I Almost Gave Up on Music: Guest Editorial

Derin Falana, a 25-year-old rapper from Toronto, pens a guest editorial about the fear of failure, creeping doubt, and the importance of patience.
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My name is Derin Falana. I released my first project, Live From Rocky Mountain, in 2016. Since then, I’ve had a lot of incredibly supportive fans patiently waiting for a new body of work. I love what I do, and a lot of work goes into the art that I put out. However, the journey hasn’t been easy.

Being an artist can be complicated (especially as a perfectionist). Some examples: creating songs and feeling like they’re not good enough, creating songs and struggling to decide whether or not they’re finished, and leaving songs in the vault for too long—to the point where they’ll never see the light of day because that sound is no longer up to date with my current one.

There were days I didn’t have the inspiration or will power to make music, and there were days where I felt like quitting music altogether. At times, I felt like I was going through the motions. Some days my engineer and I would drive 30 minutes to a session, only to end up recording for 25, because the feeling just wasn’t there. There were nights at the studio where I was just happy to get something done even though it didn’t meet the standard I’d set for myself. 

I’ve experienced a lot of internal back and forth in regards to my artistry. I turned into a homebody; I didn’t care to leave the house other than to go to the gym or run errands. Mentally, I wasn’t there. I watched labels, and people lose interest in me. I stopped hearing back from people I had good relationships with. Bridges were burned. I was losing friendships and relationships and struggling to maintain the ones that were on the verge of falling apart. I felt defeated.

Sometimes, doubt finds a way to creep into your life when you’re at a low point. The important part is how you deal with it. Dedicated fans would consistently reach out to me asking when new music was going to drop, and I felt like I was letting them down—even though artists should never rush art and artists should put music out when they’re ready. 

The upside was I have fans waiting for me. But all of these things still affected me. Surrounding myself with friends and family, I went where there was love.

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To have a career is to invest in yourself, but the financial struggle is something a lot of artists deal with; I’ve been dealing with while trying to make my dreams a reality. I used to work as a server at a failing restaurant. The pay wasn’t great, and it took up all the time that I wanted to dedicate to music. In 2016, the place unexpectedly closed down around the same time that I wanted to quit, which ironically was also around the same time that I put out my first project. I was out of a job but took that as a sign I was supposed to be focusing on music full time. 

I told myself that I would never go back to that serving job, but over the last two years, I pondered it as a real possibility if things didn’t start to go the way I was hoping for. I was doing my best to invest as much money as I could into the music while making sure I was able to cover the cost of my bills and living expenses.

There was a separate battle of living up to the expectations of my parents, who support me no matter what because I’m their son, but would much rather see me pursue a more pragmatic career. I had to continuously find answers for both parents and my older sister when asked about whether or not I’m going back to school. I think the fear of failure is natural, but with everything that was happening, it felt intensified.

Overcoming these setbacks took a lot of patience and a change in management. Patience is something I’ve practiced and continue to practice because there will always be struggles and setbacks. Life has its fair share of them, and on top of that, the industry I chose to exist in is not for the faint of heart. Everything happens for a reason, and things will happen when it’s time. 

These experiences are part of what makes up my new project, Don’t Save Me. Music has given me a lot of new, positive experiences as well; things that not everybody gets the chance to experience, and for that, I’m grateful.

I use each song as an opportunity to be wholly authentic and share my honest thoughts and emotions with anyone willing to listen. I’m slowly transitioning into the person that I’ve always wanted to become. I may spiral out of control, but don’t save me. 

I hope this body of work can find a place in your lives. Vibe to it, live with it, enjoy it. I’ll be back shortly with more music. If you’ve been rocking with me, I truly appreciate you.

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