Written and illustrated by Ruby Hinchliffe
In the warehouses Birmingham born and bred Simran Deo is better known under the name ‘Wayv D’.
The 23-year-old DJ began his career producing music alongside a demanding degree in Financial Maths at Kent University.
He soon founded his own record label, Low End Records, bringing a much-awaited rave culture to fellow students in Canterbury.
Most recently the musician took on a new role as Financial Director of Subtle Sounds. Last weekend the team hosted their biggest event so far, featuring Pendulum, King of the Rollers and Turno at LAB11 in Birmingham.
We sat down with the talented Wayv D to find out more about his initiation into music and how he got to where he is today.
RH: Tell me about your current situation – are you making music on the side or have you managed to turn it into a full-time gig?
SD: “I’ve got the dream job at the minute. I still do all my music, I still run my own record label. But now the agency I’m signed to, Subtle Sounds, have got me onboard with the business side of things. When I moved back to Birmingham I started running all the finances. One of the main things I work on is our growth strategy for the coming years. They both go hand in hand really – the business mindset and the creative networking mindset. Instead of staying at home all the time, making music and pulling my hair out, I can actually go out, meet people and get influenced that way too.”
RH: How long were you creating music before you started working with the Subtle Sounds team in a business capacity?
SD: “I think it was my second year of university when I started making music. My friend George and I always wanted to know how to do it. So another mate of ours, Skepsis, put us on the right path and we’ve never looked back from there. It was about a year in when Subtle Sounds saw what we were doing and got us onboard. But it got difficult when I had to re-do a year of university and George moved cities. He got a full-time job doing night shifts. In that period it was hard to keep up the momentum – he’d be asleep when I was awake and vice versa. We’re still really good mates though.”
RH: Re-doing the year and the university lifestyle that came with it – do you think this helped your music progress in a way?
SD: “I wouldn’t say so overall. In one sense it did help, but in a bigger sense it prevented me from making music. I wanted to finish university by that point, so re-doing third year was challenging. The constant workflow, compounded with general mental health – it was hard to balance these things with music. It was good because it did give me a lot of time to learn more about music, but I didn’t feel like I had the time to push music out too, especially not the music I wanted to create. Being my last year, I wanted to spend time with friends instead, because I knew this would be my last chance before moving back home.”
RH: Where did the ‘Wayv D’ name come from?
SD: “We went by it from the beginning. We thought it was quite different. When I was 13 or 14, there was a clothing store on Facebook called ‘Wavy Garms’ and I was quite intrigued by that. I twisted the words, spelt it a bit differently and then just whacked a ‘D’ on the end. The ‘D’ stands for both mine and George’s surname – Deo and Ditch.
RH: Has your sound changed a lot since you started? How would you define it now?
SD: “Definitely. I’d say it’s still changing to this day. When we first started making music, we produced 130-140 BPM. It was bass music and it was a very new genre. Often I think genres become trendy and then everyone tries to copy them. People do what’s ‘in’ rather than have their own creative freedom. As time’s gone by, I’ve tried to separate myself from trends and make the music I want. You’ve got to be unique, otherwise, if everything sounds the same, you’re not going to go anywhere and neither is anyone else. It puts off new people from coming into the music industry too and stagnates the market.”
“You’ve got to be unique, otherwise, if everything sounds the same, you’re not going to go anywhere and neither is anyone else.”
RH: When did you found your own record label, Low End Records?
SD: “That started off at university. We felt, from a consumer point of view, that there was a big market for bass raves. In Canterbury there was absolutely nothing like that. There were five of us at the beginning, we all put some money in and DJ Q was the first artist we got down. It went really well for our first ever show. It was stressful but having done that I’ve learnt a lot and we pushed forward to more events in Canterbury, some festival stages in Kent and we even did a boat party in London on the river Thames. Since moving back to Birmingham, it’s changed shape a lot with people coming and going from the team.
