by Christophe Pauly
– Senior Columnist —
Damien and Jennifer of the band Dust in Mind Strasbourg in France, open up and discuss the bands beginnings as well as their new studio EP titled Never Look Back to be released in May.
Hardrock Haven: Hi Damien and Jennifer. Thanks for this interview. My first question is about the band; how did the group get started, and then evolve into Dust In Mind?
Dam: Hi, Chris. Well, at the beginning, I was more oriented into Death and Black Metal. So I started different projects and finally played in Blindness in 2011. But then, I wanted to do something more musically. Something without limits that would sound different from what I was used to hearing. And that’s how Dust In Mind began in 2013.
Hardrock Haven: Did you know each other before the band’s formation?
Dam: I knew Jen already because we’ve met at the Summer Breeze Festival back in 2011. I met Matt on a band’s video shooting. Then I met Arnaud (our drummer) at the end of 2013 as I joined Absurdity. And finally, I recruited Jack with an announcement saying that Dust In Mind was searching for a guitarist.
Hardrock Haven: You formed a very interesting vocal duo with Jennifer. It allows you to have a wide range of possibilities musically. How did this collaboration worked? Were you both determined to do a male-female vocal duo from the start?
Dam: Well, I started Dust In Mind as a solo project. But I absolutely wanted to include a female voice in it to soften my music and also because I wanted to do something different. So I did some auditions with several singers. Then I remembered of Jennifer (who told me she wanted to be part of a music project). She already tried many music styles such as progressive and electro bands. So I listened to what she has already did and decided to audition her. She sang for about an hour on “Burn”. And it worked naturally. So, Dust In Mind was really born that night.
Hardrock Haven: What were the auditions like?
Dam: Well, it all happened naturally. I work a lot with my feelings because I think that a band is a human adventure at first. So we recorded every singer and I knew quickly if it was working done or not. And every time, the result wasn’t great or the feeling wasn’t there until we tried with Jen. I remember the same thing occurred with Jack. I felt It as evident.
Hardrock Haven: How would you define Dust In Mind’s music?
Dam: That’s a tough question! In the beginning, I wanted to do some Industrial Metal. But I quickly changed back to the more aggressive Metal that I usually play. So in the final result is something very well balanced between some aggressively and effective. The music is not too technical because we wanted to introduce some samples and industrial ambiences in it. And finally, there’s some softness with Jen’s voice. So, to be honest, it’s difficult to put an etiquette on our music. So I let the press do that for us.
Hardrock Haven: What does “Dust in Mind” mean?
Dam: It represents all the bad ideas we have in our mind. Those could be there because of our stories or the others stories. We all have some feelings and things to tell. So, as we don’t talk about positive things, that name resume it all.
Hardrock Haven: You’ve post several videos on YouTube, including a Korn cover. Could you tell me which bands have inspired you?
Dam: I was very influenced by Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) in term of composition. He made me discover music. The way he compose music fits me very well. When I saw him on stage for the first time, I knew everything from him instantly: his pains, his path,… The feelings he sent to me made a livestock brand on me. It was like we already knew each other. We actual met one time. It was backstage and I was a little shy. So we didn’t talk that much. He’s like a spiritual father to me. Otherwise, I listen to different kinds of music. That allows me to create something very diverse. This Korn cover is part of that. We also did an acoustic song called Falling (which is available on Youtube) just because we wanted to do it!
Jen: We all have different influences that brings something more to the band. Personally, I listen to a lot of Djent and Hardcore bands. But I wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t listen to Trash and Heavy bands before. Machine Head was a major influence for me. About the reciprocation between male and female voices in our band, I’d like to add that I was a fan of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) who wasn’t singing in a lyrical way or growling. And I really like her singing. That was different from the other bands. Dust in Mind’s music just touched me so I simply decided to be part of it just because I like it.
Hardrock Haven: You sing in English. Is that because you want to export your music?
Dam: Yes, and because English sounds better everywhere. It’s more harmonious.
Hardrock Haven: You’ve recently opened for Machine Head. How was the experience? Were you asked by their management?
