It’s a mixture of many local bands— We are the City, Dan Mangan, Said the Whale— that influence Grade 11 Langley Fine Arts students Adam Mah and Deven Azevedo in the creation of their music. Playing together in the band Derrival since they were in Grade 8, Mah and Azevedo’s alternative beat and “weird rock” is starting to get noticed by teens across the province.
Derrival— a combination of the words departure and arrival— has been voted one of the top 10 teen bands in B.C. in an online contest hosted by Youthink Magazine for teenagers.
Competing for a prize of $2,000 cash, a $500 gift card for Long & McQuade and a recording session with Jay Evjen of Juicemix Productions in Vancouver, the contest is proving to be a huge boost for the group of five teens, who recorded their first EP Where There’s Smoke in their friend’s basement and had to pay money to record their 7” disc The Autumn Game/ Modern Age Kids at Habitat Studios in Vancouver.
“We haven’t really had a lot of exposure before this contest but things have recently been getting a lot better,” Mah said, adding that the group was recently invited to be the opening act for the band Bed of Stars at Whisky Dix in Vancouver in March.
Asides from playing at the Richmond Night Market once, Derrival has only done shows for their friends at local venues such as the auditorium at Langley Fine Arts and Murrayville Hall.
Consisting of members Mah (lead singer and songwriter) and Azevedo (bass), Grade 12 D.W. Poppy students Glen Jackson (lead guitar) and Shane Stephenson (keyboard), and their recently graduated friend Dan Kozlowski (drummer), the teens write and compose songs that reflect issues most relevant to them.
One of Mah and Azevedo’s favourite songs, Young Bodies, touches on dilemmas encountered through high school life. Written by Mah, it describes the changes that occur from elementary school to high school and the introduction of drinking and drugs to people of his age group.
“I write about my experiences,” Mah said.
“In our song Modern Age Kids it’s about our whole age group of kids and how it’s so based on technology. There’s just so much of it right now, it’s very different from how our parents grew up.”
Beyond writing meaningful lyrics, the band also composes their own musical arrangements.
Both majoring in music at Langley Fine Arts, Mah and Azevedo play a number of different instruments. Mah has had special voice training, has been playing the guitar since he was in Grade 5 and also plays the piano, baritone saxophone and alto saxophone.
Azevedo has also had voice training from involvement in choir, and plays double bass, guitar, French horn and saxophone. He didn’t begin to play bass until he first joined Derrival, after his uncle gave him the same guitar he used to play in his own band in the 1980s.
As the group’s musical training has evolved so has their band’s identity.
“When we started out it was more pop type music. And then we kind of evolved to a more alternative, experimental rock,” Azevedo said.
Derrival first entered the teen band contest two years ago when Youthink Magazine contacted them on MySpace. They entered last year as well, but it wasn’t until this year that their submission of two songs and a video finally began to spark some attention.
“Originally I got a message on our MySpace page from Youthink Magazine telling us about the contest and telling us that we are on their radar because we are from around the local B.C. area,” Mah explained. “That was two years ago, so we entered the contest then, last year and this year again and made it into the top 10. We’ve also been running in the top three for three weeks in a row now.”
Public online voting to choose the top three finalists finished yesterday, and Derrival will soon find out if they have won a spot in the final three showcase performance happening in April.
Win or lose, Derrival has big plans for the future, hoping to record their first full-fledged album this summer.
“We’ve been playing together for three years and it’s just been a lot of fun since we’re all really good friends,” Azevedo said.
“It’s really just starting to happen now that we are getting a bit of attention.”
For more on Derrival visit their website at www.derrival.bandcamp.com.
To see their submissions for Youthink’s “B.C.’s Best Teen Band Contest” go to www.bandcontest.youthink.ca/Derrival.