In the week I spent sprinting between shows at SXSW last month, Brooklyn electronic R&B duo denitia and sene’s performance stood out. I reveled in the band’s moody, sexy electronic sounds that weave in warm human voices.
The pair’s first full-length album, His and Hers., came out in February, and is intimate in many ways: bandmates Denitia Odigie and rapper Sene recorded it themselves; many of their lyrics are about sex and dating; and the working relationship between the two artists feels fearless. I sat down with the band the day before their show at SXSW to talk about their new record and their history making music.
It’s no surprise that denitia and sene make music that’s sensuous and relatable—the pair prioritize openness with each other and in their songs above all. Each comes from a different musical background, and had trouble finding avenues in their communities for some of the work they hoped to do. When they met at a party in Brooklyn and began working together in 2012, they realized that the way they interacted would be the basis for the music they would make. This is true on His and Hers., where several tracks include a tape recording of the pair as they chat, laugh, and riff memorably on an old Usher song. Their comfort with each other is also readily apparent in their video for “Trip.Fall.,” in which they collaborated with the art collective BKLYN1834 to shoot a live performance of the song in a hotel room. Denitia sings from the shower, and Sene plays a xylophone on the bed. It’s a gorgeous, simple video, and is a testament to both performers that they were able capture the same bedroom vibe in an Austin club at 2pm on a weekday.
As if their music and artistic integrity weren’t enough to win me over, both Denitia and Sene had insightful thoughts on how feminism fits into their lives during our interview. The duo pointed out the name of their act and the name of the new album as evidence of the balance and equality they hold tantamount: the album title starts with “his” and ends with “hers,” but Denitia’s name is first in the band name. They also told the story of Denetia introducing Sene to Bitch at a magazine stand while they walked through New York City’s Chinatown last year (Sene thought the name was a joke, until Denitia showed him an article). Sene defined his feminism in terms of a childhood raised by women, such that he was shocked to realize as an adult that people do not universally accepted that women are providers and ass-kickers. Denitia, meanwhile, says she integrates feminism into her life with an understanding that, “I can do, you can do, it’s not tied to whose gender is more powerful. It’s equality.”
The fundamental appreciation for equal input is what makes denitia and sene’s music so stellar; it results in output that perfectly integrates the best of what two artists from different backgrounds have to offer.