Humility is one word that comes to mind when we write the words Dean Chohan. No stranger to the limelight Asian singer and songwriter Dean signed his first recording contract at the tender age of 12 and since then has toured some of the world’s best and reputable venues as far as the US, major parts of Africa and all over Europe. Dean has toured with current music greats including Ludacris and The Black Eyed Peas. Destined for mainstream success, it is only a matter of time before Dean’s name resounds from everyone’s lips. Find out what drives and motivates Dean, learn how he got into the music industry and be in-spired by his determination and passion for success. A must read, be in-spired!
Dean, tell us how did you manage to gain a VIP guest entry to the concert of the late and great superstar that was Michael Jackson and how much of an influence has his music had on you and your career?
It’s a strange but amazing moment in my life , at this time we (TCO) just performed on Blue Peter and then the Chart Show and a few days later we had a feature on a newspaper ( Sunday Mirror ) which read we where the Next JACKSON 5 with my picture on the top . A great moment for sure, we then got a call that MJ was interested in seeing and hearing our music so we sent a video to MJ and his team.
We sang two songs ‘I’ll Be There’ (Jackson 5) I sang lead and ‘Touch’ our single at the time. He loved it and invited us to his show where we met him for a few moments. MJ said we reminded him of him and his brothers. At this point I was speechless .We also met Madonna in VIP and Kriss Cross backstage.
MJ has been a great influence in my life and my songs. He is and always was an amazing artist that would encourage me to always want to improve and be better. MJ’s music touched me and I always wanted to share my music to the world like he did. He was a true legend.
You started singing at 10 years old. How did you get into singing and what point did you realise that you had talent?
I have to say it all started from parties that I went to. From a young age I would sing at home to my brothers and sisters and when my family and I were invited out my mum and dad would get me to go on stage and perform MJ songs. I would always jump at the chance. You could hear a pin drop as all eyes were on me that feeling was amazing .At Indian parties if you get the crowd excited every one would will drop notes (£) at your feet to show what they think. (Laughs) I was cleaning up at 8 years old!
The moment it really hit home was when at the age of 10 years old I was asked to sing for a school play where I sang Streets of London. My music teacher told me to just sing and enjoy it so I went on stage in front of everyone at school, parents and school teachers and when I sang I felt ALIVE and to see the look on everyone’s faces and to see and be told I touched them, I just knew performing was what I wanted to do.
You are an Asian singer but you don’t like to be put in a box because of this. How important has it been for you to shine through as an artist and not be categorised because of your ethnicity?
It’s crazy as it’s a bit of both as its only when I’m asked where I’m from that people may then put me in a box as a lot of people are unsure where I am from so it’s not really been a problem in the past and I would say my music does speak for itself. This is clear when you listen to my Mix tape ‘Rumour Has It’. You will hear a lot of old school RnB, Soul, and Motown which is where I have learned the most. It’s strange as I have more African, Caribbean and English followers then Asian.
You originally hail from Hackney, London. How proud are you and your family of the achievements you have had to date?
Yes Hackney Born and raised (Laughs) wouldn’t change that. It’s crazy as I would have to say my family love what I do and they our forever telling everyone they meet about my music and what I have done in the past and what I’m about to do. Mum always tells people ‘Download his music’! It’s amazing as they tell me to keep going and you will get what you deserve. My biggest fan is my Princess and beautiful Daughter Je’dene Chohan, my inspiration.
Out of all you your performances, which ones would you list as your most memorable and why?
Wow that’s a hard one I would have to say one of them would be my tour with 3T. I was 17 years old I sang ‘I’ll Be There’ an MJ song. The crowd were amazing, they sang along shouting at times. I could see they enjoyed every moment as much as I did.
It has been a long time coming, but UK singers are at last gaining the commercial success and recognition of their US counterparts. How inspired are you of the progressive steps many UK artists have made in the industry and do you aim to emulate their success?
Yes its been a long time coming but it was a matter of time. I think as UK music is and has been stepping up. It’s mad as I get more work over there in the USA then over here. I really do think my music will be heard across the world someday soon. With me I’ve always kept doing what I do. Knocking on all doors that maybe closed but these doors will have to open sooner or later.
You have toured and performed both in the UK and internationally. What would you say are the main differences and what do you prefer the most?
It’s crazy as in Africa and the USA my music has got much more love then in the UK but that is changing as the UK crowd is now listening to and appreciating UK RnB. In fact the last time I was in the states I was stopped on the street and asked to sing as a group of girls recognized me from a performance I did a few days earlier. They were surprised when I spoke as they didn’t know I was from the UK. I think that is because my music is very soulful RnB and very understood by the US market.
