We had the good fortune of connecting with Saadin Dassum and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Saadin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Years ago, I was watching this Christopher Nolan Batman flick, and I remember this scene that bounces back and forth in my head to this day. Ra’s (the bad guy) burns down Wayne Manor, and Bruce Wayne has to flee to the Batcave with assistance from his butler, Alfred. So while the bad guys wreck havoc in Gotham, Bruce speaks: “I’ wanted to save Gotham, I failed” And Alfred says: “Why do we fall sir?… So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” “You still haven’t given up on me?” “Never” For those of you who don’t know, let me introduce myself. My name is Saadin Dassum (pronounced Suh-deen Dih-soom), and I am a musician from Quito, Ecuador. I went to an American school, where I fell in love with Rock and Roll and all music alike, and now I write and record my own songs! So you want to ask me what I feel about risks, huh? Well, in summary, take them. Taking a chance is scary. Things might go wrong, or events might not play out like you expected them to. And every time you are faced with failure, a little voice in your head grows louder, and it tells you “don’t do it, you’ll just end up with the same result as you did last time”. And as that voice grows more present in your head, you’ll grow more comfort in the discomfort of longing for your idea or your dream, because that same little voice will tell you that you would feel worse if you failed rather than if you just kept longing. And who knows? That voice sounds pretty reasonable sometimes. But it gets boring living in safety. Trust me, I’ve done it. It’s safe, yes, but waiting for something forever becomes its own brand of suffering, equivalent to or worse than taking a risk. Rather than facing anxiety and failure, you face a repetitive, unchanging environment, and you keep on asking yourself: what if I had tried? The good news is, once you ask yourself that, you realize you can try now! It’s not too late, and it’s not too scary. You might walk a tightrope and fall nine out of ten times, but that one time you managed to make it to the other side will make all the effort you put in and all those falls worth it. Plus, how satisfying is it to know that you struggled, and you persevered, and you can tell that little voice in your head to suck it? Pardon my French… ish… If I’m being completely realistic, and stone cold honest (which, man, I love to be), the entirety of the career that I am pursuing is one big risk. And I’m absolutely fine with that. At the moment I am pouring most of my time and energy into releasing an album with eleven tracks and eight music videos; three of which are still in pre-production, and one which I am animating frame by frame on my own. And despite me working as hard as I can on it, I know that there is a big possibility of failure. There is a great chance that I won’t break even from everything that the album’s cost me, both material, and time-wise. So why would anyone in their right mind do this? Well, A, why not? If I’m thrusted into this very flawed world and I’m told to survive, I might as well try and have fun doing it. Live life the way you want it. And B, I’ve lived through failure before. I’ve stuck my neck out, I’ve gambled, and I’ve lost again and again. I’ve been given less than a thousand listens for a whole year of work. I’ve had my heart torn apart, chewed, and spit back out right into my face. I’ve been lied to, I’ve been cheated on, I’ve been gaslighted. I’ve been told to retire from music because I’m not making mainstream pop. I’ve been called useless, and made to feel worthless. I’ve even suffered physical damage. Yet here I am. And after all that I’ve been through, I had my music video, Glasgow Lady, selected by the Recording Academy to play at a panel. Yes, the very same people who host the Grammys thought my music video was neat. And I’m sure more people will like my following videos from my new album. So now I’m on my way to release it; my biggest endeavor yet, with the biggest chance of exploding in my face. Do not avoid risks, just learn how to live through your failures. You’ve gotta make sure that little annoying voice in your head isn’t going to convince you to give up. First, make sure the goal you’re setting for yourself is something that you want. You’ll only have the willpower to work towards it if it is. I can guarantee there will be days where you can’t work. Maybe even weeks or months. Don’t let that stop you. So if I’m animating a music video frame by frame, and I stop for two weeks, that doesn’t mean that it’s over. I want to see it be complete, so I know I’m going to go back to it. And even if five seconds takes me a month, well I animated five seconds and I’m going to be proud of them. And I’m going to use that pride to keep going. Yes, late is absolutely better than never. Second, be adaptable to change. I’ve admittedly been neurotic before about having my music played exactly as I scored it, all because I’d throw my ideas into a little computer program, and then get used to hearing the music I wrote played with surgical precision. Then in the studio, I’d get upset if people were deviating from the score, even if it sounded amazing. Now, I rejoice when my collaborators use their talents. Sure, I’ll give them a feel for the