STUDENT FEATURE: Shakiel DeBaggis

It’s been a busy week for Rhythm! Contemporary Music Ensemble. Just last week, they were the featured guest at Sketchual Misconduct’s show, last night they rocked out at the Performing Arts Office’s Winter Concert, this afternoon they performed at the Tree Lighting, and TONIGHT they have their End-of-Semester concert.

This group has grown significantly in the past couple of years, both in how widely known they’ve become, but also in their range of talents. We got a chance to talk to one of their returning members, Shakiel DeBaggis, during this busy week, to get the backstage scoop on this headlining band.

INSTARAM: What is your major/year?

SHAKIEL DEBAGGIS: I’m a sophomore and I’m currently pursuing a degree in English with the Creative Writing track.

What activities are you involved in on campus?
DEBAGGIS: I’m one of the two drummers for Rhythm, which is Suffolk University’s one and only contemporary music group. In addition to that, I’m a member of the eBoard for Suffolk’s newly formed Musician’s Network, and I’m also one of the administrators for the Suffolk’s unofficial Class of 2016 Facebook group.

What do you do in your free time?
DEBAGGIS: Besides playing drums, I work on writing thriller novels similar to those of Dean Koontz (when I can summon up enough inspiration, that is). I also play FPS games at an amateur competitive level, make EDM/trance music whilst pretending I’m the next Avicii (still working on getting recording software), do a lot of walking and exploring in the general Boston area, and engage in texting random friends legions of lame puns, jokes and one-liners.

What was it like auditioning for Rhythm?
DEBAGGIS: I was actually quite nervous and didn’t know what to expect – but it turned out there was nothing to stress over, they are a great group of people. I kept it simple and played a few basic beats on the drum kit, jammed along with a few bass lines played by Clayton, and that was pretty much it. I didn’t fumble the drumsticks (my worst fear) and I ended up making the group, so I’d say I did okay.

What are your rehearsals like?
DEBAGGIS: Once everyone has arrived and all of our equipment is set up (always the least fun part of the process, especially considering assembling the drumset takes the longest) we’ll usually start practice off by playing through a couple of the songs we already know. After that initial warm-up, we’ll then proceed to start learning new material, which we select at the start of the year via a polling process. The time required for us to learn a piece varies depending upon the difficulty of the song, but on a good night we should have around two new songs in the bag. We only practice once a week so rehearsals are extremely important for us!

What can we expect at Rhythm’s End of Semester Show?
DEBAGGIS: An impressive setlist of both new and old songs combined for one awesome show! We’ll be playing hits from artists including Daft Punk, Owl City, Metric, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, as well as a rocking cover of Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”, which I personally think is our best piece. 7:00pm, December 5th, 150 Tremont basement. Be there!

What can we expect from Rhythm next semester?
DEBAGGIS: Many more new songs, including (possibly) a cover of Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”, which I’m really stoked for. It’ll be a bit of a sad semester since two of our members, singer Marissa Kennedy and drummer Steven Kunevich, will be graduating, but we’ll definitely be finishing the school year strong.

What has been your favorite Rhythm gig so far?
DEBAGGIS: I’d have to say the show we played at the beginning of this semester for the Welcome Week event. All of us had just got off summer break, we were missing a few members, and yet we were able to, without any practicing as a group beforehand, play our set successfully and rock the stage with extreme ease.

You’re also on E-Board for Musician’s Network…what does that entail?
DEBAGGIS:  The Musicians Network is a new group still it’s very beginning stages, created with a desire to bring Suffolk’s musical community talent together.  I meet with other members of the eBoard once a week and we discuss and plan events that cater to Suffolk’s musicians.

I hope to see it eventually becoming something that all students who are musicians or have an interest in music become a part of. We had our first Open Mic Night this semester that went well, and next semester we will plan on having more events of a similar nature.

Random Question: What do YOU want for Christmas?
DEBAGGIS: Definitely a new pair of nice earbuds. My prized Bose ones stopped working in one ear a few months back, and I’ve been having to make do with some cheap replacements that are rather annoying and nowhere near the quality I’d become accustomed to.

Come to Rhythm’s END OF SEMESTER show TONIGHT, at 7:00 in the 150 Basement. It’ll be a fantastic show, so we hope to see you there! 

Special thanks to Shakiel for answering all of our questions and taking time out of his busy week to help promote his awesome group!