This is my interview with an artist you gotta know. Deon! I first heard his music while surfing through Youtube (God bless Youtube!) And I was absolutely blown away by his skills. Not only is he a phenomenal rapper, but he is so creative about it. Taking samples from the likes of Foster the People, Adele & John Mayer! & just making it his own funky remix that I absolutely love! Here is my interview with Deon. Enjoy!
How did you come up with your signature sound?
To be quite honest I don’t think I have a signature sound yet. I’d say it’s way too early in my “musical career,” if you’d like to call it that to really say. Admittedly I’ve grown quite fond of the indie sound and a bit tired with the structure of rap songs so if Id have to say there was a sound I was going for it’d be a mixture of something smooth, soothing, powerful, reflective, upbeat and relatable. I think what I really want is music that’s easy on the ears of listeners, has a nice melody and is as honest as possible. Hopefully in time I can develop that kind of sound I’m aiming for.
Where did you grow up, and how do you think this affected your sound?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada which is quite the multicultural city so you can only imagine how that affected my sound as an artist coming up. Being surrounded by music from all different kinds of backgrounds as a kid growing up really helped me develop an ear for how I think certain things should sound now. I remember being in elementary school and being exposed to everything from jazz, r&b, rap, hip-hop, and reggae to soul, funk and even classic rock. It was certainly an eclectic mix but it’s also what allowed me to broaden my musical tastes and horizons. Ultimately it’s lead me to have the musical freedom that I want with the sounds that I want because the fear of going too far left or too far outside of the hip-hop genre isn’t there. When you hear all these wonderful kinds of music growing up you can’t help but want to take something that you like from each one and create your own sound.
What made you realize that music was your passion?
I think I always knew I had a passion for music because as kid I used to listen to any and all music I could get my hands onto. I would play my mother or my sisters tapes out until they weren’t listenable anymore and try to make mix tapes (no pun intended) with a collection of my favourite songs from as many major artists as often as I could. I think once I realized how much wonderful music was out there I knew I had to become a sponge and just listen to as much of it as I could. However from a rapping perspective I’d say it wasn’t until after this past March when I released my first official mixtape that I became a bit more rooted into musicianship.
When did you start performing?
Well if I exclude my brief fourth grade sign language interpretation performance of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ I’d say I have yet to become a performer. I’ve never done a real show in my life to be honest. I’ve performed at a few talent shows and helped a few friends out with their own performances but that’s about it really. The performance aspect for me is still very new and unknown but I do hope to put on my own show sometime within the coming months.
Are there any pre-performance rituals that you do?
Seeing as how I haven’t really had any shows myself I don’t really have any pre-performance rituals yet. However based on the few talent shows I have done I can say that I usually just say a prayer for myself, my family and friends and for the people who came out to the show. Once that’s done I give my thanks to god, count my blessings and hope to put on a good show for the people in attendance.
What has been the hardest thing about making music?
The hardest thing about making music is keeping up with the appetite of the listeners. We live in such a fast paced fast food society that it’s nearly impossible to please anyone completely anymore. An artist can release an amazing song or an amazing album in the morning and by the time lunch comes around their fans are hungry for more. The speed in which people expect things now and days make it hard to produce quality music. Almost all artists make quality music by living their lives. When you’re no longer able to truly live your life and experience things what more can you say? I write my songs off of life experiences and if I can’t live then I can’t write. I need to have the time to go through life, hang out with friends, deal with the hardships, the ups and the downs other wise I’d have nothing to really say.
What was your favorite moment of being a musician thus far?
My favourite moment since becoming a musician has got to be seeing the success I’ve received with my first real mixtape. I never in my wildest dreams expected as many people to support, embrace or even enjoy the songs that they have. It’s an amazing feeling when a friend or even a complete stranger can tell you “hey your song helped me out through a break up” or “hey I’m a huge fan because I can relate to what you’re saying.” It’s extremely surprising yet gratifying feeling to know that I can create something that other people can hold dear to their heart. Nothing beats the moments where you feel like you’ve accomplished helping make another person’s life better by just your voice or your melodies or your life stories.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
My advice for any aspiring musicians is to follow your dreams and passions. I’m currently a student in College trying to get my degree in journalism because my dream is to become a sports broadcaster or entertainment news reporter. However I also have a dream of becoming a musician as well. Now normally most people would say you have to choose one but who says I can’t do both? As long as the passion and drive is their no one should ever have to give up one thing for the other. If you have a dream and you have opportunities or can create opportunities then go out in the world and follow them. There is no shame in dreaming big but there is shame in not dreaming at all.
What made you decide to loop during your live performances?
I’m not sure what you mean by looped but I’ll still try and answer this as best as I can with an I’m not sure really. I’d say it was just a last minute thing and was something I had to do in order to perform because the circumstances weren’t necessarily ideal. I’m sure once I get the opportunity to thoroughly organize a show myself things won’t be looped? and run the way I want them to?
The first song I ever heard of your’s was “All the other kids” Being big fans of Foster the People, what was it about the song that inspired you to sample it?
Well I first heard the song back around mid February not knowing who Foster the People were but regardless I just knew I immediately fell in love with their song Pumped Up Kicks. I found myself; probably like most people, singing the hook everywhere I was. I couldn’t get that damn hook out of my head. It was so catchy and I thought this has potential to be a cool hip-hop song if remixed properly. In my head I was picturing someone like B.o.B or XV rapping over this but ironically a couple weeks later Shawn Chrystopher came out with his own version instead. I fell in love with his too but admittedly I felt his raps were kind of lack luster. It was a good attempt but it lacked the energy and message I saw potential in from hearing the original. At that moment in time a light bulb just clicked in my head and I said to myself if you want something done to your liking you’re going to have to do it yourself.
If you don’t like something, change it and that’s exactly what I did. I searched google found the instrumental Shawn Chrysotpher had used and started figuring out how I could fit it into the concept of my mixtape. Eventually I figured out an idea that tied into the dreams concept of The Deon Times and started work. At school and in music people are always caught up with all these other ‘kids’ with their glitz, glamour, fame and popularity that the ‘little people’ get forgotten. What ever happened to those days when you were a kid and being a somebody didn’t matter. What happened to enjoying life just cause and there was no stress of having to compete with this struggle for popularity. I tried to relay a message that for the little people who aren’t popular, famous or overlooked that it’s okay because you can just be you. Don’t worry if some people don’t like you as long as you like you. Eventually those kids will be the people running to you because of your success or from you and your success. Regardless this was just a message to forget about the societal stresses, dream big, be yourself and do what you love.
From hearing your music, you have a very eclectic taste when it comes to sampling. Where you always into all kinds of music?
I think I answered this question in #2 but just for reassurance I was always into all kinds of music. I’ll admit at times I was stuck listening to hip-hop primarily but as I got older I started branching off into several other genres and realizing the true beauty of the variety of music.