Carrying The Torch of Black Girl Magic: A Conversation with Deuxes

Photos by Bethan Long

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Special Edition 2022 – I Belong

Deuxes is an indie-soul sister duo from North West London. The pair are described as having a sound of their own, featuring a mixture of bold basslines, hypnotic guitar riffs, and soulful harmonies with influences from Motown to modern rock. Often referred to as “gems of the underground music scene,” the duo has played shows across the U.K. and some internationally. Following their 2020 single release “Genesis,” the world went into lockdown, but since restrictions have eased, Deuxes has been back on the road, building momentum. Playing at Tramlines in 2021, Deuxes was named winner of the European Emerging Bands contest, allowing the band to play at the 2021 EYE Festival in Strasbourg, France, to represent emerging U.K. artists during discussions at the European Parliament. 

Having also been named recent winners of the Fender Player Plus studio session program and recording tracks at world-renowned RAK Studios in London, Deuxes are set to release their upcoming single “Ripping At The Seams” in August with their EP entitled LOUD set to drop later this year. 

What are your names & what are your pronouns? Where are you from? What instrument(s) do you play?
We are sisters from North West London. Our duo comprises Martine (she/they), who plays the bass guitar, and Francesca (she/they), who plays the guitar, drums, and a bit of the piano. 

How long have you both been playing, and when did you realize that you wanted to be musicians?
It was the moment when we finished writing and composing our first song together. It’s called “Scandal,” and it’s an absolute shredder! We picked up the guitar and bass around 13 years ago. Our music department got funding to buy acoustic guitars and basses and gave us free rein over them. It ignited our curiosity; we wanted to learn the songs our favorite bands played. 

Being a musician comes with many positives and negatives. In your experience, what is the best part about being a musician?
Getting the sounds and melodies we hear in our head out into the real world and hearing our brainchild come to life. It’s such a satisfying feeling when it all comes together. The creative freedom of being able to express the sounds of your inner mindscape is priceless!

Music is a powerful tool that tells stories and serves as a universal language. Black culture has informed the foundation of many genres of music and movements to this day. What do you think of when you hear “Black History”?
It’s almost automatic to flashback to school days whenever Black history month would come around, and they would teach us about figures like Martin Luther King and Mary Seacole. These days we tend to think about all the Black history that wasn’t part of our curriculum — many of these things we had to learn independently. Things like significant achievements and contributions by Black people to industry, society, and culture (i.e., Harold Moody, Fanny Eaton, and Olaudah Equiano) are somehow ignored or dismissed in the mainstream.  

Is there a specific Black creative that inspires you? Why?
Sister Rosetta Tharpe! We admire the way she was able to explore influences from multiple genres like R&B and rock ‘n’ roll to create her own sound while staying true to her gospel roots. She was a fantastic vocalist and musician and performed fearlessly. Watching a full-figured Black woman captivate an audience with her voice and guitar inspired us and gave us the confidence to take music seriously as a career. She showed us that music comes in all forms, and you can create your own niche as long as you love what you’re creating.

Why do you think it is essential to pay homage to the Black creatives that came before us? Why do you think the world needs to learn about our Black history?
Without the Black creatives that came before us, there wouldn’t be a space for us to navigate in the industry today. They paved the way; they took all the heat from the public during their careers; people don’t react well to change, but they were the changemakers. Because of the way they stood up, spoke out, and challenged the norms, artists today like us can do what we do fearlessly. By learning about Black history, we can help eradicate racism caused by ignorance. People need to start seeing the Black hands that helped build today’s society and shape our culture. You need to be aware of something to place value on it; unfortunately, many people are unaware of the richness and fullness of Black history. And hopefully, by valuing our account, the world can further appreciate and visibly recognize our present-day contributions. 

What are your current studio and live performance setups?
Well, firstly, let’s talk guitars. Martine is currently switching between a Fender Player Plus precision bass and a Danelectro Longhorn Bass. Francesca also alternates between her Fender Player Plus Strat and her Gretsch hollow body. 

We take pride in being very DIY with our studio setup, and as we live together, it just made sense to change our living room into a rehearsal/recording studio which all hinges on our Behringer X32 mixing desk. We also have a few cheap, budget amps, but we’re looking to upgrade them soon. We also love visiting studios in London when we can and were lucky enough to get offered some studio time at the world-renowned RAK Studio in London, where we recorded our upcoming track, “Ripping at the Seams.”

As for our live setup, we’re super into keeping it simple; we tend to go straight into amps, although Francesca has recently added a Line 6 Helix Floor Multi-effects pedal to her setup, and we must say, it’s been a blast programming all the signal chains for our live set. We tend to play live with a session drummer to fill out our sound, but we like to stay as flexible as possible with our setup in this post-lockdown landscape, so we can go straight up in duo mode when necessary. 

What does it mean to be a Black creative to you? What do you want your voice to contribute to the industry?
Being a Black creative means breaking new ground, exploring genres, and creating our own sound while staying true to our roots. We want to be a voice for other young Black women that shout, “Just because you are not well represented in a genre doesn’t mean that genre isn’t for you! Never limit yourself.” We also want to raise a flag for all the DIY indie artists and empower people to realize that they can really do it all; every day is an opportunity to learn something new, and nothing is beyond you; you can be the producer, the engineer, the musician, the vocalist, etc. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your eight-year-old self looking up to the adult version of you now?
Don’t be afraid to exist outside the box; it’s okay if the mold doesn’t fit! Don’t let society pressure you into chasing money; don’t let your lack of funds limit creativity. Instead, use it as fuel for your creativity. Stay consistent because hard work pays off. Protect your mental health, and don’t be afraid to express your truth.