A year starts well when you are introduced to a great new artist charged with talent and passion.
Deen Persaud is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who recently released his hypnotizing debut EP – Awaken. The record is an extraordinary work of art with a very interesting story behind it. Deen was kind enough to take some time and have a talk with me about it, his decision of pursuing music as a career, his inspiration, and other interesting topics.
Photo by Jiajun Zhang
I come across Deen Persaud thanks to a very good friend of mine, who also happens to supply me with awesome music and majorly contribute to this blog very often. A huge thanks to you, Migle!
I was fascinated with Deen’s music – I first played some of his drum covers, and the connection instantly happened. I have a soft spot for drums, especially the energetic parts seen in tracks like Linkin Park’s early work or System Of A Down’s discography. Deen does justice to every song he covers with visible passion, refined skills, and outstanding energy outpour.
But this was just the start. Deen released his debut EP – Awaken on the 30th of September 2020. It consists of five original tracks featuring drums, guitar, and bass.
Awaken is a work of magic. The opening track gently extracts you from your current mind state and what follows is a captivating journey consisting of a well-painted soundscape environment. You will find many smooth and sudden tempo transitions with an overall atmosphere of tranquillity and positivity.
The EP is the perfect soundtrack to almost anything you can think of – relaxing at home on a rainy day, doing grocery shopping or other chores, working or studying, starting your day with a cup of coffee or tea – those songs fit it all. I wholeheartedly recommend playing it early in the morning to start your day right.
Each track seems to have an introduction, climax, and conclusion – the whole EP represents a well-told story with carefully arranged elements.
Deen takes listeners through exciting, sense-stimulating places and changes the mood from easy-going and relaxing to fast-paced symbolizing curiosity, excitement, and thrill. Ride and Midnight Burrow are two such tracks using up-tempo construction to liven you up after the introspective and delicate Awaken and Dreaming.
Are you ready for the most impressive part? He did it all by himself – songwriting, playing the drums, guitar, and bass parts, recording in homemade studios, producing, mixing, mastering, promotion, even the album cover is a shot he took himself during a family trip in Austria.
Awaken holds the pure energy of one single individual fueled by his passion for the art. It deserves all the love and respect it can get.
Learn more about Deen and support his art on Bandcamp. Photo by Jiajun Zhang
What Deen has put into motion is impressive. Learning to play so many instruments and finding out how to mix, master, and produce everything yourself is a very tough task (try making a song if you think it’s not so hard).
I couldn’t possibly resist reaching out and asking for an interview – so many questions popped up in my head. He agreed, and his glowing personality and positive attitude were contagious – the talk we had was the best possible start of 2021 for me.
Before I jump into the interview, I want to ask you to take a moment and check out Deen’s EP Awaken and follow him on Spotify. Don’t forget to feast on his drum covers on YouTube and follow his Facebook and Instagram pages to stay updated when new stuff comes out. You can also support him on Bandcamp – stay tuned for the new music he is cooking at the moment; it’s going to blow your mind. Spread the word if you like what you hear – this always helps a lot as well!
Photo by Jiajun Zhang
Let’s start with an introduction. Who is Deen Persaud when he is not creating powerful drum explosions, composing sensual music, or playing any instrument?
The music kind of defines me. Outside of it, I just do regular things.
I released the album on September 30th and spent the whole of October and half of November promoting it – I made music videos which my family helped record. After that, I started recording drum covers. Right now, I’m trying to start a business, so when I’m not playing, I’m trying to think of ways to grow that business, create a fan base, and increase my audience.
I’m spending time on trying to get traction on social media as well. Thinking about Patreon to help myself out and stuff like that – just finding new ways to grow.
Apart from that, I do the normal stuff – play video games, watch movies, series, etc. We are in lockdown here in Canada, so there is not much to do anyway.
Yeah, the lockdown changes a lot. But at least it gives you time to focus on the music and devote time to your hobbies.
Yes, absolutely. 2020 was not the best year overall, but for me, it was pretty transformative. Mostly because of Awaken.
How did you start making music? When did it become something serious?
