Ghost Cult Magazine
“The grim subject matter is cast against the backdrop of catchy melodies and amazing guitar work, all capped off by an epic earworm or a chorus. Anyone who can survive a harrowing ordeal like that and write such a sunny sounding, uplifting song about it deserves a listen.'” (Ghost Cult Magazine)
“If you needed a hit of motivation, or you feel like life is just not treating you the way it should be lately, look to Darro, not only for his gifts as a musician, but for his unwavering and unrelenting commitment towards turning the impossible into the possible.” (V13.net)
“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.” (Billboard)
“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.” (Pancakes and Whiskey)
Hope you’re well! To say Darro Chea, aka alt/rock songwriter/guitarist, Darro, has faced an uphill battle would be an understatement. Three days after returning to the US from grad school abroad, the Asian-American musician and producer was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The rehabilitation process sent him back to square one, having to learn to speak, chew, and sing all over again. Telling his story through music, Darro was featured on Billboard for his video, “You’re Not Insane” and continues to share more music based on his experiences, including in his new video/song “Paralyzed,” out today!
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,” 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 intact.”
On “Paralyzed,” Darro states, “I wrote this song after having my first panic attack in New York City. I had only been in the city for about two months, and I only had two friends in the entire city, and I just had brain surgery like less than six months ago. I definitely moved here way too soon because I was still dealing with PTSD from the whole tumor situation, and it was in the middle of winter.”
He continues, “I was doing something really boring, like walking to the grocery store, and I just remember seeing all of these faces in the street and no one was looking at me or noticing me, and it just felt like I didn’t exist. And I was really scared because I just left the comfort of my home after the surgery and decided to move to one of the biggest cities in the world, and I felt really small and alone. And then I felt really guilty because my mom wanted me to stay longer but I was too restless, and now I felt like I needed to prove to her that it was a good decision to come to New York. And I also felt anxious about failing, and having gone through all that trauma for nothing. This song sort of encompasses a lot of those feelings for me. I like to describe the track as the feeling of screaming at a wall but no one is around to hear you.”
Darro’s music is a reflection of the journey he’s endured. His first EP Nostalgia was recorded/released in 2017, shortly after jaw surgery and reflected upon challenges he was having at the time. With poppy melodies and crafty guitars, he taps into a realm of progressive and pop rock, integrating anthemic elements from bands like Paramore and My Chemical Romance with emotionally-expressive guitar work inspired by John Mayer and wizards like Steve Vai. The newer music, including “You’re Not Insane,” focuses on his struggles post brain surgery and how it has affected his life. An inspirational figure for all his fans, Darro has conquered the unimaginable, including graduating from Berklee with a Bachelor’s in Guitar Performance and Music Production/Engineering; and a Master’s in Contemporary Guitar Performance.
MORE ABOUT DARRO:
For Darro, music has always been a part of his DNA — “I eat, sleep and breathe it,” he declares. Originally from York, PA, he was exposed to music as a child. His father performed in a Cambodian wedding band, which spurred his interest in guitar virtuosos like Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani. Honing his skills early on, Darro attended Berklee College of Music and has worked with HOAX, Al Joseph, Daniel Yoong and Garry Willis.
Over the last handful of years, Darro became increasingly aware of changes in his body that would alter the course of his life. Darro states, “I was noticing that ordinary life was getting harder and I was struggling to be a normal person. I was extremely fatigued all the time, a complete insomniac, and had serious episodes of manic depression. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I was struggling so hard to complete daily tasks and just stay awake in class. My body and face was changing, I had gained almost 40 lbs over the last two years, my bone structure was changing and my joints were constantly aching. After crawling through the last semester and graduating, I came home and was diagnosed with a brain tumor (non-cancerous). It was in my pituitary gland and affecting all of my hormones, bodily functions and my moods. I had surgery to remove the tumor in September 2017, but the damage is pretty much done and I have to live with pretty shitty circumstances.”