Typically, when we get submissions and stories for the How I Play series, the players being profiled tend to be in their 20s, 30s or 40s. The musicians also have some substantial experience in the music industry, publishing their own content and gigging around playing shows.
A while ago I received a very enthusiastic email from a young girl (18!) named Deoindra Harrell, eager to be a part of the How I Play series. I gave her email to me a good read and immediately I could see that this was a young player with some serious heart for bass guitar and music who was well on her way to making something for herself.
Below is Deoindra’s How I Play feature. The introduction before the 10 questions is her own introduction. It’s a well written glimpse into who Deoindra is and where she comes from musically. It’s worth a read and a re-read.
My name is Deoindra Harrell and I am self taught bassist who has been playing ever since the age of 12 (now 18), so about 6 years. Being a young, shy, awkward kid growing up in school was tough.
I had very few friends and really didn’t know how to express myself or how to convey my emotions until one day I was watching Tv and change the channel to VH1 classic, which was airing an 80s music video block of one-hit wonders.
Everything from Gary Numan to Musical Youth to Madness I was hearing for the first time and actually liked it.
I grew up listening to mainly Soul music, Hip-Hop, and 90s R&B courtesy of my parents, but anything outside of that never really interested me, so when I heard 80s music it was like a revelation!
I instantly fell in love though, started collecting these old 80’s vinyl records, and decided to pick up the drums after being inspired by great band by the name of Haircut 100. Their drummer, Blair Cunningham, who is Black really changed it all for me.
I’d never seen a person of my color in a group that played mainly New Wave music and seeing him together with Nick Heyward, Les Nemes, and all the other great members of that band was quite refreshing.
After a few years I picked up the guitar and bass, but it wasn’t until I heard the sound of the ska group called, “Madness,” when I decided to stick with it. Mark Bedford (the bassist of Madness) was always quite appealing to me because whenever I saw them perform live or in a music video, he always had a smile on his face and looked like the kind of guy where everything could go terribly wrong in his life, but as long as he has his bass and the music, everything would be alright and I admired that.
Especially the fact I was an outcast in school and a teenager suffering from depression, I felt maybe if I found that happiness with the bass guitar that everything would be fine.
Mark really changed my life, his bass lines were so different because they drew an influence from many different sounds like Motown and Reggae. He linked me to that happiness I always longed for and I hope someday to thank him personally for that. While he was a big help, God contributed to my journey to happiness and inner peace as well. During my Senior year of High School, I began listening to a lot of Gospel music and later found the Lord.
I’m 18 now and go to the University Of Utah, but the bass guitar was my way of feeling the lord’s spirit and that forever changed my life, sometimes I think it even saved it too.-
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Where are you currently located?
I’ve been living in Utah since the age of 6, but I am originally from “Bad News,” Virginia (Newport News, Virginia).
What is your current gig?
I can’t say that I ever performed live or with anyone at all because I’ve always been stuck in my house practicing rather than performing with others, but pretty soon I know something will happen.
I actually have a cousin named Darnell Miller who lives in Connecticut and is a professional session guitarist for famous gospel artists like Tye Tribbett who I plan to make some music with and jam with him in the near future. He currently has a band he’s formed called, Titling Windmills. They released a single which whoever interested should go check out on their site.
I also just barely started uploading Youtube videos to get noticed on my channel which is 2DFLY. Here’s one video of me playing right here:
What is one word that describes your playing?
Describe your current setup and what is favorite piece of gear at the moment?
I’m not really the richest person in the world, but I have great parents who help me buy cheap, yet quality bass guitars. I own a Squire Classic Vibe Jazz Bass and a Sterling S.U.B. Ray 4. The Sterling is my absolute favorite bass because it’s cheap, but the sound isn’t.
One thing I couldn’t live without is my relationship with God. I mean my family too, but without God I wouldn’t have them at all or my life, music, everything good that exists.
What is your practice space like?
Basically just my dorm room and the bedroom in my house which I share with my little sister.
I usually listen to a lot of Depeche Mode, Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, Bobby Womack, and ABC (80s group) stuff, but currently a lot of Crowded House and Gerald Levert are being played on the ole iPhone.
I would’ve really loved to see Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, but if I could meet a LIVING musician/bassist it’d have to be Tracy Wormworth of The Waitresses, she is one of the reasons I never stop playing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“If every great person listened to their critics and not follow their dreams, we would still be living in caves.” That was from a good friend of mine named Mike Jackson. I talk to him a lot on the TalkBass forum website, but this dude is literally a great guy who believes in me and people like him are part of why I keep striving for the best.
My final words: I’d like to thank you so much for being a part of your website. It’s not everyday that someone ask to interview me so thank you very much.
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Follow Deoindra on:
Facebook: Deoindra Harrell (girl w/ the big ole glasses)