Updated: May 24
1. What is your name and your profession(s)? My name is David Baqi but my mom calls me داود (pronounced “da-wood”). I sing and play the guitar, I’m a writer/director, and I create digital visual art.
2. What is your ethnic background and what is your citizenship (US native or naturalized etc.)? My parents were both born and raised in Afghanistan but I was born in Medford, OR.
3. Are either/both of your parents musicians or somehow involved in the music industry?
Sadly, neither of my parents are part of the music industry. But my dad tries to play the guitar like a sitar sometimes and it’s pretty fun to watch.
4. Please tell us a little bit about your experience, either growing up as an AAPI in America, or as a person of Asian descent who immigrated to America, whichever applies. Up until I was 10 years old, I didn’t really think much about my heritage and how different it was from my friends growing up. I would feel little bursts of uniqueness when I would invite friends over and they would say “oh, I’ve never smelled a house like this” in regards to my mother’s cooking. But around 9/11, everything shifted. As Afghanistan was in the headlines, I began to experience a rigid push back against who I was and everything I had known. For a while, I felt it safer to tell people who asked about my ethnicity that I was of Mexican decent. For a few years, I lived in this kind of fear up until about 15 or 16 where I met a group of people who unwound those fears and helped me sit back into the mold of my soul. Since then, I have still experienced a handful of negative experiences but I think my comfort and love of myself has attracted more curiosity than aggression.
5. How connected do you feel to your heritage/culture(s)? I feel very connected to my heritage! While I may not attend many Afghan weddings or family gatherings that much anymore (mainly because music and art take up my time/attendance), I still ask my parents about it all the time. I live through their stories and experience.
6. 6a.) How did you get into music? Did you major in music in college? Where did you attend college/university (and grad school(s), if applicable) and in what subjects did you get your degree(s)? I can’t remember the exact moment I got into music, but being the baby of 5 kids helped! Each of them introduced me to different types of sounds (from rock, to hip hop, to classical, to electronic, and beyond) and eventually when I was 10, my sister’s ex-fiancé had a cruddy little electric guitar lying around that I picked up and noodled around on for a bit. Eventually, my brother came by and taught me the intro to “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” by Metallica and it was all downhill (or uphill?) from there!
6b.) When and how did you decide you were going to pursue music professionally? What were your parents’ reactions to you deciding to pursue music? Do they support your music career now? I decided to take music a little more seriously at age 15/16. Initially my parents didn’t really think much of it but after a few years of consistency, they began to disapprove. Culturally, artistry was not a successful means of supporting yourself, so I understand where they were coming from. But nowadays, my mom LOVES my music (mainly because I have stuff where I’m not screaming the whole time) and my dad has softened up to it as well.
7. What are a few of your (music) projects of which you are the proudest? What were your roles on those projects? Beyond those projects, please feel free to name some of your other credits as well as any brands/companies you officially endorse. Some projects I am proud of are my band Takers Leavers (https:// www.youtube.com/user/TakersLeavers) and all the solo acoustic things that I do (https://www.youtube.com/user/dayvidBAQI). For TL, I am the primary lyricist/ vocalist as well as one of the primary song writers. No awards or accolades, I’m just very proud of the people that I work with, they are all hard workers and push me to sharpen my own craft! I’m not endorsed by any brands yet, but I chug Essentia Water by the gallon!!
8. Describe to me your dream project. My dream music project would be to collaborate with some of my favorite artists on an ongoing series of EP’s. 4-5 songs per EP where I get to write with people like Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria), Aaron Marsh (Copeland), 6LACK, or Nobuo Uematsu to name a few!
9. What are some obstacles you have encountered (if any) being an AAPI in the music world? What are some obstacles you have encountered (if any) as an AAPI in general (non-music)? Conversely, has being an AAPI ever helped you in the music industry? I haven’t encountered any real problems within the industry as most of the people I’ve encountered who are musicians are of the same spirit: understanding and welcoming. However, being on tour in different states that have different levels of acceptance has definitely been challenging. There have been places where I have felt racial aggression while minding my own business stretching outside of our van in parking lots.
10. 10a.) Who are some AAPI musicians/composers/producers who have previously inspired and currently inspire you (if any)? Why? David “Brown Sound” Baksh who plays the guitar for Sum 41 was the first dude to make me feel confident in who I was, ethnically! Even though he isn’t Afghan, when I saw a brown dude rise out of the pool and shred that hard in the “In Too Deep” video, I thought it was the coolest thing EVER. Growing up, none of my family members or friends of similar decent gravitated towards music so I truly felt alone. But when I witnessed him in his glory, I felt a little less alone. We even share the same initials! Honorable mentions: System of a Down and Samir from Young the Giant.
10b.) What are your hopes for the AAPI music community and your hopes for AAPIs in general? My hope for the AAPI music community is that a lot of parents see the joy that becoming musician can bring their children. To put old traditions and habits aside for the betterment of their relationships. I spent so long holding resentment towards my parents for how little they supported me in my journey, and now I wish I could have built a better attitude towards the whole situation. But hindsight is 2019, cause screw 2020.
11. If you could give advice now to your younger teenage self, what would you tell her/him/they? Don’t let the substances distract you. Please. You can do so much and will go so far if you don’t let the poison cloud you. Yes, search for the answers and meanings, but please don’t pull yourself into your own abyss. Also, listen to EVERYTHING, trust me, you’ll like it if you give it a chance. Finally, drink more water.
12. Do you have any upcoming projects for which you are excited and about which you are allowed to share? Is there anything non-music-related on the horizon about which you would like to share? Upcoming projects are what is getting me excited for this year! My band Takers Leavers has a few exciting announcements that I’m (unfortunately) not able to disclose right now, but I can say new music is on the horizon! I’ve also been working with a few 3D art programs and mastering the work flow behind them. I can’t wait to start collaborating with other musicians/artists on their projects through visuals and get their ideas to match reality! Keep your eyes peeled.
13. Name one or two non-music-related things/subjects about which you are also passionate. I am VERY passionate about animals. The virgo in me has this innate connection to the animal kingdom, so if you have pets, let me see them. I am also an advocate of mental health awareness and the importance of making it regular dialogue, similar to how we treat physical health. Thirdly, I’m definitely a very big fan of video games/anime/movies etc. Most of my friends know I LOVE the Final Fantasy franchise (All of them, you favorite-child-choosing-nerds. They’re all good. Except XIII.)
14. Any final thoughts? (non-self-promotional). Alternatively, do you have any questions for me and/or the greater AAPI music community? Thank you for doing this, Summer. It actually helped me put a lot of things into perspective and comb through my own musical journey. Eternal love.
Facebook: David Baqi
Bandcamp: Takers Leavers
Spotify: Takers Leavers
Photo provided by David Baqi