus tracks fun and effortless for the duo. The Dejas have even gone so far as to label their first breakthrough moment as “being in the studio and meeting with Sean about the project.” In many ways McLaughlin is the third Deja and they have a sandwich named after him called the “McMatzah”, which is corned beef,potatoes, bacon and cabbage with chopped liver on whole wheat matzah, with buffalo sauce on the side for dipping only.
Some of the 12 songs on Speeding Softly were written recently and others were treasures from the past that The Dejas reopened and added to. Much serious and challenging work went into the recording, but there were also a lot of fun times where they explored the material with new styles. This was the case in the two tracks “Gates of Mind” and “Beneath You”. The bluegrass feel of the second mentioned composition happened late at night when Katz and Lipton were feeling overtired and silly, and at one point singing like Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Lipton also never expected to play the ukulele in the studio, but McLaughlin, felt that it would be a refreshing change from all of the guitar-driven tracks that they had done. This was a change of pace that then led to the most ridiculous recording event either might have ever taken part in. Katz, Lipton and McLaughlin all stood around one mic with bright yellow kazoos attempting to harmonize at the end of “Gates of Mind,” laughing the whole time, creating what they call “kazoo harmonies.” Even though there is a definite indie-pop feel to Speeding Softly, explains Lipton, “people can get a little something different from each track. It’s like taking a drive and seeing different landscapes.”
First and foremost, The Dejas are a reflection of both Lipton and Katz’ personal love of music and its spiritual qualities. “Playing the guitar has always come naturally to me; it’s very much a part of who I am and I understand my connection to the instrument,” describes Lipton. “ It’s also extremely therapeutic to have a relationship with this instrument. As a musician I am drawn to certain chords that reach out to me and ring in my soul. I have discovered new emotions and also new ways of performing when I explore alternate tunings or styles of strumming.”
“I have been in a relationship with music for a long time now. Being able to have the wild storms and the soft intimacy keeps it flowing and interesting, “ Katz describes of his own musical experiences. “ In the end the most important connection and conversation is the one you are having with yourself. The deeper and more honest that experience,the more the audience feels/gets it. Making music when not fully absorbed, engaged and committed to the moment simply does not work, like back in eighth grade when you would make out in the dark with your eyes wide open or like driving a race car with the emergency brake on.”
Even though The Dejas have been playing together for three years, the release of Speeding Softly has launched a new era for the duo, as exemplified by their recent Boston sell out. One of their songs was just used as the opening music to an episode of Ashton Kutcher's model drama program The Beautiful Life and they’ve recently been spotlighted on regional cable news channel NECN TV.
As one of the regions exciting musical duos, the pair seem to agree on most things and have goals for their musical partnership – but it’s their self descriptions of The Dejas that most truly fall into their whimsical natures. Katz goes as far as describing his musical outfit as “reiki while lying on an antique bed of nails,” while Lipton likens her voice to Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Suzanne Vega, while describing their live shows as, “we can play a soft acoustic setting but will also be able to reach an arena type of atmosphere, if the time ever comes.”
But Lipton isn’t shy about manifesting one other big thing she’d like to have along the way as she confesses, “as for materialistic things… the only thing I want is a tour bus!”
To learn and hear more about The Dejas, visit their website.
The Dejas are great (and we'll tell you again)
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By Chris Elliott April 17, 2008 6:00 AM There is something oddly familiar about The Dejas. Perha...By Chris Elliott
April 17, 2008 6:00 AM
There is something oddly familiar about The Dejas. Perhaps it's the name. Perhaps it's the warmth and universality of Callie Lipton's timbre of voice, or perhaps it's the ancient spirit of Aaron Katz's African hand drums coursing through the veins and arteries of these songs.
Perhaps it is the gentle, unforced, seeming inevitability of the songs themselves.
It is all of this and more, as is the case when an artist with a heart encounters a musician with a heart.
"I'm new at this," Lipton said during an interview at The Portsmouth Brewery, and despite the richness and polish of her sound, that is a believable statement, if only for the fact that her music appears so unfiltered and pure.
"In fact, my mom heard me sing for the first time a few years ago at Felt in Boston," Callie said. "She cried."
