Skipping homework to make music has paid off for South-West London’s dexter, who’s letting us into her world with her intimate debut EP ‘I Do Love a Good Sandwich’.

The newness of an idea or experience can be scary but equally exciting. For 18-year-old dexter this couldn’t be truer, having released her short yet sweet debut EP I Do Love a Good Sandwich. This is also partially to do with a certain openness surrounding the project now, as dexter (the moniker of Charmaine) kept the project a secretworking under her stage name anonymously. Her journey is entirely moulded by her instinct to make music, working on all of her releases while completing school with whatever resources or time she could dedicate, all while gaining notable recognition throughout the industry.

 

Born in South West London to a Nigerian heritage, she thanks all aspects of the diverse offerings her environment has had. dexter’s journey began back in 2020, releasing self-uploads created entirely on her phone but earned recognition from Annie Mac and Sian Eleri, and was added to Spotify’s Fresh Finds and Our Generation playlists. These tracks – “Maybe the Problem Is Me” and “Same Way – have now amassed over one million combined streams.

Currently, dexter is two days into her latest academic journey in art school and eagerly excited to release one or two singles before the end of the year. There is a refreshing vibrancy and giddiness to dexter’s take on life, with a bittersweet self-awareness that makes us even more intrigued to see just where she could go with music. There is no doubt that she will resonate with all audiences and beyond…
 
We sat down with the musician to discuss the things that she loves, hates, and of course, her favourite sandwich.

Your EP is called I Do Love a Good Sandwich, what’s your favourite sandwich?

I don’t know if this counts, but my favourite Sandwich is probably a Filet-O-Fish burger from McDonalds, ’cause it’s the best burger ever. It’s amazing! It has everything you need in a burger – tartare sauce, cheese, fish – it’s the best ever.

Talk us through the process of creating the project! 

There wasn’t really a set process – it was more me just going to one session a week on the weekend (because I had school during the week). Eventually, I came up with the four songs I liked, and then that became the EP – and that’s kind of how it happened. It wasn’t really heavily planned, but it was still me knowing that I intended to make an EP out of the songs I was creating.  

If you could describe the whole experience in one word, what would it be? 

I can’t think of just one, but maybe both ‘fun’ & ‘new’. When I started to make the songs for the EP, that was the first time I actually properly started to do sessions. Before this, I’d only ever done two sessions, so it was still really new to me.

How can you reflect on that process now that it has been released for over a month? 

It kind of made me realise how smooth the process was for making an EP – all the songs were made literally within a month and a half. Thinking back on it, it was such a quick time period for then the songs were made. So yeah, that’s kind of what I’ve thought about it when I think back to creating it. It didn’t really feel like I was making an EP, it more felt like I was just making songs that I was happy with, and then I was like ‘Oh…this is enough for an EP!’

Congratulations on all your amazing releases! Looking back at when you first started, what has been the most pivotal release of your journey so far?

Thank you! I would probably say the most pivotal release of my journey so far is my song “Same Way”, which came out literally a year ago – in September last year. That was the first time people had actually messaged me saying ‘I like your music. I was like ‘what?!’. It got 100,000 streams in a month and oh my gosh, I’ve never been more shocked in my life. Spotify put it on New Music Friday – and I actually didn’t even know what that was before – I had no idea what that playlist was. Then I found out that it was low-key a big deal that they put me on it, especially considering that I didn’t have any management then and I wasn’t signed. After that, I was like oh – people beyond like my five closest friends might actually like the stuff I’m making?

You were making music during school, I read that you never did your homework! Have you finished now? Do you think school got in the way of music? 
Yeah, I never did my homework… I don’t like it, and I’m really not that academic, but I finished my sixth form. I’ve started at an art school now, I’ve only been there for two days. Making it when I was still doing school was fine. At the time I was making the songs was during lockdown, so school was online, so I could still make songs in my room on my guitar any day. I was also only doing my sessions on the weekend, and I wasn’t doing my work for it to get in the way!
What were music classes like in your school? 
Music in my school was weird… We only took it until year nine, unless you did it for your GCSE, but they made us do lots of weird stuff. I remember in year seven we had to make noises for an advert or something like that. The music my school seemed to be big on was like classical music – orchestra, they had like five. And choirs – serious choirs! It was odd.
Do you think more could be done in education to path a way for young people in the arts? 
I think something that could be done is to not make people who maybe aren’t as academically smart feel stupid. Someone who could be the smartest person in the year academically, and they might not have any creative talent. So having people understand that they have different strengths in different areas and that they shouldn’t be put down if they aren’t as strong in one area. 
Do you think being a South-West Londoner has formulated how you take in music? 
I think being someone who lives in London in general definitely, not even just my area. But I live in quite a diverse area – 10 minutes away from Brixton in South London. The Afro-Caribbean culture here has had an impact to some extent as I’ve always been exposed to that – also I’m African myself – I’m Nigerian. Being a Londoner, but also being not just British but Nigerian as well, has helped me to experience all sides of music.

Have you done any live shows, and do you have any pre-show rituals? 

I’ve not done any proper live shows yet! I performed for the first time a couple of months ago at my end-of-school leavers event. I was so drunk, I don’t remember it… I think I was out of tune, but apparently it was fine. I’m never going to do that again. But when I do perform live and have a pre-show ritual, it will probably be chilling with my friends before to make me feel more calm and relaxed. That’s probably what I’ll do.
The majority of your song titles sound a lot like texts, what are the inspirations behind these? 
Oh! There is no inspiration – it’s literally just the word that sticks out the most to me or the one that looks the coolest. It’s generally just the word that feels the best, and it has to be something that’s in the song usually.
What really good conversation have you had recently? 
I was talking with someone about how easy it is to compare yourself to other artists and your rate of success with them, and how that’s really difficult not to do. But then you have to realise you’re on your own musical journey, so you shouldn’t feel you have to compare yourself at all.
What else can we expect from you? 
Well, hopefully I’ll be releasing maybe another single before the end of the year. Or maybe two, who knows! But I’m also just trying to find ways to develop my sound. I want to make loads of different kinds of music, but I’m trying to find the best way in which I can do that and also show development, not just skipping really big hurdles to different kinds of music. But what does the future hold? I don’t know! Maybe do some live shows too, so we’ll see!

Stream I Do Love a Good Sandwich below:

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