You may remember Derry Mensa as the cute, shy boy who made Kelly Rowland’s heart skip a beat on The X Factor back in 2011.
Breaking into the music industry through X Factor wasn’t as easy as it seems, I had to do so much grafting behind the scenes. I auditioned for the show about 7 times before I made it onto the main stage and the live auditions. Saying that the journey was incredible. It was a great experience. Many people would have jumped at the opportunity to be in my position, but like everything in life, there is always an upside and a downside. I definitely enjoyed the upside.
2# You were a favourite of Kelly Rowland, tell us how you won her over…
Pure luck. I felt like I had to impress someone and it was either Tulisa or Kelly but my connection with Kelly was strong so it was pretty easy to express my feelings towards her. At the time I was young, ready, hungry and willing to go the extra mile to get past the first stage of auditions. That moment was just do or die so I went with it and it was successful for me. I loved every minute of it.
3# What’s life been like post X Factor, and breaking up with The Risk to go it alone?
Being in The Risk was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. As a group in the music industry, you learn so many things like how to conduct yourself in different situations, being on stage and if one of us wasn’t well we would make the best out of that situation and get on with it. That part I miss a lot because as a solo artist there is no one to lean on but the perks are that you get to do your own thing and make your own music (depending on how much of an independent artist you are), you get to be more creative.
Being in a band you have to share your creativity and trust those people with your creativity. If you create a great song for the group you feel as if it was you that did it for the team, not in a selfish way but you tend to want to take a little bit more credit for doing something special.
In life you have to go through many transitions being in a group and transitioning to become a solo artist was difficult for many reasons but it was a relief to come away from a lot of the ups and downs we went through. We didn’t have animosity between us but not a lot of people liked us as a group so that’s pretty much why we aren’t still a group today but we are still friends.
4# Have you found it difficult to be taken seriously as a credible artist after being an X Factor contestant?
I do feel like I have to work a little bit harder which is not a problem but I’ve realised that people don’t really like to give people second chances. I would understand if you were given the opportunity and you didn’t take it but in my situation, we were given an opportunity at a time when we didn’t understand the music industry and everything was thrown at us so quickly. Especially me. I was like a deer in headlights. It was good at the time but I wasn’t really learning anything, I’ve only learned from my mistakes and looking back thinking ‘I shouldn’t have done this or that’. Now I want to surpass the place I was in before to where I know I’ve done my work and I’m still grinding. Working hard isn’t the problem it’s making people aware that I am here and I’m here to stay. Speak it into existence right!
5# So now you’re back with Moonlight Girl which you released on Valentine’s day, was this song made for someone special?
No, it wasn’t made for anyone, in particular, it was made out of a creative moment. I like to go into the studio with melodies and lyrics half written and then make them while the beat is being created. A lot of my songs are done within an hour so it was an easy one to make.
He has been a mate of mine for about 7 years. We met at a club in central London and have been friends ever since. The song turned out really well so I’m grateful to him for being a part of it.
7# You’re an RnB artist and doing duets is definitely an RnB thing if you could choose any female artist to collaborate with who would it be and what would the song be about?
Collaborating with artists like Jorja Smith; Tory Kelly, those two especially would be unreal. They are amazing singers and artists. If you just go off RnB a little bit into what’s trending right now Steff London is definitely one of the female artists out there that have caught my eye, she is really putting in the work and I’d love to collaborate with her.
8# You’ll be releasing your EP soon what would you say to encourage people to listen to it?
What I can say is that my EP is not gonna be straightforward, it’s different. A lot of people say that about their stuff but my music is gonna be a variation of different sounds and energies but there is always a message within the music. Whenever I make music I always have people asking questions like ‘was this for her?’ Or ‘is this your situation, has this happened to you?’ So definitely my EP will be something to purchase and download. It’s definitely something to watch out for.
9# What’s your favourite track from the EP?
I couldn’t tell you just because every time I make music the latest one I make always becomes my favourite and it goes on and on. So I think once the EP is actually finalised and I’ve actually listened to it myself then I will know.
10# What’s next for you?
Another single, the next one for me is better than Moonlight Girl. I think it is more grown and interesting. That’s as much as I can say without saying too much. The artist who features on the track is incredible and is going to do big things. So watch out it will be out very soon.