Desi Valentine’s modern twist on retro soul naturally strikes a chord with those who appreciate such classic influences as Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. Both emotionally impassioned and irresistibly danceable, the London-born, LA transplant’s new single “My Worst Enemy” is a window into the tumultuous ups and downs of a rising artist.
“My Worst Enemy” is inspired by the confusing period of time when Desi Valentine had a hit single (“Fate Don’t Know You”) reach the top of digital charts, all while he was struggling to pay rent and afford a cheap meal every day. Drawing from this contradictory experience of budding commercial success juxtaposed with personal hardship, then layering in the heartbreak of a one-sided love affair, Valentine co-wrote his new song with Morgan Taylor Reid.
Valentine shared what it was like to work with Reid for the first time:
“We gelled immediately. I told him the story about the object of my affection that disappeared on me out of disinterest. When it came to the track, we wanted to craft a retro soul sound with a pop twist. We said ‘what would Nina Simone do in this day and age?’ …A throwback sound like this is about picking the right elements, as less is more. The Amy Winehouse album ‘Back to Black’ is a prime example and definitely a huge influence on mine… We had the most fun tracking the vocals. I get to wail on this one! My hope is that people feel the emotion in the lyrics.”
With such a powerful vocal delivery, listeners can clearly identify with the pain of humiliation evident in “My Worst Enemy.” Discussing the impact of unrequited longing, Valentine further explains the song’s lyrical content: “Rejection is such a knock to the ego. It derails who you know yourself to be.” Intense lyrics like “I set myself on fire for you to see me” lead into the hook of the chorus, where Valentine belts out, “You took away my dignity / My ego is my worst enemy.”
The track’s production equally carries the song with plenty of energy. Evoking the style of classic rhythm and blues soul, Valentine says, “I love those doo-wop style vocals from the 50s and 60s, so we built the whole track around a stacked vocal.” Blending with his contemporary pop style, the singer-songwriter recalls, “Morgan really managed to modernize the sound with that breakbeat drum sound. ” As the throwback doo-wops, jazzy snaps, high-energy beats, and brassy horns all build together, it’s easy to envision fans breaking out in a mad frenzy of a dance to this song.
Confident and self-assured in his artistry now, Desi Valentine’s sonic identity wasn’t always this clear-cut. First enjoying a budding career in musical theatre back home in the UK, in 2012 he decided to try to break into the music scene as he moved from London to LA. Searching for his artistic identity (dabbling in pop-rock and rockabilly along the way), Valentine cites Adele’s iconic 21 as a motivating force to embrace his inner truth and move forward with the music he was meant to make all along.
Since then, the ease with which Valentine has been able to musically express himself has proven fruitful. In the early stages of his career so far, he has already performed alongside Elton John, Leona Lewis, and toured with Andra Day. Next up, the artist will be supporting Vintage Trouble on tour October through November 2017. Fans can also expect a new EP in early 2018.
Enjoy your first listen to Desi Valentine’s “My Worst Enemy” below.