Interview with Watersdeep
Watersdeep is a five piece emotional pop punk/post hardcore band from the Washington D.C. area. The band consists of Gabe Jaar on lead vocals, Rohan Enamandra on guitar and backing vocals, Brandon Jones on guitar, Clare Raiguel on bass guitar, and Max Gilder on drums.
Gabe Jaar and John Martin originally started Watersdeep as an acoustic duo, playing covers on their local college radio. After a few months of writing music and playing live radio gigs and open mic nights around their college campus, Gabe and John made their way into the local music scene by playing local venues all across the DMV. Their debut EP Sunken Feelings came out on December 21st, 2016. Around the summer of 2017, John stepped down as the lead vocalist for Watersdeep, leaving Gabe to continue Watersdeep as a solo acoustic project.
In 2018, Rohan stepped up as a fill in bassist, which quickly led to his permanent position in the band. As Gabe and Rohan recruited the rest of Watersdeep’s members, Rohan switched to guitar. The group released their third studio release, titled “Trust Issues”, in January 2020.
Their latest release, “A Distant Memory”, has an old school vibe with a modern metal twist. The group now boasts two 7 string guitars, expanding upon their original vision with room for plenty of musical experimentation.
Have you always been interested in music? What is your story and how did you start making music?
Rohan: I have been extremely interested in music since day one honestly. I come from a musical family, and pretty much as soon as my parents found out that I was born with absolute pitch, they signed me up for piano lessons. I took piano lessons for about 12 years. During these years, my piano teacher taught me how to create MIDI tracks in a program called Cubase, which led to an obsession for music production that is still growing stronger today. When I turned 14, I got my first guitar. I taught myself to play using the skills I learned from piano lessons. Today, I have a solid understanding of most instruments that are used in songs within my style of playing, which helps me with the writing process immensely.
Gabe: I’ve wanted to play music for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are me running to the piano in my music class when I was like 7 and my teacher scolding me and telling me to go back to my seat because I had no idea how to play anything at the time. I learned piano first when I was about 9, picked up guitar when I was 17, and didn’t really start singing until I was maybe around 20. Music has pretty much always been a part of my life.
Brandon: I was always into music and I started learning how to play the guitar when I was 8. The more I learned how to play, my musical taste started shifting to hard rock and heavy metal. Really anything with sick, crazy guitar sounds in it and I was hooked and I wanted to make those sounds. It wasn’t until mid high school, I found some friends who wanted to jam and after that I realized playing guitar is what I was meant to do. Playing live for people is the best feeling one could have.
Clare: Before I was a musician, I was a dancer for about 12 years. I was always exposed to music, but I never made any music myself until I discovered drums. I picked up drums pretty quickly, because of my experience with rhythm as a dancer. After that, I took vocal lessons, and then picked up as many instruments as I could. I now play 5 instruments and know how to sing. Bass guitar has become my favorite pitched instrument, and I am so happy I am able to play it in this band!
Max: I started playing in bands when I was 14, but I really started making my own stuff at around 19. I’ve always loved listening to music, and the more time I spend making it, the more I enjoy that too. I started with drums at age 10, and then I got into bass and guitar at age 18 or so. Once I did that I started having tons of ideas in terms of making music, and my brain hasn’t really stopped having ideas since then.
What are you working on now? Any future releases we can look forward to?
Watersdeep: There is definitely new music in the works, but nothing that we can reveal just yet. However, I will say that this new stuff is going to be some of our strongest material yet!
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry?
Watersdeep: Our primary goal as musicians is to provide fans with a safe space to feel whatever they need to feel and listen to our music. We all have been through a lot, and we draw most of our inspiration from pain. We want to use our platform to help people and ourselves by writing music that is relatable to people who are dealing with similar things.
Clare: There have been so many bands that have helped me through rough times, and I want to help pass on that feeling that you’re not alone. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is through music.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far? Rohan: The biggest challenge that I face is crippling self doubt. I am often extremely self critical, which affects how I view myself as a musician. While being self critical is important to a certain level, there is such a thing as an unhealthy amount of it. During moments like this, it is important to think of the reason you play music, and remember that everything will pay off as long as you stick with the grind.
Gabe: Pretty much the same exact thing that Rohan said. This is the first band I’ve ever been in so I’m still pretty new to a lot of this. Sometimes a little bit of anxiety kicks in before a show or even before going into the studio, because I always want everything to be perfect. I never let that stop me though. I love this band too much to let anything slow us down.
Clare: My biggest challenge has been finding people who have the same visions for their music as I do. It is hard to be in a band when there are no other members. I am so glad that I am able to be a part of Watersdeep, and work with like-minded people who like the same music as me!
Max: Getting focused. There’s so much I want to do, whether it ends up being good or not, and it’s really hard for me to have a one-track mind that actually does anything consistent. I totally feel the other dudes when it comes to self-doubt, though, and the ‘shared vision’ thing has also been an issue – although I’ve noticed that when I work with people who might not have exactly the same vision, my vision is expanded. That’s kind of what happened with Watersdeep actually, I was kind of on the fence about joining at first but then I really started getting into the stuff they were making, and I’m really glad they’ve kept me on.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then write the other music for it or what’s Your typical songwriting process?
