Sawandi Simon does it all
Daddy, Doctor and DJ, Sawandi Simon seems capable of doing it all. What started out as a hobby to relieve stress while in medical school, quickly became a passion Simon pursued whenever he could.
It was a 2005 Red Bull Music Academy lecture by Steve Spacek, from the British electronic music band Spacek, that led Simon to think about becoming more serious about music. The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals, culminating in the two-week annual programme that exposes musicians to a whole new world of music. Seeing the opportunity the academy could provide him with, in 2006 Simon applied, became successful and was the first and only Jamaican applicant to have ever done that.
"I produce music, make beats and write songs. I probably only DJ once or twice a year these days, but I'm working on production-beats and songs every day. I got into the DJ thing after my Academy experience when I realised the joy of sharing my music with strangers," Simon told Flair.
Sharing the best advice he's ever received, Simon said, "Master your craft. Whatever it is. Pay less attention to being found and noticed. In this age of social media, a lot of emphasis is placed on YouTube views, number of downloads, and Facebook likes. The focus (at least initially) should really be on mastering your craft. The branding, marketing, and promotion come later."
While there were several factors that led to Simon's chosen career, nature and nurture also played a part, as he grew up with a father who is also a doctor and musician. "Growing up, I always saw it (medicine) as a career option. I also did well in the sciences in high school and, back then, students like me felt it was either medicine or engineering. I think I'm a pretty empathetic person too, so the need to help others and be of service was also a factor," explained Simon.
The medical field is not an easy one, which is why Simon feels that you should not be in it for the money, but rather out of a desire to help people. "There are easier ways to make a lot of money. Being (and studying to become) a doctor isn't always easy. It's the love for people and the love for the science and art of medicine that pushes you through when it gets challenging; the money won't," he emphasised.
Being a general practitioner with a private practice in rural St Andrew, after graduating from the University of the West Indies in 2002, Simon also began working part-time at a clinic in Kingston. All these commitments take up a lot of his time, but it's something that Simon never let get in the way of spending time with his amazing daughter. "She was born in 2005 and recently turned nine. There are so many experiences as a father, that it's hard to say what's the best, but probably just being able to watch her grow from being a tiny, helpless five-pound newborn, to a very confident, smart, funny, talented, and opinionated girl," said Simon.
"As a father, it's important to be as present as possible, no matter the situation. Realise that children aren't just smaller versions of you. They're individuals with their own ideas, hopes, dreams, personalities, and it's our job, as parents, to guide, protect and nurture them. Especially as fathers, I think it's time to do away with the notion that our role is simply to provide and protect. We should make an extra effort to nurture our children as well," he adds.
With so many roles under his belt, Simon has learnt lessons from each sphere that can be applied in any circumstance. "Be present, master your craft, and do what you do because you love it."