Jen: Well, I contacted the venue where they were playing in Strasbourg. I sent a mail and a link to our music. So their manager listened it and liked it. And so, we opened at La Laiterie for the band we’ve been fans for so many years. I still can’t believe it ! And I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Hardrock Haven: What would you say about that experience?
Dam: It was a very good experience. We were there with our friends of Deficiency. And the timing was really stretched. So we had to help each other to change the set in about 7 minutes. It was funny and we had a lot of good time. Plus, Machine Head’s show was awesome!
Hardrock Haven: What’s your best moment on stage ever?
Dam: I think we all have many good moments in our mind. I don’t know if I could tell about a particular one. There are the birthday parties, some departure from old members which are sometimes very emotive. The moment I like the most is when we’re on stage and look at each other before a headbanging part. And this emotion we share with the audience because we give our best at every show no matter the size of the venue we’re playing at.
Hardrock Haven: Let’s talk about Never Look Back, your new album. Why did you choose that title? Did you want to do something completely different from your first EP?
Dam: When we composed this record, we all said the same thing: Let’s move forward! It could be done in different ways. It could be sentimentally, professionally or something else. It’s the title of the only positive song on this record. It represent the strength and perseverance. It means that whatever we’ve done in the past, we have to not regret anything and move forward in our lives. Our first EP was like a business card. It’s an auto-production that’s only available online. It was also a good way to find our direction in term of composition and production. It was done on purpose because we wanted to put everything we can in this album with a physical distribution, some good merchandising and some investment for our future live presentations. So we wanted to be different, not comparatively to our EP (which helped us to find our style), but we wanted to do something more concrete. It’s just logical to me.
Hardrock Haven: Which are the themes in those new songs?
Dam: It’s all about the things we could all endure through our life such as rape, anxiety, fear, anger … And our message is, “Go forward and don’t look back.”
Hardrock Haven: How do you split the work between the composition of a song and writing the lyrics?
Jen: Damien compose the music and I write the lyrics and prepare the singing. Then, we make some adjustments with the band.
Hardrock Haven: This album was done pretty quickly after the EP. Have you composed some songs already in the past or did you do it only for this album?
Dam: I started to compose those songs even before our EP’s release. This EP was a kind of preview of what we can do. I wanted to do something concrete quickly.
Hardrock Haven: Your records are very well produced. I noticed that both records were recorded at Psyrus Studio which you run, Damien.
Dam: Thanks for this compliment. I started to work in that field about ten years ago. At that time, I hadn’t the money to do a correct production for the bands I was playing in. I became addicted to production. And so, I now have my studio (situated in Alsace, France) with my partner, Matt Gabnai. He worked for Ubisoft and is the bassist of every project I’m involved in. We do several kinds of productions including music, photo or video. I made some partnerships to propose also some artwork, web design, pressing, merchandising and some sound and light material renting. There’s also make-up, haircut, models and some artists to entertain your events. The idea is to make everything from A to Z with qualified people.
Hardrock Haven: Many bands are complaining about the lack of money that is given to develop themselves and the difficulties about touring nowadays (especially in the metal scene). What do you think about it?
Dam: That’s true. Nearly nobody can live from his music except some legends. If you wanna play some metal, you have to get a job beside. It cost a lot of money even if you do all the promotion by yourself. Everything’s done on the internet nowadays. If you wanna get visible, you have to get a good artwork, logo, some well produces songs, videos, photos and being often visible in the press. If you have a young band, you’ll have to pay all of that, to pay any space in magazines. You even have to pay (sometimes a lot) to be part of a compilation or to do a support for another band. As a French band, we have to export ourselves. So you have to get quality instruments, to have a stage set, (backdrop, side-drop) to look like a pro. So you have to be objective concerning your work, being patient and have a very positive moral to start a band nowadays.
Hardrock Haven: Are you planning a tour for this year?
Dam: Yes, we’re working on it. We’ll do a release party. But I think the tour will start in September.
Hardrock Haven: Ok So I wish you the best!
Dam: See you on tour!
Visit the band online: https://www.facebook.com/DustInMindMusic