track, but if they didn’t put their own vibes into my tracks, I’d just stick to the computer. Things don’t need to look exactly how you pictured them in order to hold true to your vision. Perhaps you’ll even find out that what you wanted was something different than that which you set off to pursue. Keep your mind open. Finally, and most important of all, you need friends who know your value, and will show it to you. They can say it verbally, but that means nothing if they don’t follow through with action: Hanging out with you, smiling, giving you hugs and cheering you on, being there when you need them and when you don’t. Be sure to do the same for them! You get what you give, and when you don’t, maybe that specific friend’s not good for you. So stick to the good ones who show you love, and hold them near and dear to you. Because when you you’re brought down to your knees, they will be the absolute best to encourage you to stand back up and continue fighting for yourself. They’re not going to cure you of all your sorrows immediately, but they’re the key to getting back on the saddle and in a motivated mindset once again.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The Mercy of the Moon is a character study on a figure named Key, and his fall from being a romantic to becoming a nihilist. After an encounter with an otherworldly being, Key is cursed with visions of a bleak future. I believe Key to be an analog to the concerns of myself along with my generation. With the rise of social media, Generation Z has turned into the most depressed and most anxious generation. We face threats of climate change, mass migration, and an unstable economy. The Mercy of the Moon and its eight music videos will focus on Key’s fight to prevent his visions from coming true, and to once again gain a better outlook on life. Key’s story began developing after I noticed the potential in Glasgow Lady, and in expanding upon what it meant to me personally, and what could happen to the characters after the video ended. I don’t want to give it all away, but things have gotten pretty elaborate, and I’d love for people to watch the videos and try to piece together the bigger picture of Key’s world. Even though it’s consumed my time and energy, I’ve actually had a lot of fun working on this project. Not only do I get to address certain issues that might feel taboo or not touched upon, but I get to do it in a creative setting and work with my friends. Brandon Hadeed and I have been working on cultures and linguistics of this fictional world that Key lives in, and thanks to him, I have learned a lot about history and human development and communication that I did not know before. Fernanda Lamuno has been a key (pun not intended) figure in helping me make many of music videos, and she has guided me through the world of film making and video production. All work is difficult and at times tedious but it is worth it to see the final product. All I want the world to know right now is that The Mercy of the Moon is coming out on June 25th of 2021 at zero hours, and there is more to the story of Key than that which will be noticed at first glance. Stay tuned!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Okay, first thing on my priority list, if you’re my best friend from outside of Miami and you’re coming over we need to drive up i95 North from Coral Gables late at night so that we can get that incredible view of the Brickell skyline. Ideally we’d be blasting M83’s “Midnight City” on the car speakers, but as long as the music vibe is 80’s, I’m flexible with the specific track. We absolutely need to hit Miracle Mile. I’m not necessarily aiming for any restaurant in particular, the place is just gorgeous. I’m sure we’ll find something, and until we do we get to see the prettiest part of the city. At South Beach lies my favorite diner ever, Big Pink. I love it so much the one time I started a band I tried to name it after the place. Sadly the name was taken. We can get some ridiculously good waffles in there. And since it’s 24/7 we can definitely hit the place for some to-go Oreo shakes and then drive up Collins Avenue at night. Again, we’d ideally be listening to “Midnight City”. Some honorable mentions of places I’d like to swing by throughout our hangout week are all the bridges from the mainland to the beaches, Lincoln Road, the Venetian Causeway, Wynwood because you can’t miss Wynwood, and Coconut Grove. I feel like I should mention that all of these locations increase in aesthetic when it’s night time and you drive by them while blasting “Midnight City” by M83 in your car. Finally, Because going to Miami without going to the beach is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, I’d use up some of our time together to take you to the relaxing beaches of Biscayne. Ah… Isn’t that a nice week for us to spend together? It will be if the Spring Breakers are no longer around.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this piece to my ridiculously talented and special friends who have helped me believe in myself. To Aidan Arbona, Jenna Getty, Jasmine Ortiz, Kyle Norris, and many others who I can’t mention but I am thankful for every single day, thank you for helping me fight that little voice in my head that tells me that I can’t. You’re all the reason I go on and keep on doing what I do!
Manuela Tavera, David Chung, Fernanda Lamuno