Earlier this month, Student Life hosted an event called Stories of Resilience: A World Café & Lunch Event with the goal being to provide a space for students to share and reflect on the challenges that have come with living in a post pandemic world. I think I can speak for everyone when I say the past few years have pushed us like none other. During the pandemic, many of us sought after baking, language learning and moments of creativity to while away time. To continue the discourse on resilience, I decided to have a chat with, Razzak, who is a DJ and music producer and is also currently studying in his third year at the University of Toronto.
B: Hello! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself for those who don’t know?
R: My name is Razzak. I’m a student at the University of Toronto St George campus currently studying biomedical ethics and political sciences. I’m a music producer, DJ and I love playing football.
B: In addition to academics, you are also a DJ, can you tell me a little bit about that?
R: So I’ve been a DJ on the side of my studies since my first year of university. It’s a huge passion of mine and I love making music as well as performing.
B: I’m curious, how did you get into DJing? Was it something you sort of fell into? Who inspired you?
R: I got into DJing through my love for music production. After winning a voucher for a music production digital audio workstation while playing football I fell in love with making music and creating something using ideas that existed in my mind. I’ve always had lots of ideas for mashups and original songs and being able to do something with these ideas was a dream for me. I was inspired by DJs like Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Avicii and Martin Garrix to start.
B: What is your biggest achievement so far as a DJ?
R: I’m super grateful just to be able to make music, but I’d have to say some of my best achievements so far has been being featured by Tiesto, on his podcast, and receiving over 100,000,000 streams on all platforms on a mashup that I made. The achievement that I’m most proud of is the show I did to raise funds for the underprivileged youth of Pakistan.
B: I think I can speak for everyone when I say that school and academic life in itself, can be VERY challenging! With everything you’re involved in, how do you balance it all? And what does that look like for you?
R: Balancing school and music gets really difficult for me. The key for me is to make sure I finish my university work before making music and doing shows. I make sure to finish my work weeks before so I’m able to give enough time to producing music and DJing. I usually study in the day and produce music at night, that way I’m able to give enough time to both academics and my music, but sometimes I’m unable to balance both music and studies if there’s a lot of studying to do. Sometimes it’s a matter of what needs to be done at what time, for example when exams are closer I study more and make music less and when I have a show or song coming out and have to create a set list, work on visuals, marketing and a lot more, then I focus more on music.
B: When it comes to creating music, how and where do you look to for inspiration?
R: I take a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. I use recorded organic real instruments such as guitars, pianos, violins, organs and all sorts of instruments in my music which inspires me a lot. Artists like Avicii inspire me immensely to produce a melodic progressive style of music, and being able to do shows in order to help people and for a greater cause, such as the fundraiser show for the Pakistan flood relief inspires me immensely.
B: In the moments when life gets hard, how do you stay resilient? What does that thought process look like for you?
R: In the moments when life gets hard it’s important to stay resilient by remembering how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of the goals you want to achieve and stay positive by doing things you love. Remembering the people who serve as your inspiration is also super helpful and can help motivate us when things get hard. Talking to the people that are close to you is a great way to stay motivated.
B: With everything that you do, I’m sure there are times where it feels like things may be taking a toll on your mental health and well-being. What are your favourite ways to de-stress and take care of your well being?
R: My favourite way to destress is by listening to music, going to the gym and spending time and talking with close family and friends. Producing music is an amazing way to de-stress as well because it brings one into a world of their own. Aside from gymming and being a part of a U of T division 1 football team, I’m also learning Brazilian jiu jitsu as I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art. Being involved in many different hobbies keeps me busy and really helps with my mental health.
Rapid fire question
B: Favourite movie of all time?
R: Catch me if you can
B: Favourite hype / mood booster song?
B: Essential song or artist in your study playlist?
R: Martin Garrix
B: Favourite spot to study on campus?
R: Grimes Library
B: If you could meet any celebrity or notable figure, living or dead, who would you choose?
B: Most memorable course you’ve taken at U of T?
B: What’s one advice you’d give to your first year self?
R: Talk to as many people as you can!
If you are interested in being a part of future event hosted by the Student Life, check out the website at this link: https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/events/