VIDEO: HeyDeon speaks on the journey of finding oneself while reaching new heights

Deon Samuel Williams Jr., 24, was on his way to work one day when he received a call from his father, Deon Samuel Williams Sr.

“Hey, Snoop wants you to open for him,” he said.

It was 2019, and the Once Upon a Time in the LBC music festival was just about to kick off.

Upon hearing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open for the Long Beach icon, Deon calmly replied, “Yeah. What day he wants me to be there?”

It’s that cool demeanor that’s helped Deon make a name for himself in Long Beach’s music scene while allowing him to stay grounded. Deon will smile, laugh and joke about almost everything, but when the conversation turns to his musical ambition, his eyes sharpen and he speaks as someone for whom self-doubt is an unknown thing.

When performing, he ditches his usual jovial self for a more moody, soul-searching character who goes by the name HeyDeon. For him, performing in front of thousands of festival-goers live on a stage shared with the likes of Snoop, The Game and others was the same as recording alternative R&B tracks for his listeners on Spotify, which number more than 6,000 a month.

But his ambitions don’t stop there. Since 2018, Deon has produced an album a year with his most recent, “Emotional Wreck,” having launched on July 31.

“Now, I just think about what’s next,” he said. “You touch that stage and it’s like, ‘How can you stay on that stage?’ That’s more so my thing.”

Deon Samuel Williams Jr. who is better known as HeyDeon in his studio space at his home in Long Beach Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Deon played basketball at Poly High before donning the stage name of HeyDeon and dabbling in music production. His musical ambitions began in 2014 while messing around with friends, making beats, and tossing in vocals over the melodies.

Without proper training for it, singing came naturally to Deon. His father and uncles, who grew up in the era of G-Funk, hip-hop and oldies, would produce music around the house while Deon was growing up. Listening to music in the house was as common as brushing his teeth.

“I think when I got comfortable in my voice that’s when I was like, ‘This is me––nobody can take that from me,'” Deon said.

He frequently partners with his friends, Cassius Banks, Jay James and Michael Akhari to name a few, to produce the beats. From there, Deon takes the melody and brushes over it with his vocals to complete the project.

His recording “studio” is less of a sophisticated soundboard and more of a DIY set up with a wooden desk scooted up against a corner of the house and rows of family portraits and certificates of achievements behind him, a scene that mirrors the love and support his family has for him as he seeks the next level of musical stardom.

One consistent theme in his music is finding oneself, finding your purpose, a journey Deon says he is still in the process of living through.

“People say that they know me that’s why I tell people, ‘You don’t know me, you only know of me, because I still don’t know myself,'” he said. “I’m learning as I go. You progress in life every day, so you learn something new about yourself that you didn’t know last week.”

To start a new project, Deon approaches his music in myriad ways and is often inspired by life’s situations––whether it’s the complications of falling out of a relationship or wanting to get the last word in a conflict with a friend.

These themes of realization and coming to terms with a bad relationship echoes in “Emotional Wreck.” Deon has previously produced two other albums: “Long Story Short (2018) and “Sucker for Love (2019).

His R&B tracks are heavily influenced by his hometown, which is something Deon wanted to clearly establish from the beginning.

“I just want people to know that Long Beach is not LA,” Deon said. “We have this urge to be creative. We have painters, long lists of money actors–– it’s like a hub of greatness. We are our own place–– never count us out.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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