Darius Zaltash: How Music Made Me

30th November 2020

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As part of our Music Made Us campaign, Darius Zaltash, from BIMM Institute Birmingham, explains the influence that EDM and rock and roll have had on his own journey. He also explores the effects that his background has had on his music, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, and moving from Brighton to Birmingham.

My main influences behind my music are mainly a mixture of rock and dance music. However, I don’t really see myself as someone that just listens to those genres. To sound cliché – “I like a bit of everything really” – I think that’s impacted the kind of music I get excited about making because I like to mix sounds in places people haven’t heard before. There’s a lot of experimentation going on.

“I think my older influences are creeping their way back into my music though, which I’m finding it quite exciting!”

My favourite acts growing up were Linkin Park, The Killers and Muse to name a few, but by the time things came around to The Nu, these acts weren’t really influencing what I was making. I was listening to a lot of Crystal Castles, Jane’s Addiction and INXS – I think my older influences are creeping their way back into my music though, which I’m finding it quite exciting!

Moving from Brighton to Birmingham

I’d say one of the things I’ve found that’s similar in both cities is the vast range of musical styles in both scenes. In Brighton – because of the how close all the venues are together – you’ll have a singer-songwriter playing two doors down from a metal show and then that metal show would be across the road from a rave. It’s all so interconnected, and I’d never experienced it before. It was incredible. Birmingham is a similar vibe but just on a lot bigger scale, so moving here I felt like I could apply what I learnt from Brighton on a larger playing field.

One of the things I found that differs between the two is that, in Brighton, BIMM plays a massive part of the music scene and is the main driving force behind the shows and events, whereas in Birmingham, BIMM’s part is less dominating. There are so many creatives in Birmingham so BIMM is just adding to an already thriving community. It’s so exciting to be a part of it.

My Background and My Music

In all honesty, until recently, I’ve never felt like coming from a mixed background has helped me in situations. It’s mostly left me feeling excluded in certain ways and there have been situations where I’ve felt like it’s just been another way for people to give me some sort of grief.

Racism was such a big and dark part of my life growing up, and it really has shaped me in so many different ways. I sort of accepted that it was just something I’ve had to deal with for a while. The one thing that’s always stuck though is the determination of my parents to migrate to the UK not knowing the language or anyone here. It always puts things in perspective for me and I feel privileged to have the ability to see that perspective and to live somewhere like Birmingham knowing the struggles they’ve been through.

“I have something to say that people would want to hear. That’s mainly down to the BLM movement.”

Recently though, I’ve been feeling like my struggles with it all growing up have made me feel a lot more empowered, and like I have something to say that people would want to hear. That’s mainly down to the BLM movement. Ever since the end of May and seeing what we all saw – with the reaction and sheer amount of people that want racism to end – it’s made me feel less alone, and that there really is some hope for discrimination to end for good. It’s definitely been influencing my music, that’s for sure – as I’m sure you’ll hear very soon.

The main people that influenced and motivated me to take a career in music are my two older sisters. They used to take me to gigs and festivals and stuff as a kid and I was immersed in that whole world from a younger age than most, I think. I’m so, so, so grateful for it and I think that experiencing things like Glastonbury at 12 years old (12 and under go for free) have definitely shaped the sound I have now.

“If I hadn’t had those memories of the Pyramid Stage and other big arena shows, I think my music would be a lot more restrained.”

I have a real hunger to make my music sound gigantic, and if I hadn’t had those memories of the Pyramid Stage and other big arena shows, I think my music would be a lot more restrained than it is. I’ve got my siblings to thank for it all, really!

Top tips for anyone who’s unsure or less confident about stepping up

1. Keep your branding simple and consistent.

Even just two colours and a font will do – less is more. I’d recommend looking up what Style Sheets are to understand how to use colours and fonts effectively. Remember, you’re going to have to create your posts quickly sometimes and if you have to create a Van Gogh painting in order to post to Instagram, you won’t be able to keep it up and it’ll take over your life. Keep it simple!

2. If you’re scared about stepping up, just remember that Freddie Mercury would respect you every time you do, so if you can’t do it for yourself – do it for Freddie?

All jokes aside – believe in your music and other people will too. If you’re kind to people and work hard then you’ll be in places you didn’t expect before you know it. Reputation is key!

3. Artist success is not a competition – everyone’s at their own pace and it’s easy to compare yourself to people further in their career than you.

That comparison will always affect you more than the other person and it’s negative energy that could be spent writing, recording, promoting, the list goes on. Just focus on yourself and your craft!

Our Music Made Us campaign is told through the students, graduates, journalists, experts and passionate people who have been shaped by music. Discover their stories here


BIMM University

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