The Distrolution / Distrolution Merch team had the chance to go to the Hellfest festival from June 19th to 26th 2022. On the program, concerts, meetings… and several interviews, which you can find every week in FR version on Distrolution Merch and in EN version on Distrolution! Discover without further delay our interview with Jen from the band Dust in Mind!
To start this interview, could you please introduce yourself and Dust in Mind (how the band was formed…)?
Jen: Of course! So, I’m Jen from Dust in Mind. The band has been around since 2013. It was originally a studio project that was founded by Damien Dausch (guitarist/vocalist). We did an EP and we thought it might be worth it to do a real live band. And so, in 2014, we created the band, with the band members. We come from Strasbourg, we play metal music. We do modern metal, because it’s quite vague. Our influences are Korn, Pain, Lacuna Coil, industrial metal with, at the same time, a really groovy side. And here we are. We just released an album called “CTRL”, which was released in November 2021.
Picture: Psyrus Studio
How do you see the metal / hardcore scene in Strasbourg ?
Jen: I think it’s cool, because there are more and more… I mean, there are bands that now stand out a little bit and I think that Strasbourg, in addition… We have a metal scene that is quite active. We are lucky to be on the German border. I think it also has a little influence. We have a metal culture that is a bit stronger than in other French cities, so it’s a chance in Strasbourg to have that. We have cool clubs. We’d like to have more, of course! But I think we are very grateful to come from Strasbourg and the metal scene… There are still good bands in Strasbourg! We were talking about Piedbouche, who are friends.
There are bands that are now really giving themselves the means to succeed. And it is true that we are happy, because we hope that as a band from Strasbourg which is evolving and growing more and more, we hope to be able to bring other bands with us, in fact, and show that when we want to do things, we can do it! And to show the Alsatian scene… It’s a pride for us too!
You’re actually going to play at the Rock Your Brain Fest with another local band, Piedbouche!
Jen: Yeah, it’s gonna be cool! We can’t wait!
As we are talking about concerts, you are in the middle of a summer tour. How is it going so far?
Jen: So, we just came back from tour… That is to say that 3 days ago, we were still in Germany. We started a tour in March, we were for many the first post-Covid band to tour again. It was a big, big challenge. We were even offered to reschedule the tour, because we were told: “Yes, there might not be many people yet, people are not ready to come back yet”, and it’s true that depending on the country, it was different.
There were countries, especially in Germany, where at that time, it was still complicated. We played when there were still restrictions. But we said to ourselves: “It doesn’t matter! Even if there are 10 people, we do it!”. Because there’s no point in postponing it indefinitely, knowing that there could be another variant in November or something else, and we’d have missed a chance, an opportunity to be able to do… to be able to spread the message and share this moment. We said to ourselves “No, never mind, let’s do it, even if the conditions are not great, it doesn’t matter”.
So it was super intense. Emotionally, it was just great. And then, we did some more dates last week. We supported Black Label Society as well, which was really cool for us, because it’s another audience! And we really want to play with all kind of bands. Then, in Germany, we did some shows too, in Switzerland… And it just feels so good! We feel now that people… that’s it, the step has been crossed! “OK, the Covid is still there, but we move on, we want to see concerts and it feels great!”. And now, with all the festivals coming up, it is going to be great!
What about your experience at Hellfest?
Jen: So we didn’t play, but that’s what I think is great. Even us, being musicians, we embrace, we enjoy, and we cherish those moments when, precisely, we are ourselves in the audience, you know. To feel the music, in fact! If we are on stage and we want to give and share this energy with the audience, it’s because we, when we are in the crowd, we feel that, and we felt that, and that’s why we wanted to make music!
And then, to come to Hellfest, to see a lot of bands… Lots of French bands too! There are a lot of French bands this year, it’s so cool! It’s so, so cool! And then, to share again, to meet people again… To see that, in fact, for two years, everything closed down a little bit, but nothing died out. To see that it did not die out and that it’s starting again, there, like that, it feels great! And then, the Hellfest… I didn’t do it with all these… I knew it a long, long time ago on the old site, it had nothing to do with that! And then, to see how it has changed, how it has evolved, I think it’s just… It’s just so amazing! We can really be proud to have a festival like this one!
Wow, so you did the first few editions?
