In The Media

What do student politics and playing in an indie-synth rock band have in common?

By Deven Azevedo • Schulich Leader at
Winter 2014

What do student politics and playing in an indie-synth rock band have in common? Funny you ask that, I’ve been wondering the same thing this past semester. I’ve especially made this query on days on which I’ve gotten up for a meeting with University administrators at 6:00am and only found myself returning home at 3:00am after playing a sold out concert at the Commodore Ballroom. Thus, my past semester has often appeared as a bit of a dichotomy. One might not always think that student politics and playing in an indie-rock band are the most logical combination of activities, but at the end of this blog post, in an attempt to be inspiring, I will try to prove otherwise. But first, I will attempt to blog about my past semester:

In June my term as the Undergraduate Student Rep on the SFU Board of Governors began, and it has been a really interesting experience. Particularly interesting because I initially ran for the position because of my involvement with a club called SFU350 which, amongst many other campus organizations, is calling for an end to the University investing in fossil fuel companies; an issue which many administrators, sadly, think of as a ‘radical’ request. Aware of this notion, I felt I had to prove myself to the Board that I was not ‘radical’ while still being progressive enough to satisfy myself and the students who voted for me in the first place. So far, I am content with what I have accomplished. I, along with other groups on campus, pushed for the University to disclose their custodial reports (which show very generally where SFU’s invests) and in September it was announced that the University would begin disclosing these reports in the New Year. Further, I, again with many other campus groups, pushed the University to sign the Montreal Carbon Pledge, which would commit the institution to tracking and disclosing the carbon liabilities in their investments. The University is currently looking into this. Although these may seem like small accomplishments, I think they are a good starting point, and I look forward to contributing more to pushing SFU forward socially and environmentally in the New Year.

Also in June, Derrival, the band in which I play was named among the top 12 bands which applied to participate in the PEAK Performance Project. This meant that we would have the opportunity to compete for $102 700 ($75 000 and $50 000 for second and third, respectively). The project was spread over six months and on top of the large monetary prizes for the top three bands, all top 12 bands participated in an incredible experience called ‘Bootcamp.’ Bootcamp consisted of workshops with industry professionals, hanging out with these industry professionals, as well as hanging with all the other bands in the BC and Alberta components of the competition, all in the interior of BC for a week. Following the Bootcamp, each band played a showcase at the Fortune Sound Club, a mid-sized venue fitting a few hundred people. Playing this room when it must have been near capacity was amazing, but paled in comparison to the concert we were part of as a member of the top three. This concert took place at the Commodore Ballroom, a venue that has been in existence since the 1930’s where U2, the Ramones, and countless other world-class acts have performed. The concert was sold out (our first sold-out gig) with about 1000 people in attendance. From this one night alone, not to mention the whole 6 months, we learned an incredible amount about each other, ourselves, and how to engage an audience so large.  At the end of the night we were awarded second place and as a result walked away with a $75 000 cheque.

Onto the inspiring message one is supposed to take away from this blog post:

Although I don’t think I’ve yet found any revelation-worthy answer to the question posed at the beginning of this blog, I have realized that student politics and playing in an indie-rock group contribute to each other in ways that I never would have predicted. One such example is that through my involvement with Derrival, I’ve learned success doesn’t come through ‘connections’ but rather comes through ‘relationships’. This has helped me hugely in my involvement in student politics at SFU as I’ve required relationships I’ve built to help make changes I described above within the institution. In reflecting over the past semester and even past couple of years, I can see countless more ways they have contributed to each other. Therefore, from my University experience so far, I’d like to say, if any other students have found themselves wondering if they should drop an activity which they thoroughly enjoy doing just because they believe it will take away from their academics/leadership opportunities, I want to say don’t do it! If you feel you have the capacity to do both, I’ve found if you do both, you will be very surprised to see that they complement each other in ways you never would have imagined.