You are a single parent and you manage this dedicated and challenging role with working and establishing your musical career. (And they say women are the only ones that can multitask) How do you manage to keep a check of all your priorities both in your work and personal life?
I guess you can say I do have that multitasking skill(Laughs) it gets hard but I work it out. The good and important thing is my daughter loves what I do and always wants to be around me when I’m singing or in studio and then I have great family and friends that help when it gets to a point when I have to travel .
I have had to turn down some work due to important times I can’t miss in my daughter’s life as she is and always will be my number one. Being a parent is a blessing and I have to be like a mum and dad for Je’dene. I absolutely love it.
What drives you most within your career?
I would say my daughter drives me as I want Je’dene to be proud of her dad and I want her to see and to learn that if you try hard you will get to top , away from that it’s my ultimate desire to be an overall and worldwide success.
Out of all your achievements to date, what are you most proud of and why?
That’s a hard one! You got me! I would probably have to say when I was in the studio with Rod Templeton and Quincy Jones. That was a great moment for me, working with the two greats that both inspired the ‘Thriller’ album.
They were so professional and were very down to earth. They love anyone who can sing a session. I will never forget two greats asking me to free style and sing and let the music take me ……HEAVEN. We all went to dinner after the session and they told me not to stop as music is in my blood.
What would you say makes you standout from other UK music artists?
I would say that has to be my style and mixture of old school RnB Soul with US and UK undertones. This all helps to make DEAN CHOHAN also the fact I bring my personality to stage when I’m live. It shows that I live and love to perform.
You have done some great collaboration with UK artists. Who would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with already?
Wow do you have a week while I go through my list. A few artists I would love to work with are Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige , Whitney Houston , Alicia Keys. I may add Leona Lewis to my collaborations as we were part of same management some time ago and we still speak and have talked about a duet so it maybe on the cards soon.
At 12 you landed your first recording contract with Virgin Records as part of the teen sensations ‘T.C.O’ The Chosen Ones. What was it like to land such a major deal at such a young age and what did you take from the entire experience?
Oh that was a experience that I will never forget. To be the first Asian artist to be signed to a UK major label like Virgin Records alone was special for me. The learning I did along the way, touring and being ready to perform everywhere we would go was a treat. I learned how to be switched on every time, even if we were just at rehearsals we had to be alert as press was everywhere. I also learned that success will not fall at your feet. If you are to become a worldwide artist you have to work hard every day.
You are now an unsigned act. To a point, many artists see this as a positive as they get to keep creative control of their work. As a negative, they don’t have the financial backing to get their music to an as wider audience as they would prefer. For you Dean, what would you say are the pros and cons of being an unsigned act?
Being unsigned is great at times as you can bring out the music you love to sing with no one telling you what’s best for you. But yes, you do need that backing as you need the world to hear your music and for this you do need financial support. Times are hard at the moment for everyone but I am confident that I will find a way, I always have.
What was it like to work with US acts 112 and Ludacris and are there any other US artists that you would like to collaborate with at some point?
To work with two amazing artists was amazing they were very professional and offered a lot of support when I would go up on stage we would joke at times as they would say Dean stop stealing the show. I received a lot of love from them. We became a family during this tour .
What would you say is the best thing/s about being you?
The best thing about being me is that I love to share positive energy wherever I go. Without that I’m not me.
What drives and in-spires you the most within your life?
I would say my daughter and the intense will I possess in working at improving my life and spreading my music to more parts of the world.
Since you have been in the music industry for quite a long while, what would you say to encourage other aspiring musicians and entertainers?
I would say to work hard and to learn your trade as a artist is and will always be the key. Don’t ever give up, you time to shine will come.
Are there any quotations that you live by, if yes, what are they?
To live the dream is the dream.
How and where can In-spireLS readers keep up with you?
To all In-spireLS readers,you can keep up with me by visiting my website
www.deanchohan.co.uk or you can follow me on Twitter@DEANCHOHAN
For all you Youtube fans you can watch my videos onYOUTUBE@DEANCHOHAN
You can also download my mix-tape ‘ Rumour Has It’ from my website.
Thank you Dean for answering our questions. Please round them off by completing our sentences.
I am most passionate about….spreading the love of music to all and bringing that peace to all.
Dreams are…..made by us all.
I am at my best when………I’m on stage and you are listening.
Self confidence can……. can only make you greater.
If at first you don’t succeed….. then get up and try again and again and again, it will happen.
Three words that best describe me are…….. Entertaining, warm and loving.
I am at my happiest when………. I’m home with my daughter.
I am a ‘Superman’ because…… I know what it takes to TRY to FAIL AND TO TRY AGAIN and then to try to be the best you can be. I am also a ‘Superman’ because I know how to multitask.
W| Interview by Sasha Shantel