Jazz, soul and r&b - are just a few of the styles that Demon Days resonate within their music. They sure have been the talk of the Perth music scene; creating one huge buzz as they don't bloody stop! After heading on their first National Tour late last year and playing Falls Festival, the band has just released their new self designed and in-house approved merchandise line - Fake Jazz launching this Sunday March 18 at Rosemount Hotel. And if that wasn't enough - their new single 'NO WINNERS' has just dropped and they'll soon be jetting off on their national single tour. We sat down and chatted all things merch, fashion, touring and of course, their latest single.
This Sunday’s launch differs to a lot of launches in that you’ll be launching your new merchandise line ‘Fake Jazz’. Mark is currently studying fashion and is the visual brains behind this line – a few of his pieces have popped up on stage before, correct?
Mark: You could call them pieces but they were more just a bit of fun. We would go to Target and pick up some plain shirts and customise them with fabric pens and write funny drawings and jokes on them. That said my ‘proper’ designs usually have little jokes or slogans attached to them to poke fun. We at Demon Days struggle to take almost anything completely seriously.
Tell us a little more about the concept and creation of the ‘Fake Jazz’ merchandise line and the tongue in cheek name selected?
Mark: Well, it’s pretty common for people to tell us we’d ought to change our name because it sounds like that of a metal band, which is fair (we find it pretty funny so we don’t plan on changing it). ‘Metal’ or ‘gothic’ fonts and illustrations have been popping up in the fashion world for the last few years from labels like Vetements and Gosha Rubschinskiy, so I thought it would be funny to use the trend to highlight the irony of our name and lean into the trend to highlight the humour of our name and lean into the joke a little. I wanted to put something on the back panel and started throwing ideas in the group chat, when Josh replied with ‘FAKE JAZZ’, which we all thought was hilarious and it fit the general joke-y vibe of the shirt. At the end of the day it’s just a shirt with funny words on it, but I also happen to like the look of it.
Although music is often interpreted as an aural medium of art, and fashion visual, they seem to naturally intermingle and inform one another in terms of identity creation and self-expression – particularly with live performances. With passion in both areas, do you feel there’s a union that contributes to your identity as a band? And how do you feel the artistic involvement with the merchandise line would compare to the involvement in selecting something like album artwork?
Mark: Fashion and Music are inherently linked in the ways they both follow trends, and can often be the litmus test for what’s currently ‘cool’. I think that ‘big-time’ bands have always been trend-setters in a way, and even today (rappers even more-so) have an insane influence on what is considered fashionable on the street. I think the clothes people wear and the music they play is often inherently linked. Demon Days has touches of a lot of genres which are reflected in our individual styles (I listen to mainly rap and hip-hop, I play like a hip-hop drummer and I wear a more ‘street’ style of clothing, where-as Bella has a diverse taste which includes vocally driven indie music, which influences her lyricism and tone as well as the more thrifted, vintage styles she often wears, and so on) The combinations of styles is what makes us interesting to me.
For the shirt designs, I did it myself mainly. I would go away and draw something up, send it to our group chat, get feedback and adjust. The process when I’m designing posters and the single art is pretty much the same, but I rely more on the gang’s opinions and feedback. I like to think I have some sort of aesthetic drive or vision for all the Demon Days stuff, but it really just ends up being whatever I feel like creating at the time, so the others’ input reminds me to keep it in line.
A little more about musical identity - you’ve become synonymous with the ‘neo-soul’ genre and the modernization and accessibility of the traditionally ‘exclusive’ genre of jazz to young fans. Was this a conscious decision? And how did your previous studies at WAAPA contribute to this?
Nah it’s all been luck. We just happened to start making music like this during this whole resurgence of soul and jazz. The response to our stuff and bands like ‘Greivous Bodily Calm’ has been kind of incredible like even if we play something whack some people are still into it. As for WAAPA, it’s helped build the fundamentals that we use in our music even if all of us didn’t stay for long.
We can’t kidnap your time without discussing your new single ‘No Winners’, which dropped yesterday and was coupled with the announce of a National Single tour. Tell us about the single – how it was selected, it’s meaning to you, how you found the process of recording?
“No winners” stems from an almost relationship but due to a lack of self-understanding did not bloom into its true potential. In life we fall for people that are not at the same stage that we are, which creates problems. It’s not that you were wrong for each other, but that the timing was off. And here lies the dilemma... do we wait for this person to get their life together, or do we move on and hope that you can stay friends? The name comes from a common understanding that in most breakups there is a clear winner and loser however in this case no one won... there were “no winners”.
Instrumentally the song was sparked by some chords and melody that our bass player (Marley) had been sitting on for a while. From there we jammed it out and the song came together in less than an hour. The tracks intention was to create a ‘cute’ vibe evoking that sense of adolescent romanticism. After we had the basic idea for the tune we started adding funny parts to it which added a kitsch feel. We made the melody a main motif throughout the whole song with the vocals and lead synth parts following its sweet tones.
This will be your second foray into National touring as an act [Demon Days toured nationally in October 2017 with their single ‘Killer Bees’] – how does the pre-tour buzz and prep differ for this tour? Do you feel a slightly increased sense of touring ‘street smartz’?
Bella: This time we are thinking more rationally about the tour. The last tour in 2017 was a big eye opener for us on the actual amount of work that goes into making a tour happen as well as keeping in mental and physical health (which is important when you are playing back to back shows with little sleep). Having hindsight makes us all the more excited for this tour coming up as we feel better equipped on how to make the most of it and have learnt from previous mistakes that will not be repeated.
It only takes a quick review of the band’s history to see the incredible achievements within the previous 12 months – supporting Hiatus Kayote front person Nai Palm, selected to play Falls Festival and signing to National Booking Agency New World Artists. Those highlights aside – what was your favorite ‘this is the shit’ band moment of recent memory?
I think for us as a band, playing alongside some incredible artists that we admire and chatting to some truly inspiring people we find a lot of pleasure in small moments. For instance, playing Falls Festival we were all gob smacked that we got our own trailer with a fridge just for us of beers and a platter of food. Or another highlight was playing a show at Mojos and the audience were packed in like sardines singing along to our songs; for me (bella) as a lyrics to have people singing words that stem from something personal is a feeling like no other but brought me so much joy that people could connect with them as I did writing them.
When googling your band name, the Gorillaz album ‘Demon Days’ monopolizes majority of the search results. Have you formulated an evil plan to rectify this?
Honestly we really just didnt think that through when we started the band, but we will now. We just couldn’t come up with a name so we took Bella’s Instagram handle and all liked the Gorillaz. Our band was founded on a common interest in music. Maybe we will get big enough so the Gorillaz will notice us and wanna do a collab or show together.
You can get your hands on Demon Days new merchandise via their Facebook and at the launch this Sunday March 18 at Rosemount Hotel featuring special guests Grace Sanders, Heavy Flow, Jamilla and DJ Shy-Fi. Their single tour kicks off shortly, and you catch get in on the action at their Fremantle launch at Mojos Bar on April 7.