A new dimension of sound – Interview with Dope Stars

Fabrice la Nuit, Victor Love and Darin Yevonde are the components of Dope Stars, an Italian band that brings an amazing and powerful sound into this decadent world. We had the chance to interview the 3 of them and get to know more about their new album, their projects, their opinion about Finland and the (almost nonexistent) scene in their native Italy and their views of how technology around has is affecting us and has affected their lives for good or bad. Do not miss it, because these guys have a voice on and offstage!

Thanks a lot for your time guys! Just in July your new album 21st Century Slave was released. What can you tell to the new listeners about it, and what are the similarities or differences with your previous albums Neuromance and Gigahearts?

Victor: I think the new album is a good starter for all the new fans of Dope Stars Inc. because it keeps at the same time the sound concept of our previous release but improved with a more experienced attitude and a 360 degrees production which involve not only music, but lyrics and the visual side too. Also the album does not lack of new experiments in other fields so this makes it a more complete and representative release compared to the other ones. What is good is that most of the new fans we are getting now also get into our previous production and this album is also succeeding to interest people from different scenes apart from the industrial/gothic one. This is cool thing for us because we basically never felt only an industrial band but our main research has always been about merging together the industrial and electronics world to the rock and metal one. This is also something that connects to the cyberpunk concept behind our music. So making a summary while Neuromance and Gigahearts where more directed toward a precise sound research the new album “21st Century Slave” is the result of both the experiences we had thanks to our past albums.

La Nuit: 21st Century Slave will represent the latest improvement of the band in song writing and visual expressions. It’ll drive you deeply into the “visionary” cyberpunk world that lives so close to our contemporary reality. Added to this you will notice the perfect mix of sounds coming from both the previous releases: Gigahearts (guitars and rockside) and Neuromance (synths & electronic atmosphere) in order to create something new using the most popular properties of our already know production.  One big news will be the real drums recorded by our friend Fabrizio D’Amore (brother of Victor) and a stronger concept that will allow people to enter deeper into the world of DSI.

Darin: Moi & Ole hyvaa! Our new album Is a new dimension of our sound, mixing experience and experimentation we had with Neuromance and Gigahearts. The new album can put the listeners in a decadent representation of the world right now, with a cinematographic mood. It’s a new Chapter of our life, our past, our present, our future.

Dope Stars

In your album, you touch very intensively the new technologies and its impact in the world. What do you think of it, do you see it as a healthy way of development, or is not healthy that the youngsters spend so much time today in front of the computers?

Victor: Technology had an impact on society since many years but today the situation is much more evident and has immediate effects. We are now living in a world that does not look so much different from the visions of cyberpunk novels. It looks like art inspired or predicted the future in some way.  If they’ve been right on that side also the consequences, especially the negative ones, deriving from these premises are well known. There are things moving in the background these very years we are living to make the instruments of new technologies a way to control the people, thoughts and information. Our personal data is being stored everyday and this most of the times happen because it’s the people that do it by voluntarily just to follow a trend. The whole social revolution has got indeed his negative sides but also have enough positive ones such as giving the way to people from all over the world to exchange opinions, culture, information and whatever is a matter of thought. This is making possible for a lot of people also to start getting interested on topics that would have never been known otherwise. Also it expands a lot the range of connections with other people from any country which makes all of us citizens of the world above any nation imposed differences. This also gives to the information the power to be an unstoppable thing. For most of the young people it is absolutely normal they take it more like a tool for having fun with their friends but it’s always good if they protect themselves and get informed about the risks of a too easy use of such websites, applications and network tools in general. That’s cause basically the connection and impact between the cyberspace and reality is becoming everyday stronger. This makes the internet a place which is not about fun only. It is instead the place for everything. The message we want to send with our album is to master technology and start getting every information about all the instruments of technology you are using. Especially the ones you’ll be seeing coming out in the future. Thanks to the internet also this is possible.