Jen: Yeah! It was the little arbors, it was nothing like that! (laughs). That’s crazy! But in fact, it can be surprising, and inevitably, you have less the friendly side, of course, but in a way, you say to yourself “Wow, the conditions anyway, the decoration…”, everything! You go to any other festival, it has nothing to do with it. So no, we can be proud, because once again, it’s the French image, it’s the French touch that is put forward and it’s so cool!
Let’s talk about your label, Dark Tunes. How did your collaboration happen? Did you approached the label, or was it the opposite?
Jen: Actually, it’s the other way around. Dark Tunes contacted us in 2014 for our debut album. It’s actually a German label, but it’s a French expat in Germany. So he knew a little bit about the French scene. He discovered us and so he approached us. And since the beginning, we’ve been with him actually. It’s really our label, our distributor since the very, very, very beginning. So we are very happy to work with him!
Often, it is the bands that approach the labels!
Jen: Yeah, actually, it went the other way, and we’re super grateful for that! It’s true that it helped us a lot in the beginning. Without it… It’s hard to get your foot in the door, and it’s a German label, so to be able to export your music right away, it’s true that it was quite crazy for us!
You were talking about it at the very beginning of the interview. Your new album “CTRL” was released in November 2021. How long did you work on it and how do you generally divide the roles within the band in terms of composition etc.?
Jen: So, Damien, he’s the one who does 95% of the song. In fact, he is the creative engine of the band. He composes all the music, and he’s also the one who makes our music videos, all the image of the band, all the audiovisual of the band, he’s the one who does it. He will compose the song and then I will write the lyrics, look for the vocal lines, we will discuss it… Afterwards, it is proposed to the other members of the band and afterwards, each one adds or modifies or gives his opinion on things to change or not.
Generally, we don’t change much of what Damien does, because he is the driving force behind the project, he is the one who created the project, so obviously he lives it and he feels it in a certain way. He is the personality of the band! And in fact, we all had band experiences before, where we’re there, we rehearse, we compose, and everyone wants to put a little bit of his ego in the music, or everyone wants to add his little thing and in the end, it gives something that is not necessarily coherent, you know.
Anyway, for us, it’s very good that Damien prepares the thing, because the colors that he brings in the songs is exactly where we want to go. And we trust him completely! Afterwards, of course, everyone in the band is free to make changes, but generally, we trust him so much, we are so happy with what he proposes that we don’t change anything!
There was another question I think at the beginning, wasn’t there? I don’t remember…
How long did you work on it?
Jen: Oh yeah, that’s it! (laughs)
We started working on it before the Covid. And finally, the Covid allowed us to take the time, because originally, we had to release the album much, much earlier. We would have done it in a rush and in the end, it wouldn’t have had the same quality that we can offer now. It’s something that has been really matured, and besides, the lyrics have changed too. At the beginning, there were supposed to be other themes, and in fact, with Covid, it triggered other things, I wanted to talk about other things. So it’s funny, because the basic project has nothing to do with the final product. And then, we really took care to work on our sound. We also adopted a strategy of music videos, making videos for almost every track of the album. Now, we have 8 music videos out of 10 for the album. So we really took the time to promote this album with all the imagery behind it!
On this album, there is a song called “The White Page”. I understand that you had the white page syndrome during the composition. Can we talk about it?
Jen: Of course! It was just too much during the Covid. I actually had a million things to say, but I felt myself boiling. I was like: “This is amazing, I want to say so many things, but it’s not coming out.” And I think I was so frustrated, I couldn’t write it down. The more I thought about it, the more I shut down and it was really complicated. So this song, it’s not me who wrote it, it’s Phil, our guitarist, who saw that I was really suffering, it made me really sick. He said, “Look, I can do it if you want, I can write what you’re feeling”.
And of course, he showed me and I said, “Well, actually, you did a really good job of illustrating it”. And yeah, it’s funny, because it’s someone else who managed to write for me, about my problem! Symbolically, I think it’s great actually. But it was really tricky, it was super complicated. And in the end, I’m really happy to have a song about that on the album.
It’s a song that must speak to you more than the others, since it’s a situation you went through.
Jen: Exactly! And it’s incredible, because I’d always heard about it, the blank page syndrome. I know that there are students or other artists who can feel that way. I personally had never experienced it. So for me, it was a thing… I always felt a detachment with that word, the blank page. And when you live it, it is true that it is really intense, it is really, really particular. And so now, I’m happy, because I will have a memory of that episode and it’s something that, in the end, has been overcome, so it’s good to keep it somewhere on the album!
