It hasn’t even been a year since Dallas’ Dezman Lehman, aka Dezi5, left Dallas to pursue a music career in New York City, but Lehman is already signed to a new bicoastal label, 11A, and is gearing up to release his first EP as a New York-based artist.
At the time of the move, Lehman cited artistic stagnation and lack of support as the reasons for the change, but he still played plenty of shows in Dallas this year. He'll also play his first show of the new year in Dallas, which he still refers to as home, on Jan. 2.
“No one [in Dallas] would work with me because I wasn’t hip-hop, I wasn’t experimental," he says. "I’m just a dance artist.”
Lehman met the people behind his new record label, Jamie Townsend and Craig Lewiston, at the third anniversary party for Three Links in Deep Ellum. Lewiston is the former hardware systems lead for the Apple Watch.
“I was very fortunate to meet Craig Lewiston. He has believed in my music since he first saw me,” Lehman wrote in an email. “We were thinking about re-releasing Crucifixion on the Dance Floor with better quality and sound, but I decided to embark on a new project with a different perspective. I presented to the label a few compositions written by myself and my writing partners. They are all on board.”
He feels he's found his niche in New York and says he's been well received at shows along the East Coast.
“It’s a lot more open. It hasn’t been that hard of a transition," he says. "It’s just like Dallas; you have to know the right people.”
11A Records may have the right people for Lehman, but it's difficult to find much evidence of its existence. The label has a sparsely populated Instagram with a handful of cryptic images and announcements of things to come in 2018.
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Lehman says Benjamin Lazer Davis, a member of the “high concept chamber-pop” band Cuddle Magic, will release a solo project through the label. "Pastoral punk" duo Star Rover also will release work through 11A, he says.
He adds that Lewiston and Townsend have raised the capital to start the label and that Townsend, 11A's creative director, will set up a vinyl pressing plant in Oakland, California. At the time of writing, neither of the label's co-founders was available for comment.
A few tracks from Crucifixion on the Dance Floor will be re-released in the spring as an EP, Lehman says, with the release of a new album scheduled for late 2018 or early 2019.
Until then Dallas, can catch Dezi5 on Jan. 2 at Club Dada, where he'll perform alongside 88 Killa and Party Static. Lehman says he plans to play new material and tracks from his upcoming EP.