Rohan: It honestly depends. Sometimes I’ll start with a guitar riff – other times I’ll have a melody or some words in my head. Sometimes, I’ll even start with the drums. It all depends on the inspiration that strikes and how and when it strikes.
Brandon: Rohan pretty much summed it up for me as well!
Clare: I start with the inspiration for the song. I write songs based on how I’m feeling in that moment.
Gabe: The melodies pretty much always come first for me. Usually it’s a vocal melody and then I just start to build off around it. Or sometimes a really catchy guitar riff comes into my head and I think “I have to use this for Waters” and we go from there.”
Max: Whatever hour of the day my brain decides to spit out a riff (usually it’s 3AM unfortunately), I immediately sit down and record it, either on my phone or directly into a DAW. It can really start with any instrument, sometimes it starts with drums, sometimes with guitar, sometimes with a really meaty bass riff, and sometimes with some weird synth lead. Often it’s a rhythmic pattern, I write a lotta djenty stuff. I usually just collect riffs and eventually find a few that fit together, which is how I build a song. Basically I make riff salad, and hope all the ingredients work together. Sometimes I do write a whole song at once but that’s rare.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Rohan: I feel like the internet is both a blessing and a curse. With the rise of the internet, it’s pretty easy for anyone to release content. However, it can be tough to stand out due to this. I’d say it’s mostly a blessing though, considering the fact that it is probably the most effective way to market your music and reach your audience. It’s important to remember that there is a fanbase out there somewhere for pretty much anything – you just have to get your music in front of the right people. This can be pretty tough, but it’s definitely within reach because of the internet.
Gabe: I’ve always been curious to see what life as a musician would’ve been like before the internet. Back when touring was the most common way to gain new fans and physical CD’s were one of the only ways people could hear your music. But at the same time there’s a lot of resources we have now that musicians didn’t have a few years ago. The music industry has definitely come a long way in the past few years. We have fans in so many different countries that would’ve never heard our music if it wasn’t for streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music. So for that I’m extremely grateful. However, it can be tough to stand out online since there are so many bands out there, but that just motivates us to work harder and stand out more!
Clare: I feel that the internet has been a great way for musicians to connect and network, especially during the pandemic. Since there are no shows, it is very hard to meet musicians or fans in person.
Max: I have a lot of conflicting thoughts on this. In some ways it’s exactly the same, you gotta fight to get noticed, play shitty venues and deal with sleazy people, just like everyone has had to ever since jazz really got started in the 1910s. But at the same time, we all have so many more resources, for so much cheaper, that do so much more. So people who otherwise wouldn’t have had a shot do now. The problem is, now there’s a LOT more people fighting for a spot in the limelight. But there’s also a lot more ‘limelights’ than there used to be. I don’t know, I think it’s overall better than it ever was – even with Covid now to be honest – but we have a long way to go before artists get the respect they deserve for the work they do. But that’s true for all creatives I guess.
List some famous musicians currently on your playlist
Rohan: I’m a bit of a prog/djent kid, so I love bands like Veil Of Maya, Reflections, Born Of Osiris, Animals as Leaders, Loathe, Architects, etc. I also love metalcore bands like If I Were You, Fit For A King, Hollow Front, Sworn In, Invisions, Sleep Waker, Bodysnatcher, Polaris, etc. I’m also a sucker for math rock bands like Covet, Plini, Arch Echo, Polyphia, Chon, Intervals, etc.
Gabe: Lately it’s been a lot of Senses Fail, Underoath, A Day To Remember, Silverstein, All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, The Ghost Inside, Counterparts, In Her Own Words, Architects, I could go on all day.
Brandon: I’m a thick blend of old school and modern metal. Bands such as Cradle of Filth, Shadow of Intent, Enterprise Earth, Draconian, Parkway Drive, Trivium, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse, Iron Maiden, Polyphia, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir, Batushka and Behemoth. Just a few of my favorites!
Clare: I’m a little all over the place right now with music taste, but my favorites right now are August Burns Red, Twenty One Pilots’ self-titled album, Taking Back Sunday, The Strokes, Modern Baseball, My Chemical Romance, Parkway Drive, Underoath, Circa Survive, and so many more!
Max: It’s such a mess of everything. I, like Rohan, am a huge prog/djent kid. But I really listen to every kind of metal, and a ton of other genres too. One of the things I’ve been listening to a lot has been “all my favorite colors” by the Black Pumas, a bunch of Bastille, and Whale Bones. At the same time, I’m listening to Mick Gordon, the new Erra singles, the new Architects, Tetrarch. I’m all over the place. I go where the spirit moves me, same way I write. That’s a nice way of saying I can’t focus on any one thing.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
Rohan: Honestly, I’ve been interested in making my own music ever since I was a child. I used my parents’ keyboard to write and record small original ideas until I eventually got a recording setup of my own.