"We met by accident," Katz said of his and Callie's beginnings. "I have a production company in Dover and she answered an ad. When I met her and heard the material, I knew that she had to become more than a client. I needed to be part of her music."
There is an X factor, an unnameable entity that is created when willing souls collide in a musical context. That has happened between Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz and it is a moving experience to behold in a live context. More rare still, that experience has been effectively captured in recording. The Dejas debut recording "Solid Ground" has been released, and the band is supporting it with a series of dates near and far.
They recently played a great set at Harper's Ferry in Boston as well as a home base gig at Café on the Corner in Dover. On Thursday, April 17, the band will see if it can claim the trophy for Best Alternative Band at the Spotlight Awards. May sees the group on tour through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
Theirs is a rare and magical unification of two wildly different but mutually complementary aesthetics. Callie's voice is pitched well below the hit-maker bell tone alto that every Christina Aguilera wannabe desperately emulates. Nor does Callie try to mow you down with carefully contrived blue note yodeling. She does a thing that many of the finest artists in the history of popular music have done. She writes great songs, and sings them without guile or effect. Who knew?
Aaron Katz gets it. He accompanies Callie's pulsing acoustic guitar and velveteen voice with an unconventional array of percussion including djembe, dumbeck, bongo, bass drum, and various other handheld rhythm instruments. "You can imply an entire conventional drum set with a tambourine. The center is the bass drum, the rims are the snare and in between are the toms. The jingles are cymbals. I love dumbecks, too. There's something organic about playing drums with your hands rather than with sticks," Katz said.
Not much has been said here about Callie's prowess on guitar, which is a disservice. Her voice is so engaging and her songwriting so special that it might be easy to overlook her playing, but her broad, spacious chord voicings and the comfortable swing of her rhythm guitar playing is critical to the textural comfort of The Dejas' music.
This is my favorite new band. Go ahead, listen to "Solid Ground" and tell me I'm nuts.
APRIL 18, 8 P.M., DOVER BRICKHOUSE (BENEFIT SHOW) DOVER,
April 28, 7 p.m., Flatbread Co. Portsmouth
May 2, noon, WERS (on-air performance/interview) Boston
May 10, 9 p.m., Matt Murphey's Pub Brookline, Mass.
For more, visit www.myspace.com/thedejasmusic
Dynamic duo: Musical soul mates find a following in Salem and beyond
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Salem, Mass. — The musical duo seems to be a modern reconfiguration of the traditional “band,” as il...Salem, Mass. — The musical duo seems to be a modern reconfiguration of the traditional “band,” as illustrated by the popularity of such duos as the White Stripes, Beach House, She and Him and the Black Keys.
Salem’s the Dejas are part of that growing redefinition of the musical unit — two performers playing their original style of generally acoustic based, melodic alternative music.
The Dejas are comprised of Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz, who met at the University of New Hampshire in 2005, when Lipton enlisted Katz to act as a music producer for her songs, and they both felt a strange, immediate musical and personal connection. They soon began working together as the Dejas.
Lipton plays guitar and sings, and Katz is a multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, guitar and keyboards. Both write original material for the Dejas, in a process that could be described as a separate collaboration — they each write complete songs apart, but also sometimes bring sections together to help complete one another’s songs. The dynamic of two parts forming a greater whole is something that was evident from the moment they first encountered one another.
“Callie and I, when we met, there was an immediate connection,” Katz says. “I felt like I had known her before. We’ve experienced deja vus together, it was a very close relationship immediately, so the name, the Dejas, just fell into place from that.”
Katz was a seasoned performer who had toured extensively with his own bands, while Lipton had never performed in public. She’d written a number of songs, was a practiced singer, but the only audience she’d sung for were the walls of her dorm room.
The Dejas first-ever live performance was on Sept. 7, 2006, at the nightclub Felt in Boston, which was also Lipton’s first live performance. As Katz recounts, “She’s on stage, packed show in the theater district of Boston, and her whole family’s in the back crying because they’ve never even seen their daughter make music. Unbelievable night.”
The band made a demo and began getting more gigs, mostly in New Hampshire. Word of mouth spread, people liked what they heard, and the Dejas won Spotlight Magazine’s Eye on the Arts Award, in 2007, for alternative band of the year.