I have played in two bands – just drums, no guitar or other instruments. One is a metal band called Venator. I also played in The Burs – a punk-rock formation for a while. That was serious to a certain extent – we would play shows on the weekends and practice two or three times a week.
I started learning the guitar in 2017 – I bought my first one after I graduated. It took me a bit over a year to get to an adequate level allowing me to play the stuff that I wanted to play.
It wasn’t until 2018 when I started messing around with chords and writing passively. I would play for a couple of hours after work – the seeds of ideas would come out of those sessions. Over two and a half years, I slowly wrote the songs for the EP. I didn’t really write them consciously, it just happened over time by playing after work and getting ideas spontaneously.
I used to have a desk job – in the supply chain field. I was not feeling fulfilled being there. I stayed for three years and ended up leaving in June 2020. That was the turning point of making things with music serious.
I was working on this music for almost three years and I finally had the funds to pursue a project like this. I had most of the songs written by then, so I decided to get all the equipment I need and record it.
I can see that you are a very creative person, so it makes sense that you reached this turning point and went all-in. And the result speaks for itself – the album is amazing.
Yeah, it’s a bit tough though. You would usually choose something that gives you financial stability – making an album and trying to make it in the music world is not something you do every day. It’s a big risk – you can’t know if it will flop or work out.
I was stuck in the mindset that it’s not worth trying for a very long time. In 2020 something in my head just switched and I decided to give it a go. I had the songs ready, so why not just give it a shot and release them. At least try the music stuff before I get another job.
I totally agree with that. It’s always better to try it, you never know what will come out of it. And you had the perfect opportunity to do so – I’m glad you jumped in.
In that sense, what purpose does music serve in your life? Where do you hope it will take you?
Music serves a lot of different purposes to me. Before I started playing music – I started the drums when I was eight or nine years old – I would listen to a lot of different stuff. I used it as an outlet for things that happened in my life. I also listened to music just for fun and because I enjoyed it, of course.
Creating music serves an even bigger purpose. It just gives you a sense of being – you get up in the morning and want to finish that song you started, or go and record it, or work on a new idea. It’s a powerful way of self-expression.
It also involves some problem-solving because you need to make different parts fit and find the best possible way to make a song coherent.
As for where I want it to take me – since I released the album and started making the drum covers, I really felt that I want to do that full time. I hope I will be releasing more music in the future. Of course, it will take some time to gain momentum and grow an audience, but I truly hope I will be making music as a career in some way – whether it is my own stuff, I join a band, or even become a teacher.
System Of A Down, if you are reading – this is your chance to recruit Deen, don’t waste it!
Let’s talk a little bit about Awaken. It is an immersive story made out of sound – it is really impressive what you managed to create just by yourself. How did the idea about the EP come to you?
Everything started when I bought my first guitar – I got a cheap acoustic one at the local store. I started learning, and then I got into making short videos of me playing. I enjoyed the guitar, which was a little surprising for me because I have been a drummer my whole life and I didn’t think I would enjoy another instrument so much.
The album didn’t come together until 2020. I reached my threshold of not wanting to be at my current job, and I had all of those songs almost finished. Which was a waste – you go home you play the stuff, you make the songs, but then you don’t release it, and no one hears it. It doesn’t make sense.
So in 2020, it kind of just came together. That’s why I called it Awaken as well – it represents awakening a sense of purpose in your life, a sense of what you actually want to do.
The title track is the first song I ever wrote. That is how it came to be.
Photo by Jiajun Zhang
How did you approach creating such a project – what was the biggest challenge and the best part of the experience?
There was a big learning curve – I didn’t know anything about recording, mixing, mastering, or what kind of gear I need. I had to learn a lot before I even started recording, so it took me around two months to prepare. I also didn’t know how to play the bass, but I needed it for the album, so I had to learn that as well. I bought a relatively cheap bass guitar, and I taught myself what I needed for the album.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. People usually go to recording studios for exactly this reason – they have all the gear and everything they need there. I decided to do it on my own, and it turned into a big learning experience which was worth it in the end.
I honestly find it impressive. Making an album contains a big load of different skills needed for the execution. I can’t even imagine how you managed to get all of this done by yourself in a relatively short time-frame. It’s a lot of learning that you have done.
