By Mariam Nowar
“One of the very first bands that I played music with actually covered a few Evanescence songs,” recounts alternative rock band Veridia’s front woman Deena Jakoub of her earliest days in Dallas, Texas before moving to Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. “A promoter from House of Blues contacted us in 2015 to open up for Evanescence and we connected with their crew immediately, and they have been gracious to share their stage with us ever since!”
From being fans to stage partners, Veridia has been opening up for Evanescence during the month of September on their Euro tour through Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and many more of Europe’s most prominent countries. Veridia is made up of drums by Kyle Levy, guitar tunes by Brandon Brown and lead vocalist Jakoub. The band plays music that generally classifies as alternative because it features rock, dark pop, urban tunes as well as Middle Eastern influences. Every country that Veridia’s visited has had an unforgettable experience with beautiful sites and welcoming audiences, but the city that had struck with the band members the most was Arena di Verona. The ancient and glorious town, which is over two thousand years old, had the most stunning views that the band had the opportunity to perform in.
It’s interesting to know that Jakoub’s father, who carries her Egyptian heritage, used to listen to a wide range of international music – but mostly Amr Diab! “My grandmother would sing along and play me Middle Eastern music that I would fall asleep to,” she says. Jakoub explains that she had always been drawn to Middle Eastern scales and minor keys, along with traditional drum beats that you can hear in a few of Veridia’s songs like Still Breathing and I Won’t Stay Down. She notes that her biggest musical influences came from her grandparents from her mother’s side, who played in a country band in Texas and taught her how to play the guitar from an early age. “I have been influenced by artists like Brandy, Alicia Keys, Freddie Mercury, and lyricists like Joni Mitchell, Jon Bellion and Copland. I am also currently studying the Arabic language and would love to incorporate it in in my lyrics for upcoming releases,” she adds.
During the process of creation behind Veridia’s debut album The Beast You Feed, Jakoub was inspired by the popular Cherokee proverb “Two Wolves” that explains how the good and bad can coexist within all of us. This saying also explains why Veridia wears half black and half white clothing when they’re performing on stage. Jakoub says that we get to choose every day whether to live in anger and resentment, or surrender to the moment we’ve been given and find something to be grateful for.
“What we fill ourselves and our environments will radiate – positively or negatively,” she adds. “Learning to love ourselves can be most challenging, but I believe that the love we receive is affected by the love we give; first to ourselves, and then we can be strong enough to feed the rest who are still starving.”
On that note, which beast has Veridia been feeding lately?
Jakoub continues, “Gratitude: This tour has gone by so fast, but having the opportunity to perform in seven new countries for the first time and to see the incredible landscapes, monuments, and meet many beautiful people helps me to submit to fully living in the moment.”
Veridia has gained plenty of new fans by touring with the legendary Evanescence, and they also benefited from a collaboration with its front woman Amy Lee. After Jakoub’s father had passed away, she had an intimate song that she wanted to record in his memory. His love for the piano sound had her reaching out to Lee for a collaboration, only to realize that Lee had also lost her younger brother. “It was an emotional time for both of us and I am honoured that she wrote and performed on the piano for the album and played it live with us on our tour together,” Jakoub says that the collaboration on I’ll Never Be Ready has been such a healing gift.
This is a man’s world, but Jakoub has not faced a lot of discrimination as a female in the music industry. As for the critics, she explains that there will always be different opinions and that only means that Veridia’s music is simply not for them and was originally intended for those who would connect with the tunes. As for going solo, Jakoub loves collaborating and touring so that she gets to share such amazing experiences with some of her best friends and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Veridia gets intimate with the fans through their Patreon page, which is similar to a private community where they spend time getting to know people on a personal level. Everyone has had unique stories filled with milestones and hardships, and Veridia is grateful for this connection that they share with their audience that crosses seas and goes beyond borders. Jakoub is working on finding the right venue since their busy schedules have made it difficult to spare time for her homeland.
“It is one of my lifelong dreams to perform in Egypt and connect with other musicians there. We’re looking for the right venue and would love to play in Egypt next year!” she concludes.