Even though the rising pop duo DRAMA dropped an EP earlier this year, the singer/producer combo of Via Rosa and Na'el Shehade is showing no signs of slowing down. After finishing up a tour as direct support for french band Jain, DRAMA recently released their latest single 'Ready for Love' which is a teaser to their soon to be released new EP 86.
AXS.com had the chance to catch up with the Duo during their latest tour to talk more about what DRAMA has in store for the future.
AXS: What are some things that you've learned from touring with Jain?
Via Rosa: Well it's our second night, but if anything, it's inspiring to see a team that works together so well. Like, they can have a 14-person crew and everything is like, "Boom boom bam," like they do a soundcheck for her before she had the soundcheck to make sure that sound is perfect before her sound is perfect. Like, that's amazing. It's the second night and I already feel like I have to step my shit up. Like if she's gonna put on a show like that then I want the whole show to be like "Bam bam bam", you know what I mean? So I just want it to be a good show for everyone.
AXS: Definitely. Well I think, a lot of people were here to see Jain and they didn't really know who DRAMA was, but they were feeling' it. So you guys are doing good. They even called for an Encore from you.
Via Rosa: I know. That was crazy. I would never imagine that. We played in San Francisco twice already. And both times we sold it out. San Francisco is pretty good with us. We didn't really put money behind advertising this tour. So we're just like sharing it as much as we can because we don't really have any money right now. We're literally like on a $50 a day budget. Like the food and sleeping on the floor, is if we can find one, and we're just bugging' it out because you know, it's what happens. But um, it's been great so far. So far so good. Everything's pretty smooth.
AXS: So speaking of food, Via, you're obviously a chef. And Na’el, you obviously have restaurants. Are you mainly going out to eat at restaurants while on tour, or are you cooking everything for yourself?
Via Rosa: We were before, but right now it's a little bit of both. If there's a kitchen, then we're totally down to cook in people's kitchens. I actually put out a public state announcement that if you buy groceries, I'll cook for you. And so we got a few people where they already have some groceries waiting for us to cook. Colorado, I think we had a kitchen. New York, we had a kitchen. So there's a few places that are like, "Come eat at my house and I'll cook for you." But I'm like, "I want to cook for you guys. I like to cook. It's my therapy." So it's a little bit of both. Like today we ate at the airport, but when we got in from the airport the other night, we went to the grocery store and I made like soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
AXS: So what would you say is your like "go to" or like some of your favorite tour cooking recipes?
Via Rosa: Favorite tour cooking recipes ... It depends on the mood.
Na’el Shehade: And what we can get.
Via Rosa: Yeah for real. But I mostly go with you know, a lot of us are vegan. Obviously, I try to give them a little bit of protein as much as possible, but also give them avocado and that's like, "Just eat it." And they're like, "Okay". But usually I always go with some type of good sauce, a vegetable and if it's not a tortilla, it's a piece of bread. And you know it's the regular old immigrant meals.
Na’el Shehade: We had tomato soup and a grilled cheese
Via Rosa: Cheese and avocado
Na’el Shehade: It was fuckin' amazing.
Via Rosa: It's funny because our tour manager doesn't eat avocado or like anything that's not processed, I feel like. And so like I served him the tomato soup with the toast and the cheese and avocado and he looked at me and was like, "Okay can I get a grilled cheese with just the cheese?" And I was like, "Yeah I'll make it for you." And so I made him a cheese sandwich and then he was like, "Something's missing. I don't know." And like, "Yes avocado.” He was like, "Yeah I miss it." And I'm like, "See I told you it was good”
AXS: A lot of your music relates to lost love and breakups. Did you always write this way or was this like circumstantial?
Via Rosa: Yeah you can read my poetry journals from when I'm like 13. It's pretty much all like "my broken heart. What is wrong with me?" I don't know. I don't really plan to write music. I was just writing just because I had to write. And then I was producing and it just kind of happened. And then my friend heard it and was like, "I'm gonna give you a mic." And that was the end of that. And then like everything's just been about real stories and heartbreak. I'm getting more and more into different topics, I feel like, as I'm getting older. But I'm still pretty dramatic and very, very single. So it gets depressing sometimes.
AXS: A lot of times, people say in the rock community, you know, "No smack, no soul." Do you think if you ever had a real relationship that's solid and like they had your back, do you think that would completely destroy your way of songwriting?
Via Rosa: Yes, of course, it would. But I think that it would evolve into something else. And I hope that from the music that I'm writing, it allows other people to heal with me. And that by the time I'm there, they'll be there, as well.
