Freshman Cullen Deroche is a hidden gem from Houma, Louisiana, majoring in political science at Southern Miss. Based on his political science major, it would be unlikely to believe he is also a talented musician.
Deroche has been playing piano since he was eight years old when he got his first piano as a gift. At 16, he received another a gift, a bass guitar.
Deroche explained how he was introduced to music. He was surrounded by people who also enjoyed music and played instruments. As the years passed, Deroche developed a deep fondness of the process of creating music. For many artists, performing their craft puts them in a higher mindset and gets them in touch with their inner being.
“When I’m home alone, I take the chance really get into the mindset. My amp is cranked up loud enough for me to feel the music, and I let it echo through the house. A good bass note is something you feel in your core, shaking up your chest, and a good drumbeat feels like a second heartbeat,” Deroche said.
As a teen, he got his first taste of performing in front of a large audience in a talent show when he and a friend swallowed their fears and performed a cover of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath.
“We both lost ourselves to stage fright, because what 16-year-old doesn’t? But we put together a performance that turned everyone in the room into old-school heavy metal headbangers, if only for two minutes,” Deroche said.
In his music, Deroche strives for creating something new and fresh.
“I like anything with a beat that’s a little unpredictable or that’s been mixed-up,” he said. He checks for trends and gains inspiration from other artists who are passionate with their craft. To him, energy is the key to unlocking his interest and composing great work.
“When I’m playing bass, I like to move fast. I’ll compete with myself and see how many extra notes I can add to a bassline, to transform it into something with a catchy melody. When I play bass, my goal is to create the song behind the song,” he said.
He is inspired by bands like Green Day and Blink-182 where the energy and aggression of punk are fused with catchy melodies dancefloor pop. Deroche also listens heavily to hair-metal and synth-pop. However, he is not afraid to expand his taste by listening to everything from classical to Ariana Grande.
He finds inspiration in the old-school cool of Beatles and Rolling Stones vinyl records and 1960s photos of New York.
“I get called an ‘old soul’, and maybe I am, but nobody said this stuff had an expiration date on it,” Deroche said.
Art can be used as a therapeutic tool to decompress and express inner emotions. To Deroche, art is a powerful way to get through the stress and the restrictions of day-to-day life.
“I throw away all my stress and cheer myself up after a tough day. It means a place where you make up your own rules and communicate with the whole world at once. I’ve got time every single day that I dedicate to art and music, and if I don’t have time, I make time,” Deroche said.
According to Deroche, art is a way for people to look into another’s point of view and show an emotional response to the world.
“A painter can gently brush out a relaxing scene from nature, or they can pound paint into a terrifying battle from an ancient war. It’s how we tell people what’s really on our minds,” he said.
Deroche’s advice to other artists and musicians is to make it a daily habit to step out of comfort zones by surrounding yourself with passionate, competitive people.
“Above all else, don’t ever, ever worry about a trend. I’ll grab a trend, cut out the parts that look cool, and throw away the rest.”To find out more about Cullen Deroche, follow him on Instagram @cullenderoche and watch him jam out.