RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AUSTRALIAN ARTIST DAMIEN
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I’m not sure I ever made a conscious decision about it. Rather, I have constantly felt a pull toward music and a burning need to express myself through language and creativity.
Introduce us to you and your musical history?
I am DAMIEN, an alternative electro-rock artist from Ipswich, Australia. But ultimately, I am also just a human being who is curious, compassionate, complex, dynamic, reflective, relational, sexual, introverted, empathetic, imperfect, sensitive, gentle, and a little insecure. I enjoy learning and creating and love music, art and culture. I love to read and sing and try new things like yoga, float tanking, longboarding and sky diving. I am a minimalist in my living, but still, value the aesthetic of space. On the same day, I may watch cricket, Mary Poppins and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (although I don’t have a tv), and listen to Billie Eilish, Nirvana, Metallica, Bjork and Chopin. I am a backyard philosopher, theologian, and beer connoisseur. I want to meet like-minded people, form strong, lasting connections and enjoy life’s many sublime pains and pleasures with others. Fundamentally, I’m a little boy inside who just wants to be seen and heard…and all that manifests itself into my music.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I don’t really care. The idea of ‘music as an industry is kind of repulsive to me. For me, it is purely about self-expression, connection, and enjoyment. I’ve spent more money on music than I will ever make back, but I’ve certainly found more meaning and pleasure from making music than from making money. So fuck the industry. Its goals, interests, and motivations rarely align with mine.
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world, also RGM AUSTRALIA to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
Ha! How am I supposed to answer that? *sarcastically* ‘Nah, your idea sucks!’ lol. *Seriously* I think people enjoy discovering and hearing new music and becoming familiar with new artists and have traditionally relied on radio and TV to introduce them. Whilst I think most people aren’t going to actively seek out new music or places to find new music, there are definitely more ways than ever for someone to accidentally encounter an artist that they otherwise wouldn’t hear, and experience the joy and surprise of feeling like they discovered that artist for themselves.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Nah, my house has been insulated with enough tin foil to prevent any of that sort of shit from getting in. I am more interested in the psychology of conspiracy theories, and human behavior as a whole. The reality is, we’re all pretty easily manipulated, and yet think we’re the ones who see what everyone else doesn’t.
Let’s share the love, what bands are doing really well in your Town / City?
My favourite locals band are an industrial metal duo called ‘Karoshi’ who are exceptional, and an electro-funk-rock group called, ‘Super Massive’ who are brilliant live. Indie pop is very big in Australia at the moment, so I can name-drop a long list of artists doing well in that space: Thelma Plum, Jaguar Jonze, LT, Tia Gostelow…but to be honest, whilst I think all of them are great, that’s not my scene, so that bands I really like probably aren’t doing ‘well’.
What advice would you give other artists starting out?
Learn to find joy in failure. You will write shitty songs, do some lame shows and fuck up countless times…but that is all part of what makes a good story, so enjoy making that story. If your story is: ‘I woke up one morning at age 14, wrote a hit single, was a millionaire by 16, and am now 18 and thinking about where to buy my next beach house’ then fuck off… no-one is interested in that story.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Nah, I did the opposite. I went all survival mode and built a chicken coop and vegetable garden.
What was the worst experience on stage?
There are too many to choose from, but most recently, at my last album launch show, the batteries in both of the DI boxes I was running through went flat during my second song and began creating all sorts of cracks and pops…and it took another 3 songs before the tech crew worked out what was going on. It’s really hard trying to keep up the energy when stuff like that happens, and worse when it’s in a launch show.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I think it surprises people to hear that I studied and trained to become a Baptist Minister in my early 20’s, and was even offered a job as Pastor at a Church…which I turned down.
If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it?
I’d say it was a mashing of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and The Gorillaz…because I believe those bands to be big enough that the entire universe has heard of them.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I think my honest humanity. Whilst I often perform in make-up and costume etc, I don’t pretend to be a ‘brand’ or an ‘icon’ and so am very vulnerable and real on my social media with who I actually am as a person, not just as an act.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
Yeah, my latest song has more pop elements to it, and you can hear some Billie Eilish vibes going on. I think it’s one of my most accessible tracks to date and speaks of my own experiences of rejection and retreat following a failed attempt at a relationship.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune.
The writing of the guts of the song (lyrics and basic structure) came about through feeling rather than thought. After that, I spent considerable time developing the base and rhythm for the song and finding the beat and sounds I thought best made it pop. After that came the colorful layers of synths and vocal layers. It was fun to put together. Once it was done, I sent it to my friend, Nathan Gold, for mixing. He seems to have an intuitive feel for how the elements of the song sit in my head.
What was the recording process like?
Most of my recording is done using electronic sounds and elements, so it’s a lot of playing around and experimenting and making stuff up on the go. The vocal layers were fun too, as I often try to sing in a variety of different ‘voices’ to get the full use out of my range and then piece all that together.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?
I think the continual learning curve for me is being happy with loving my own music, even if others don’t. I will often finish a song and think, ‘OMG this is fire! The world needs to hear this’, expecting others will hear and feel what I do…and usually they don’t and the song just sits on Spotify with the <1000 stream count next to it. I’m learning to be ok with that. It’s not my fault everyone else has shit taste…(I’m kidding).
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Nah, I’m really happy with how this son vibes.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Waaaay too much to answer in a single question. But I hope people will feel that I am approachable and connect with me on social media or better still, at a show. I make so many friends through music and would like everyone to feel I have time for them.