There aren’t many successful new groups these days. Just one of this year’s 40 bestselling albums is by a band formed in the past decade: rap collective D-Block Europe’s Home Alone 2. Perhaps we don’t need bands any more when there are one-man armies such as Deyaz (pronounced “Dee-as”) around. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter taught himself guitar, piano, bass and violin, and crafts intimate, intense music that shifts softly between genres. When Deyaz’s parents left London for Devon six years ago, he stayed behind, slipping into the life of a nomadic teenage bluesman, battling homelessness, anxieties and addiction, busking on guitar for rent and food. “You play a classical jazz piece, no one gives a fuck,” he says. “Thunderstruck by AC/DC? There’s £20 notes flying everywhere!”
Deyaz grew a moustache to get a pub job when he was underage and while trying classical musical training at a conservatoire. Just like school, though, the structures and strictures of formal tutelage stifled him. He walked out and found his real education in everything from drumming in a punk band to producing grime. The first fruits of this are on his promising Why Not mixtape, with its haunted, yearning highlights Time and Bleed. His first proper gigs and some sound-widening EPs will follow. There are hundreds of songs in the Deyaz vault, and he plans to “suffocate myself in my own music” before finally finishing his debut album. He’s come a long way from being ignored on the streets.