As they became more popular and began playing more extensively in the Boston area, Katz decided to move from New Hampshire to Salem, where Lipton was living. Serendipitously, Katz was offered a local job as a music producer even before he’d officially moved in.
“I’d been putting up posters for music production around town beforehand, and [program director] Jeff Rajchel of the Plummer Home for Boys called me about two weeks before I’d moved down and offered me the opportunity to come in and work with the kids,” Katz says. “So literally the second day after moving here, I started working at the Plummer Home for Boys, with the music program, teaching them, recording them and helping them write songs. I took some kids to the Gulu for open mike, some kids into the Hard Rock in Boston for a talent show.”
The result of this musical mentoring is three CDs, two of them holiday CDs, performed by the boys with supporting musicians.
“I think one of the proudest things for the Dejas, though, is we had a fan of ours come to a show, and though I didn’t know it at the time, she was affiliated with the (NFL Hall of Famer) Steve Young, Forever Young Foundation. I brought her into the Plummer Home. Six months later there was a full, new basketball court there, through the foundation and the Boston Celtics RE-MAX Home Court Program,” Katz recalls.
Musically, the Dejas feel totally at home in Salem, with a scene that is hip, welcoming and vibrant.
“I love it,” Katz says. “Great clubs, the Gulu-Gulu has an incredible revolving cast of characters. Salem’s the perfect mix of town and city, you go downtown, you know everybody, but there’s that big city cultural vibe.”
The band released a CD last year called “Speeding Softly,” which soon garnered the Dejas music licensing deals with both CBS and MTV, in which the band’s songs are incorporated into the soundtrack of television shows. So far, the Dejas’ songs have appeared on “The Beautiful Life,” produced by Ashton Kutcher, and the CW network’s “Life Unexpected.”
Currently working on new material, the Dejas will begin touring again in February. They’ve been talking with booking agents, looking into enlisting as opening acts for larger bands, and “just working, staying creative, keeping focused musically,” said Katz
The band’s future is obviously bright, and the tight bond between Lipton and Katz is something that, to them, makes the band seem almost predestined.
To me,” Katz says, “The Dejas is like family.”
Health, arts to merge at new festival
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The popular Salem band The Dejas, whose songs have appeared on the CW network’s shows “The Beautiful...The popular Salem band The Dejas, whose songs have appeared on the CW network’s shows “The Beautiful Life” and “Life Unexpected,” are presenting the first North Shore AHH Festival.
The “AHH” stands for “Arts and Holistic Health,” which is the focus of the free event, which will be held Saturday, Aug. 27. The festival will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. and will be held on Salem Common.
Organizers call it a BYOP event — bring your own picnic — since those attending are encouraged to bring food, children and a mellow mindset. The daylong, free form event aims to be relaxing, entertaining, educational and enlightening.
There will be live music as well as many demonstrations throughout the day. Demos will include massage, yoga instruction, henna tattoo, and “live art” — visual artists who will be creating new work during the event.
Other demonstrations include Reiki healing, belly dancing and acupuncture. For the physically daring, there will be a Project Adventure ropes course. Paper making, magic for kids and sculpture demonstrations will be featured as well.
The North Shore AHH Festival came from an idea that had been germinating in Dejas drummer/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Katz’s mind for some time.
“I’ve played to a lot of large music festivals around the country, and they always had massage therapists there or holistic practitioners, and so when I got to Salem, I thought, ‘How can we put on a festival that combines music, art, children and holistic health,’” said Katz.
Dejas’ singer/guitarist Callie Lipton added, “There’s a huge holistic community here, and we thought it would it would create a really rewarding opportunity to bring many people together …”
Katz finished her thought, saying, “and see how much positive energy we can create in one place, in one day.”
All the various holistic practitioners and other participants are from the Salem or North Shore area. The musicians performing will include The Dejas, Hannah Cranton, Clay Ventre and the Bond Girls and Quill. There will also be what is called a “Junk Funk Jam,” which is a large percussion circle where participants use recycled materials for instruments.
Katz and Lipton were helped with the organizational aspect of putting the festival together by Matt Caruso, director of community relations for the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, now in its fifth year. (Click here for details on the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, which is this weekend.)
