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Q&A with Veridia’s Deena Jakoub on Music, Coronavirus, and the Future

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Q&A with Veridia’s Deena Jakoub on Music, Coronavirus, and the Future
written by
Mariam Nowar

(Image credit: Cristiano Celeghin)

Alternative rock band, Veridia hail from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States, and it is made up of frontwoman and lead vocalist Deena Jakoub, Brandon Brown on guitar, and Kyle Levy on drums. Jakoub’s late father passed down his Egyptian heritage to his daughter, who continues to honour his legacy through her music.

(Via Cristiano Celeghin)

After a promoter from House of Blues got in touch with Veridia in 2015 to ask them to open for iconic rock band, Evanescence, the band toured Europe together last September. Jakoub collaborated with Evanescence’s Amy Lee on I’ll Never Be Ready, which was a song Jakoub recorded in the memory of her late father. Lee performed on the piano during the recording of the album, and she also played it live with Veridia on tour.

On the 3rdof April, Veridia dropped their latest single, Blood Diamond, that features Arabic lyrics for the first time. Once again, this was Jakoub’s way of honouring her father and celebrating her Egyptian heritage. The song features oud tunes by Egypt-based musician, Ali Omar El-Farouk, and the artwork was designed by Lebanese graphic designer and illustrator, Rafik El Hariri.

In the song, Jakoub dives into the topic of love, and how valuable it is to be selfless in relationships. The Blood Diamond is her heart, and she realised that the deeper she digs into her wounds, the more vulnerable she is towards her partner. “For all of the times I wanted to blame the love of my life for the lack of affection I felt, I realised we just communicate love differently, and the pressure I put on him to prove his love was unfair and only showed him how little I appreciated the ways he expressed his love,” she shared on Veridia’s Facebook page.

We reached out to Jakoub to find out more about the concept of the single, along with Veridia’s plans for the future, and here’s what she had to say exclusively to Cairo 360:

How was collaborating with Ali Omar El-Farouk?       

It was really easy and exciting to work with Ali Omar El-Farouk! A family friend introduced us via Facebook, and I listened to his instrumental songs and fell in love with the sound. He’s based in Egypt, but I sent him the demo, and he recorded what inspired him, and honestly, his first pass was everything we needed to add that Middle Eastern flare. He’s an exceptional musician, and it was an honour to collaborate with him; I am sure it won’t be the last time!

What inspired you to pick the line “Aghla haga fel donia heya el hob” to feature in the song?

My mother, who is American, is actually fluent in Arabic, and I am not fluent (yet), but she is also very familiar with my poetic style and helped me. I had a specific melody and metre space for one line that I wanted to use for the Arabic phrasing, and this is what we came up with after discussing what would be a bold and simple way to say that love is more precious than anything tangible on this earth, and I express throughout the song that love is expensive.

It comes with the cost of knowing that we only have a short time on this earth to experience it with one another, but it’s worth that price. The song released in the same month as my father’s memorial in Egypt 3 years ago, so this is a time of remembrance for us.

Is this Veridia’s first time trying out Arabic and Eastern vibes?

This is our very first time using Arabic and oud in a song! Although, we’ve often used Byzantine scales and eastern influences in our music; You can hear the sitar featured in our song, I Won’t Stay Down, and the scale in Still Breathing very much has that vibe too.

What do the flying bugs on the track’s artwork symbolise?

The little golden beetles on our single art are actually scarabs, of course; an Egyptian symbol of protection. I was in California for business when I had my last phone call with my father, and on my way home, I found a scarab shell and kept it. It was the next day that he passed away. He was always very protective of me and loved me deeply. He and my Teeta (grandma) gave me scarab jewellery and art throughout my adolescence, so scarabs have a special place in my heart.

(Veridia’s favourite stop on their European tour was Arena di Verona in Italy)

Your upcoming tour with Evanescence has been postponed. How has your music been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Yes, our European tour with Evanescence and Within Temptation has been postponed to the fall. We also had several showcases and shoots which we, of course, postponed as well. We truly miss performing and connecting with people in person, but we continue to stay connected through social media and do our best to share positive, uplifting posts.

Our fans have continued to support us through our Patreon page; a platform where we give back to our fans with unreleased music, private monthly live-streams, and more, while they give a small monthly amount. It has enabled us to be an independent band releasing new music and touring as often as possible. We’re so grateful for that support, especially during these times.

Was the single recorded before or during the virus outbreak?

We actually recorded this at the end of January! It has been a little difficult to stay musically creative during isolation since we can’t be in the same room to write. However, we are staying creative in other ways. I’ve been making stage jewellery and designing/sewing wardrobe for when we get back out there!

What is your message to your fans during such tough times?

Live for this moment, because that is all we have. If we ruminate on the future (which is out of our hands), we’ll live in anxiety, and if we dwell on the past, we live in depression. I’ve been working on my own mental and emotional health, and I’ve only found joy in my present. There is always something to be grateful for at the moment; even if it’s as simple as the warmth of the sun, a cool glass of water, a slice of bread, or toilet paper (laughs)!

Gratitude keeps you grounded, gives you hope, and allows you to let go of stress, even in stressful situations. My hope is that we all come out of this stronger, more grateful, gracious, empathetic, and loving.

What do you have planned for the future?

Honestly, we have more new music coming that we’ve recorded, and I am continuing to collaborate with the graphic designer that created the single art for Blood Diamond, Rafik El Hariri. I am fascinated with his illustrations and style, and it’s been awesome to work with him from abroad. So, new music, new visuals, new shows this fall. I am also planning a return trip to Egypt in October, and I am hoping to put together an acoustic show with El-Farouk!

We look forward to seeing Veridia perform live in Egypt!