Did you record at a professional studio or your own set-up?
I recorded in two places. I did the drums at a family friend’s house – his son is a drummer as well and has a small studio. I also made my own small studio set-up for the guitars and recorded them here. I didn’t have any experience with the recording or production, so everything in that sense was very new. I had to do a lot of research on the equipment and software I need. When I got the equipment, I also had to find the best way to position everything, so the sound is good. It was pretty much a trial and error process.
I made my own foam panels for the acoustics with acoustic foam and adhesive spray. It helps with the reverb, so the sound is better when you record.
The learning and execution process took the most time in the whole album-making process. Then came the mixing and mastering – everyone is listening on different devices, so I had to test the mix and see if it’s good then make adjustments accordingly.
The best part was definitely when I released it. That day was busy – I uploaded it and then started promoting it – telling my friends and family, posting on forums, and so on. When the day was over, I was really happy because I spent pretty much the whole summer making it after three years of songwriting and it was finally out there. It was really satisfying.
Another very important and rewarding part is the knowledge I got out of it – I’m still a beginner when it comes to those things, but the next albums are going to be better.
I also played around with video-making and editing. We shot videos every week (my family and I) after the album, so I had to learn a lot about that too. That was another fun experience that gave me a lot of knowledge.
That sounds like a wild experience. But now you have all the skills, and you can only get better with them. You passed the hardest part – making the first step into this new world.
Yeah, that initial hump – getting the first song recorded was the biggest challenge. It pretty much took my whole life to get over it.
Photo by Jiajun Zhang
What did your inner world look like when you were creating Awaken? Is the EP a representation of your state of mind or is it an escape from it?
It is a bit of both. As I said, I wasn’t really happy at my job, so making the songs was a way to escape this reality. When you go home after work and you pick up the instruments, it is unavoidable to get influenced by your surroundings and state of mind. This played a part in the creation of Awaken.
I think the case with albums is the same as with movies, video games, or books – it does represent something the artist is going through, but it is also a way to take you out of your world and let you experience something different. The EP has something from both sides.
There is also another state – sometimes when you are writing, it is neither an escape nor a representation. You just find a really good part, and you play with it and enter a flow state – you find the best way to finish it. That happened with Ride – it basically wrote itself. It was done in one night.
That makes sense. I am asking this because the first time I heard the album, it felt like a coherent journey that takes you to another world. I love it when artists do this with albums, so I think you did an amazing job in that aspect.
Are you working on new music or covers at the moment?
I am working on a new EP. I started it in November – I had some ideas about songs for quite a while, and I decided to develop them. I have all the rhythm guitars done, and I have ideas about the drums. I even started recording some stuff, but things are getting delayed because of the COVID lockdown.
I can’t access the studio where I am recording the drums because my province is in a state of emergency and we have a stay at home order – it limits the possibilities for going out. But I recorded all the dummy guitars – the scratch tracks. When I record the drums, I will redo the guitars over them, so it sounds better.
I think the new stuff is going to be quite good. It’s very different from Awaken – this one will be more aggressive and has a metal edge. It is still on acoustic guitar, but the riffs and notes are in a different tone. It has some folk elements too. It will be interesting, I am excited about it.
That sounds super exciting. And the different direction you are trying is also something to look forward to. We can see some more aggressive tunes in your drum covers, and they sound sick.
The creative process is a constant cycle which doesn’t let you be satisfied until you finish an idea, so it’s a ride. I hope I will release the new stuff in the first half of this year, but I also don’t want to rush it. I want to make sure it sounds how I want it to sound. I know the mixing and mastering will take the majority of the time.
I have an idea of how to do it now, but I want to improve the mix and master. When I listen to Awaken now, I can spot some things I know I can improve, so I want to refine the new one.
That’s the way! And that’s how you get better at what you do. I’m sure it will turn out great. Which artists/bands inspire you most? Who do you want to share a stage with one day?
I will start with the drummers since I started playing the drums first, and this is where most of my inspiration comes from. John Dolmayan from System Of A Down has a huge influence on me. I used the Tama drums and cymbals because I love the sound they have in the System Of A Down albums.