RH: You mentioned booking DJ Q for your first gig in Canterbury. For your first event, that’s a big name – how did you achieve that?
SD: “I like taking risks. There are always risks involved with what you do, and if you execute them correctly, if you believe in it, then the risk isn’t as big as you think. I learnt that myself when I was studying. Through your own mindset, you can eradicate risk. I’ve dealt with stock markets, insurance, footsies, crypto currencies. A risk is more of a mental blockage than a reality a lot of the time.”
“Through your own mindset, you can eradicate risk. A risk is more of a mental blockage than a reality a lot of the time.
RH: How has it been managing the business side of the label?
SD: “Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of money in record labels, largely because everything has gone digital and the music industry is about 10 years behind technology. But we’ve done some events in Birmingham since, with the help of Subtle Sounds. Hopefully, if things go well, I’d like to put on another show in Kent. I have a friend, Adam, who heads up the brand SES. They’re keeping the rave culture alive down there. It’s looking to be another great year when students return in September.
RH: What are some of your favourite venues? Do you have a favourite crowd?
SD: “I’ve been to Estonia – that was a great experience and crazy to think it was even possible to travel that far for my music. Birmingham, being my hometown, I can’t say there’s anything wrong with it. There’s so many friendly people – you just get along with them like family. Canterbury was great fun. Bristol’s got a decent music scene too. Leeds was a blast. Huddersfield’s a bit mad. They’re a bit crazy in Huddersfield…
“Huddersfield’s a bit mad. They’re a bit crazy in Huddersfield…”
RH: What are some of the ups and downs of the DJ lifestyle?
SD: “My favourite thing about my lifestyle is how everything combines nicely. The creative and the business work so easily together thanks to Subtle Sounds. The downsides of the lifestyle can be, for one, the difficulties in starting up your network. It’s hard to find the right people who share your exact interests. I’ve been blessed with who I’ve met but I know in the beginning I really struggled with talking to people. Perhaps because I was young and less confident. I had anxiety and depression when I was at university – this made everything harder. And because you only really meet people when you go to their city, it’s hard to see them more than a couple of times a year.”
RH: How do you use your time when you’re travelling between cities?
SD: “I know a lot of people who really don’t enjoy the travelling part but I always like to use my time well when I’m on the road. Sometimes it is just scrolling through random things on my phone, but if I have my laptop I’ll work on some finance strategy for Subtle Sounds, sort some USBs for shows – things like that. But sometimes, I meet people on trains and we end up having a conversation the whole way. One time I got to know a woman from Canada, she was a writer and it was quite fun chatting about how we both got to where we were.”
“Sometimes, I meet people on trains and we end up having a conversation the whole way.”
RH: You mentioned anxiety and depression earlier. Do you think something clicked one day, where you just said ‘f**k it, I’ve got to put myself out there’?
SD: “I’ve never really cared what people think of me. But I think the source of my anxiety came when some people started telling me what I could and couldn’t do. It felt like my freedom was being constricted. I think it all relates to the people you have around you – if they’re positive-minded you’re set up for life. They should want you to succeed and you them. That’s the best way you can learn how to talk to people. At first that definitely wasn’t the case for me. I was surrounded by a lot of bad-minded people and it made me question my own integrity.”
RH: What advice would you give to creatives trying to break into the music industry?
SD: “Since I’ve been back in Birmingham and working more closely with Subtle Sounds my whole vision for what I want to achieve through music has changed. You’ve got to learn from all experiences, good and bad. Understand what you’ve already achieved and then set your sights on the next thing. It’s important to assess situations to make sure you’re helping yourself sometimes and not just others. I found myself helping people all the time, but it didn’t help me and often neither did it help them, because they rarely took onboard my advice. The more you achieve for yourself, the bigger your vision can grow.”
“The more you achieve for yourself, the bigger your vision can grow.”
Click here to check out Subtle Sounds