La Nuit: As I see it depends on the right use we make of technology. We love informatics and part of our growing career is coming from the endless power of internet about connecting people. 21st Century Slave will investigate on the exploitation of technologies done by few mega-powered lords who really want to rule the entire world hiding themselves behind the shadows of well known corporations. So the keyword for every one of us will be “MASTER TECHNOLOGY” and not be slave of it. Open your eyes and take part to the digital war.

Darin: The influence of technology in our society is becoming day after day bigger and bigger and the power it has on young people is huge! Most of the teenagers right now are living their life in virtual world loosing what real life means. The control these tools have on young brain is really powerful.

And you, as users, are your lyrics based on personal experiences feeling a bit like “slaves of the technology” and running for freedom?

Dope Stars

Victor: Technology is about advancement. I’ve been into technologies since I was very young. I started working with computers since vic-20 and c-64, amiga, x-86 and so on till the current days and have been always working with technologies. I was into that since even before internet existed and then first modems come out. I’ve actually been living all the evolution of informatics, the internet and home computing in general till today and yeah I’ve seen and experienced many things changing fast. However this has always been like a passion for me together with the music and of course also has influenced by my personal life. But this also helped us a lot in the band because without that technology Dope Stars Inc. probably would have never existed or anyway would have never sounded this way. Besides we started from the internet and we’ve been growing thanks to our fans and communities that helped us spreading the word on the network. We’ve been always trying to make a good use of technologies and it is great that actually everyone can do the same with a computer. Slaves are those who believe a computer is just a nice handy machine. 

La Nuit: Well for sure I’m a big fan of technology since I was just a little kid, but I never felt like a slave. It helped me to learn a lot of things (first of all foreign languages), helped us as a band to record new brilliant material and gave us the possibility to be known all around the globe with few mouse clicks. Certainly you must be warned, there are not only positive sides of technology. As said before, someone is exploiting technologies to control your life, ordering you what to do, what to buy, what to eat simply through your laptop. So be smart guys and discover the dirty games hidden behind those dazzling banners, it’s up to you now!

By the way, I noticed in your promotional paper that you name “Snow Crash” as one of your influences. I don´t know if you have realized that in the TV series Heroes there is a character, Hiro, very similar to a character in the book…

Victor:What a strange coincidence! I am just getting into the 3rd series of heroes as I missed that.  I like heroes and yes the character thing is weird but Heroes is more like science fiction with the feel of a DC comics.  In Snow Crash it’s the cyberspace or metaverse that plays an important key role. However our biggest influence comes from Neuromancer of William Gibson which is the actual cyberpunk bible.

For those who do not know your band yet, can you briefly explain your beginnings and how did you get to know each other?

Victor: We were just a group of friends and friends of friends that hooked up together to make something new. By the times I was doing the first steps in producing music myself but in a short time I had ready 5 songs and a cover version of Billy Idol (Shock to the system).  When the first EP was released we’ve got a great feedback that helped us to get signed. We did 2 albums, Neuromance and Gigahearts and in the meantime we had some experiences that lead us to reduce the line up to the essential which is me, Darin and La Nuit. So we started to perform several shows and a couple of years ago we also met Ash Rexy who started to perform the electronic parts live with us.  In July we have released the new album “21st Century Slave”. What about me and La Nuit we are long time friends and we played together already years before DSI as in another band called “My Sixth Shadow”. Darin was introduced to me by one of our former members in 2003 and since then we become great friends. What makes everything perfect is that we like to do, watch, listen or experience basically the same exact things regarding music and art in general and together we are doing what we love to do above everything.

How is the actual industrial metal scene in Italy? Do bands like yours get recognition, or is it easier to break through in other countries like USA or Japan?

