Host Spotlight: Deakin

Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual. This week, we’re delighted to sit down with Deakin, purveyor of all things drum&bass, jungle and breaks right here on Melodic Distraction.

Hey Deakin! We absolutely love your monthly show ‘Deakin’s Selections’, can you tell us a bit more on how you would describe the sound of the show to anyone who hasn’t tuned in before!

I like to look at the show as a mix of tunes that I have found in the time in between shows. This could be tunes that are newly released, older tunes that I have just discovered, or songs that I have on replay. When I am putting the show together at home, I get the same sort of excitement I got when we used to do show and tell in primary school. Showing the listeners something that I am so passionate about, hoping that they will like it too!

You’re a talented DJ and prolific around the North West drum & bass scene, can you tell us a bit about how you initially got into DJing what keeps you motivated!

Firstly, I really appreciate the comment! I studied music production at college and fell in love with the technical side of music and wanting to know how things worked. This mixed with my passion for music and going to my first few festivals set off my want to DJ.

My first festival was Parklife in 2019. I was really excited to immerse myself fully into the festival, dancing in a muddy field with my mates. There wasn’t anyone standout that I wanted to see, but Amelie Lens and Disclosure were the best sets of the weekend for me. Along with SASASAS. At this point I didn’t even know what drum & bass was, I used to call it “scatty music”! Creamfields was next a few months later where I saw CruCast, and Chase and Status. Chase and Status really blew my mind, I remember the goose bumps with almost every drop, wondering how they made the sounds and blended them together. So not long after that my Grandma got me my first pair of decks and I was away!

I find staying motivated in a scene that is always evolving quite easy. Not only are there new sounds being made, but I still have a lot of the old school scene to discover. Surrounding myself with people who are driven towards their goals is a huge help too. A few of my closest friends share the same creative drive, seeing them and bouncing new ideas off of each other is an amazing feeling.

Along with being a DJ, you also released your first track on Distorted Records with an amazing Bootleg of Barry White! How did you find the process of producing your first track from the writing stage to the final mix?

I wanted to pay homage to my earliest music love, which is 90’s hip hop, and the production that goes into that, mainly the sampling. I listen to soul, disco and funk quite a lot. Sometimes I pick up parts of a song that I think “that could defo be sampled”, or “how could I manipulate that?”. I was listening the “Playing Your Game Baby” in the shower and thought this would sound great as a bootleg, luckily it wasn’t far off 87bpm. I really hit my stride with this project, everything seemed to flow really naturally one thing after the other. My close friend, Jinbu, gave me a great hand in the mixdown process with the track, something I am still wrapping my head around. Overall the feeling of finishing your first song and then getting to play it out is something I am still getting over!

The most important aspect of producing is learning from your previous releases, what have you learned about the industry and yourself throughout that release which you are going to take forward for your possible next releases?

The main thing I have learnt from my previous release it to keep taking chances. I messaged the Distorted Records owner Alex, A.K.A. “AFR” after one of my mates Prosek had been playing for him down in Brighton. I had wanted to branch out across the country for a while and asked for his contact details. After speaking about playing for his label down south, he asked if I produced as well. I sent over the project and he asked to sign it there and then! From this came a gig down in Brighton that I will never forget. Playing room two and The Arch and emptying out room one! Through this process, my thoughts on the industry have been only positive. Alex and the Distorted Records team were more than welcoming and extremely helpful every step of the way. I hope that the rest of my releases will be as easy as this, but I know there will be some bumps along the way!

As far as what I have learnt about myself, it is that I have learnt that I can persevere through the frustrating times with Ableton, writers block and finding motivation to stay creative. Knowing this is just a part of the journey is something I will definitely take forward with my next releases!

You’ve also started a wonderful project called Turning the Tables, highlight Mental Health within the music industry, can you tell us a bit more about the ideas and motivations behind creating this page.

The motivation behind Turning the Tables came through my own experiences with mental health. I have suffered in various ways with mental health for the past 4/5 years. During this time, I was working full time in a few different sectors. Hospitality, retail, and sales. None of these jobs offered any support to their workers whatsoever. Once I started getting regular gigs, I realised this was the same in the music scene. However, I knew that this time I could do something about it!

With Turning the Tables, I wanted to break down the stigma behind mental health in the music industry. It’s something that is not spoken about anywhere near enough, in a scene that heavily involves drinking, drugs and late nights. I hope that speaking about and normalising people feeling depressed or anxious, helps people suffering to seek help. Also, for people to give a helping hand if they are in the position to do so.

Would you also be able to share any future plans for Turning the Tables that we can watch out for?

I do have quite a few plans for the future of Turning the Tables. I’m hoping to start running events sometime later this year. The idea for the events is to have different DJs or bands on throughout the night, as well as guest speakers in between sets to talk about mental health. I believe bringing this to a rave or gig environment will help breakdown the stigma behind it massively!

For anyone who is struggling with their mental health within the music industry, could you highlight some articles and/or Instagram pages that openly talk about this incredibly important subject?

There are quite a few websites out there that can offer help on mental health, these are ones I have linked to the Turning the Tables page:
– Anxiety UK
– Shout
– Samaritans

Looking to the future, how do you see Deakin’s Selections developing further down the line?

I would love to do a Turning the Tables section on the show. This would be giving tips on how to stay on top of your mental health if you worked in the industry or having guest on for interviews! I also think it would be class to have people from the local scene on as guests, talking about their stories, how they got into the scene and how the listeners can do the same.

Finally, to highlight your musical journey, can you share with us the first record/CD/album that you bought in comparison to the most recent record/newly discovered artist you and found?

This is a great question. The first CD I remember buying was “Magna Carta Holy Grail” by JAY-Z. I saw him whilst he toured the album which was an amazing first gig experience! The most recent artist I have properly listened to is Calibre. I have listened to a few of his tunes before and loved them, but never done a deep dive on his discography. I listened to Musique Concrete recently and I have had it on replay ever since. I feel that he takes a lot of his production techniques from 90’s hip hop sampling. The jazz samples over wobbly basslines and drum breaks is something I that really gets me into a zone whilst grooving to it. I can see how he has put his stamp on the scene and inspired so many DJs that have come after him.

Lastly, I want to thank you guys for having me! Melodic is an organisation that I have a lot of respect for and proud to represent with my show!