What’s left when you strip everything ceremonial away? It’s a terrifying question for most artists as interlocking layers of disguises and aliases and personalities can sometimes be the only barrier between you and the weight of the world’s expectations. The prospect of facing those anxieties while laid bare can spur many to wear those masks forever, but there are some artists who see distillation as the only way forward. Denitia Odigie knows that path as well as anyone. She was stricken with such severe stage fright as a young performer that she asked people to turn around or close their eyes before she could begin. But that’s all changed, and she’s ready to face her audience eye to eye.
Denitia’s Ceilings is a portrait of an artist awakened. After moving to the Rockaways, an isolated, beach-side Queens community, Odigie found herself turning inward for inspiration. She set out to shed the protective layers her career had imposed and rediscover what songs and sounds came naturally to her. She also wanted this story to have her name on it: no more aliases, no more hiding.
Denitia discovered a fellow traveler in Daniel Schlett, the owner of the Williamsburg recording studio, Strange Weather. The pair dug through stacks of Denitia’s demos, selecting the choice cuts that would eventually yield the Ceilings EP. The symbiosis between the pair can be felt through each song as Denitia’s sweeping compositions breathe and tighten at just the right moments. It starts with the anger and frustration on “Bound to Happen,” where Denitia first faces the illusions surrounding her and shatters them to pieces. The song begins spare as a dirge, but then fills with bright, vibrant synths as Denitia begins taking a sledgehammer to the ersatz world around her. That clear-eyed perspective is then cemented on “Waiting” and “Ceilings,” twin tracks that are meditations on the world’s self-imposed separations and segregations, and serve as pleas to break down those barriers we unwittingly construct. The EP closes with “Planes,” described by Denitia as a song about the “constant longing for more, of wanderlust and desire.” The track’s spine is in its vibrant piano and drum composition that lets Denitia’s voice soar and search, a sign that Ceilings is only the beginning.