AXS: The music for the next EP has been recorded. And you just played the new single ‘Ready for Love’. When are you planning to release the new EP? And do you have a name for it yet?
Via Rosa: Yeah it's called 86 and we don't have a date, as of yet. There's a lot of good songs. There's a lot of ones we keep finding and like, "Oh we should finish this. Okay, let's finish it." And then, things change. So we're just getting it all together.
AXS: Is it going to evolve into a full album or are you sticking with the EP format?
Na’el Shehade: We like these songs. It's probably going to be eight songs forever. The music is gonna be different though. it has a lot more heavy arrangements this time, strings, horns, there’s a lot more music going on in my head. I mean like music in a different way from what you've heard from Drama. It's very dramatic actually.
AXS: So the new music from DRAMA will be dramatic?
Na’el Shehade: Yeah extra dramatic.
Via Rosa: Extra dramatic. More than the first. The first one was us getting to know each other because a lot of the songs we didn't know each other ...A lot of those were like first takes that I just went in the studio and I just did it. First, it was a first take with a little bit of ad libs.
AXS: So between the Bay Area, Chicago and L.A., how has each environment influenced you creatively and personally?
Via Rosa: I don't know honestly. That's always been a tough question for me to answer. I know that they have influenced me because just obviously this is what happens naturally. But I wouldn't be able to explain how. It's just the people. The people that really inspire me to be better at what I'm doing. Like I constantly make people like, "Man you're really good at that. And if you think I'm good, I should work hard until I think I'm good, too, so that I'm here like getting better. But everyone I've met from the beginning, like even when my parents were in a band, like amazing musicians everywhere. Playing all kinds of music. Reggae and Sade and European Ska music and disco. My mom really liked Prince and Sheila E and all kind of randomness. I wasn't allowed to listen to any Top 40 stuff so people were into R. Kelly and like bump and grind music and I was like, "Night Nurse". What are you listening to? And then I started picking my own music and I was listening to Linkin Park and Sum 41 and the pop-punk fake heavy metal music. And then from there, I got in to like Hip Hop and that's when I fell in love with the boom back drums and that's our mutual love. So the new record has a lot more gritty shit on there that's really dope. It's where our heart resides. He was listening to everything like from Public Enemy…
Na’el Shehade: Public Enemy, Two Live Crew, Nas, everything
Via Rosa: He was listening to DJ House Music.
Na’el Shehade: A lot of house music, and Indie music, Spanish music
Via Rosa: He's a big Selena fan. We listen to everything right now, too. Like Arabic music and Bosanova and just classical music sometimes. Sometimes we listen to nothing. We just sit in silence. Nice. Just can't take it anymore.
AXS: You had Via give some insight to some vegan recipes for some tacos in the San Francisco Chisme.
Na’el Shehade: Chisme is a restaurant that I own here in the Bay. And Via and I were thinking about some recipes and what direction would it go in and we were like let's do half meat half vegan. And she helped me build the entire restaurant for the most part. She's my partner in crime. We do everything together. It's a friendship. We're real friends who can speak about things ...
Via Rosa: And cry about things. Yell about things.
Na’el Shehade: Still be friends. So it's a real thing going.
AXS: Aside from Cheeseme, do you have anymore culinary collaborations in the works?
Na’el Shehade: I'm working on something right now which is why I'm here. Something bubbling.
Via Rosa: I also did some pop-ups. I'm planning on doing some pop-ups in Chicago. I got a friend who is starting an underground restaurant in an old cathedral that is specifically for pop-ups. And I want to be a part of that. When I get back, when I have some off time, I'm gonna try to go. I like doing underground fine dining vegan events.
Na’el Shehade: We always have a lot of things going on. We're always active and moving. This is a big brand. So eventually I want to build it out to owning restaurants and clothing. It's all happening now.
AXS: So for the future, what do you have planned for the next two years?
Na’el Shehade: Drama wise, I think personally it's dropping a lot more music and just seeing Drama at a different level. The production value, as a whole, is gonna be bigger. Bigger venues, it's gonna be very dramatic.
Via Rosa: And we're working on getting some licensing done. We want to get some soundtracks for movies.
Na’el Shehade: That's something that we're working on right now. We want to have a the music live with movies and have that be around forever.
Via Rosa: And we just love movies.
Na’el Shehade: Like Disney movies. On the way here, we had come up with a whole Disney movie idea.
Via Rosa: And so we're working on the script and character background right now to pitch it to somebody.
Na’el Shehade: That will be done in 2025.
Via Rosa: Yeah. Right.
Na’el Shehade: That's the plan.
DRAMA will be touring again starting Nov 28. Check their website for full tour dates.