Precisely, how did you overcome it? For example, did you do some research to see if there were any tricks to overcome this problem?
Jen: So no, it’s something totally personal. That is to say that I wanted to talk about a lot of things, but I was in a dynamic where I wanted to write the lyrics that were… quite soft. There was no anger in what I was writing. In fact, I was not in the right direction. At that point, I had to be incredibly angry to get that out. I got really angry, I thought about a million things that were ruining my life, you know. And in fact, it was from that moment, when I really got into this angry state, that I managed to rewrite and overcome the syndrome. But before that, I was just too… I was feeling sadness, frustration, but it wasn’t intense enough. And I think I needed that trigger, to really be in a monster anger to be able to throw everything!
We were talking about music videos earlier. You are the first French metal band to shoot on the Eiffel Tower. How did it happen? Who had the idea of this shooting and how did you set it up?
Jen: (laughs) Yeah, it’s pretty crazy! Actually, we saw PNL who had done it. And when we saw that it was possible, we said: “Well, if they did it… we have nothing to lose by asking the question!” In fact, there was a song…
So, I’ll start from the beginning! There are many fans abroad who didn’t know we were French. Several years ago, to put it plainly, I was getting trashed in reviews and everything by the French media who told me I had too much of a French accent. So I worked a lot on my accent, because I felt really, really bad about it. I felt guilty, I thought: “If we can’t do it because I have a French accent, it’s a bit stupid…”.
So I really worked on my accent, I really, really worked hard on it. To the point where we realized that, in fact, now, abroad, people were saying: “But where do you come from?”, and we were like “Well, we’re French”, and then we’re like “It’s actually a bit stupid”. It made me think. I said to myself: “It’s a pity, because when there are bands who sing, who speak and who have an accent, we know where they come from.” And actually, it’s kind of a bummer if everyone talks the same way and there’s no authenticity and no personality anymore, you know.
So I went retrospectively. I said to myself: “I shouldn’t be ashamed of that, I assume it and we have to show that we are French, we have to be proud to show that in France, we have bands that want to make it.” We said to ourselves: “Let’s make a song, there is a small part, we’ll put 30 seconds in French, just to show that we are French. We show that we are French, the identity card is on the table!” And what better way to illustrate France than the Eiffel Tower! That’s for sure! To radiate internationally, the symbol, it is quite obvious! (Laughs)
But we said to ourselves: “Well, come on! We’ll ask the question, we have nothing to lose”. And so I made a concrete file at the Eiffel Tower filming office and I called them. And an hour later, they contacted me again and said : “Well listen, it’s true that usually, we don’t have bands contacting us. It’s usually Dior, Adidas, perfumes or this kind of things, but not for music!”. So I was like, “Really? So it’s possible?”. They said: “Well yes, yes, it is possible. Listen, do you want to come and do a spot check on the Eiffel Tower?”. “Well, okay”.
That way, we knew exactly which places we were going to use. We had the whole Eiffel Tower, from the top to the bottom, and we could choose! We could really choose! And we looked at each other and said: “This is not possible, what’s going on?” (laughs)
Nobody thought of that before (laughs)?
Jen: Actually, that’s it! But I think it seems so insurmountable, impossible, that we don’t ask the questions! And that’s where it really illustrates sometimes the fears that we can feel, the prejudices that we can have too. And sometimes, you just have to ask the question, to defend your project thoroughly and it works!
In the end, we got an hour. We were given permission to shoot for an hour in the morning, before the doors opened to the public. However, it was one hour. They gave us the badges, and in one hour, we had to go up the elevators, which are very high (laughs), very slow (laughs), with the drums, the technical equipment, all that. When we got to the top, we had to put the drums up, put the technical equipment up, the lights, shoot, put the drums back together, put all the equipment back together, take the elevator, go back to the bottom, give the badge back and get out. And all this had to be done in an hour! And in total, we shot 14 minutes. But then, what we see in the video is almost a one shot. On the other hand, we were prepared, each person had a predefined task to the minute, we knew exactly what to do. We had no right to make mistakes!
