Deb Demure, the androgynous alter ego of the eclectic Los Angeles-born musician Andrew Clinco, dressed in white space-like suit, died pale white make-up and surrounded by a dark threatening atmosphere, uses to introduce his performance opening a sky-blue sunshade, as to call on the audience into another magical dimension, the ethereal and captivating outer space created by a waterfall of synths, clanging guitar arpeggios, ecstatic vocals, the best bits of the classic new wave of the 80’s rendered into something unique, beautiful and modern.
The upcoming 7th of May, the ‘ice goth’ duo of Deb D. & Mona D., aka Drab Majesty will be playing live at Death Disco in Athens, get ready for an unforgettable and mesmerizing journey in another celestial cold planet.
Thanks so much for the interview. Deb Demure character and Drab Majesty sonic moniker started around 2011 in your bedroom while you were still playing drums with Marriages and studying occultism, your ‘lo-fi’ debut cassette EP was recorded there, same happened for your first album, it seems that your bedroom is one of your focal creative point, isn’t it? Please, can you talk about those early days?
“Those days” are still “these days” really. I find that a space you live in, eat in, sleep, and dream in are imbued with a cultivated magic that is one’s own. I find familiar spaces like the bedroom, most conducive for creativity and honesty with one’s inner voice. The studio can sometimes come with pressures of money and time, mixed with unfamiliarity of the space. This is why I find a home environment the most optimal starting place for idea channeling. The studio can be the place where those ideas are honed.
Did you start to get passionate about ‘different’, ‘unusual’ music or other forms of art since your teenage years? When you look back, can you see any early examples of being interested in what informs your art now? Have you always had a certain kind of temperament and sensitivity that (paraphrasing Siouxsie Sioux) made you feel on the outside?
I’ve always been a project-oriented person. From building models, making paintings, to writing stories, I passed the time in my youth from project to project. Many aspects of my childhood influence my art. I don’t think there’s anyway that they won’t. From growing up in Los Angeles and being immersed in a very aesthetically charged city to going to church every week, there’s a lot in between there that has seeped into my subconscious and now is finally finding a way to situate into my artistic practice.
Where/who did you get inspiration for your delay and clean guitar arpeggio sound that, to the old ones, could remind the The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly style?
A few places that I’m proud to say. There was at least a 4-year stint where I listened to nothing but Mark Kozelek and Sun Kill Moon and really got into his finger style guitar work. I’ve always loved Felt’s Maurice Deebank’s style and when I started to learn Mark Kozelek songs on electric guitar with delay and chorus and other effects, a door of new possibilities opened up. Building on that with alternate tunings I’d say created the starting point and harmonic palette for Drab Majesty.
What’s your relationship with your hometown Los Angeles? As a true local, is it an unconditional love? Which impact and influence had and still has on your art? What are your favourite inspiring places?
I will say that LA doesn’t love you back. It’s a city I love, but it only offers what you’re ready and open to receive in return. It’s one of the most elusive cities I’ve known and I’m still figuring out how to define it. Perhaps it is just indefinable and so culturally dense yet amorphous that it is an endless labyrinth of doors and dead ends. I like to spend time in Koreatown at night. It’s such an culturally insular bubble, it’s like being in a foreign country at home. The nightlife is active and I feel invisible when I’m there.
Started solo for three years, before bringing Mona D., another true L.A.-born, onboard. Now you’re a two-piece, does it gradually taking a stable shape that will affect your future sound? What has Mona D. already brought to the project?
Mona D. adds an undeniable boost to the live performance. He’s offered some beautiful lyrical/vocal work to ‘Too Soon To Tell’ and has filled out a great deal of frequency real estate in the live songs. I look forward to incorporating him on live guitar in the near future.
We are seeing a renewed, mostly underground, interest for post-punk, synthpop and darkwave around the world these days, what are the reasons of such a renaissance of the 80’s inspired sounds right now?
