Angst – An Interview with Damage and Emke

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Angst is the new single from Damage. This is Damage’s first new single through his new label, Two Gods from the UK. The song, Angst, is a heartfelt expression of the angst one feels when they realize that they are losing a part of themselves, or failing to achieve their dreams. A common feeling for us all. The video that came out alongside the single is fantastic and captures this feeling of angst against a backdrop of an abandoned club. Damage and Emke, from the band Black Nail Cabaret who collaborated on the single, agreed o talk to Neon Dystopia about their new music.

Neon Dystopia: What was the inspiration for Angst?

Damage: All the things that turned 2016 into a rotten canvas and there’s been a lot of those. Still, shit always hits the fan and music is often my trauma control coping mechanism (which is another great band name or track title!). Musically I might have been influenced by Mentallo & The Fixer. That and I also wanted to make a track that had a pop song structure but a different sound to it.

ND: Damage, this was your first work with Two Gods Records, how was it different from your previous musical experiences?

Damage: Most of it wasn’t that different at all – we worked on the Angst tracks very similarly to how we produced, mixed and mastered all the previous songs on Snapshots, everything was super flexible and we did have a lot of fun doing it. Promotion was obviously bigger, Angst is also on Spotify, iTunes and the other music platforms now, which is a first for me. Also, being on a label brings you more musicians to talk to and to learn from. I understand where musicians come from when they say you can do everything solo and earn bigger profits, but in the smack middle of underground where the threat of getting hit by money vaults isn’t really a thing, I’d rather take the luxury of not caring about money and learning more about music and the music business instead.

ND: The official music video for Angst was also your first music video experience. What did you take away from that experience?

Damage: As this was my very first music video I was involved in, basically everything! Looking back now, I know we were super lucky with being able to film the raw material in something like 4 hours and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without Zoltan Kovary who was a god in instructing us and coming up with new ideas on the fly. As for the takeaway – never start filming without having a very detailed idea and a storyboard. Record extra bits that will be good for teasers, trailers or little add-on bits. Make a lot of behind-the-scenes videos and photos that can be added to a blogpost or added as a download package on Bandcamp or sneak out to your greatest fans.

ND: Damage, you said in your production diary that the track was inspired by the album Dreamfish. What do you find inspirational about that music collaboration?

Damage: Dreamfish (especially their track “School of Fish”) can pick me up and drop me to a happy place almost instantaneously, which is a rare thing. I love ambient as a genre but there are only a handful of releases that remained me for a long time (which implies that they’re as soothing as musically top-notch, such as Eno’s “Music for Airports” or FSOL’s “Lifeforms”). Dreamfish lulls you straight under the ocean and I just adore the subtle patterns it uses (if you want a PC indie game that’s a more-or-less direct translation of the album, that would be Abzu, have a go at it!) And, as I really loved the feeling that School of Fish evoked, I really wanted to make a track that could impose something similar on the listeners – though I decided to pick the air/space as an element, not water.

ND: Haujobb provided a remix for the album, what was that like?

Damage: Trying hard not to switch on the fanboy mode, but as I grew up with their “Solutions for a Small Planet” album, it was quite an amazing feeling knowing that Daniel likes the track enough to forge a remix out of it!

ND: Emke, you mention in the production diary for that you were feeling “going through a mild crisis,” “feeling empty,” and “feeling disconnected from your inner child,” but also a need to reconnect. Can you elaborate on this and how it inspired Angst?

Emke: Basically I wasn’t on the top of things and I felt that I ran out of topics to write about. I was intending to use one of my older lyrics for this song, but one night, an urge came that I should write exactly about how I feel right now, I should just let it all out. This is when I wrote the poem in Hungarian which then became the lyrics. I was quite stressed, panicking a lot about small, unimportant things, such as minor issues at my day job, ridiculous health problems and so forth, that don’t define who I am, that don’t define my life. I realized that these are sucking the life out of me, but I felt helpless in this chase for money, in the grayness of day-to-day life. I knew that the curious child with the humor is still down there. I never actually wanted to grow up and I still feel like I am just pretending this whole adult thing, and the 12-year old inside is freaking out from all the responsibility. I wanted to throw this burden off.

ND: Damage, Emke mentions that you were going through a difficult time in your life while producing Angst and that it acted as a “mutual point.” How does Angst represent the difficulties in your life?

Damage: There are a few friends that I show my demos to and they can always pinpoint the things I’m trying to expel from my brain via music and hearing the Angst demo, even when it was just instrumental, they all went “uh-oh, much trouble?”. And then her words just turned out to be spot-on, reflecting a lot of my problems about how I cope with so many things: the ever-increasing tempo of life, inspiration and creative blocks, people and a lot of other issues. So Angst is our memento to 2016, resting on a lot of different legs on the same ground.

ND: Damage, you mention that the music video for Angst is allegorical for your mid-life crisis and being alone. What does this mean for you?

Damage: Eventually you will have to reach a point in life where you’ll have to rely on facts and quantize it all out: what have I done, what am I still missing, what keeps me from doing all the stuff I haven’t done yet – and you’ll have to look in the mirror you’ve made from all these realizations until it doesn’t hurt to look at yourself and if the mirror’s completely clean from all the expectations and fears, you’ll see the real situation and the real you. This is actually the mindset Angst was made in.

ND: Listening to the lyrics and dissecting them, Angst, thematically, seems to be about the angst that is born from the realization that we, as individuals and a society, are complicit in the creation of our capitalistic/consumeristic/conformative global society, but ends on a hopeful note that the “Towers of Misgivings” will break if we make a way for the future. What do you think of that interpretation?

Emke: For me, it happens more on the personal level, but if you put many small lives together if a lot of people start to think that way and free themselves of their boxes, this is when things will start to happen in big. I don’t want to talk in platitudes but it is hard to explain it better than this: if you want to change the world, you have to change yourself first. We have so many doubts, especially with ourselves, we put obstacles into our minds with negative thoughts, and it is so hard to overcome them. There is a verse in the poem that didn’t make it to the lyrics, which translates: “instead of living, I lay in a coffin, and I mourn myself, I paint my own deathbed portrait. Boredom became my doom.” This song was a cry out for fresh lines to cut through the membrane of all doubts.

You can get the Angst single here.

You can follow Damage on his blog Planet//Damage here.

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