The Breakdown: “Take The Wheel” by Vancouver’s own DEO
Introducing Vancouver-based talent, DEO, the first artist featured on our new bi-weekly segment, The Breakdown.
With each segment, The Breakdown will feature a new artist with the aim of dissecting how a particular record came together, and providing our viewers with more information about the talent being featured.
DEO is a 24-year-old upstart on the West Coast, who has quickly established a reputation for “melodic and ear catchy flows that he mixes with clever wordplay and lyricism.” In addition to these talents, he also produces and creates his own beats.
“Already lending his helping hand to other rising artists from Vancouver and the surrounding areas, whether it be a guest verse, assistance behind the boards, DEO is becoming a force in a burgeoning scene and someone to watch.”
On Jan. 18, DEO announced that he’d be releasing his official EP debut on March 1. The project will be titled Equinox.
Get to know DEO with through our Q&A below, including an in-depth breakdown of his single, “Take The Wheel,” which launched just recently.
“Take The Wheel”
DEO recently launched a powerful single called “Take The Wheel” which we’re featuring in our first installment of The Breakdown.
This song, according to him, “came about during a time when I was struggling to find my way and no longer knew what direction to go. The song is a call for some one or some force outside of myself to take ahold and help me steer the way. The creative process was drawn out and took place over the course of 2018, which was a hard year for me, as I pushed myself daily to improve my craft and get better as an artist, a vocalist and a producer and In doing so ran into a lot of roadblocks and setbacks trying to create music that not only sounded as good as my peers but said something too and that’s what I tried to do with this song. The lyrics relate directly to these trials of trying to become a great artist while balancing that with the demands of everyday life and for that I’m proud and I hope that it resonates with others.”
Listen to the single below, and check out our specific questions breaking down how “Take the Wheel” came to be.
You can find “Take The Wheel” on various digital streaming platforms.
HipHopCanada: You’ve indicated that 2018 was a particularly hard year for you, and “Take The Wheel” is a product of that. How are you feeling now and do you feel like you’re in a better place in terms of what direction to take your career? Did you take the wheel?
DEO: It was hard in the way of a lot of creative struggles. A lot of early mornings trying to get better and push myself as an individual to move past my comfort zone and create more of the kind of material I can really be proud of, matched with not really hitting any milestones or getting any wins. At times, in the back of my head I’d wonder if I had what it takes or if I was wasting my time. But in hindsight though this year although hard at times resulted in a lot of growth musically and personally. I can say with complete conviction I made more progress this year than any of recent but it was behind doors so that’s why sometimes it didn’t seem like much was happening.
HipHopCanada: How did the song come together?
DEO: The song went through many different phases. It started on one beat with a completely different feel it was more of poppy kind of chord progression and on a very basic beat, and from there I kept those chords modified them slightly and built up that beat and that was the song for a month or two but I just was never happy with it and ended up scrapping it and created another beat for it which I then also scrapped. At that point I was kinda done with this song and went on to work on a batch of new songs which are unreleased right now but i decided to revisit it and finally I made what you’re hearing now.
HipHopCanada: Did you make the beat to fit the song’s concept, or did the beat come first?
DEO: How I wrote the song was I started out just recording and free-styling some ideas to the original beat when I came up with the hook and then from there I wrote the lyrics based around that but it didn’t really feel right to me, it sounded great but because that original beat was more brighter and cheerful sounding it didn’t really jell with the song and so then I re-produced this song around the concept and that’s when I got to where it is now.
HipHopCanada: Where did you record?
DEO: I recorded in my home studio setup.
HipHopCanada: What was the recording process?
DEO: I just hit record and kept re-recording and revisiting it until I was happy with it.
HipHopCanada: Who recorded you?
DEO: I recorded myself actually. That’s part of what made it take a bit longer because I largely recorded in one takes, so from the start of the verse til the end, not super common nowadays a lot of people record in series each line after another but that’s harder to do without someone else handling the recording and I personally like to do the whole thing.
HipHopCanada: How many sessions did it take?
DEO: So for the final version of this song it was probably 2-3 sessions working on the production and the beat, another 2 or 3 recording the vocals and then a bunch of sessions putting the final touches on the arrangement and the mix of everything. How many sessions in total I don’t even want to think about I’ll need a drink.
More Questions with DEO
HipHopCanada: How did you first get into making music?
DEO: I had been using writing as a personal outlet for several years but I was 16 years old when I first got into beat making. At this time I was introduced to beat-making through some videos i found online and I just became super passionate about it. I think I kinda got into the production at this time as a way to tap into my love for music, and more specifically hip hop and RNB music just as a student of it and at the same time honing my songwriting skills.
HipHopCanada: Who are your biggest influences? How do they impact your creativity?
DEO: I have a long list of influences, some from different eras and styles of music but it’s hard to say who most influences the music that I make, I just try to make music that I would enjoy. For the second question I would probably have to say Kanye. Just from the range of styles and sounds that he’s created over the course of his career which inspires me to be open to reinvention and also his work ethic in the studio, such as hearing him say he poured 5000 hours into making “Power” that has definitely spilled over in my own creative process in the way in that I’m not afraid to put a ridiculous amount of hours into perfecting a song, which isn’t always the smartest thing to do. This song in particular I put a lot of time into but eventually it was coming to the point where I really would never finish the song if I didn’t just let go of that desire for perfection and just do my best with it at this moment.
HipHopCanada: What do you hope to accomplish in 2019?
DEO: I just want to chase the dream in 2019. I just want to stay in touch with the passion for music that I had when I first got started and release a lot of music this year and hopefully others will like it enough that I can keep doing it. That simple really.
HipHopCanada: How do you feel about the scene in Vancouver? How would you describe the Vancouver sound?
DEO: I don’t know if there really is a describable sound just yet. I feel like there’s not enough music coming out of here to where there could be. But at the same time I think the scene is really just getting started and it’s beginning to bubble right now so I wouldn’t be surprised if a day comes in the next few years where I can can answer that. There is a ton of talent here and it’s just a matter of time I think.