Victor: There is no scene in Italy of any kind actually, apart from pop music. A scene is something about a good amount of clubs arranging live shows and people attending to it, a good amount of magazines and radios promoting a certain kind of local music and people listening to it. This creates a scene and also helps bands to get known from the underground. Today instead the only  way is the world wide web and most of the times the feedback comes from outside of Italy like USA or UK/Germany/Finland and even more from countries such as Russia and the whole South America, Asia and Africa.

La Nuit: Recognition in Italy??? MMM….. not at all. It’s easier to find a double-headed living cat than obtain something from Italy… and believe me it’s a shame, cause we’ve got a lot of very interesting bands over here. First of all, it’s about Italian people, they don’t support the national scene at all and that’s too bad. The clubs???? Oh yes, they can organize a poor show for your band, but clearly you can immediately forget to either cover the expenses. Welcome to Italy!

Darin: For us is easier to be popular outside of our country, Italy is definitely the wrong country for any kind of alternative music proposal. Suomi knows Dope Stars Inc. much better than Italians ;) We don’t have any kind of support in our country but just Jealous shitheads are always ready to throw shit on us.

How is the European tour going so far this summer? Any venue you especially liked, or any place you are looking forward to playing in?

Victor: I look forward to almost all the shows in the future because they are all cool for different reasons. In October we’ll be together with Deathstars, Diary of dreams and The Birthday Massacre which are all great bands and we are sure it will be a great experience. Also in USA we are going to make our first show and I’ve personally never been in the US before. Also on 23 October in Helsinki we’ll take part at this Cyberpunk festival, Alternative Party, which will be interesting to me not only because we are going to play there. We are also going to play in the UK soon for the 2nd time and considering the past experience and the big feedback we received always from that country I really can’t wait to hit the stages there too. At the moment we are not touring because we focused on the album that has been released just now and we’ll have our summer touring the next year.

La Nuit: During the spring/summer time we had few gigs because we were really busy in the recordings of the new album and EP and didn’t have enough time to fix live shows. So people, everything will start from next October touring Europe and finally reaching USA! Talking about latest gigs, they were really cool (Jesus, I really love to do concerts J ) and we’re talking about the Mama Trash Festival in Helsinki (great bands/people and exciting party atmosphere) and our annual gig in Moscow (hey you Russian people, you shock me all year long!!!! You’re the best!). Finally in June we had the possibility to show our ugly asses in Germany thank to the Blackfield Festival and it made so happy, because it was a long time that we didn’t play in Germany, where everything began for us.  … Going back to our upcoming tour, can’t wait to play one more time at La Loco Paris (mais oui La Nuit arrive tout de suite!!!) and feeling very excited about the London gig, the Festival (Alternative Party 2009) in Helsinki and about our Halloween Night in Philadelphia!!!

Darin: We love to play a lot but not always is possible have long tours. We are waiting for Tour in October with Deathstars, The Birthday Massacre and Diary of Dreams, will a huge fun touring with them! We already played together in a festivals with Deathstars and The Birthday Massacre, will be cool rockin again ;) Will be cool play to some Finnish rock festival like Ankkarock, Provinssirock, Ruisrock! I love play in festivals when bands in the bill are playing totally different kind of music.

“Suomi knows Dope Stars Inc. much better than the Italians!”

You have previous experience playing in Finland, if I am not mistaken. How do you like the audience and the country? Are there any differences there than when you play somewhere else?

Victor: Finnish audience has always been one of the best ever; probably it was also because we have been playing at some very cool events too. We’ll be also going to play more in spring but at the moment I really look forward for the Alternative Party. It will be a great day. Too bad we’ve to flight back to continue touring just straight after because I really wanted to check both the days of the festival.

La Nuit: We mainly took part at this incredible festival called Mama Trash Fest, so well organized by our Mama. Believe me, it’s something so different because there’s a special friendship atmosphere there that is so unusual. Bands and people, they are all together, just like old friends getting drunk during a special party. All the Finnish fans and bands were really cool with us and we had this unbelievable feedback and support from them, we really didn’t expect. We’ll be there once again to do it again for sure my friends.

