How Producer and DJ Paul Chin Took a Leap of Faith During a Global Pandemic
Read how Toronto-based DJ Paul Chin changed his career journey in the midst of a global pandemic and why Whereby is his go-to video meetings tool.
When Paul Chin was growing up in the Cayman Islands, he never imagined he’d find his calling in the snowy metropolis of Toronto, Canada. But his path towards becoming a music producer and DJ was a scenic one full of twists and turns.
“My mom put me in piano lessons at the age of four,” he explains. “And I started playing the clarinet at seven or eight. I was a band kid playing all the instruments.”
As all musicians (and artists) know, to learn and hone your craft means you have to study hard, train hard, and practice hard, “That’s how you get good at instruments,” Paul concludes.
A classically-trained Paul didn’t understand his love of music until he was out on his own. He moved to Toronto to study illustration and receive his Bachelor of Design, with the dream of one day illustrating comic books for the likes of DC and Marvel Comics. (Though not yet realized, this dream is still alive and well.)
Paul remembers vividly, “When I first started university, I specifically remember saying to myself ‘I’m retiring from music.’ And literally two weeks later I was at a show where I got called on stage and ended up jamming with the band. I was like ‘Guess not?’” he laughs with a shrug.
But Paul kept on the graphic design and illustration path because that was, what he thought at the time, the more sensible career move. Even though he moonlighted as a DJ, he graduated and joined the corporate workforce as a nine-to-five designer.
He spent the entirety of his 20s trying to conform to the corporate career path set out for him (and other aspiring artists). But something just didn’t feel right; this wasn’t his journey.
Rather than try to fit into a pre-constructed box, Paul was in search of something that better represented “Who I am, what I do, what I make, what I have to say and what I want to put out into the world.”
In January 2019, after long talks with his supportive wife about how unhappy he was with his corporate job, Paul decided it was time to take the plunge and venture out as a full-time musician – but not until everything was set in place. So, for the next year and a half, Paul was setting himself up for success – finishing his fifth record, doing press, basically having two full-time jobs.
And on June 15, 2020 – three months into a global pandemic – Paul Chin left his corporate job to work on music full-time, almost 10 years after his first impromptu DJ gig back when he was still in university.
Now, you might be thinking a global pandemic probably isn’t the best time to start a new career as a DJ, since, you know, live events were all cancelled. And yes, when all his artist friends were cancelling tours and events, Paul thought, “Wait, so this whole outside world that I was looking forward to being a part of and finally being able to just thrust myself into... That's gone now and rent is still due?”
It gave Paul some pause, but only for a moment. Because of his commitment to his dream, he was open to what he calls “pandemic-centric opportunities.” And he began his new career from home – which worked out perfectly, since he’d always made music from home anyway.
In a way, you can say it was to Paul’s advantage that he started during the pandemic, since he was flexible and open to whatever opportunities came his way. He didn’t have to deal with live shows being cancelled, travel plans suddenly changing, or tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of touring equipment collecting dust.
One of the things Paul had been looking forward to most after leaving his corporate job was not having to do any more video conference calls – or so he thought. To stay connected with people during Toronto’s lockdown, Paul went in search of an alternative to Zoom or Google Meet. He wanted something more artist-friendly and less… boring.
He discovered Whereby while watching a music theorist on YouTube. He loved the look of it, the “chillness” of it, and when he discovered you could just send someone a link to join (without them having to sign up), he was sold.
Whereby has become Paul’s go-to when catching up with friends and colleagues, and for sharing lo-fi demos of the new music he’s working on. “It’s simple, it’s quick, it’s easy,” he says.