interview + video premiere: neo-ragtime singer dessy di lauro on new ep, musical influences & working with husband ric’key pageot

September 14, 2015

Dessy Di Lauro’s forthcoming body of work, the ‘Say Hep Hep’ EP, feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Back to a time where brass sounds heavily influenced the music’s ambience. Old ragtime sounds infused with freshly pronounced funk and pop beats—”neo-ragtime”. Dessy, and husband Ric’key Pageot with whom she collaborates creatively, took time out of their schedules to chat with AFROPUNK. Dessy is keeping busy with her music while Ric’key was set to head out with Madonna and crew on tour as her pianist.
As special treat for us, they’re also exclusively sharing the video for ‘Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep ft. ANON’. Check out the premiere below!

By Andrea Dwyer, AFROPUNK Contributor


Andrea: When did you all meet and what’s the story behind the first time you met?

Dessy: We met in 2004. I had heard of Ric’key from friends in Montreal, that he was the hot new keyboard player on the scene. We actually met a year before for a gig but we really got to connect in 2004. The complicity and connection was hard to deny.

Andrea: How long have you all been working together?

Dessy: We have been working together from the time we met, so 2004. There was something I instinctively knew inside of me, that he was the one I trusted to work on my songs. I never gave anyone my music but when I met Ric’key, I just handed my song library to him. We’ve been working together 12 years now. I guess I knew that he would bring my music to life and know what to do with it because of the similar influences we were both brought up on.

Andrea: Most can’t handle working with their significant others. How do you all make it work?

Dessy: Our relationship personally and in music are the same. We have a great deal of respect for each other. We listen to one another, which I believe is key and it’s easy when you’re working towards one common goal. We love what we’re doing—love in life and music. It doesn’t get any better than this. We disagree a lot, but we always communicate what we feel. You gotta take ego and pride out of any working relationship, lol and stubbornness. Otherwise, that’s when it’ll get hard working together and we genuinely enjoy our time together. If we didn’t like each other, it could be a huge problem. As a couple, you could love each other and not like one another–you know what I’m saying? We like each other and that makes everything gravy.

Andrea: Ric’key: you produced Dessy’s latest project. Tell us about your creative involvement in making the EP. 

Ric’key: Well, I know what Dessy likes and doesn’t like when it comes to music, so it makes my job as a producer a lot easier.  Sometimes I’ll try things where I am not sure if I like it myself and she’ll say, “yeah I like it,” which sometimes will surprise me. If you listen to our first album in 2004, A Study of A Woman’s Soul, it was extremely organic and when you listen to This Is Neo-Ragtime and Say Hep Hep – The EP, you hear our musical evolution.  It didn’t come without challenging each other and ourselves.  I always consult her when I come up with ideas.  I don’t want her singing on song she doesn’t like, or a sound that bothers her or distracts her while she is trying to sing. It’s a constant back and forth during the creation process, it’s truly a collaboration. I am really excited for people to hear our new music.  

Andrea: Dessy: your EP is set to release on September 18th. It’s a perfect combustion of neo-ragtime sounds, hip-hop, funk and pop. Who are some of those old time artists who are great musical influences?

Dessy: My old influences are Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald. Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Bilal, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest. All these sounds molded make the sound we call Neo-Ragtime.

Andrea: And tell us about the event surrounding your EP’s release.

Dessy: The event at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC is our EP launch. We will be performing songs from the EP and more. We also have celebrity stylist/ designer, Nonja McKenzie, who will be presenting her Spring/ Summer collection as a nod to New York fashion week. And we will have Illspokinn holding it down as DJ to keep y’all movin on the dance floor.

Andrea: I’ve had the chance to check out your video “Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep.” I’d categorize the video as upbeat and fun. How would you describe it?

Dessy: I’ll second that emotion and also add it’s a feel good song. We wanted a video that would translate as being fun and making people feel good. The premise of the song is no matter what is going on in your life, there is always something to be grateful and feel good about. In a world with so much negativity in the news media and a lot of turmoil… much is going on, we felt like we needed to remind people that there is much to be thankful for. Positivity is contagious, we need to spread more of it.

Andrea: You all came through with your crew to our Brooklyn AFROPUNK festival. Describe in detail your experience at the fest.

Dessy: We sure did and had a blast! AFROPUNK Fest is our favorite festival. You get to discover artists and their music you wouldn’t normally find elsewhere. An eclectic variety of artists… inspiration everywhere. It was a great day, with amazing energy, beautiful smiling faces everywhere, afro-centric fashion, all for the common goal of supporting the marginalized side of black culture. I’m digging Lion Babe, whom I discovered on AFROPUNK. Thunder Cat was great, glad we got to see Lenny– our L.A. trumpet player that is in our band plays with Lenny–fierce show. I’m sad I missed the Queen of AFROPUNK herself, Grace Jones. But respect to AFROPUNK for putting together this amazing festival. 

Dessy and Ric’key are set to perform on Monday, Sept 14 at Le Poisson in New York (tickets available here); Thursday, October 15th, – BRIC Jazz Series in Brooklyn, and Monday October 26th at Hotel Café in Los AngelesEP available HERE.

You can follow Dessy Di Lauro on her socials:

‘Let Me Hear You Say Hep Hep’ Video credits:
Director: Christian Lamb
Producer: Jessica O’Brien
PM: Jen Faulkner
DP: Jason Koontz
Movi OP: Adam Koontz
Utility: Tighe Kellner
Wardrobe: Stephanie Fairfax and Stephanie Samuel
Dessy Hair and Make Up: Shalayna Monique.

* Andrea Dwyer is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She’s a writer at Superselected and you can follow her on Twitter @musingandrea.