didi’s Facebook’s “about” section reads, “we play with all our <3s.” That couldn’t be more true.
The Ohio-based band’s emotional indie tracks about life, love and death will have you feeling warm and foamy inside. Their music is filled with sweet and slow guitar picking that build to emotional solos and passionate vocals. It makes you feel like someone finally cares about you.
The four friends—Sheena McGrath (drummer), Meg Zakany (guitar/vocals) Leslie Shimizu (bass) and Kevin Bilapka (guitar)—named the band after the bassist’s grandmother Dorothy “Didi,” but left the band name in lowercase letters to reserve the capital D for sweet Dorothy Didi.
Their most recent album, Memory Foam, out on Damnably Nov. 23, was inspired by their lives and their cultures and expose their vulnerabilities like no other band. Tracks like “Circles” and “Moon Jelly” set emotional words to dreamy melodies, creating an almost therapeutic atmosphere—while tracks like “Haru” and “Muerde” take advantage of the multiple languages different didi members speak, conveying their emotional stories in Japanese and Spanish.
Read the entire interview with didi below and pre-order Memory Foam here.
BTRtoday (BTR): Let’s get straight to talking about this sophomore album, Like Memory Foam—that’s quite a symbolic and picturesque album name, what does it mean to you guys?
Leslie Shimizu (LS): The title can be interpreted in many different lights. The imprints of certain people and experiences from our past affect us each. The memories of those float in and out of our songs as they do our daily lives. The idea of foam carries not only the image of an impressionable surface, but also the foam on the ocean water rolling in and out with the waves. Many aspects of the sea have influenced us—from the colors to the sounds themselves.
BTR: I spy at least two different languages right in the track names, which I love. How do different cultures influence you guys and affect the writing process?
Kevin Bilapka (KB): We each have different backgrounds and I think that works its way into our songwriting pretty naturally. Whether it’s knowing the Japanese word for springtime off the top of your head and recognizing that it fits perfectly into the chorus of a song or just feeling that singing in Spanish makes the song resonate in a way it just couldn’t in English. It’s a product of being a group of friends who have each had our own important life experiences.
I think it affords us an expanded vocabulary with which to write songs. We have more than just English at our disposal and we have pretty varied backgrounds to draw from. It also feels important to write songs that might not necessarily click in the same way for every single person who hears them, but might mean the world to the few people who can really relate.
BTR: What’s your favorite part about releasing this album into the world?
Sheena McGrath (SG): It feels like a huge weight has been lifted. When an album is released, it really is like releasing, letting go of everything that went into creating it. Now, we can focus more on what’s next and move forward as a band. We have been sitting on some of these songs for what has to be close to three years, so it’s a great relief to watch them finally see the light of day. And of course, who doesn’t like to receive validation when you’ve done something great?
BTR: Is there anything special behind the band name didi and why you keep it all lowercase?
LS: So the name “didi” involves a cool coincidence. The band was trying to figure out a name, throwing lots of ideas out there to each other, especially names with repeated syllables and sounds. I believe it was Meg that ended up asking me what I thought of the name “Didi,” which just so happens to be what we call my grandma, 90-year-old Dorothy “Didi” Shimizu. She is a humble but powerful force in our family, and she endured a lot in this country because she was a minority. The band connected and felt it would be appropriate to immortalize her in a way by creating music as “didi,” but a capital D is saved for the original grandma, Didi herself. Plus, the lowercase name just felt right.
BTR: How did you guys all meet and decide to form a band?
MZ:I wanted to play music with people who made me feel comfortable as a newer guitarist at the time. I admired everyone’s musicality seeing them perform in different bands and figured, what’s the worst that could happen in asking them to form a band, so I asked. Magically, they came to a first practice.
BTR: Any big dreams you have in store for the future of didi?
MZ: We dream about touring the UK, Japan and South America. Though continuing to write/perform music together is a regular-sized dream we’re privileged to actualize currently.