An American dark wave/dream pop act Drab Majesty could be described as one of the most enigmatic and intriguing musical projects of the last decade. With two full length albums under their belt, they released “Modern Mirror” in July 2019, which is by far their most profound and elaborate album. The band toured the USA and Europe in support of the release and are returning for another round of European shows in May and June this year, with four UK dates announced. Drab Majesty’s artistic expression is a clever mix of brilliant songwriting, musicianship and visual aesthetic; they convey their ideas with distinct and striking videos, as well as with peculiar and mysterious stage image. We finally had the opportunity to talk to the founder and frontman Deb Demure.
1. “Drab Majesty” is a peculiar and remarkable name that matches your music style and image very well. How did you come up with that name for your project?
Deb Demure: The name is essentially an oxymoron, but I think accurately describes Los Angeles, our hometown. I always liked the assonance of the 2 hard A’s back to back. I also like that it’s a bit more uncommon to embrace an adjective in your name that connotes boringness and plainness.
2. You refer to your sound as “tragic wave”, which blends elements of new wave, dark wave, shoegaze and dream pop to create a more open soundscape. What does “tragic wave” mean to you?
Deb Demure: It’s that wave you die surfing, like at the end of Point Break.
3. How did the concept of Drab Majesty’s image and visual aesthetics come to life? Was it a reflection of your songwriting, or another way to express your creativity?
Deb Demure: It was always just a vision I followed, an imaginary muse that spoke through my hands and songwriting decisions. It came together very organically and naturally. This is just what the project had to look like.
4. As a duo that has been creating music together for the last few years, what would you say helps keep that bond when writing new music? How does the partnership influence your songwriting?
Deb Demure: We both understand exactly what Drab Majesty needs to sound like. Both of our musical backgrounds and interests are hauntingly similar. We finish one another’s musical sentences..or..uh..melodies.
Deb Demure: Antiquity. Rawness. Food. Decay. Ruins. Culture. The Sun. Music. Raki.
6. You explained that each song tells a piece of a story, which explores the idea of losing touch with the origins of one’s own personality. Which song from the album would you say approaches the subject in the most direct way, and why?
Deb Demure: Probably “Noise of The Void” – the song describes the panopticon we live in and how depersonalized it is. There’s a painfully simple way to recover ones loss of identity and that is just to force yourself to be alone with yourself. The chorus points to this.
7. With the album’s themes of nostalgia, self-reflection, heartbreak and love, why was the album ultimately given the name “Modern Mirror”?
Deb Demure: The Modern Mirror is the screen that reflects a distorted version of ourselves back to ourselves. Like Narcissus’ fascination with his reflection, our contemporary fascination with designing our digital personas – curating how we reflect to the world and ourselves – I find very curious.
Deb Demure: I would say songwriting has improved and is more refined. Sonically it is more dimensional and dynamic.
9. Your first single, “Ellipsis”, and the accompanying video pay homage to the 80s sound and image, yet the song speaks about courting through modern technology. What was the inspiration behind the song and the video?
Deb Demure: Ellipsis is that thing you see when someone is “thinking” on the other line – composing a thought. The song talks about the disjointedness of an interaction where one can see the compositional gears going within a conversation. Yes, the video is an homage to primitive 80’s analogue video techniques to draw a contrast to the contemporary issues being discussed.
10. The third single, “Oxytocin”, was amazingly well received by press and fans. Your approach to the subject is less subtle, but leaves enough room for personal interpretation and self-reflection. What are your own thoughts on the song?
Deb Demure: This song is probably one of the most straight forward and relatable songs on the album. I like the song. I enjoy playing it. I don’t sing it, nor wrote the lyrics, but I enjoy it’s bluntness!
11. What was it like to work with Jasamine White-Gluz of No Joy on “Long Division”?
Deb Demure: Jasamine is fantastic. A true musician. She was eager to collaborate in some fashion and I had been a LONG time fan/listener of No Joy. I love her voice and totally felt natural as we became friends that she would end up singing on some song.
Deb Demure: Artistic expression – to translate the song into some kind of visual language. I don’t like the idea of promotional material. It cheapens art as a means to drives views, likes, sales, “traffic”, etc… all of which I think are essentially meaningless and totally secondary to the artistic statement.
13. Last year, Drab Majesty toured the US and Europe in support of the album. Would you say that touring Europe is in any way different to touring the USA?
Deb Demure: Yes! Vastly different. Too Many reasons to name!
Deb Demure: I enjoy festivals in a communal sense. I enjoy meeting other musicians and getting a chance to watch bands that I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see. I love being blown away by someone I’ve never heard of. I don’t necessarily like how condensed they can be and cram as many bands as possible into a small window of time. It makes for a high-stress environment that can sometimes hinder the performance.
15. What would you say is the greatest reward for an artist?
Deb Demure: Finishing something. Being able to bring a thought into form.
Promo pics by Nedda Afsari
Live pics by Marija Buljeta
Interview credits: Marija Buljeta and Emilijan Novakovic