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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Rock Punk




"Darro Demonstrates That 'Nobody Is Normal' In 'You're Not Insane' Video: Premiere"

A firm belief that "we're all f---ed up," and that that's okay" is at the heart of the video for Darro's new single "You're Not Insane," premiering exclusively below.

The clip is something the singer, songwriter and guitarist refers to as "tumor humor," stemming from his own battle with a brain tumor that was diagnosed while he was pursuing a master's degree in music in Spain. The tumor may be gone now, but Darro (last name Chea) tells Billboard that the mental and emotional scars did not necessarily go with it.

"It's very flattering when people tell me, 'Wow, you've been through so much. I can't believe you've gone through hell and now you're the better for it,'" Darro explains. "It feels like that chapter of my life has ended to them -- the surgery's done, the brain tumor's solved. But it's not like that at all. It doesn't end after the surgery is done. That doesn't mean I'm better. I'm left with all these shitty circumstances in my life. I have to take medication or I'll die -- forever. It feels like the illness is invalidated 'cause I look fine on the outside, when I'm not. So the song is kind of a commentary on that."

The video, meanwhile, features Darro and a large cast -- including his dog and his bass player Tyler Chronister -- as he portrays "the one who's pretending to be normal" amidst a world of people in customized hospital attire who appear to be affected in a variety of manners. "I wanted everyone to look crazy," Darro says. "You look at social media, and...we can't get over this idea that we have to present our best selves all the time. I'm guilty of that too. It's a pressure that's constantly being put on us. But we all have illnesses and things we struggle with. So in the video I'm the only one dressed in normal clothes and everyone else is looking at me like, 'This dude is crazy! Why's he trying to be something he is not?' And at the end of the video I realize I'm not normal. Nobody is normal. We’re all messed up in our own ways.

"I try to cope with my problems with humor as much as I can and make it something everybody can relate to. It may not be appropriate for all situations, but for me, I have to joke about it. It's one of the only ways I can cope with something like this."

"You're Not Insane" is currently a standalone single, and Darro has another single, "Undefined," that he plans to release during the fall which will also be accompanied by a video. "I think I'm addicted to music videos now," he says. "It's just a crazy high that I can't get anywhere else." Meanwhile he has "a bunch of songs in the bank," and he plans to release an EP tentatively titled Songs of Recovery during 2020. "I have a lot of songs I've written about my... we can call it recovery but this whole experience and the struggles I'm still facing right now," Darro says. "I don't think I'm alone in this experience, so I'm looking forward to sharing more of the (music) with people." - Billboard

"Review Fix Exclusive: Darro Talks ‘You’re Not Insane’ And More"

Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter and guitarist Darro, who discusses the creative process behind his new track, “You’re Not Insane,” as well as his goals for the rest of the year.

Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?

Darro: I got involved in music at a very young age, I was probably 6 or 7. My dad was in a Cambodian wedding band growing up and I would sit at the top of the basement stairs as they practiced. Then when they finished and everyone had left, I would sneak downstairs and start playing on the drums or keyboard, trying to play the music I heard them play. It wasn’t until I was around 12 until I picked up the guitar, but I didn’t get serious until I saw my first Steve Vai concert. That was when I realized that I needed music.

Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?

Darro: It’s constantly changing but I almost always write out an instrumental arrangement first, usually stemming from a cool riff or a chord progression I like. Then I try to figure out what that sound “feels like” to me. It could feel like “walking in the streets of Boston” or “extremely tired but I can’t fall asleep.” Once I figure out what the song feels like to me, then I try to put it into words, my songwriting is constantly evolving and most days I like to think I’m getting better. After writing the lyrics, it’s just a lot of production and engineering. I’m a huge control freak so I really fine tune every single aspect, whether it’s voicing or phrasing of the bass lines, or the positioning of a microphone on the amps.

Review Fix: What inspires you?

Darro: There are a lot of things that inspire me, beyond the obvious artists that I look up to (Paramore, John Mayer, Frank Ocean, Steve Vai), I really just want to do well for my family. I went very against the grain for most first generation Asian-Americans. Immigrants and refugees struggle like crazy to raise a family in a foreign country, so you can imagine the reaction I got from my family when I told them I was going to music school. They had worked so hard for me to get an education and go be a doctor or an engineer or something, but instead I decided to go into music. It felt like blasphemy against everything they had worked for, it still does some days. But I knew I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. I’m content with making music for the rest of my life regardless of the pay, but if I can reach any amount of success, it would be nice to have something to show my family for it.

Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

Darro: Paramore meets Foo Fighters with a hint of Steve Vai.

Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?

Darro: Well there’s definitely a lot less guitars in a live show haha. Some of my tracks have like 12 guitar tracks. I always try to give a little something different in my shows, I like to throw in a few “Darro-ized” covers and some mashups too. But most of all I think it’s the energy, both the energy I give out and the energy I receive. Playing a show makes all of the long studio hours worth it.

Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2019?

Darro: Music goals: Release another single in the fall, play some shows outside of NYC (Boston, Philly, Baltimore?)

Non-Music: Learn how to surf, teach my dog how to shake hands, catch up on some sleep.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Darro: A music video for “You’re Not Insane” is coming out!

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Darro: I’m playing a show at The Bitter End in NYC on August 9th at 8:30pm! - Review Fix


Hey Darro! So excited to be talking with you!! How would you describe your musical style as an artist?

Paramore meets Foo Fighters with a hint of Steve Vai

What artists do you look up to right now?

Sooooo many, Frank Ocean, Paramore, John Mayer, Chon, Steve Vai, Bruno Mars, Lianne La Havas, the list goes on.

Any fun things in the works for your music career?

Working hard on my EP to be released early next year, hopefully in time for a summer tour

You just released your new single “You’re Not Insane”!! How excited are you that this song is finally out into the world?

The level of excitement matches the level of anxiety honestly. I’m thrilled to have gotten so much buzz around the release. The crazy part is that I wrote this song almost a year ago, so it’s anything but “new” to me, but to everyone else it’s pretty fresh, and to hear so many people excited about it is really invigorating.

What does this song mean to you?

It means “don’t assume anyone is okay because they appear okay.” The song was born out of frustration from dealing with invisible yet chronic illnesses due to my brain tumor, and while its flattering to be praised for looking healthy, it doesn’t mean that I am.

What was an average day like for you?

That’s a tough question because no day is ever the same. It’s both a great and terrible thing. Great because my life is always interesting, but terrible because of the lack of predictability gives me serious anxiety. I wake up, take Mocha out, go to work, come home, take Mocha out, work on music, go to the gym, go to bed thinking about music.

Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?

I’m releasing a new single on 10/4!! It’s kind of different from “You’re Not Insane” but I think in a good way. They’re both going to be on my EP next year but I think they represent the opposite ends of the spectrum for that EP. The rest of the songs will fall in between them in terms of similarity.

What are your friends and parents thoughts on your career in singing?

I think most of them are surprised to hear me singing at all. I’ve always been known as the “guitar” musician, not necessarily a singer. I don’t blame them either, it was hard to convince myself to sing, but I needed to express myself lyrically as well as musically.

Overall, how has this whole music career experience been for you?

Music has been the only thing I could ever see myself doing, so I’d love to say it’s all been sunshine and rainbows but it doesn’t work that way. There are as many ups as there are downs, lots of anxiety and sadness, self-esteem issues and competition, but there are also lots of ups. It’s exciting, thrilling, rewarding, and addicting.

Do you have any advice for anyone trying to make it as a singer?

Get lessons! And take care of your voice. Singing is incredibly hard for me because it’s a completely internal instrument. Unlike with guitar, you can’t see what’s happening with your vocal chords, you can only try to feel them and make sure you’re singing properly.

What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Obsessed, Present, Relentless, Calculating, Obnoxious

Do you have any last things you want to tell your fans?

If there are any fans out there, thank you. We’re working on some cool and unique merch items that should be available at my next gig on 10/11 at The Delancey in NYC (this might be the last show of the year!!)

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! - Teen Music Insider

"Exclusive Q&A with Darro"

What is the story behind your latest single?
This song came about as I experienced consistently similar reactions to my brain tumor battles. A lot of people congratulated me for “looking healthy” after my surgery. I know they mean well and are generally being encouraging, I don’t actually “feel healthy.” In fact I have a bunch of chronic illnesses that I have to deal with for the rest of my life because of the tumor. Most people tend to ignore that part of me now though because I don’t look sick, and it sort of feels like my everyday struggles are invalidated.

