T Emi Photography

Deft Color’s ‘Sense of Unity’

Right in between Memorial Day and Independence Days comes a record that was not only created by the heart and soul of two veterans, but speaks to the strong impact of honoring them, whether in active duty or otherwise.

David Williamson and Philip Albin are friends, musicians, inspirations, and genre-defiers. Their unique blend of hip-hop and blues rock is lighting up the Northeast, especially in and around Maryland. (You can add Deft Color into the long list of things the state is known for: sailing, blue crabs, Babe Ruth, Good Charlotte, John Waters, the Chesapeake Bay, Harriet Tubman, All Time Low… and Deft Color.) This pairing takes creativity to another level because of how they work together to form a united front of storytelling. Tales of life and loss and love and learning merge and elevate the lyrics written and rapped, which are then set to edgy guitar riffs. All of the music is attention grabbing.

Deft Color is as electric as it is eccentric, but not so far out of left field that you can’t find something to jam to and appreciate. This duo is making music, putting on live shows, and fostering a community. It’s a joint effort – a melodic and impassioned effort. With a new record on the way later this week, we had to lay the foundation for new fans and our readers; thus, the following interview was born.

Bull’s Eye is the new EP and it tacks real, raw freedom onto an only “supposedly free” society. That being said, what do you hope listeners take away from this release?

With Bull’s Eye, we hope listeners feel the urgency and the raw, unfiltered emotions that sustain the concept of freedom in today’s world. We want to challenge the idea of what it means to be truly free, encouraging listeners to question the norms of society. Our aim is for our audience to find their own voice and power through the music, recognizing the beauty in authenticity and self-expression.

There is a little bit of everything on Bull’s Eye, but which song on the EP tracklist do you think emphasizes what it – and the band – are all about? If you could only recommend that one to someone new to Deft Color or about to delve into this record cycle? Why?

It’s difficult to choose, but “Shackles” definitely encapsulates the essence of our band and this project. It also happens to be our most interactive piece because of the energy, ad libs, breakdowns, and engagement it draws from the listener (especially when we perform it live)! It’s a track that blends our fusion of hip-hop, rock, and blues with our message of resilience and having the courage to question all that we’re told.

Something Deft Color does well is break the mold of what hip-hop can be and what rock’n’roll musicianship is rooted in. While creating the five songs that make up this new EP, what was Deft Color listening to? What was the band gravitating toward and drawing inspiration from?

First of all, we are thankful for those words! During the creation of Bull’s Eye, we drew inspiration from a wide array of artists. We found ourselves constantly going back to the lyrics, message, and production of Dan Auerbach, The Roots, Black Pumas, and Royce Da 5’9”. Additionally, The Bones of J.R. Jones, Rival Sons, and Coast Contra gave us nostalgia and inspired us with their grit and passion! This eclectic mix helped us craft a sound that is both familiar and unique.

Performing live is a massive part of your career. Which songs off this record are on their way to becoming a concert staple?

We definitely feel “Shackles”, “Bull’s Eye”, and “Green Lights” fit the bill, as they are high-energy, with powerful hooks that invite crowd participation and create a sense of unity. They embody our spirit!

Delaware and Maryland are on board will all things Deft Color. How does that make you feel as local, rising musicians? Also, do you think this EP will push you further, potentially further north in our humble direction?

We are truly honored and blessed as we continue to gain traction within our community. We feel the love and support growing at every show, which is very rewarding! The positive reactions in direct response to something we’ve been pouring our heart and soul into creates a feeling that is hard to articulate. As rising musicians, this homegrown support fuels our passion and drive to reach even greater heights. We believe Bull’s Eye has the potential to resonate beyond our current borders, attracting a wider audience and helping us to expand our reach further north and beyond. We’re excited to see where this path takes us and are eager to connect with new fans!

Both members of Deft Color are retired from the military. What does this time of year around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July mean to you? How are you navigating an EP release and performances amid such? The timing of all things right now is as electric as the music itself sounds.

Memorial Day and the Fourth of July hold deep significance for us as veterans. They remind us of the sacrifices made and the complexities of the freedoms we often take for granted. Releasing Bull’s Eye around this time feels necessary, as it aligns with our message of true freedom and reflection on societal values. Navigating the EP release and our performances during this time adds a layer of purpose and urgency to our music. We see it as an opportunity to honor those who served while inspiring our listeners to think critically about the meaning of freedom and their role in shaping its future.