While I would agree that we’re experiencing a renaissance, I also feel that the sonic aesthetics of the 80’s are still very contemporary. I don’t understand the linear progression of music from decade to decade. I understand that technology will change and inform a new sonic landscape but I don’t understand why those sounds are collectively disposed at the turn of the decade. I still believe there is a wealth of new songs to mine from the groundwork that was laid in the 80s.
You pay close attention to details on your record covers, visuals and live choreography and outfits. You have also the rare ability to associate music with colours, Why are aesthetics so important for you? Is the music a vehicle to get your ideas of theatrics and performance out? Could you explain the ‘statuesque’ cover art of the new album too?
Aesthetics and the visual decisions of Drab Majesty are one in the same with the music. They are both vibrations. One is light and the other is sound. I think to neglect the visual aspect of a live performance is to neglect 50% of it. I don’t understand bands that perform live like they’re running their set at a band practice, only with a great PA before them. I like to approach my covers with a strict acknowledgment to symmetry. Without giving away too much the ‘statuesque’ image on the cover is a reference to the French mime Jerome Murat’s “La Statue Vivante”.
Why did you title the new album ‘The Demonstration’, did you feel the pressure of the usual ‘difficult’ second album? What are the main differences with your previous works? Are you totally satisfied by it?
The whole album uses the story of The Heaven’s Gate cult as a metaphor for themes such as body as vehicle, power dynamics in human relationships, and commitment to the invisible. They’re final statement on Earth or mass suicide as it’s been written in the media was deemed by them ‘The Demonstration’ and I found that to be a powerful title to such a permanent act. I’m proud of what came through on this record but I can see many ways in which it can improve.
Your debut full length ‘Careless’ was lyric-wise a response to some painful events, meanwhile the new album seems like having something to do with the themes of faith, devotion and love; Are the words still strictly connected to real life or this time is a different story?
The themes are real life but the words like I said in my previous response draw from the story of the Heaven’s Gate cult while also amended to achieve a more Universal meaning.
The new album ends with four remixed tracks, one from the techno finest Silent Servant too. Do you like dance electronic music and going clubbing?
I love it. Especially in Europe. On days off or after shows Mona and I enjoy going to techno clubs and dancing.
How was the first leg of the European tour in with Cold Cave and King Dude? How is your relationship with a tortured soul as Wesley Eisold? Curiously he created fictional female half for his Ye Olde Maids project. Are you a kindred spirit or do you have any affinities at least?
Both tours were fantastic. I have a deep respect for Cold Cave and King Dude and all the work they’ve put in to grow their adoring audiences across the world. They are also both inspiring friends to which I am greatly indebted to for the love and camaraderie they’ve shown me.
The idea that great art comes from suffering and difficulties, is that true in your opinion?
I’m not entirely sure great art comes from strictly hardship. I believe inspiration can come from a variety of sources depending on where the artist chooses to draw from; other art, love, nature, mystery, the unknown, the list goes on. I understand a lot of people use art as a catharsis for mitigating and working through suffering but I can’t say that is strictly my starting point for inspiration.
Are you used to composing new material while on tour? Are the different places and different cultures you come across on the road new fresh sources of creativity?
Yes! Especially in Europe. The architecture and culture are constantly screaming ideas at me. It is a wealth of beauty and even overwhelming at times. When we were in Venice last month, walking through the narrow streets, I couldn’t help but hear synth melodies and drum patterns as we moved through masses of people, sights, sounds, and colors. There is so much to pull from.
On May 7th 2017 you’re going to play at Death Disco in Athens, what would you like to transmit into your audience through your performance?
I would like to transport my audience away from the audio/visual landscape that they are familiar with. I want them to temporarily forget their interior dialogue and just absorb the frequencies we transmit. The goal is to suspend the viewer for a moment in time. Even if it’s just 20 seconds of a part of a song. See you soon!
Photo credits: Nedda Afsari