Funding Recipient Profile | Amplify BC | Career Development
Over her fifteen years as a singer, songwriter, and DJ, Dee Lansdberg has become synonymous with creativity and innovation that inspires and educates in equal measure. Born into a lineage of Italian and Jewish musicians from Boston and New York, and raised by hippies amongst the mountains of B.C., she has curated festivals, facilitated music education programs, and forged meaningful connections in clubs and concert halls as far afield as Brazil and Berlin. With thematic inspiration drawn from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and India.Arie, Dee’s music is playful, personal, and grounded in self-love, social justice, and deep care for its listeners.
Midway through the COVID-19 pandemic, Dee took this spirit of deep care to heart, and made the decision to refocus and refresh her brand while still channeling her musical and educational efforts. Career Development funding via the Amplify BC program paved the way for her subsequent rebirth as the della kit.
As a successful 2021/22 Career Development grant recipient, Dee was able to partner with noted Canadian label and management company ArtHaus in support of the 2022 release of her new neo-soul/R&B album: moonbeams & frequencies. As Dee’s first public offering under the della kit brand, the album itself will drop this summer, with three single releases beforehand. Career Development support also financed the production of the music video for the R&B/soul and introspective track “baby blue”, one of the album’s flagship singles. This funding also significantly increased the video’s production values, with production occurring regionally, throughout Nakusp, Slocan, and Sandon, as well as within the East Vancouver, Chinatown, and Strathcona neighborhoods of Vancouver proper.
What’s behind this new name? As Dee explains, “The name ‘the della kit’ [is] borne out of the connection to the deeper parts of myself: my offerings, and my ancestral lineage. Della comes from D’allesandro. This is my mother’s maiden name from my Italian side. I added the word Kit because [of] this idea that I keep my instruments – my voice, and my body – with me wherever I go. To be delicate is to be precise, present, and patient. To be vulnerable is to be strong. To share my authentic voice while uplifting and empowering others to share their own is big, deep, and careful work.”
To offer added context, Dee continues, “When I set out on the journey of the della kit, I wanted to make timeless music: music that folks want to sit down and listen to; music that can be fully absorbed and felt through the minds, bodies, and spirits of these same listeners. When I set out on this journey, the intention was to, first, heal myself, and then let the music be the medicine for my listeners.”
When asked to speak on the thematic basis and inspiration behind “baby blue” in particular – and, moonbeams and frequencies as a finished album – Dee is also candid about the personal challenges that underscored their genesis.
“Sometimes, we must lose ourselves to find ourselves again. [The song] was created as a cure for a shattered heart and a broken spirit. I had lost my individuality. I had given away more than I had to give, and I no longer recognized the person I saw in the mirror. It’s an empowering breakup song. A song about taking [personal] responsibility – and, as hard as it is, acknowledging when a relationship has become toxic, and choosing ourselves over another.”
The idea of seeking strength and insight through inward reflection is the product of many years of generous community involvement. In recent years, Dee has toured with the Canadian DJ collective The Halluci Nation (formerly known as “A Tribe Called Red”), performed at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and opened for Bilal, Serena Ryder, and Mos Def. She is also regularly associated with Vancouver’s own China Cloud. And, Dee has curated for both the Nelson International Mural Festival, and the Shambala Music Festival.
Beyond these efforts, Dee has also worked to ensure that music’s transformative health and social impacts are available to as wide as possible an audience via her ongoing Sing for the Soul initiative. Since 2017, these recurring workshops have been offered in partnership with community and social service organizations to anyone interested exploring singing as a practice, regardless of innate ability or developed skill. The workshops elevate process over product: focus is placed on vocalizing itself, with a holistic approach to breath, body, and spirit. As Dee’s artistic transformation to the della kit is catalyzed through the release of moonbeams and frequencies, these workshops take on heightened relevance to her evolving output and practice.
“The foundation of how I started this [album] is rooted in the idea that our voice is a primary instrument – and that, with it, we can create the most authentic and pure musical expressions,” Dee says. “All of my songs on the album started with my voice and my loop pedal. I would then add body percussion, drums, and vintage keys to set the atmosphere of the music. The stories that I share on this album are about healing, self-love, and breaking down pre-existing programming around colonial and patriarchal mindsets that have kept me small, and filled with fear.”
Indeed, commitments to overcoming adversity and seeking social justice resonate powerfully throughout the della kit’s evolving artistic practice. As an album, “moonbeams and frequencies” pointedly expresses Dee’s strong feelings associated with disruptive social justice, the #MeToo movement, and the intersections and impacts of often-silenced voices coming to the music industry’s fore (in particular, BIPOC, female-identifying, and Queer communities).
When asked what advice she’d offer to others considering an application to Creative BC, Dee reflects, and then carefully offers, “I encourage you to really be gentle on yourself in the process of writing. Writing a grant was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done: it really made me see the parts of myself that were lacking. Before writing, I had a lot of healing that was needed around my self-worth. We, as artists, deserve to be uplifted, and to have a platform where we can share the deepest sides of ourselves.”
Beyond the personal, Dee’s advice is also pragmatic:
“The clearer you are about what you want, why you want it, and how it will not only advance your career, but support the B.C.-based folks you are including, the better your application will be!”
Photos by Kriss Munsya and Jesee Evans.