But yeah, so that was a pretty crazy opportunity. For me, it’s really the symbol and the image of the fact that if you want something, sometimes you just have to basically… sorry to say it, but you have to “get your fingers out of your ass” to make it work. And sometimes yeah, we hold ourselves back, we tell ourselves it’s not going to work and then, if we did it, anyone can do it too! Sometimes, you have to go with your guts in fact. You have to show that when you want to…
That earned you the title of the first French metal band to shoot on the Eiffel Tower!
Jen : Yeah, definitely! So great!
We will continue in the theme of the music videos. You shot with Freaky Hoody, who is also on the cover of the album. How did you meet and how did your collaboration happen?
Jen: So I actually discovered him through social media. I saw a video that was just talking about… The first time I heard about him was because of these parents… I mean, parents from a school, since he is a teacher, who were against his appearance and in the end, there was this surge of solidarity around him that showed that there is no judgment, in fact, a message of tolerance. And we said to ourselves: “But it’s great!”. Well, the guy is already physically imposing, and moreover, it spread a message of tolerance in relation to all that.
So we said: “Well, we’ll ask him if he’s available for a video. Because in fact, we had the song, the track “Take me Away” and we’re going to send him a message”. Same thing, we’re going to ask, if we don’t ask, we won’t be able to do it. And then message a few days later: “Definitely, I’m coming!” So he came from Paris and we shot near our place. And it went really well! He even offered ideas of his own!
And then in the end, we finished the video and we said: “Well listen, do you want to do some pictures together?” We didn’t really know what we were going to do with it, maybe it was just going to be the promotion of the video, and when we saw the pictures, we said: “But it’s great, it’s so cool!”
And, to put it plainly, I was completely fed up with having my face on the album covers! (laughs). It became… Well, I’ve been fed up with it for several albums (laughs). I really insisted not to have my face on it anymore, because it’s getting creepy actually (laughs). And I’m happy, because with the label, I managed to say “Please please please, can we put Freaky Hoody on the cover?”. That’s how it happened!
And in the end, it’s good, because we stay a little bit in the theme. In the end, it is always a person who is on the cover. We are very happy because it is a strong message! It can disturb. There are people who are annoyed to see a guy who is all tattooed and stuff. It’s not that we don’t care, but what we want to show, it’s a message of tolerance. So those who are bothered by it, well too bad. You can go away, or you can go further and discover the album and another image. So it was very risky, but in the end, we are very happy to have done it and it was a great exchange with him. We are very happy to have met him, he is just great!
We might do some live stuff together, on stage. We’re talking about it (laughs)! We’ll see what happens, but anyway, yeah. When we’ll play in Paris, he said: “I’ll come on stage and we’ll… We’re going to do a show all together! It’s gonna be cool!”
To and this interview, can you tell me about Dust in Mind’s future projects? What can we expect in the next months?
Jen: So we’re still going. We’re still focusing on music videos. We just shot a video that’s going to be released in the next few days. So music videos. We have festivals this summer, and then… After that, we’ll see. Maybe a tour at the end of the year. Our goal, of course, is still to promote the album, since it was released during the pandemic. In a way, we already want to write new songs, of course, but in another way, it would be a bit of a waste not to promote it as it deserved to be promoted, you know. In the end, we just did a tour cut in two parts to promote our album, it’s a bit light. So we’re still going to do that.
Then, on the other hand, at the beginning of next year, we will release new singles, just to be always active, always active. It’s very, very energy consuming and very demanding to always release… You know, Spotify, you have to release content all the time, all the time… It’s very complicated. But then, we are lucky to have our own studio, to have Damien who manages all that, to be able to make our music videos. We are clearly a DIY band. Finally, now, we start to surround ourselves with partners. Until today, I was the one who was booking the band, we just signed with an English booking agency.
In terms of management, we never had any management, I was in charge of it, but we just signed with Jinjer’s management. So it’s the same, you know. Now, we start to surround ourselves. There are things that are happening. But on the other hand, for all the production, it’s still DIY. And then, the fact of having this chance, these opportunities, because we also work for it, it allows us to offer content, so there are still a lot of things that will happen! New music videos and new singles coming next year!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
Jen: My pleasure, my pleasure!
Dust in Mind recently suffered water damage in their studios. The walls, floors and equipment were affected, as well as some of the merchandising. Please feel free to support the band through their official shop!
Source : Dust in Mind facebook page
Store : https://www.dustinmind-shop.com/