Ian Freeman (Afropunk) interviews Fousheé, whose parents hail from Jamaica (her mother was a drummer in an all-girl reggae band in Jamaica).
Her eerie refrain, half proclamation half plea, of trying not to go off the deep end that found its way onto a freestyle by Sleepy Hollow struck a chord amongst a world locked inside. It haunted listeners so much that they had to find out who the voice belonged to and how to hear more. The voice belonged to Fousheé, a New Jersey artist who had been making the rounds, playing venues like SOB’s, the Apollo, and even found her way onto NBC’s The Voice. But like so many musicians hadn’t found her break yet, or more so, the world hadn’t found her. But now, the world had come calling in the form of a social media campaign to not only identify the voice on the track but demand that she make her own version of the song. Oh, and by the way, they wanted more music. In an instant came the labels, the shows, the brands, the collaborations. To paraphrase Prince, sometimes it takes years to become an overnight success.
The story of Deep End has been retold so many times you expect it soon to become the stuff of social media urban legend. Exaggerated to such unbelievable proportions that next we hear it, maybe the sample pack will become a stolen tape or a label that forced the song out of her hands. But Fousheé is thankful for the opportunity and has been carving out a legend of her own. She, like H.E.R, Lianne La Havas, Adeline, and others, have ushered in a new wave of women guitarists. She was also the first black woman to break the top 10 of Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart since another black woman guitarist, Tracy Chapman, did it 32 years ago.
We got the chance to talk to Fousheé about her being named to Fender Next, taking up space in Alternative music, guitars, and more.
I know everyone asks about the whole Deep End Twitter, TikTok thing, so I’m not even going to ask that. My first question is, how does it feel to be a part of Fender Next? How did that come about?
Fousheé: Well, we’d connected before when I did a guitar giveaway. As a guitar player, Fender is top of the line. It’s always been a goal for me to connect with them and see what we can do together. We worked in the past, and then they reached out about being a Fender Next artist, so we have some things in the works but nothing yet. I’ve received some guitars, but we have big plans about teaching people how to play guitar. I just want to put a guitar in the hands of people who want to learn because I’ve been there and beginning to learn guitar, so I think we can do some really interesting things together.
Who got you into playing the guitar?
Fousheé: My mum played the drums, but I didn’t get that gene, but the guitar, I think just being around the New York music circuit and watching all those live musicians. I always loved the guitarists because they would have these cool solos, and they just looked really cool. I also figured it would help me be able to write and perform better. It’s like another language that you can learn and express to the producer that you’re working with and have more control over the music that you make. I thought it would help improve my quality of life as a musician, as an artist, as a recording artist.
Also, I grew up in a household where my mum would just play Bob Marley non-stop, and that might have been somewhere [chuckles]- buried in my memories when I found it second nature to pick up the guitar.
What was your first guitar?
Fousheé: A black Les Paul, Epiphone. I still have it, actually. It’s still intact. Just one of the pick-ups might need a little tuning, though. But it’s still there, and I actually used it in my recent video for Slime. [. . .]
[. . .] You gave the New York artist answer, “Whatever they got.”
Fousheé: Yes. I love that about New York, though. It’s very spur of the moment. We work with what we got. It reminds me of a Jamaican saying where they say, “Turn yeh hand eh make fashion,” it’s like you turn your hand, and you turn into fashion. It’s not an article of clothing. You’re working with what you have. You can make it look like fashion. They just know how to make it work. [. . .]