Gabe: I’ve pretty much always made music ever since I was in middle school, but before Waters formed, I was doing more classical piano compositions, which I still like to do from time to time.
Brandon: I would play video games all day before I got into playing and creating music.
Clare: I was a competitive dancer and I also student-taught dance classes as well. But, when I found out how awesome it is to make the music that other people dance to, I was sold on being a musician.
Max: Bionicles, mostly.
Would you have any advice for young people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Rohan: Don’t be shy at shows. Going to shows is one of the best ways to network with people in your scene. Become friends with as many local artists as possible, and do everything you can to maintain these relationships. Anything can happen at any time, and one opportunity can lead to many more. Always be humble, keep an open mind, and do your part to keep the scene alive.
Gabe: I think the best thing you can do when you’re in a band is go to as many shows as you possibly can. Big shows, small shows, it doesn’t matter. Really submerge yourself in your music scene because that’s where you’ll meet some of your best friends that like the same music that you do. Being around that community more will really help you find gigs, discover new bands you may have never heard of before, and help get your bands name out there more. I wish someone would’ve told me this when I was starting out. When I first started Waters, I pretty much just hid in my college dorm all day, and emailed random venues being like “Hey please book me…” That almost never works. Don’t make the same mistakes I made.
Brandon: PRACTICE!!!! Practicing your instrument, your songs, scales etc… practice is the first thing you should do before anything else. Other than that, try to get involved with your local music scene and make as many friends as you can and I mean people you can trust, not just anyone. The more connections you have with people means people to start bands with, collaborating with, and people to help you get some gigs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people.
Clare: Practice as much as you can, and if you have a music instructor for your instrument, listen to them! They probably know what they’re talking about and can give you advice. Also, never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help! A lot of the best doors are opened for you through conversation, and the best way to start a conversation is to ask questions. Talk to people and network.
Max: Be humble, take criticism, build on that criticism. Don’t take it too personally and don’t let it paralyze you, but also don’t pretend like people just don’t “get you,” or whatever. If you need to improve at something, that isn’t a mark on your character. What IS a mark on your character is how you embrace that criticism.Only way you get better is seeing where you can improve.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Rohan: If I could change anything about the music industry, I would eliminate some of the cliquiness that is associated with some local scenes. Cliquey scenes often perpetuate a toxic environment for newcomers and bands that have a unique sound. This is unfair because every artist deserves to have a shot and a voice – the music community should be a safe space for everyone.
Clare: I would get rid of all of the toxicity and gatekeeping in the music industry. Let people like what they like, no matter the genre, and treat others how you want to be treated.
Gabe: I hate to say it but a lot of predatory behavior comes out of the music scene, and I wish we could eliminate it entirely. Nobody should ever feel unsafe when they want to go to a show. We’ll always work hard to make our shows a safe and fun environment for everyone that comes.
Max: Honesty. People need to be more honest, and need to really engage with each other about the music they make. “Great set, man” is nice to hear but if that’s all you get, that isn’t enough to get anywhere. If we all just talked more honestly about the music we make and why we make it, we’d all get more places.
How do you feel about originality? Rohan: Originality is extremely important to me. I am someone who always tries to stand out and be special in my own way, especially when it comes to music. I also feel that originality in terms of music provides both the artist and the listener with a more authentic experience.
Clare: It is important to be original! Why recreate what others have done? That music already exists. Create something that has that “wow” factor.
Gabe: Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of new bands out there, so it can be really hard to stand out. I think the more unique your sound and image is, the more likely you are to catch people’s attention. Pushing boundaries and even fusing genres can work so well if done right. Like when me and Rohan write together… he’s a djent kid and I’m an emo kid. So you end up with post-hardcore sounding songs played on seven strings in super low tunings.
Max: I think it’s important to make cool, interesting stuff, but I think the idea of ‘originality’ the way a lot of people conceptualize it is a trap. People try so hard to not sound like other people that they get lost in the sauce and never produce anything. Having inspirations is a blessing, and we should honor those inspirations by allowing them to come out in our work. I’m obviously not saying we should be ripping people off but we shouldn’t be holding ourselves/each other to the impossible standard of being ‘original,’ because that word doesn’t mean anything in the context of art. We should be creating, not obsessing over who sounds like what.
Is there anything else we should know about you? or Something that you would like to add?
Everyone in Waters has solo projects that we would love for you to check out!
Brandon: Outside of Waters I’m also a part of a horror punk band called “The Recently Deceased”, in which a full length is in the works.
Clare: I’m working on my debut EP for my solo project currently, and I am very excited for the future releases we are working on for Watersdeep!
Rohan: I have my own math rock piano solo project called “RohanOfPiano”, I have released two EPs under that name, and many more are in the works.
Gabe: I recently started a techno project called HyperXDuck earlier this year. My first single came out a couple months ago and my first EP is coming out in the spring on all major platforms!
Max: My solo project is Planet Buster, i do heavy prog stuff, for anyone that fucks with that. Rohan does a lot of vocals for me and he’s awesome at it. It’s on every platform, go stream it!