Nashville-based singer Deena Jakoub is the feisty frontwoman of US alt rock band Veridia. She spoke to LINE HILTON about life in the legendary music city.
Why do you sing?
My grandparents had a bluegrass band and I sang with them as often as I could. I remember noticing the look on people’s faces when I performed. It moved them and took them to a different place. That’s what drives me to sing today.
Tell us about Veridia.
There are three of us. Guitarist, Brandon Brown, drummer, Kyle Levy and myself. Our music is alternative rock, with elements of pop, electronic and hip hop. We mesh together all the things that inspire us, and the music takes shape as we go.
You moved from Dallas to Nashville a few years ago for your music career. What are the benefits and disadvantages of being in Nashville?
Dallas doesn’t have a lot of industry. It was a benefit to come to Nashville and see how much industry was here. A lot of artists are here so, on the downside, you’re competing with a lot of people. But on the upside, you can work and perform with so many different musicians. There is so much opportunity for networking.
What advice would you give an artist who is new to Nashville?
It can be very overwhelming at first. Focus on creating your art, performing as often as you can and meeting as many people as possible. What gradually helped me in my career was the relationships that I built.
What do you wish you had known about the industry before you started?
When I came to Nashville my art was my baby. I didn’t want to let anybody influence or change that. After two years I realised that there is nothing wrong with allowing other people to influence you. I stopped thinking of it as someone trying to dictate to me and started thinking of it as another form of inspiration.
It’s okay not to hold your art too close. I co-wrote our most recent record with writers who had been through similar situations to me. They helped me articulate some stories that I found difficult to express emotionally. The result was much more beautiful than what I could have done on my own.
The music industry is very image driven. Do you feel pressure to a look a certain way?
I’m fortunate not to have people on my team telling me what to eat or whatever. But I’d be lying if I said that kind of thing wasn’t a part of this industry. It’s important to have a good team who will encourage you and help build confidence. You also need to find a way to communicate with your team, to make sure you get what you need. If it’s not working, then it’s probably time to get new management.
You have a very strong sense of style. How has that evolved?
Fashion, for me, is about personal expression. It’s a form of art and it’s fun. I’m always on the lookout for different ideas and am really into architectural and minimalist designs, especially when it comes to jewellery. My mother was a seamstress, and she taught me to sew. Any chance I get, I try to make some of my own pieces to wear on stage.
How do you prepare for a tour?
Me and the guys all have our own specific jobs. I focus on merch; the set-up, the counts and all that stuff. I handle the designs and prep what we’re going to wear. The guys do all the technical stuff. I can’t nerd out on equipment, but I love the way it sounds when they get it right.
How do you prepare vocally and physically?
I avoid dairy, caffeine and sugar. I was diagnosed with Addison’s [an endocrine disorder] when I was 17. It can cause an imbalance with your electrolytes, so I work hard to stay hydrated and drink a gallon of water every day. Vocally, even if I don’t have time to warm up, I’m always humming and trying to sing a little bit. On a good day, I’ll have at least 30 minutes to do vocal warm ups before I hit the stage. I also exercise every day.
Have you made any sacrifices for your art?
Absolutely. I miss my family every day. In this business, you’re on the road for 100, 200 days out of the year. You miss out on a lot: weddings, babies and life in general.
Have you had formal singing lessons?
I did the choir thing in high school and had a vocal coach and sang in college. When I moved to Nashville, I worked with a vocal coach too. No matter how confident you are in your voice, there’s always room to grow.
You have a great belting sound. How do you achieve that?
It’s all diaphragm and it took me forever [to figure it out]. I have a video of one of my first performances. I’m in a dorky choir robe, and I’m shy and scared. I didn’t know about projection and basically whispered the entire time. I was intimidated because I was on stage with this amazing vocalist who knew what she was doing. It’s hilarious to watch now, because it was so simple. It was just a change in my diaphragm and my confidence. Confidence is a huge thing. If you think you’re not going to hit the note, you’re not going to hit the note.
Can you tell us about Veridia’s latest album?
It’s called The Beast You Feed. It’s about the fact that the good and the bad co-exist in us and around us. We can’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose what we dwell on, what we change in ourselves, and how we push through them.
It’s our first independent release. Making it was an entirely different experience to our previous releases. We funded all the marketing and merchandising ourselves. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our fans through PledgeMusic and Patreon. We’re now planning more touring and more visuals.
MAIN IMAGE BY Brandon LaJoie.