Judy Copp, who has a practice in Salem called A Higher Balance Healing Center, helped organize the holistic side of things, and the group Parents United of Salem is taking care of the children’s events.
“There’ll be many components all going on at the same time, whether it’s hearing the music and watching the painting going on, watching people getting a massage,” Lipton said.
Katz added, “It’s not overly scheduled or overly rigid. It’s a very fun, free, peaceful day.”
What North Shore AHH Festival (Arts and Holistic Health)
When Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where Salem Common, located on Washington Square
Inside the dynamic duo of "The Dejas"
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For the last three years, the Salem-based duo The Dejas have been playing all over the Northeast, fr...For the last three years, the Salem-based duo The Dejas have been playing all over the Northeast, from festivals to house concerts. They even played The Gap this summer in a nation-wide acoustic night, celebrating 40 years of Gap jeans. In June, they were our featured band at Art Throb’s Midsummer Mingling event at Soma in Beverly. See our complete feature from last June here.
We love them. And you can too this week at Gulu and again on Halloween!
They are soulful, singing of nature…and hope for the future!
Tyler Colby was able to catch up with The Dejas, Callie Lipton and Aaron Katz, for an interview this week and get some insight into their realm of music and creativity.
Q: Discuss the connection that you two have musically.
Aaron: We have an incredibly deep respect for each other as people, which translates into an ability to give each other the presence and space needed to artistically express our individual thoughts as well as our unified visions. We both love experiencing and feeling life in intense, passionate, and beautiful ways.
Callie: I think Aaron pretty much described this one perfectly. It’s incredibly rewarding to have Aaron or I create a song or idea, and share it with the other. It’s also very exciting to see how we both add to the songs with our own unique flavors to make the final creation.
Q: You two have traveled two distinctly different roads thus far: Aaron touring the country with multiple groups and Callie perfecting her craft more privately; how do those experiences help you grow as a band?
Aaron: Callie injects fresh new energy into my occasionally tired, veteran, road-withered bones. I bring years of experience as a full time musician, producer, road warrior, and teacher to her life. We learn from each other daily. It is very much a Sun/Moon relationship with both of us taking turns at being there for the other based on the moment and situation that presents itself.
Callie: I think we both benefit greatly from our past experiences in the paths we have taken musically. We definitely came into this musical journey at the perfect time. I was a singer/songwriter who finally got enough courage to share my music with people. I had always wanted to be a musician but just didn’t know the right path to take in doing that. When Aaron came into my life, he was a surge of inspiration and confidence in me and my music playing. His experience and knowledge from the road and from being in professional bands for the past several years helped open doors for the beginning musician/ band mate that I was.
I can tell you the minute we first took the stage together — it was magical yet it felt so natural. I was hooked and I still am. We have been playing shows all around the Northeast for the past 3 years and this is just the beginning. We have high hopes and big goals!
Q: What are your aspirations for yourselves and the group? Do you even think about it?
Aaron: Staying vital, inspired, and creative always! Appreciating and cultivating the gifts we have been given, playing in theaters across the world, providing for a family and others in need from the fruits of our labors. Also, creating some form of an Arts Community Center, making albums until death, and spreading and attracting a life full of motion, growth, love, beauty, and knee-slappin’ river dancin’ fun.
Callie: First off, I want to try to feel as inspired and driven as possible. I want to continue writing and performing music for the rest of my life but growing as much as possible while doing it. I would love to tour nationally and internationally. Two of my favorite things besides music are traveling and helping people, so to be able to combine all three of these passions together would be one of the most incredibly fulfilling things ever. I want to make people happy though music. I want to connect with them though the songs. And I also want to see a shift in the world, with music being one of the most powerful and positive forces in the process.