“You’re Not Insane” is a satirical commentary on how we as a society hide our pains and tend to curate and display only our best selves. It creates this illusion that “everyone else is perfect but me” and adds to the pressure to match it. Whether it’s physical or mental insecurities, we try not to let people see our vulnerabilities, but we all have our own battles.

When did you realize music was your calling?
When I was in college, I thought I would try my hand at computer science. It made sense because it would be a lucrative career and it’s what my parents would have wanted. I had been playing/practicing music for maybe 4 or 5 years at this point and figured it would just be a hobby, but I became obsessed with music. I would lock myself in my dorm room and practice anywhere from 6-8 hours a day – I wanted to become the next Steve Vai. I actually failed precalculus twice in college because of it. It wasn’t until my girlfriend at the time forced me to look at myself and realize that I needed to pursue music. So then I started practicing with the purpose of getting into music school. Somehow I managed to get accepted to Berklee College of Music, and every choice since then has been easy.

How would you best describe your sound?
Paramore meets Foo Fighters with a hint of Steve Vai

What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I really hope that I can provide a relatable message in a nostalgic way. I feel like music and memories have an extremely strong relationship, and I want to strike feelings of nostalgia in people and sort of bring them back to a time where they can remember what it was like before social media pressured us to be so perfect all the time. My message is that none of us are perfect, and we all have struggles; let’s be real.

Who are your dream collaborators?
Paramore, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Mark Ronson, Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, the list goes on…

Is there a possibility to perform your new music live?
Yes! I’m playing a show on 8/2 at The Bitter End, and another show on 9/1 at Pianos; both in NYC!

What are some albums that really shaped you as an artist?
Songs About Jane – Maroon 5
Alien Love Secrets – Steve Vai
Paramore – Paramore
Bilo III – David Maxim Micic
Black Clouds & Silver Linings – Dream Theater
In My Own Words – Ne-Yo
Moonflower – Carlos Santana
Blood – Lianne La Havas
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Channel Orange – Frank Ocean

What are some of your contenders for best song of 2019?
Oh this is incredibly hard. It’s very hard because so much music comes out that it’s hard to keep up with. Some of my most played songs from this year are:
“Sucker” – Jonas Brothers
“Mystery” – Shrezzers
“Rather Be” – H.E.R. - Stage Right Secrets


We are more than excited to premiere the new single “You’re Not Insane,” by Darro today at Pancakes And Whiskey. Before we delve into the actual single, we must tell a crucial backstory first. Darro Chea, an accomplished musician, wasn’t feeling quite right a few years back after returning from grad-school and was diagnosed with a brain tumor; resulting in him having to learn everything all over again including how to chew, speak and sing.

“You’re Not Insane” is definitely a song we all can connect with, as most of us have something lurking underneath that isn’t readily apparent by simple looking at us. We may go through the day with depression, digestive issues, or in this case a life threatening illness. Darro isn’t going to let a brain tumor get in his way and with the release of his new single we get a guitar-heavy treat that has rolling percussion and hammering bass with a pop-punk attitude.

“This song is a satirical commentary on how we as a society, portray ourselves. We tend to show only our pretty sides, when in reality, we’re all struggling with issues. This is what I face with my brain tumor; just because I look physically fine on the outside doesn’t mean that I am. And when I tell people about my health problems, I get praised for “looking” healthy. It sort of devalues the struggles of chronic illness and places too much weight on outside appearance. I’m poking fun at the notion that everyone is doing as well as they look.” – Darro - Pancakes and Whiskey


Still working on that hot first release.



It's not unusual for young artists to overcome hardship. In many cases, it's character-building. But few will ever face obstacles quite as daunting as those that confronted Darro. While studying music in Spain, the pop-punk singer-songwriter was diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. After surgery, treatment, and an arduous recovery, he's made it out the other side, and he's singing and playing as exuberantly as he ever has. But an experience like that leaves indelible marks on a person's psyche. Some artists might run from that, or try to obscure it; Darro, forthright as he is, is determined to use his platform to inspire others to stand up to the challenges that confront them.

 After gaining attention from his latest single release “You’re Not Insane,” which includes an exclusive music video premiere on Billboard, Darro has released yet another track born from the hardships of his brain tumor, this one titled “Undefined.” The track is a highlight of the upcoming Songs Of Recovery, a set of originals that address Darro's journey in powerful, straightforward language that anyone can relate to. Against all odds, he's come through his ordeal with his sense of self – and his sense of humor – intact.

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