Speech Debelle

Speech Debelle


Corynne Elliot, better known as Speech Debelle, kicked in the music industry’s backdoor in 2009, waving her sensitive, introspective Mercury Prize ‘British Album of the Year’ and debut album ‘Speech Therapy’, beating the likes of Florence and the Machine, Kasabian and La Roux. Her 2012 Kwes-produced sophomore album ‘Freedom Of Speech’ commanded further critical acclaim, while expanding Speech’s captivating flair for poetic testimonies, playful narratives and dynamic rumination on power, politics and pleasure. She later stepped away from music for a few years to develop her other passions; her zeal for cooking tantalised the nation with her inventive recipes as a semi-finalist on Celebrity MasterChef, while in 2013 her socially conscious drive saw her curating a moving exhibition of art by prisoners for the Koestler Trust’s ‘The Strength and Vulnerability Bunker’ at the Southbank Centre. Speech combined her love for music and food in her weekly podcast ‘The Work Brunch’, where she cooked and discussed music, life and inspiration with a range of esteemed guests, such as Lianne La Havas, Nitin Sawhney, Shabaka Hutchings and Mikill Pane. Her fourth studio album ‘Sunday Dinner on a Monday’ came out 9 June 2023.

Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.

Where are you based?

South East London.

How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do you do something else?

I’m primarily a rapper and producer but also a voice over artist, a home chef and keen angler.

Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?

Meshelle Ndegeocello, DMX, Tupac, Lauryne Hill, Da Brat. Just about every reggae and dancehall artist.

Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?

On this new album (Sunday Dinner on a Monday) we focused on music first. I would only make some voice notes with vocal melodies on my phone. I would then take the beats home, press play and hit record on another device. Then freestyle the whole song. After that I would transcribe the freestyle. This album was made in about 3-month tops. Really fast for an album. I really tried to not over think and just have fun. A big difference on this album was the battle rap/bars style I incorporated. Realised I had never really rapped liked that and wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

What is your “studio” setup?

I don’t have a home studio. I’m not a fan of engineering. I just don’t have the patience and am not great with tech. When I work with musicians and/or a producer/engineer I am able to communicate what I hear.

What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely? 

During lockdown 2020 myself and the producer attempted to work remotely but it just didn’t really work. The magic wasn’t there. Too many distractions. I’m usually multitasking on the phone which is the opposite energy to creating. When creating it requires super focus and being in the flow. 

With others in person, I try to create a meeting point by not being too overbearing but also being confident in my ideas. As long as the other person commits to doing the same, we can co-create. I’m excitable, tipsy, inspired and fearless. I also know my limits, if you can do something better, or have a better idea…lets do that!

At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?

I prefer letting people hear when it’s finished. Only because they can’t hear what there isn’t yet. Sometimes that is still in my head. Or hasn’t quite been executed yet by a musician. Unless of course they are going to be a part of the track.

Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?

Not that I can think of. I’m sure for the engineer, uploading stems is a headache. But for me downloading and/or uploading to Dropbox Business is super simple. Actually, my first album stems were destroyed! The hard drive burned. Only one person had the stems. It’s mad because my label owns the masters to that album for life, but there aren’t even stems for it. I guess if I couldn’t have it, no one could ha!

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How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?

We listen to the production mix together then get it mixed. The mixing can either be sent to me or I listen there. Same with the master. But I’m ok now to have the mix and master sent to me. When I started, I wanted to be there all of the time, but I’ve learnt to give the work space.

How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?

We used a private SoundCloud link this time around. But honestly, if people wanted to leak the album that badly I would Rihanna. It’s really not that deep. The music is meant to be heard. It will always find a way.

Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?

My latest album “Sunday Dinner On A Monday” came out on June 9th this year. Check it out here!