For more information, check out:
The Dejas Band Website: http://www.thedejas.com
The Dejas on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/thedejasmusic
THE POWER OF TWO: SALEM-BASED BAND THE DEJAS PEDAL THEIR WAY TO TOP
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When they arrive at the Gulu-Gulu Café, after recording the final notes on a new album, The Dej...When they arrive at the Gulu-Gulu Café, after recording the final notes on a new album, The Dejas are glowing like new parents. And Callie Lipton, the band’s pretty lead singer, adds to the mood when, breathing a heavy sigh, she says, “[Creating an album] is like having a child. You bring up this living thing and it’s a creature in itself. You put so much time into it.”With an Art Throb show at Soma restaurant in Beverly on July 30, and plenty more gigs planned throughout New England this summer, the two musicians are all too happy to gush about their new baby, an album called Speeding Softly, that was produced by 37' Productions, a Rockland-based studio that’s seen the likes of musicians including Elliot Smith and Rush. They say the album, due out this fall, is their best yet, steeped in their signature mellow indie-pop sound, but with more rock n’ roll edge thanks to the incorporation of electric guitar. Also, Lipton says her voice has evolved in the two years she’s been playing shows throughout the northeast.
“I’m pushing my voice more now,” she says. “It’s about being more confident with what we’re doing.”
Listening to The Dejas is like taking a dreamy walk through the woods. Lipton’s voice is soft and natural in a Susan Vega kind of way, the perfect complement to Katz’s drum playing and smooth harmonizing voice. The new album is rich in musical instrumentation, incorporating everything from xylophone to ukulele.
At 25 Callie is bubbling over with creative energy, dressed in a black suit vest over a white t- shirt, jeans and cowgirl boots. She smiles as she recalls a time two years ago when she met Katz who she refers to as her musical soul mate. The two were students at UNH at the time, and Lipton was honing her musical style in private, “fiddling around” on guitar and recording her songs on cassette tapes. Answering a music producer’s advertisement on a school bulletin board led her to Katz who had recently started his own business. Katz says he felt an instant connection with Lipton and the two quickly began playing music together.
“He was exactly what I needed at that point in my life and I was in many ways what he needed too,” Lipton says.
“She was such a natural and I’d been at it for so long…” Katz adds. “It created a great blend of energy.”
Watching the two interact, the ying-yang dynamic in their relationship is palpable. At 33, Katz is more seasoned as an artist, having toured the world as a musician and started his own production company. With his short cropped brown hair and broad shoulders, he radiates a quiet confidence that well compliments his band mate’s fresh talent and bubbling enthusiasm. And it’s obvious by the way they complete each other’s sentences that the two are very tight.
“He’s my best friend,” Lipton says. “It’s good to have a core person in your life that wants to go the same place as you.”
Both Katz and Lipton experienced childhoods steeped in music and creativity. Katz, a Worcester native, is the son of two musicians. Lipton, who grew up in the Boston area, proudly declares herself the daughter of “hippie parents.” Mom, a music teacher who once followed the Grateful Dead around, had the good fortune of teaching Joan Baez’s child in school in California. Baez became a family friend and in inviting the family to the Newport Folk Festival to see her perform, gave Lipton her first taste of the musician’s life.
“She was this spiritual wise woman I looked up to,” Lipton says. “She cooked eggs for us in the morning sometimes, but then I’d also see her on the stage, performing, and I was totally in awe of that life…”
Like her childhood hero, Lipton is determined to pursue the musician’s life, no matter how difficult it may be. “I really want this to be full time, everyday,” she says. Katz, it seems feels the same.
These days The Dejas are in the middle of a bustling summer playing shows across New England. Adventurers at heart, the two are hoping to launch a tour of Massachusetts in the fall on a bicycle built for two, beginning in Salem and hopping off to play at venues within a two hour radius. To be certain, pedaling along the road together is a great analogy for where they are in their musical career: two artists sharing the same life path come what may. But, really, Katz says, it’s about having a good time. “It’s funny,” he says, flashing a smile. “We are serious about our music, but we also have a fun side…. People will say, look, here come The Dejas!”
I Am Done
Secrets & Lies
Dimness of the Light
Birth By Fire
Gates of Mind
All there Is
Where are We Going
Don’t Know Much
Save My Soul
Ye Ol Fandango
(And many more....)
Simon and Garfunkel "Sounds of Silence"
Bob Marley "Exodus"
The Police "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
Mazzy Star "Fade Into You"
Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me"
Filter "Take My Picture"
Fleetwood Mac "Everywhere"
Green Day "Time of Your Life"
Nelly Furtado " Say it Right"
Depeche Mode "All I ever wanted"
The Hooters "And We Danced"
Outkast "Hey YA"
Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
(and many more covers....)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.