Darin: We played in Finland 3 times: A couple of time on Mama Trash Fest in Helsinki and once in Tampere with Jann Wilde and the Neon Comets. Finnish people are totally crazy and passionate! I never expected something like that before we did it the first time! Suomalainen hullu rockers! One of the best audiences we ever had ;)

When I saw the concert of Deathstars years ago before interviewing Whiplash, I noticed that they were very popular among female fans. Is it the same for Dope Stars? Do you consider that your style can be a bit more “sexy” for the female fans that the pure and more classic metal?

Victor: What I can tell you about it from the experiences is that we started to have a lot of female fans but then gradually also the interest of male fans has been growing and today we actually have a quite balanced fan base. We have songs that are very different and catch the interest and taste of different kind of people. Sometimes some male defenders tend to have some prejudices at the start cause of our image, which is instead not an issue for females and this causes to bands like DSI to have a female wing which is in first place supporting. And that’s great because girls are smart! J. What is good is that after some years we are also getting a good feedback from people coming from the harder scene. We’ve been always fans and been part of very different scenes and this reflects also in the music and visual concept we follow.

Darin: We have lots of female fans, I think it is quite the same between Deathstars and Dope Stars. In our music we have songs that make happy female’s tastes, I think, especially in slow/mid tempo songs. But we also have a harder, rough and violent sound in many other songs. They belong each other in some way and those components living together create a unique mix of feelings and emotion.

La Nuit:  Our music is so wide open-minded that can embrace all kind of fans, starting from dsi-addicted little fans (also attracted by the musicians), to music lovers who really adore our mixture of synth-rock electrocyberpunk. For sure, during our concerts, you’ll see mainly the first rows completely full of girls ;) but i think it’s something normal, in the end they’re always more emotionally involved during the live shows. But if you take a glimpse more deeply, you’ll see also real pure rockers with our star on their t-shirts banging their heads to our heavy guitars!!! I love you all, my friends!

Actually, talking about bands you share tour with, what is the one you have enjoyed more touring together? And what is the one you would love to tour with in the future?

Dope Stars

Victor: I personally enjoyed any tour with any band so far. While touring you experience a lot of things together and it has been always a beautiful thing. The longest and more remarkable one has been with Asp, London After Midnight and Kirlian camera but also in single dates we got in touch with many other artists and we had a great time together.

La Nuit:  May i say 2 bands instead just one: London After Midnight and Kirlian Camera. People, you’re great and i will always remember out tour together as the happiest tour with friends.  On the other hand i have to admit, that everyone who shared a tour or simply a single gig with us was really cool and I’m talking about you : Gemini Five, Violent Divine, Entwine, SKD, Jesus on Extasy, Richard Christ, etc…. and clearly my other band Latexxx Teens (coolest guys on earth).

Darin: We had a lots of fun touring  with band like London After Midnight, Entwine, ASP, personally will be really cool have someday tour with  Turbonegro! Finnish bands like American bands love to party hard , party animals creatures!

What are your future plans when the current tour is over?

Victor: When the tour this autumn will be over we are going to arrange more touring for the next spring. We’ll be visiting most of central Europe + UK and Finland this autumn and we’ll also do our first show in the US, in Philadelphia. So after these dates we are already planning more shows in Europe, the US and we are evaluating possible shows in Asia and Australia. We’ll be also attending to summer festivals in Europe and we will probably announce some of them already in the next weeks.

Darin: Find and find again new place where play! I wanna play as much as possible, my life is on tour. My favourite hobbies: restaurants, shopping, films, call of duty series and my motorbike. Recently I discovered my insane passion for every kind of extreme sports…. one day you’ll see some pictures online ;)

La Nuit:More and more gigs, I hope…. as said before, my first reason to be in a band is getting on my knees with my guitar on in front of all of you during a fuckin ultra-loud DSI concert. Ok?