Joey Jordison from Slipknot is also an amazing drummer who inspired me a lot. Especially with the double bass. Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy as well – I played along a lot of their tracks when I was growing up. Those are some of my early influences.
When I got more serious about drumming, during my university years, there was a drummer called Thomas Lang – he was crazy good. Virgil Donati as well, I also went through a Buddy Rich phase – he was a jazz drummer from the 1940-1980s. He completely changed drumming – the stuff he did cannot be replicated by anyone nowadays.
I never listened to Metallica when I was growing up, but when Hardwired came out in 2016, I got inspired by James Hetfield. This is in terms of playing the guitar. I was never a huge fan of the band earlier. I would mostly judge bands based on the drums back then, but now I look at it as a whole.
System Of A Down, Dream Theater, Nightwish for guitar inspiration as well – other bands I love. Apart from the metal scene, there are The Libertines, Muse, The Fratellis and Green Day in some aspects – they play softer music but inspired me greatly.
Who I want to share the stage with is a hard question. I don’t know which bands would fit with the style I am playing. But I would probably go for a metal band – that’s the primary style I like, even though I enjoy a lot of different stuff – I had jazz phases, even synthwave at some point.
I would probably choose someone like Kamelot – my favourite band, Nightwish, or Blind Guardian. It would be cool to share the stage with them.
You never know, sometimes what seems as an unlikely combination turns out to be massively successful. Which is the best live concert you have seen?
I got to see Kamelot in 2013 in Montreal, and it was a really, really good show. The band Delain opened for them, they were also phenomenal. I saw Blind Guardian in Toronto, which was also an awesome show – I have been listening to them a lot and seeing them on stage was surreal.
My dad used to listen to a lot of country. I’m not a huge fan, but there is a guy called Kiefer Sutherland who I saw live once. It was a solid show. I also go to a lot of local concerts – many great local bands are doing incredible shows. There are also the Red Hot Chili Peppers – I saw them when I was in high school. That set was awesome, it stayed with me for a long time.
Live music is just a different world, no doubt. And local bands are not to be underestimated, I have seen some phenomenal shows by local artists. It’s always worth supporting what they do.
Where do you find inspiration apart from other musicians/artists?
I have gotten a lot of inspiration when I went travelling. I went to Iceland in 2016. Travelling is inspiring because you see new places, emotions, feelings, and scenery. It recharges you and gives you a new perspective. Iceland was beautiful, Germany and Austria as well – I was really inspired after that.
I also get a lot of inspiration from movies and video games. I’m a big Lord Of The Rings fan – the idea about making an album as a story comes from there.
Movies, TV shows, anime, books – pretty much everything art- or nature-related gives me inspiration. Midnight Burrow was influenced by Ori And The Will Of The Wisp. I was playing the game and I was fascinated by the visuals, the artwork, and the score.
I did a drum cover of Pirates of the Caribbean – Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt did a great job with this soundtrack, it also impressed me a lot.
One last, very important question – what would you say to a fellow musician who is just starting and trying to showcase their music to the world?
My advice would be that if you have stuff you want to release, just do the best with the equipment you have and get it out there. Don’t waste too much time thinking about the best gear you can get, or whatever. Just record it and get it out there, things will fall into place after that.
It is easy to get lost when you are stuck because of a hump like that. Maybe you don’t want to learn the software or something – but trying to work with what you have in every aspect helps. Once you put it out, it starts coming naturally.
I totally agree – starting is the biggest challenge, but once you do it, it gets easier to keep going.
Exactly – it’s about the start. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, you can always come back to it when you are better and refine it, just make the first step.
Photo by Jiajun Zhang
Making the bold decision to jump all-in into the music business and pursue a dream that has been in the works for three years is beyond admirable. Deen has my full respect, and I am looking forward to witnessing his journey in this world – the start is as promising as it gets.
It was great to have a chat with him and learn more about his story and music. I truly enjoyed our conversation, and I want to thank him for taking the time and approaching the interview with enthusiasm and positivity. I hope you enjoyed reading it as well!
Stay tuned for Deen’s next EP and covers and follow him to stay updated.
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